Does this breed look familiar? It may be thanks to the dog’s important role in popular culture. Toto — Dorothy’s canine companion in The Wizard of Oz — is a member of this hardy breed. In spite of his small size (after all, Toto could fit easily inside of Dorothy’s basket), the Cairn is a tenacious pooch who isn’t afraid to stare down animals quadruple his own weight. Little and lovable, this breed is the perfect lap dog. Bonus: your Cairn can moonlight as a guard dog, too.
Regular exercise (think: long walks) is an absolute necessity for this energetic breed. Surprisingly, Cairns also make good jogging companions and they will happily tag along with you wherever you run. Keep in mind that these terriers should always be on leash during walks. They love to chase animals and may bolt if they spot a squirrel or mouse.
Slobbering and shedding aren’t huge issues with the Cairn Terrier. This means you’ll have more time to play with your dog rather than cleaning up after him.
Barking and Volume:
Cairn Terriers are average barkers, but they can become yappy if they aren’t given enough exercise.
Early training is important to socialize your Cairn and to prevent him from becoming possessive of food and toys. If you enjoy gardening, you will need to spend extra time teaching this terrier not to dig up your lawn. Parents need to use consistent training and firm leadership, as well as provide plenty of praise for this sensitive breed. With their keen intelligence and love of performance, Cairn Terriers are relatively easy to train.
Health Factors: In general, the Cairn Terrier is a healthy breed, but they can still suffer from disorders like obesity, cataracts, von Willebrands disease and patellar luxation (slipping of the kneecap). *A reputable breeder can help minimize the risk of genetic disorders.
Grooming: You will need to have your dog’s coat stripped by a professional groomer twice a year.
Training: A puppy class should be sufficient.
Other: You should fence-in your yard if you plan on having a Cairn in the family. These dogs have a tendency to roam around if left to their own devices.
Use a stiff bristle brush each week to keep the dog’s coat free of matts. Twice a year, the Cairn should be professionally groomed.
If you’re looking for a great playmate for kids, then look no further. Patient and playful, Cairns have a natural affinity for children and are very forgiving towards the occasional poke. These pups love to play and will do best with an active family.
Friendliness Towards Animals
Despite their small size, Cairn Terriers can become aggressive towards animals who step into their territory. Cairns have been known to attack dogs that are double, triple or even quadruple their own size. With early socialization, however, this breed can do just fine with other pets in your home. Park animals should remain wary though — the Cairn Terrier loves to chase after squirrels and rodents.
Friendliness: Towards People
Whether curled up on your lap or playing a game of fetch, this breed loves to spend time with family. Cairns shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time since isolation can lead to problematic behaviors, like excessive barking and digging. If you want a more affectionate dog for your home, ask your breeder to select a male Cairn for you. Female Cairns tend to be more independent than their male counterparts.
BE PREPARED FOR: A tiny dog with the tenacity of a lion and the playfulness of a kitten.