Cairn Terrier Breed Information
Cairn Terriers are a member of the ‘Terrier’ breed group. Dogs in the Terrier group were originally bred for hunting vermin. They are hardy, brave dogs bred to pursue the likes of foxes, badgers and rats (to name a few) above and below ground.
Cairn Terriers get on well with other dogs, but due to their strong hunting instincts, need to be socialised at a young age with cats and other small household pets. Socialisation also helps them to fit into family life, and once socialised, they get on very well with children and make excellent family pets. Twice a year the coat should be hand-stripped to remove dead hair, otherwise grooming 1-2 times per week is needed.
Breed-related health problems:
Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Cairn Terriers are prone to include:
- Luxating patellas - the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.
- Glaucoma – increased pressure within the eye.
- Atopy – hypersensitivity to certain allergens, causing itching and skin trauma.
- Portosystemic shunt – abnormal blood circulation, with the blood effectively bypassing the liver and entering general circulation.
- Von Willebrand's disease – deficiency in blood platelet function resulting in excessive bleeding.
- Legg-Perthes disease (Legg-Calvé-Perthes) – blood supply to the femoral head is depleted, causing destruction of the femoral head.
- Cataracts – opacity of the lens of the eye – giving a ‘cloudy’ appearance.
For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.
You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.
Cairn Terriers have boundless energy and enjoy walks and play. They have a strong hunting instinct and so caution should be taken when exercising off the lead – once on the scent of something it can be difficult to regain their attention! Cairns can be very independent, stubborn dogs, so patience and persistence will be required for training. For more information on training using reward-based techniques, take a look at our dog behaviour page.
Estimated lifetime cost:
The likely lifetime costs for a Cairn Terrier are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:
- Initial costs of the purchase of the pet
- First vaccinations and booster vaccinations
- Pet insurance
- Flea treatments
The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.
Insure your Cairn Terrier with PDSA:
1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Cairn Terriers that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:
- 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
- 4 levels of cover to suit you
- Monthly payment at no extra cost
*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.
By insuring your Cairn Terrier with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.
For more information on taking care of your dog please visit our puppies and dogs section.
Rehoming from a reputable source:
Where you get a dog from can have a big effect on how healthy and happy it is for the rest of its life. Find out where our PDSA vet experts recommend you get your dog from.
|Average height||28-31 cm|
|Average weight||6-8 kg|
|Average lifespan||Over 10 years|
|Minimum exercise (per day)||1 hour|
|Minimum cost (per month)||£70|