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Cairn Terrier
Toto of the Wizard of Oz embodied what most people think of the Cairn Terrier, the enthusiasm, charm, bold character and suitably startled reflexes of a dog meeting a Tin Man for the first time.  Indeed, the Cairn Terrier is nothing if not charming but it would be a mistake to think of this little dog as a "toy".  Indeed his very nature makes it quite important that his family recognize his "dog-ness" as overly indulged the Cairn can become very difficult indeed.  Proper care and handling including socialization, basic manners training and reasonable boundaries make the Cairn a boundlessly optimistic and confident companion.
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General Information
Group(s): Terrier Height: 9.5 to 10 inches
Weight: 14-16 pounds Longevity: teens
Colors: any color but white Coat type: double coat of short, harsh, weather resistent outer coat and thick, short, furry undercoat
Recognized Registries: AKC and others
Overall Appearance: Compact and alert, the Cairn Terrier is the quintessential Terrier with its long body, short legs, prick ears, well developed muscling and wiry outer coat.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: moderate to high
General Nature: when properly reared, exceptional
  with Children: excellent
  with other pets: good but a Terrier can often see other small mammals as vermin
  with dogs: generally good especially with those it is raised with
Socialization requirements: can be snappish if fearful and/or inadequately socialized, heavy socialization in the first year will assure a happy confident lifelong companion
Ideal home characteristics: one that appreciates and understands the uniquely Cairn mentality of independence tempered with a love for companionship, time spent together will keep this dog happy as will regular activities whether walks or play
Temperament Notes: inquisitive and attentive, part of the delight of the Cairn Terrier is its entertaining antics, this can also become hazardous as the dog can pursue distractions that could prove dangerous (larger dogs, electrical cords, etc.).
Training requirement: The Cairn Terrier has the capacity to be a tyrant if left untrained and over-indulged. Spoiling this dog is never an issue if basic manners are trained and reinforced with a positive, matter of fact approach.
Trainer notes: The sparkling and independent personality of the Cairn Terrier is only charming to an audience and to the trainer with a well honed sense of challenge and humor!  While a happy worker when provided with a playful environment, you cannot assume that the ever working Cairn mind won't find an improvement on your method or approach, often leaving their trainers blinking with wide open mouths (since the dog has NEVER done that before) and bystanders doubled over with mirth.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) the Cairn also has a great sense of humor, timing and a desire to please, so such antics often get repeated as the dog finds the delight of the audience to be far more motivating than anything the trainer can offer.  Essentially, be prepared for a great time when you train your Cairn but don't expect the mindless desire to follow your instruction that many assume dogs provide when "properly" trained.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: 1910 in the UK
Country of Origin: Scotland
Original Function: ratter
History: Originally known as the Drynock or Short Haired Skye Terrier, early in the 20th century they were recognized as their own breed.
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard:
Health Notes: hypothyroidism/vonWillebrands, luxated patellae, portosystemic shunt, Legg-Perthes, heart problems, eye problems including PRA, CMO (Craniomandibular Osteopathy), portal shunt,
Health Testing: Xray (Legg-Perthes), OFA, thyroid panel, vWD, CERF,
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!

  • How long have you had Cairn Terriers?
  • Why do you have Cairn Terriers (show, performance, hunting, etc.)?
  • What do you consider to be the most important single characteristic of a Cairn Terrier?
  • What health issues have you seen in the breed?
  • What criteria do you set for your breeding stock?
  • Do you plan to keep a puppy from this litter?
  • How often do you have puppies?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • At what age do you sent your pups to their homes?
  • How would you describe the ideal Cairn Terrier?
  • How would you describe the ideal Cairn Terrier home?
  • Are your puppies whelped in your home?
  • What advice would you offer someone in raising and training a Cairn Terrier?
  • Web Sites: Col Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue Cairn Terrier Club of America Rescue

    Other Resources
    Breed standard: Cairn Terrier Standard as per the Cairn Terrier Club of America AKC and UK standard side by side for comparison

    Breeder Ethics: Code of Ethics by the Cairn Terrier Club of America

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