Dog Breeds 101: Cairn Terrier

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Dog Breeds 101 – Cairn Terrier
Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 2.0

The Cairn Terrier is from the Scottish Highlands and is recognized to be on of Scotland’s oldest working dogs. These dogs has a weather-resistant coat that comes in the colors black, cream, wheaten, sandy grey or brindled. Brindled Cairns frequently change color throughout their lifetimes. It is common for a brindled Cairn to progressively become black or silver as it ages. [1]

The breed was de developed 200 years ago on the Isle of Skye. All terrier breeds from Scotland were originally classified as Scotch Terriers until 1873. A new system was implemented where the Scotch Terries were separated into sub-classes. The Cairn Terrier was officially declared as a separate breed in 1912, taking its name from the stones that marked Scottish burial or memorial sites. [2] Badgers and foxes usually lived in cairns and the dogs would squeeze down into these rock dens to hold the target at bay until their master arrives. Cairns excel in hunting, tracking, obedience and agility trials and also performing tricks. [3]

Cairns love to play and always want to be part of every family activity. They can also easily adapt to changes in their environments but they tend to be bossy with other pets in the household. They will chase after everything that runs so it is not wise to let them roam out in the open. Cairns can be stubborn sometimes but they respond well to discipline and obedience training. These dogs tend to be possessive of their food and toys and like to dig around the yard, which is why training them is a must. [4]


A popular Cairn Terrier is named Terry who played Toto in the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. Due to the identification of the State of Kansas in the original story, there are currently efforts being made to make the Cairn Terrier the official dog of Kansas. [1]

Do you want the easiest, fastest way to an obedient dog? Watch this video:

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