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About this dog

Welcome to the Cairn Terrier dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Cairn Terrier pages.

- Kitt Killion

Cairn Terrier Breed Information

Country of origin - United Kingdom

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 3 Section 2 #004|Stds
AKC:|Terrier|Stds
ANKC:|Group 2 (Terriers)|Stds
CKC:|Group 4 - Terriers|Stds
KC (UK):|Terrier|Stds
NZKC:|Terrier|Stds
UKC:|Terriers|Stds

The Cairn Terrier is a breed of dog of the terrier category. It is one of the oldest terriers, originating in the Scottish Highlands and recognised as one of Scotland's earliest working dogs, used for hunting burrowing prey among the cairns.

1. 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.

2. 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 highly intelligent and, although very 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.

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 is a partial misconception. In reality, these dogs do not always like to snuggle and would heartily object to being kept in a basket.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Famous Cairns

* Terry, the dog who played Toto in the 1939 screen adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, was a Cairn Terrier. Due to the identification of the State of Kansas with the original story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a resident of Wichita, Kansas has begun a drive to make the Cairn Terrier the official dog of the State of Kansas.
* In the UK, popular TV Presenter Paul O'Grady often features a Cairn Terrier called Olga on his prime time chat show; dark in colour, Olga was a rescue dog.
* Also in the UK, Pauline Fowler actress Wendy Richards in the BBC TV show Eastenders had a Cairn she fondly named "Betty".


Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".


Taken or modified, in whole or part, from Wikipedia.org