When most people hear the word terrier, they picture Toto, the Cairn Terrier in The Wizard of Oz. And rightfully so, because this sturdy little dog breed is everything a terrier was designed to be – strong, hardy, plucky, and spirited. "He stands up on his toes", is an old saying about terriers.
The Cairn Terrier loves to play and needs his daily walks. But he is adaptable to any home in which he can be a full participant and busybody and where his bold terrier traits are kept under control by a confident owner.
At maturity, a male cairn terrier stands 10 inches high at the shoulders, with females just slightly shorter at 9.5 inches. Males weigh about 14 pounds, with females 1 pound lighter. Cairns are longer than they are tall, with a body length ranging between 14.25 to 15 inches measured from the chest to the rear of their hindquarters. There's no size range with a cairn terrier.
This breed can be scrappy and bossy with other pets, but will co-exist with them more readily than some other terriers. However, strange animals may be a different story, as the Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt and will chase anything that moves.
If you want a dog who...
- Is small, yet sturdy and tough -- not a delicate lapdog
- Has a natural appearance
- Needs only moderate exercise
- Makes a keen watchdog
Cairn terrier's sport a double-coat, with a thick, harsh topcoat and much shorter and softer undercoat. That coat was designed to protect the working dog in all kinds of weather. He's a moderate shedder, but a weekly brushing should keep stray hairs in check.
If you don't want to deal with...
- The dynamic terrier temperament (see full description below)
- Potential aggression toward other animals -- strong chasing instincts
- Digging holes
I recommend that you get your Cairn Terrier involved in regular obedience classes at the intermediate or advanced level, or in ongoing agility classes (an obstacle course for dogs).
Terriers need a fenced yard in which to stretch their legs, but many terriers are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of adventure.