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"One reason a dog
can be such a comfort when you're feeling blue
is that he doesn't try to find out why."


Author Unknown
 



 

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds, originating in the Scottish Highlands and recognized as one of Scotland's earliest working dogs, used for hunting burrowing prey among the cairns.

Although the breed had existed long before, the name Cairn Terrier was a compromise suggestion after the breed was originally brought to official shows in the United Kingdom in 1909 under the name Short-haired Skye terriers. This name was not acceptable to The Kennel Club due to opposition from Skye Terrier breeders and the name Cairn Terrier was suggested as an alternative. The Cairn Terrier quickly became popular and has remained so ever since.

Appearance
The breed standard can be found on the Cairn Terrier Club of America website. The current standard was approved on May 10, 1938 and it was adopted from the The Kennel Club of Great Britain. According to the American standard, dogs should weigh 14 pounds and stand 10" at the withers. Females should weigh 13 pounds and stand 9.5" at the withers. A Cairn's appearance may vary from this standard. It is common for a Cairn to stand between 9 and 13 inches (23-33 cm) at the withers and weigh 13 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg). European Cairns tend to be larger than American Cairns. Due to irresponsible breeding, many Cairns available today are much smaller or much larger than the breed standard. Cairns that have had puppy mill backgrounds can weigh as little as 7 pounds or as much as 27 pounds.

The Cairn Terrier has a harsh, weather-resistant outer coat that can be cream, wheaten, red, sandy, gray, or brindled in any of these colors. Pure black, black and tan, and white are not permitted by many kennel clubs. While registration of white Cairns was once permitted, after 1917 the American Kennel Club required them to be registered as West Highland White Terriers. A notable characteristic of Cairns is that brindled Cairns frequently change color throughout their lifetime. It is not uncommon for a brindled Cairn to become progressively more black or silver as it ages. The Cairn is double-coated, with a soft, dense undercoat and a harsh outer coat. A well-groomed Cairn has a rough-and-ready appearance, free of artifice or exaggeration.

Temperament
Cairn Terriers are intelligent, lively, strong, and loyal. Like most terriers, they are stubborn and strong-willed, and love to dig after real or imagined prey. Cairn Terriers have a strong prey instinct and will need comprehensive training. However, they are reasonably intelligent and, although willful, can be trained. Although it is often said that they are disobedient, this is not the case provided correct training is applied; they are headstrong though, and should always be walked with a leash.

 

Cairn Terrier
Country of origin: Scotland
Weight: 14-18 pounds (6-8 kg)
Height: 10-13 inches (25-33 cm)
Coat: Abundant shaggy outer coat, soft downy undercoat
Litter size: 6-10
Life span: 12-15 years

Cairns are working dogs and are still used as such in parts of Scotland. Many Cairn Terriers are very independent and do not make good "lap dogs". The image of Cairn Terriers being like "Toto" from The Wizard of Oz (1939 film) is a partial misconception. In reality, these dogs do not always like to snuggle and, like Toto, would heartily object to being kept in a basket.

Cairn Terriers generally adapt very well to children and are suitable family dogs.

Grooming
Cairn Terriers should always be hand stripped. Using scissors or shears can ruin the dog's rugged outer coat after one grooming. Hand stripping involves pulling the old dead hair out by the roots. This does not harm the dog in any way. Removing the dead hair in this manner allows new growth to come in. This new growth helps protect the dog from water and dirt.

Health
These dogs are generally healthy and live on average about fifteen years. Yet breeders, owners and veterinarians have identified several health problems that are significant for Cairns. Some of these diseases are hereditary while others occur as a result of nonspecific factors (i.e. infections, toxins, injuries, or advanced age).

Some of the more common hereditary health problems found in the Cairn are:

Cataracts
Ocular Melanosis
Progressive retinal atrophy
Corneal dystrophy
Krabbe disease (Globoid cell leukodystrophy)
Hip dysplasia
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome
Craniomandibular osteopathy (Lion Jaw)
Von Willebrand disease
Hypothyroidism
Portosystemic shunt
Luxating patella
Entropion

Currently, the Cairn Terrier Club of America along with the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals maintain an open registry for Cairn Terriers in hopes of reducing the occurrence of hereditary diseases within the breed. Breeders voluntarily submit their dogs' test results for research purpose, as well as for use by individuals who seek to make sound breeding decisions.