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  • Leilani Nichols

About The Breed

Cairn Terriers are the breed for me! They are hardy, independent, intelligent, and the perfect travel size. Their grooming requirements are fairly low maintenance, though unique, and anyone can learn to groom their cairn within a few dedicated grooming sessions.


There are endless online resources to learn about the breed, and vintage books on the breed often offer the best insight as to their original purpose. This breed was intended to chase and flush out larger game like badgers for hunters. They are not "vermin killers" they can and will take on critters larger then them, but often once they've "caught" them they don't know what to do. Of course there is an exception for every rule, but this is what I have observed after owning dozens of my own cairns with access to large yards that wildlife sometimes enters. It wasn't until I found vintage histories of the breed that I understood their characteristics better.


Though in modern times Cairns make fabulous and cheeky companions please consider that they are specially bred to run, dig, and bark. Their outwards turned paws make them efficient shovelers of dirt that can dig tunnels in minutes, and their loud bark is important so that when they have tunneled they can be found by their handler. Unless you are a very dedicated dog walker that has a zest for the outdoor time a cairn requires, you must have a backyard and the ability to supervise your little tunneler (or take preventative measures against digging on all perimeters)


Wikipedias description of Cairn Terriers is fairly good and accurate. Though this blog post may make the breed seem difficult, I haven't found that to be so as they fit my lifestyle perfectly.


All dogs should have access to daily walking or a large yard as not only is it mentally and physically stimulating but it aids in digestion. Enrichment is very important even more so for dogs that may be left alone while their owners go to work. Consider building or purchasing puzzle toys & treats or changing up your dogs environment occasionally to avoid boredom.


I've found my cairn's puppy stage to last about 2 years. At 4 years my more mature cairns sometimes adventure with me off leash depending on their personality. Remember, all dogs are individuals. Breeders are not trainers. And it is your responsibility to provide for in the very best way this companion you choose to bring into your family.


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