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Cairn Terrier breed Information

Cairn Terrier: The Ultimate Guide 2020

Are you curious to know more about the Cairn Terrier breed? Perhaps you are interested in adopting or buying this adorable little pooch? 

You will find all the information you need to begin your Cairn Terrier parenthood journey right here!

Welcome to our ultimate 2020 guide of the Cairn Terrier dog breed.

What are the Characteristics of the Cairn Terrier

Overall, Cairn Terriers are sound, friendly breeds with a free-spirit who are brilliant family compatriots.

Passionate and affectionate, these canines thrive in both apartments and large homes with new dog parents and experienced dog owners alike.

However, you will note they are quite energetic; therefore, you should always be available to keep them active with dog walks and other forms of exercise.

If you decide this is the breed for you, ensure you allocate a significant amount of time to offer your Cairn pup lots of love and devotion as they prefer companionship more than independence.

Let me take you through each of the Cairn Terrier breed attributes:

  • Cairn Terrier Breed: Adaptability

As you already know, Cairn Terriers adapt well to both apartment and large house spaces. However, it is better if you have a home with a spacious yard as they love to dig (which stems from their hunting instinct).


Cairn Terriers also love to please their human companions, therefore making them suitable for novice owners.


However, left to monitor themselves, they can be adamant, anxious and irritable.

Generally, Cairn Terriers hold 4 out of 5 stars for adaptability and below are the attributes that justify their rating:

  • Adapts well to apartment space: Because they are small, Cairn Terriers are well suited to apartment living. They thus score 5 stars for this adaptability trait. However, because they are hyperactive, you need to walk them several times every day or schedule play sessions.
  • Good for novice owners: The Cairn Terrier scores 4 stars for their suitability for new dog owners. This is because they have an easy-going personality.
  • Sensitivity level: Cairn Terriers are relatively emotional and score 3 stars for sensitivity level. This means it is okay to change their daily routine sometimes, play loud music or host house guests. 

Moreover, The Cairn Terrier does not fall apart at moderate punishment.

  • Tolerates being alone: The Cairn Terrier requires a lot of social attention, thus scores only 1 star for tolerating being alone. It may not be a good idea to leave your pup alone for too long. This breed always desires to socialize and make new friends.
  • Tolerates cold weather: This breed scores 4 stars for enduring cold weather. His soft furry undercoat keeps him warm during winter. 
  • Tolerates hot weather: The Cairn Terrier also scores 4 stars for withstanding warm weather, but not too extreme temperatures. 
  • Cairn Terrier Breed: All-Around Friendliness

The Cairn Terrier is a people dog and scores a whoopee 5 out of 5 stars for all-around friendliness.


They are welcoming to all from family, to strangers, to other pets. You should not expect any hostility or aggressive nature with this breed.


Below are the reasons that contribute towards its 5-star rating in this department:

  • Affectionate with family: The Cairn Terrier is a fantastic family dog and holds 5 stars for family friendliness. He is also fun-loving and very entertaining. You will never get bored with this breed around.
  • Kid-friendly: The Cairn Terrier adores children and often makes a remarkable play-mate. He also scores 5 stars for child-friendliness.
  • Dog-friendly: This breed is friendly and tolerant of other dog breeds, thus scores 4 stars for dog-friendliness. Interestingly, the Cairn Terrier is unlimited by its small size and often challenges dogs even ten times its size. 
  • Stranger friendly: Cairn Terriers also get 4 stars for being generous with strangers. Therefore, it is safe for you to have frequent visitors without any hassle.
  • Cairn Terrier Breed: Health and Grooming Needs

There will be a moderate amount of grooming and upkeep to be required for the Cairn Terrier.


A well maintained Cairn Terrier dog will live up to its maximum life capacity of 12-15 years.


However, you should note some health concerns with this breed, which are mentioned below.


That said, The Cairn Terrier scores 3 out of 5 stars for overall health and grooming needs and here are the reasons why:

  • Amount of shedding: Cairn Terriers shed averagely, thus a 3-star rating. Constant brushing and combing help to reduce the amount of hair that sheds. 
  • Drooling potential: The Cairn Terrier is an ideal example of a low drooling breed; thus, it scores 1 star for drooling tendency. This is the best breed for you if you dislike slobber spots everywhere in the house. 
  • Grooming ease: The Cairn Terrier requires relative grooming tenacity thus holds a 3-star rating for grooming simplicity. You don’t need to hire a professional pet groomer; however, flea treatment is mandatory. 

Check the local pet supplier for dog grooming equipment such as dog shampoo, brushes and combs, hair trimmer among others to keep your pup’s coat fit.

  • General Health: Cairn Terriers tend to be more susceptible to health issues than other dog breeds. They, therefore, score 2 stars for overall health. Frequent vet check-ups are required. 

The health problems you should be aware of with this breed include eye problems, patellar luxation, joint dysplasia, Cryptorchidism, hypothyroidism, Legg-calve-Perthes syndrome, Krabbe disease, liver disease, Craniomandibular Osteopathy, and von Willebrand disease.

  • Potential for Weight Gain: The Cairn Terrier is relatively prone to weight gain, thus gets a 3-star rating. Daily walks and play sessions will help keep him fit and healthy.
  • Size: This breed gets 1 star for its size. It never grows beyond 13 inches (33cm) in length.
  • Cairn Terrier Breed: Trainability

There is almost nothing this smart dog cannot learn. With consistent training, a Cairn can be proficient in as many dog tricks and commands as possible.


However, it may be almost impossible to tame this breed out of what Terriers love to do; bark, chase and dig. The Cairn Terrier will hunt smaller animals such as squirrels, rabbits, kitties and smaller dogs to its heart content.


Therefore, he should be walked on a leash at all times when out in public but should be given free will to run off-leash only within a securely fenced compound.


The Cairn Terrier breed gets 4 out of 5 stars for trainability. Let’s have a look at the reasons:

  • Training ease: The Cairn Terrier is quite easy to train and holds 4 stars for training ease. You must be firm and show your pup whose boss, otherwise it can be obstinate. 
  • Intelligence: Cairn Terriers have a high IQ, thus get a 4-star rating for intelligence level. They comprehend and memorize new orders in 15-25 repetitions.
  • Potential for mouthiness: The Cairn Terrier has a relative tendency to chew, nip, play-bite or herd; thus, it holds 3 stars for mouthiness tendency.
  • Prey drive: Cairn Terriers hold 4 stars for prey lust tendency. They have a higher impulse to chase and catch smaller animals.
  • Tendency to bark or howl: Cairn Terriers bark and howl more often than not. They, therefore, have 5 stars for the potential to bark or howl. They may not be the best choice if you opt a silent breed.  
  • Wanderlust potential: With their high energy, it is quite surprising the Cairn Terrier doesn't have a high wanderlust potential. They may occasionally escape going explore, but it isn't a common phenomenon. They hold a 3-star rating in this department. It is safer to teach them how to get back to you in order. 
  • The Cairn Terrier Breed: Physical Needs

Generally, the Cairn Terrier requires 45 to 60 minutes a day for exercise, including playtime.


It is a relatively active dog, so while it can be suited to an apartment thanks to its size, the Cairn Terrier does need on-leash and off-leash walk along with free runs somewhere safe like a dog park. 


The Cairn Terrier scores 5 out of 5 stars for physical needs and here’s why:

  • Energy level: Cairn Terriers are very vital dogs and score 5 stars for energy level. An active lifestyle keeps them jovial.
  • Intensity: This breed gets 4 stars for intensity. They are very vigorous and agile.
  • Exercise needs: Cairn Terriers require a lot of exercise every day. They, therefore, score a 4-star rating for energy needs. If you consider naps to be overrated, this breed is the ideal selection for you.
  • Potential for playfulness: The Cairn Terrier is a very playful breed and scores 5 stars for this. Enlivened barking and sometimes nibbles will notify you to play.


Vital Stats You Should Know About Cairn Terriers




Dog Breed Group

Hunting or Terrier Dogs


Active; Assertive; Confident; Bold; Intelligent

Coat Texture


Average Height

Male: 11.5 inches (29cm) 

Female: 10.5 inches (26.5cm)

Average Weight

Male: 16 pounds (7kg) 

Female: 15 pounds (7kg)

Life Expectancy 

12-15 years

Exercise Requirements

45-60 minutes every day 

Social Attention Needs


General Grooming Needs



Fun Facts About Cairn Terriers

  • You’ve probably watched the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. In the movie was one of the most famous Cairn Terriers in history called ‘Toto’ but its real name was ‘Terry.’
  • In the movie, Toto was small, sturdy and shaggy-coated beaming with confidence and intelligence. She was always alert and ready to learn.
  • Like all Terriers, the Cairn is independent and quite strong-willed. He must be aware of who is in charge, or he will become the boss.
  • Early socialization and obedience training is essential. If left alone for too long, the dog becomes unhappy and bored, which causes annoying behaviours such as chewing, digging or barking.
  • The Cairn Terrier can participate in agility, obedience and Earthdog competitions.
  • The Cairn is a lovely pet for owners who desire an independent, cautious furry companion with a self-driven attitude toward life.

What is the Origin of Cairn Terrier Dog Breed 

The Cairn Terrier was bred more than two centuries ago on the Skye Isle. Captain Martin Mac Lead is recognized for producing one of the earliest strains of the breed.

Initially, all Scottish Terrier breeds were categorized as Scotch Terriers. In 1873, a new protocol was developed, and Scotch Terriers were classified into two groups: Skye Terrier strain and Dandie Dinmont Terriers.

Under the Skye, Terrier strain is where we find the Cairns as well as the West Highland White Terriers and Scottish Terriers.

These breeds were differentiated primarily by colour because all three strains could be found in one litter. An association for rough-coated Scotch Terriers was developed for the three races in 1881, and a standard was approved in 1882.

In the late 1800s, Scottish Terrier breeders began to choose different attributes such as colour, and the West Highland White Terrier became a separate breed in 1908.

In 1912, the Cairn was declared a breed deriving its name from stone piles that indicated ancient Scottish memorial or burial sites. Such stone piles were used as hideouts for the prey that hid from terriers.

It is a bit hard to tell precisely when Cairns arrived in Australia. By 1926, however, there were a few breeders in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

Mrs Jessie Campbell is one pioneer breeder of Cairns in Sydney who obtained her stock from Miss Elsa Grice in Victoria.

The breed's popularity increased significantly in the 1950s with several recognized and influential kennels being developed. The late 1960s and early 1970s witnessed not only a rise in Cairn Terrier breeders but also an upturn in the number of Cairns import from the UK.

Cairn Terrier Appearance

The Cairn Terrier always looks alert with its ears erect. This little canine is not just a lap toy, but it means biz!

The head is small but in the right dimension with the body. The breadth of the skull is strong enough to support the muzzle. 

Its teeth are level and meet in a scissor-manner. The region between its eyes is notably indented, and its eyes are medium-sized and brown.

The doggie’s glossy eyes are neatly tucked under its thick eyebrows.

The muzzle is small and black couples with a slightly longer neck that correctly supports the head. 

The medium-length body is supported by muscular, masculine thighs with an average spin of hocks and stifle.

Its tail is stout and always erect while the coat is rugged, double-layered and slightly wavy. 

Cairns come in different colours except for white.

In a glimpse, the following are notable Cairn Terrier’s physical features:

  • Eye colour – Brown
  • Nose colour – Black
  • Coat colour – Cream; Red; Black; Grey; Brindle
  • Coat length – Medium
  • Coat density – Normal 
  • Coat texture – Wiry 

What is the Average Size and Lifespan of Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terriers are small to medium-sized. An adult male measures 10-13 inches (25-33 cm) while a fully grown female measures 9-12 inches (23- 30 cm).

Their weight also suits their size with male ones being 14-18 pounds (6-8 kg) and the female 13-17 pounds (6-8kg).

Cairn Terriers are prone to several health issues which negatively affect their wellness. With this factor in mind, you should only obtain your pet from a reliable breeding organization that assures you little or no chances of genetic disorders.

A properly cared for Cairn Terrier will brighten your life for a solid 12-15 years.

All About the Cairn Terrier Temperament And Personality

The Cairn Terrier is a refreshingly friendly pooch. He is cheerful, jovial, social- the whole package! On the other hand, he is entirely terrier-alert, independent and fierce. 

Activities such as barking, chasing, digging, hunting and howling feature top on his bucket list of fun activities. Apart from pursuing the neighbour’s kitty, the Cairn is a useful guard dog and will often announce when you have a visitor at your door.

Though the Cairn Terrier is a free-spirit, he is undoubtedly devoted to his humans and is most satisfied when he is a partaker of family activities.

He will play with the kids, greet you at the door when you arrive home and follow you from room to room. Additionally, he quickly picks up on your emotions; thus if you are not happy, he will be moody as well.

These canines were developed to be courageous working dogs; therefore, they love to be active. They require assertive, but not harsh correction and training.

As a pack leader, you must gain your pup’s respect. Meek parents will find training this breed a handful; thus, you need to be unyielding to tame your dog from destructive behaviour such as excessive barking. 

Like any other breed, the Cairn calls for early socialization to help him grow into a well-rounded adult.

Registering for a puppy kindergarten class is an excellent way to begin.

What Health Problems Are Cairn Terriers Prone To?

Cairns are usually healthy, but similar to other dog breeds; they're susceptible to particular health issues. Not all pups will fall victim to these illnesses, but it's crucial to be aware of them if you're thinking of adopting this small breed.

If you're going to buy a Cairn Terrier puppy, find a reputable breeder who will provide your puppy's parents' health clearances.

In Cairn Terriers, you should expect to get health clearances for the following conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia (score of fair or higher) from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and Von Willebrand’s disease, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism
  • Thrombopathia from Auburn university
  • Healthy eyes clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF)

You can verify your dog’s health clearance by exploring the OFA website (offa.org). 

  •  Patellar Luxation 

Also named the "slipped stifles," this condition is quite common in small dog breeds such as the Cairn Terrier. 

It involves the dislocation of the kneecap, often the hind leg. Though it is crippling, many pups still lead healthy lives. 

The friction of the limb caused by patellar luxation can cause arthritis. There are four classes of the condition based on their severity: grade 1 causes temporary lameness of the joint. In contrast, grade 4 is very severe, with the complete turning of the tibia, and the patella cannot be repositioned manually. 

The dog gets a bow-legged physique with extreme patellar luxation and may need surgical rectification.

  •  Hypothyroidism

Low levels of thyroid hormone trigger this condition. Watch out for the following symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • obesity 
  • infertility 
  • lack of energy 
  • dullness
  • epilepsy
  • alopecia (hair loss)
  • hyperpigmentation
  • pyoderma

Furthermore, the dog’s hair may become hard and brittle and start to thin, while your dog’s skin may turn dark and rugged.

Hypothyroidism can be well managed with thyroid renewal medication every day, and the drug is administered throughout the canine's life.

  •  Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease 

When your Cairn Terrier suffers from this condition, the blood supply to the upper part of the femur is limited, and the head of the femur begins to fragment. 

The initial signs of Legg-Calve-Perthes are limping and deteriorating of the leg muscle and occur to 4-6-month-old pups.  

The condition is rectified with surgery to remove the broken femur. The scar tissue heals by creating a false joint, so the puppy doesn’t experience pain. Rehabilitation therapy helps gets the pup’s life back on track after undergoing femur surgery. 

  •  Portosystemic liver shunt

This is a congenital malfunction whereby blood does not enter the liver. Therefore, it does not get cleaned as it should. Surgery is the best form of treatment for this disorder.

  •  Ocular Melanosis/ Secondary Glaucoma

Formerly known as pigmentary glaucoma, this condition has become increasingly prevalent since 1984. It is a painful genetic health issue that occurs distinctly in Cairn Terriers between ages 7-12 years. The problem affects both eyes.

Observe both eyes for tiny spots or dark patches inside the sclera (the white section of the eye). The pigment accumulates and reduces the ability of fluid to flow out of the anterior chamber. This increases eye pressure, referred to as secondary glaucoma.

If detected early, the issue can be managed with medication.

  •  Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy

Also referred to as Krabbe’s disease, this is a degenerative condition of the white substance of the brain and spinal cord.

Puppies with this condition succumb at a very young age or are euthanized.

Currently, there is a test that can help pinpoint carriers of this malicious disease. Breeding canines should be assessed.

  •  Cryptorchidism 

Cryptorchidism is a condition whereby one or both testicles fail to go down to the scrotum.

The testicles should come down entirely by the time the pup is 2 months of age.

If a testicle fails to descend, it becomes non-essential and often cancerous if not extracted.

The only form of treatment is surgical neutering.

  •  Craniomandibular Osteopathy

This condition impacts the skull bones of a maturing puppy, causing them to become abnormally engorged.

You should start to observe the signs by the time the puppy is 4-8 months of age.

The cause of this disease is not known but considered to be genetic.

So take note of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the puppy’s jaw and glands (causing the inability to open the mouth) 
  • Drooling 
  • Fluctuating fever that recurs every fortnight
  • Chewing muscles may shrivel.


Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs help to reduce pain.

The abnormal bone development decelerates and ideally stops by the time the puppy is a year old.

The swelling can also subside, but some pups develop permanent jaw issues and experience eating issues.

In severe cases, the puppy may need to have surgery rectification, but this is rare.

How To Take Care of Cairn Terriers

You may think that being a Cairn owner is as simple as visiting your local breeder or that pet rescue shelter near your neighbourhood and acquiring a puppy that you fancy.

However, after that first step comes to the actual phase of dog parenthood, which involves, exercising, training, feeding, grooming and keeping your Cairn pup happy.

Lucky for you this comprehensive guide will offer you all the tit-bits of caring for your Cairn Terrier throughout its life.

Let’s begin:

Feeding your Cairn Terrier

Knowing what kind of diet and nutrition that best suits your Cairn pup is essential.

Just like human beings, Cairn Terriers require the same minerals and vitamins for them to be healthy and maintain an ideal physique as well as their energy level demand.

Dietary needs for Cairns will vary according to their age. Maturing pups require more proportions of fat, calcium and protein than fully grown adults do. Older dogs significantly need fewer amounts of fat and protein. 

Holistic grain-free and antioxidant-filled dog food are vital. Furthermore, real meat products are a top priority as well as a variety of vegetables and fresh fruits.

Most dog food ingredients avoid corn because it is not only hard to digest but also associated with food sensitivities leading to skin infections.

Hence, diet and nourishment is the most crucial aspect when feeding your pet because it impacts their long-term wellbeing, immune health, vital organs and their lifespan, thus educate yourself and choose diligently.

1. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe

As your Cairn Terrier continues to age, you need to watch his diet to prevent obesity. 

This Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe is an excellent pick because it is developed for small breeds but has lower fat levels to keep your pup at considerable body weight.

It contains a wide array of top-notch organic ingredients and advantageous supplements such as probiotics and prebiotics to faster nutrient absorption and proper digestion.

2. First-Mate Small Bites Australian Lamb Meal Formula LID Dry Food

If your Cairn pup consistently gets food allergies, it is best to avoid excessive grains, proteins, and low-grade ingredients, so this First Mate Small Bites Australian Lamb Meal Formula LID Dry Food is an excellent choice.

This Recipe contains a regulated number of key ingredients and is uniquely developed for small dog breeds.

Its single source of protein is Australian Lamb meal fortified with fresh vegetables and fruits, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

It contains 13% fat, 78% animal-based protein, and 24% crude protein.

It is also augmented with prebiotic fibres for proper digestion and chelated mineral sources for non-mandatory nutrient intake.

3.Solid Gold Mighty Mini Lamb, Sweet Potato And Cranberry Toy and Small Breed Recipe

For superior nutrition and minimal risk for food allergies and sensitivities, it is challenging to do better than Solid Gold Mighty Mini Lamb, Sweet Potato and Cranberry toy and small Breed recipe.

This formula is specially developed for small breeds like the Cairn Terrier, and it is endowed with digestible grain-free carbohydrates and novel proteins.

Generally, this dog food offers 18% fat and 30% protein to fortify your Cairn’s muscle built as well and aid its metabolism.

It contains a wide array of vegetables and fresh fruits and probiotics to help with your pup's digestion.

It is completely free of low–quality fillers and artificial additives that might rumble your pup's tummy.

If you want to tantalize your Cairn Terrier’s taste buds with new exciting dog food but still want to offer the best quality, try this premium Fromm Family Pet Food. 

This Gold Small Breed Formula is particularly formulated for your small pet’s metabolism.

Take a look at its unique features:

  • It contains ingredients such as celery, oatmeal, duck, potatoes, chicken, carrots, tomato, and salmon oil to provide your dog with a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
  • It is also fortified with extra probiotics to help indigestion.
  • Its main ingredients are chicken, duck, and chicken meal.
  • It contains omega 3 fatty acids (0.5%) and omega 6 fatty acids (2.6%)

Blue Buffalo is an ideal option for many Cairn Terrier breeds. It comprises of an exceptional ingredient list, and most canines find it flavorful.

Here are some of its features that make this premium product a must-have dog food:

  • Its chewable kibble size is ideal for a Cairn’s tiny teeth. 
  • Its first ingredient is deboned chicken.
  • It is formulated with numerous omega-fatty-acid endowed with ingredients to maintain your healthy pup’s coat and skin.
  • It is strengthened with an assemblage of minerals, probiotics, and vitamins.

Most dog owners hail praises of this Recipe from its delicious taste to its coat and skin improvement. Blue Buffalo is a great value dog food that you don't have to break the banks to acquire.

This is overall a right choice for most Cairns; however, it lacks a few extra touches that other formulae possess. 


Some owners love that NUTRO Ultra Small Breed Recipe is made with fresh organic ingredients rather than genetically modified ones.


With that said, the following are some primary features of this formulae:

  • Chicken is the primary ingredient.
  • It contains twelve different super-nutritious foods such as coconut, kale, and chia.
  • It is grain-free and made without artificial preservatives and flavours.
  • Tiny kibble size is well-tailored for your pooch's smallmouth.


This dog food offers the following benefits:

  • Dog’s love it because it is tasty.
  • It may assist in solving food allergies because it does not include common allergens.
  • It is reasonably priced.

This Recipe is a wholesome, high-quality dog food specially designed to nourish your Cairn pup while maintaining its weight.


Unlike several other weight regulation formulas, Wellness Small Breed preserves its excellent flavour your Cairn Terrier will absolutely relish.


The following are critical features of this dog food:

  • Its main ingredient is a real turkey.
  • It is prepared with antioxidant-rich ingredients such as spinach, blueberries, and pumpkin.
  • The kibbles are small enough to suit your Cairn little mouth and teeth. 


Wellness Small Breed has received outstanding reviews from small-dog owners who used it. Most indicated that their pups loved the flavour and the small kibble size, and there was an improvement in their dog's hair and skin condition.

Developed uniquely for small and mini breed pups, Holistic Select Small and Mini Breed Puppy Anchovy, Sardine, and Chicken Meal Recipe is a perfect option for your Cairn Terrier puppy.

It is not only formulated to meet your dog's specific nutritional demands but is also an integrated recipe produced with all-natural ingredients. 

It also accommodates premium antioxidant-rich superfoods and valuable supplements.

If you seek a combination of affordability and decent quality, try this Simply Nourish Grain Free formula.

This kibble provides chicken meals and deboned chicken for a protein-packed diet with grain-free carbohydrates for fibre and energy.

It offers 17% fat and 28% crude protein; furthermore, it is supplemented with vegetables and dried fruits for extra nutrition.

It is free from low-grade fillers and non-organic additives to lower the risk of offsetting sensitivity and food allergies.

10. Canidae Grain-Free PURE Petite Small Breed Salmon Formula

This Recipe is another ideal pick if your Cairn pup has a super-sensitive tummy. Canidae Grain Free PURE Petite Small Breed Salmon Formula limits its amount of ingredients to just eight, including one key source of animal protein and easily digestible grain-free carbohydrates.

Moreover, the formula is endowed with omega fatty acids to maintain your Cairn’s smooth, healthy coat plus probiotics for appropriate digestion.

This Recipe is free from artificial flavours, colours and additives, and fillers that could upset your pup's tummy.

The Earthborn Holistic is distinctly designed for small breeds like the Cairn Terrier with sensitive tummies.

With quality sources of animal protein and no grains, this dog food is perfect for your highly energetic Cairn pup.

Some of its unique features are listed below:

  • Its primary protein sources are white fish meal, chicken meal, and oatmeal.
  • It is endowed with easily digestible grains such as barley, brown rice, rye, and oatmeal, which are perfect fibre to prevent constipation.
  • There are also a few fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, apples, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
  • The kibble is fortified with minerals and vitamins.
  • It contains a wide assortment of antioxidants.
  • It is supplemented with Taurine, Glucosamine and L- carnitine.
  • It contains omega 3 fatty acids (1%) and omega 6 fatty acids (2.8%).

Halo Pets is another high-quality Small Breed Dog food that will not disappoint you. It is filled with nutritious and wholesome ingredients packed in dense chewable kibbles perfect for your small canines.

Its specifics are as follows:

  • Its key ingredients are chicken livers and dried eggs.
  • It contains fruits, vegetables, and wholesome grains.
  • Its kibbles are flavour full, tasty, and easily digestible.
  • Halo utilizes only natural non- artificial ingredients combined with a real meal.
  • The food is enriched with vitamins and essential minerals making it a complete dog food for your Cairn Terrier.
  • It is free of artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives.

Wellness CORE is a grain-free healthy small breed recipe you must have in your dog’s diet plan. 

It is explicitly designed to offer just the right amount of calories to meet your little friend’s high energy requirement. 

Its certain features include:

  • Its sole ingredient is the wholesome lean deboned turkey.
  • It is fortified with probiotics to enhance the dog’s digestive system. 
  • It contains no corn, soy, or wheat.
  • It is packed with ingredients prominent in antioxidants and omega fatty acids. 

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Recipe is one dog food you should not miss. It contains filling proteins, healthy vegetables and fruits, superior supplements, and grain-free carbohydrates to improve your Cairn pup’s coat and skin health.

Like every other dog food manufactured by Blue Buffalo, this one is an excellent option if you want to offer your pup the highest nutrition possible.


Furthermore, Blue Wilderness is a grain-free formula that acquires its carbohydrate source from ingredients like potatoes, peas, and tapioca starch instead of corn or wheat.


Its key features include:

  • It is made without artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives.
  • Its first and most crucial ingredient is deboned chicken.
  • Small kibble perfectly suits your little furry friend.
  • It contains glucosamine to help strengthen your Cairn Terrier joints.


Most feedback on Blue Wilderness Small Breed Recipe is very positive.

Several owners have appraised this dog food for significantly improving their pup's skin and coat. Many dogs experience fewer digestion issues after switching their diet to this dog food.

Moreover, most canines appear to relish the flavour of this Recipe.

This formula is a high-quality grain-free beef dog food that will offer your furry friend with an explosive flavour of impressive ingredients.

Merrick Lil' Plates is specially developed for small dog breeds of all ages, which is beneficial as you don't have to keep changing your pup's diet as it grows.

Below are the specific features of Merrick Lil’ Plates:

  • It is grain and gluten-free.
  • It contains the highest protein content (38%) of all the dog food in the market.
  • Its ingredients contain high amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin to foster a dog’s joint fitness. 
  • It contains a significant amount of fatty acid, more than other dog foods. 


Though this dog food is quite pricy, it is a better alternative than average dog food, developed with the most exclusive assortment of ingredients. If you want to provide your Maltese with five-star cuisine, Merrick Lil' Plates should be your first selection.

Apart from its exceptional nutritional value and excellent taste, dog owners have observed that this formula enhances their dog's coat and skin condition and their energy level.

Orijen Grain-Free Regional Red is packed with a wide array of protein-filled meat products that are essential for your Cairn Terrier. 

This formula is a unique combination of Orijen’s high-quality brand recognized for palatable subsistence extracted from red meat sources without hormones or anti-biotic.

The following are its key features:

  • It is fortified with fatty acids for an elegant and healthy coat and support skin health.
  • The antioxidants supplied by fruits and vegetables help to boost your dog’s immune system.
  • Its natural grasses aid to relief your pet’s metabolism.
  • Specially-chosen botanicals support effective digestion, nourish body organs and detoxify the body from toxic products such as poison.
  • It lacks cereals but only contains a few carbohydrates.


Only meat-packed food buffers the finest health and stamina of canines.

Recent research also indicates that a significant amount of protein improves kidney functions.


Orijen Regional Red dog food offers at least 80% meat protein, thus making it one of the best foods for your little Cairn. 


Hill’s Science Diet is one of the most desirable brands for small canines like the Cairn Terrier.

Its price lingers on the costly side, but you will find its benefits extremely worth that extra penny.

The following are its key benefits:

  • It is uniquely designed to appeal fussy eaters.
  • It is medically tested by specialists to ensure each ingredient offers the right nutrition to your dog.
  • Its primary ingredient is chicken meal, which supplies vitamin B6, protein, phosphorous, Niacin and Selenium to help support muscle and bone development.
  • It supplies the right proportion of calcium.
  • It offers antioxidants with vitamins C and E for stronger immunity and longer life.
  • It excludes colours, artificial flavours and preservatives.
  • Other high-quality ingredients include real-chicken, lamb and salmon.

Royal Canin is another illustration of ultimate dog food for your Cairn Terrier.

The kibble size is tailor-made to suit your pet’s little teeth.

Its other distinct advantages include:

  • The formula is supreme for dogs with fussy appetites.
  • It is strengthened with EPA and DHA to maintain your dog’s healthy coat.
  • Several veterinarians highly recommend it.
  • It contains L- Carnitine which is vital for fat metabolism to maintain optimum weight.
  • It assists in keeping your dog's bones healthy and defending against osteoarthritis.
  • It incorporates real chicken meal which is an ideal protein source.


Small canines like the Cairn Terrier are more active than most giant breeds; therefore, they require more energy.  

This Royal Canin Recipe can supply your little doggie the energy it needs.

This formula is one of the many Stella and Chewy’s supreme dog foods that implements the prey approach.

It applies chicken protein in different forms-the first primary ingredients are chicken liver, chicken gizzard and chicken minced with bone.

You will find its protein amount high enough to meet your Cairn’s nutrition needs.

The following are its primary features that make this brand a top pick:

  • Apart from chicken, the recipe supplies locally acquired organic fruits and vegetables.
  • This dog food excludes grains, artificial colours, hormones and fillers.
  • Chelated and fermentation mineral elements are present for proper absorption and digestion.
  • This dog food is freeze-dried to seal all essential flavours and nutriment.
  • It is recommendable for canines with food allergies.

ACANA Puppy and Junior Formula is a nutrient-filled, intense protein puppy dog food.

It is developed with premium ingredients like wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs and free-run poultry. It is also packed with cartilage and organs.

  • It is infused with freeze-dried chicken liver.
  • It is grain-free, which is valid for a sensitive stomach.
  • It is endowed with apples, carrots, greens and pumpkin.

Annamaet Ohana Puppy Food is a non-grain combination formulated with Wild Alaskan Cod; which is perfect for your maturing pup.

This mix also incorporates coconut oil and prebiotics for gut health and nutrient intake.

Finally, it is fortified with DHA and omega-3 fatty acid for healthy coat and skin.

How Often To Feed Your Cairn Terrier

Shopping for a suitable brand of dog food for your Cairn pup can seem particularly overwhelming given the dozens upon dozens of dog food varieties available. 

If you take time to go through each brand's labels and know the basic requirements of your dog, you will observe that there are only a handful of feeds that attain your doggie's nutrition needs.

During a Cairn Terrier's life span, the dietary needs evolve. A puppy should be fed three times daily until it is four months of age. A young puppy should be fed frequently because its tummy is still small and is growing at an accelerating pace.

After 4 months of age, it is advisable to reduce its servings to 2 times a day.

Some matured dogs may only need one feeding a day.

If you change your dog's food, you should closely monitor any effect the diet may cause on your furry friend's overall health.

Freshwater should always be provided.

Regularly scheduled serving will assist with house training too. A timetabled feeding also means scheduled toileting.

Amount to Feed a Cairn Terrier

How much food a Cairn requires varies just as it does with humans. Its level of activity, health, metabolism and age will have an impact.

Averagely, you should serve ½ cup to 1 cup of high-quality dry dog food which should be divided into at least two servings.

Grooming Your Cairn Terrier

Though the Cairn Terrier has a shorter coat, it is still crucial to keep them adequately groomed to prevent knots and matting. The Cairn Terrier coat is double-layered, the rougher outer layer is water-repelling, and the inner layer helps to keep warm.

This breed hardly sheds unlike most double-coated breeds and proper weekly grooming will keep your Cairn looking beautiful and spare your home of hair infestation.

Brushing: Since the Cairn Terrier coat is prone to matting, maintain a weekly brushing routine to reduce the problem.

Always brush in alignment with the hair growth direction to protect your dog's hair from damage.

Avoid brushing the face but use a wide-set comb if need be and groom the facial hair tenderly.

Removing mats: Both the inner and outer coats are prone to matting. 

The best time to eliminate mats is as soon as you notice them; otherwise, they will rapidly increase in size and become more painful to remove later on.

Use small clips and a blunt pair of scissors to extract the mat further away from the dog’s skin.

Avoid trimming too far in to prevent hurting your pet.

Most importantly, remove mats before bathing your Cairn Terrier as wetness will make the mats tighter, thus more difficult to remove.

Bathing: Cairn Terriers can be sponge bathed once a month but should be fully bathed when necessary.

The natural lubricant on the dog's coat will often repel water and dirt, thus making the fur look much healthier than it would seem if wet bathing was conducted usually.

Sponge or dry bathing involves brushing or combing a commercial dry bath powder through the dog’s hair. This helps to extract dirt and to keep the hair gleaming.

Stripping: Stripping involves the extraction of dead or long fur from the coat using a stripping knife or rubber fingertips. 

Cairn Terriers quickly get used to stripping, and it is not a painful procedure as it only removes dead or overgrown hair, not the sensitive fur that attaches to the hair follicles.

Teeth hygiene: The teeth should be brushed using a slip-on finger sleeve and doggy toothpaste.

Avoid using human toothpaste or toothbrush as they don’t like the experience and will soon start to hate the process.

Ear Care: Cairn Terriers hardly have ear problems. There are, however, some conditions that can develop due to negligence of ear care. 

The main symptoms of ear issues with canines are:

  • Consistent scratching of the ears.
  • Concurrent and frequent shaking of the head.
  • Redness of the ears.
  • Ear sensitivity
  • Scales or tumours on the ear skin
  • Ear discharge
  • Foul odour emitting from the ears

Often the cause of these symptoms is water inside the ear, ear mites or other factors that require medical intervention.

If undealt with, the symptoms can become severe and lead to hearing loss or worse, even death.

Claw clipping: Often Cairn Terriers do not need nail trimming if they frequently walk on cement or other rough surfaces like pavements. Such surfaces serve as natural nail files to maintain short claws. 

However, you should invest in a quality dog nail clipper-avoid using human nail cutters as they cause a dog’s claws to splinter.

Many Cairn pups are scared of nail clippers; therefore beginning this procedure when the dog is young is the most effective way to train the dog to get used to nail trimming.

Train your Cairn Terrier not to retract when you hold its paw, and he should be praised or rewarded for not pulling away.

Avoid being in a rush to finish the nail clipping process and offer lots of praise and rewards to make the experience pleasant for both you and your doggy friend.

Overall, Cairn Terriers quickly adjust to grooming procedures and learn to look forward to it.

Grooming should always be fun and be accompanied by games and treats.

Rewarding your doggy after every grooming session will make it a positive event.

Essential Grooming Tools for the Cairn Terrier

  • Comb
  • Coat conditioner
  • Cotton balls
  • Slicker brush
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided dental tool
  • Paper towel
  • Pin brush
  • Ear cleaner solution
  • Stripping knife
  • Nail clipper

Exercising and Training Your Cairn Terrier

Similar to human beings, Cairn Terriers can turn to “coach potatoes”.

It is vital to begin gradually when exercising your little Cairn. Start with a fifteen-minute brisk walk and slowly increase the length and the pace of the trail as the dog matures.

An ideal walk is half an hour and sometimes slow jogging.

If walking during winter, keep checking your dog's paw pads to prevent a buildup of ice and snow.

Any of the following extra activities can spice up your doggy’s daily exercise routine:

  • Some Frisbee chasing
  • Enrol for obedience or training class
  • Play fetch with a ball
  • Invite someone else with a dog to join in on your dog walk
  • Utilize a retractable leash that gives your Cairn more roaming space while still regulating movement.
  • Go walking in a new neighbourhood or park.
  • Alternate jogging and walking


Avoid exercising your Cairn Terrier at the hottest time of the day, to prevent dehydration. Also, have bottled water on hand to replenish your pup when outdoors.

Make sure you are in a vibrant and jolly mood when you start your training sessions. If you are angry, stressed or tired, your Cairn will pick up on such emotions and will make training less pleasant and quite hard. Always praise your Cairn puppy when a task is performed right.

Besides, try to incorporate a play session when you finish every training lesson, especially if it has gone well- this will aid the puppy have a positive outlook of training.

Housebreaking is one of the initial lessons to teach your puppy, but it can be one of the toughest. Since puppies have tiny bladders, they need to urinate more frequently. Take the puppy outside every couple of hours during the day to avoid in-house messes.

Try to schedule training times in a place with minimal distractions from the TV or nearby playing children.

Also critical, remember puppies have a short concentration span, so conclude the training when you notice the puppy is starting to “tune out.”

Short, consistent training is more efficient than long training sessions.

One of the most reliable ways to train your Cairn Terrier puppy is to utilize crate training. The dog perceives the crate as a safe den where he can rest or just spend time.

Other benefits of crate training will continue to show as your pup matures. They include:

  • A crate offers an ideal environment for transporting your pup.
  • It offers a suitable yet restrained location when you are away from home.
  • It is a method for regulating undesirable behaviours like chewing and digging.
  • It is an excellent tool for scheduling sleeping, toileting and other projects.

Are Cairn Terriers Great With Children And Other Pets?

Cairn Terriers that are adequately socialized with children are the best pets even for toddlers.

While all young ones need to be trained on how to handle their pet dogs, Cairn Terriers seem to be more tolerable towards kids than many other small canine breeds. 

They adore running and playing with children and will spend a lot of time fetching and exploring with their children companions.

Children need to be taught how to carry and hold the Cairn pup to protect the dog from jumping and hurting its limbs.

Cairn Terriers love to sleep with their kid fans or sometimes find a suitable sleeping spot at the bedside.

The Cairn Terrier can get along well with other pets but will be somewhat hostile toward rodents such as pet hamsters or guinea pigs.

Cairns can learn to be housemates with cats if they are properly socialized.

They also do well with larger dog breeds, considering they are introduced gradually, and the other canine is of the opposite sex and is neutered or spayed.


Australian Based Breed Organizations for Cairn Terriers

There are so many considerations you should make before acquiring your eagerly awaited pet. First, you must find suitable breeder, decide whether you want a male or female pup and determine whether a puppy or an adult pet is right for you. Take the time to implement such decisions is crucial for both you and your furry friend.

In deciding between a young pup or an adult Cairn Terrier, there are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Am I fully equipped to train a puppy?
  • How much time do I have available for training, grooming and play?
  • Can I spend sufficient time with my puppy for the majority of the day and night?

The next step is where to buy your Cairn Terrier pet. There is a wide range of options to consider, and I have listed some of the most reputable Cairn Terrier breeders in Australia.

While probably the costliest choice, obtaining a Cairn Terrier from a breeder is usually the best option if you desire a purebred pup.

A good breeder should provide you with the puppy's health guarantee together with a detailed history of the breed.

Most breeders interview interested candidates and often visit their homes before agreeing to transfer a puppy’s ownership. 

The breeder should encourage you to examine the litter pup severally before selecting the right puppy for you.

They should also provide you with a list of recommendations on food, local veterinarians, trainers, possible health issues with the breed and other areas of interest. 

Before visiting your chosen Cairn Terrier breeder, it is crucial to seek information on the line of canines they are breeding and any critical health information on the breeding parents.

Equally important, conduct research both on the breed and the line the puppies are bred from. Reaching out to other breeders who develop the same type of dogs or a reputable breed association may come in handy.

Acquiring this information before visiting a breeder is crucial as it is effortless to get caught up in the exhilaration of having a new pup.

Below is a list of the most reliable Cairn Terrier breeders in Australia:

You can judge a good breeder by how he handles his breeders as well as how effectively he answers any question you pose to him concerning the breed.

Breeders that are apprehensive about developing the breed and who devote their attention to each of the puppies are often more than glad to answer your queries and inquiries. 

They will also want to question you before deciding if you are the right fit for their puppy.

As a buyer, your priority should be to obtain the following data from the Cairn Terrier breeder:

  • Does the breeder have a credible purchase contract that well outlines a health guarantee and a policy for refund or return?
  • Does the breeder have the puppy’s parents? If not, does he have the parents’ details?
  • Can the breeder offer a descent chart for the puppy that goes back several generations?
  • Will the breeder allow you to see other puppies in the kennel and is the habitat hygienic, well maintained and canine-friendly?
  • Are you able to see other adult Cairn Terrier dogs and puppies that the breeder has interact?
  • Is the breeder recognized by the local, state or national breed club or organization?
  • How does the breeder enable the female and male parents to reproduce?

A credible Cairn Terrier breeder considers the health and safety of his puppies and will only allow sincere buyers to hold, touch and carry the puppies. If you are just seeking more information about the breed, you may be able to view them from afar and perhaps interact with the mature dogs. 

A breeder may also monitor your interaction time with the puppies at any set time even if you are looking to buy.

If you are purchasing from a breeder for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed by the endless questions and requests he may pose. Don’t worry as this is the breeder’s way to ensure his puppy will be well cared for and maintained once it is sold.

Answering the breeder’s inquisitions and implementing any recommended upgrades will enhance your probability of acquiring a beloved puppy.

The Cairn Terrier may ultimately ask the following questions:

  • How big are your house and yard? The breeder may ask to inspect your home as well.
  • What do you intend to do with the dog? The breeder may request that you have your pet neutered or spayed or only breed to canines he approves of.
  • If you have other pets, the breeder may request for their history. You may be needed to sign a consensus of how you will socialize your pup.
  • The breeder may ask about the schedule and situation of your family and may seek to know how many individuals will be in constant interaction with the pooch. Additionally, if you have kids, their ages will be required.
  • The breeder may recommend you enrol for training lessons or use a specific training method.
  • In case you purchase a dog, and the ownership doesn't work out, the breeder may ask to have the puppy back rather than you surrendering it or selling it to someone else.

The more data you gather from the breeder and the more the breeder acquires from you, the better the match.

Finally, attending dog events and shows may help you spot a breeder you would like to work with. 

Rescue Groups for Cairn Terriers in Australia 

If you would like to own a Cairn Terrier but lack time to handle a puppy, consider the option of adopting an adorable adult pup from a rescue home.

These shelters offer loving homes for abandoned Cairn Terriers who were neglected by their owners for different reasons, some oven outrageous such as tail wagging. 

All Cairn Terriers from rescue homes will be neutered or spayed and will have received all the required vaccinations and vet inspections.

The rescue organization will also recommend Cairn Terrier- friendly services near your home.

Usually, the shelter will permit you to handle the dogs they have available for adoption, which will allow you to assess their behaviour and personality.

Often rescue homes agree to reclaim the dog if it fails to adjust to the new family or environment. 

Many adult pups are already trained, which is a great asset when you don’t want the whole training hustle.

When acquiring a Cairn Terrier from a rescue group, ensure to check the following:

  • Acquire as much detail as possible about the dog. 
  • Ensure the pet has had a veritable check-up and that vaccinations are contemporary. 
  • Does the dog look healthy and vibrant? 
  • Inquire if the dog has any behavioural concerns like barking or feeding.
  • Is it possible to return the pet and choose another incase the adoption fails to work out as planned?

That said, you can have a look at the rescue shelters listed below:

Concluding Lines on Cairn Terrier Dog Breeds

Cairn Terriers are exceptional family companions-you can call them our four-legged best friends for life! If you have a house with a yard, it is best for your pet.  

It is a minimum shedding breed with progressive and zestful nature.   

So was this guide helpful to you?

If YES, are you up for the quest of raising a Cairn Terrier dog? Share your feedback with us. We’ll be more than glad to read your views.



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