Breed Info

Breed Information

The Cairn Terrier originated in Scotland where for centuries they have been used as a working terrier.

One of the most popular Cairn Terriers was Toto from "The Wizard of Oz" whose actual name was Terry and was a female not a male.

The Cairn Terrier is alert, intelligent, confident, active and long-lived, about 14 to 15 years.

Farms with cairns (rock piles) are kept free from rates, mice, moles and other burrowing animals.

Cairn Terriers seem to have an inborn affinity for children.


As a rule, Cairn Terriers are somewhat independent. They are intelligent and curious and extremely quick to learn. They are surprisingly sensitive - harsh punishment is not needed. Firm, loving and consistent discipline is the key to a good relationship with your Cairn Terrier.

Cairns are loaded with energy and intelligence. They are not known to be aggressive as they were bred for over 500 years to work together with other dogs and people. Cairns show affection but are not demanding. They are playful and happy companions and most Cairn owners cannot settle for just one. Cairn Terriers are not suited to live outside.

Cairns have proven to be one of the most adaptable breeds, thriving well in apartment and rural homes. As long as the animal gets adequate exercise and mental stimulation, the Cairn will thrive. Unlike some breeds, Cairns are not a "one man" dog or even a "one family" dog. A Cairn may have a favorite member of the family, but will share his love with everyone around him. Cairns are said to have a "kid gene" because the vast majority of the breed absolutely adore children even if they are not raised around children. Cairns are sturdy enough to enjoy childish roughness and small enough for children to play with comfortably.

Cairn Terriers seem to know how to squeeze all the fun out of life. They have a great sense of humor and love to play. The motto for the Cairn Terrier from the breed club in Scotland is "the greatest little pal in the world!"


This small working terrier is short-legged and moves very freely. Cairn Terriers are alert with ears up and eyes shining. Cairn Terriers come in a variety of colors. It can be difficult to impossible to predict adult color based on the puppy's coat. Color changes in Cairn Terriers continue for years.

Ideal size for showing are 9 1/2" to 10" at withers. Length of body 14 1/4" to 15" from the front of chest to back of hindquarters. Weight for females is 13 lbs and 14 lbs for males.

Health and Feeding

The Cairn Terrier is a basically a healthy dog. To contribute to longevity and health of your Cairn Terrier, try to keep him active and trim. Feed a high quality dry pet food - NO GENERIC BRANDS!

Please, try to refrain from feeding table scrapes as this is not a balanced diet for your dog - usually containing very high fat contents. Most adult Cairn Terriers maintain their weight on 1/2 to 2/3 cup quality dry dog food a day with 2 to 3 dog biscuits for fun.

Colors of Cairns:





Rich Red

Light Brindle #1

Light Brindle #2

Red Brindle

Grey Brindle

Dark Red Brindle

Darker Brindle

Dark Brindle


A famous Cairn Terrier was Terry, cast as Toto in "The Wizard of Oz".

Terry was a female Cairn Terrier but played the part of a male in this epic movie.