If you have ever watched The Wizard of Oz and thought about how cute Toto was, you might be thinking about getting a Cairn Terrier. Dorothy’s fluffy pal has captured the hearts of generations of movie watchers, but potential dog owners should know much more about a breed before making a life-long commitment to a pet.
First-time dog owners often do best with a pet that doesn’t need a special diet, complicated grooming, or that is difficult to train. So, are Cairn Terriers good for first-time owners?
Cairn Terriers are good pets for first-time owners. These are small dogs that are relatively easy to groom and to train. Cairn Terriers are playful and loving, which makes them appealing to first time owners. However, Cairn Terriers do need daily exercise and a high level of attention.
Appearance and grooming for Cairn Terriers
First-time dog owners are often drawn to Cairn Terriers for their fluffy, though slightly scruffy, appearance. Though these are long-haired dogs, they are surprisingly easy to groom. Cairn Terriers don’t require frequent trips to the groomer and only need weekly at-home brushing to remove dirt and to prevent tangles and snarls. These wire-haired dogs only shed in small amounts a few times a year, so first-time owners won’t be stuck sweeping up piles of hair.
However, Cairn Terriers can benefit from occasional hand stripping to further limit shedding and to maintain the texture of their coat. According to Pet Guide, hand stripping involves manually removing dead hair to make room for new growth.
Though the practice can seem a little intimidating to new pet owners, it is fairly simple and requires no special tools. If new owners are unsure about hand stripping their Cairn Terrier, a professional groomer can perform the task and even teach the pet parent to do it at home in the future.
Like all dog breeds, Cairn Terriers do need to have their ears cleaned a few times a year to prevent ear infections. According to the American Kennel Club, this is a task that is surprisingly easy, and even a little fun, to accomplish.
Just pop a few drops of canine-friendly ear-cleaning solution into your pet’s ear, and massage gently at the base of their ears. The liquid and massage will loosen buildup and debris. Your pup will naturally want to shake their head to remove the liquid. Since you don’t want doggy ear wax flying across the room, use a towel to catch the spray.
The average size of Cairn Terriers
Small dogs are usually an ideal choice for first-time pet parents. Large dogs that require loads of grooming and come with a high grocery bill can be overwhelming. And tiny, yapping dogs can get underfoot, and their natural anxiety can be difficult to manage.
But, Cairn Terriers fall in a sweet spot that makes them an easy-to-care-for and easier to love, pet. Male Cairn Terriers weigh in at around 14 pounds and 10 inches tall, while females grow to an average of 13 pounds and 9.5 inches tall, according to the AKC.
Exercise needs of Cairn Terriers
Despite their small size, Cairn Terriers are big on energy. These furry friends love to run and play. While this makes the pups the frisky companion’s many people are seeking, first-time owners will need to commit to daily walks and play sessions. Barkercise points out that Cairn Terriers need a minimum of 30 minutes to one hour of walking each day.
Though this could mean putting a long morning or evening walk on your schedule, your pup would prefer to break the time up into two walks. Double the walks mean they double the fun, and it prevents your dog from getting bored and allows them to release the energy a few times a day. Cairn Terriers need to stay busy, both mentally and physically, so daily playtimes are in order.
These small dogs love to play fetch and tug-of-war. While new pet parents may need to adjust to the daily routine of walks and playtime, these are some of the best parts of dog ownership.
Socialization Needs of Cairn Terriers
Trips to the dog park are a fun, effective way for pups to fulfill their daily exercise needs. But, not all dog breeds enjoy playing with other animals. Cairn Terriers do well with other dogs if they have been properly socialized from a young age.
Because Cairn Terrier are naturally playful and curious, they usually enjoy making friends with dogs of similar size. But, this bread can be a little overeager and try to chase or play too roughly. To prevent Cairn Terriers from becoming unintentionally aggressive, it is a good idea for owners to start teaching their pet to get along with others as soon as possible.
According to Rover, dogs should start to socialize with other animals as young as possible, before they are 12 weeks old. This early exposure is important because introducing socialization becomes more difficult after 18 weeks of age. New owners should know that teach a dog social skills means more than heading to a dog park and taking off the leash.
Socialization practice should start with allowing your Cairn Terrier to meet one or two other dogs, of their same size, for a short period of time. Watch your dog closely and reward good behavior with small treats. Let your pup give you cues and got the meeting short before they tire out or start displaying aggressive or territorial behavior.
The key to socialization training is to end each session on a positive note and slowly build on the progress.
Training a Cairn Terrier
Beyond socialization, your new pet will need to learn basic commands and manners. First-time pet owners will appreciate that Cairn Terrier are relatively easy to train. Because these dogs are smart and naturally curious, they pick up commands quickly.
Plus, since Cairn Terriers thrive on attention, they are likely to willingly perform commands for praise and affection. The downside to training your new pup is that most Cairn Terriers have an independent streak and a short attention span. Since your dog would rather run, play, and explore, keep training sessions short.
Cairn Terriers need patience and positive reinforcement, rather than disciplinary training methods. In addition, Cairn Terriers sometimes try to display dominance, so their owners will need to establish themselves as the leader of the pack. The best, easiest way to train your Cairn Terrier is to enroll in puppy training classes.
Not only is a training course the perfect way to jumpstart your puppy’s training, but first-time owners can also benefit from ramping up their understanding of training techniques.
Negative Behaviors in Carin Terriers
One of the first things your Cairn Terrier should learn during their training is a “quiet” command. These pups tend to be barkers. While first time dog parents might find barking frustrating or noisy, it is best to look at vocalization as the way your dog communicates with you.
Cairn Terriers usually have different bark, or even howls, to express various emotions or needs. Your Cairn Terrier will likely bark to tell you they need attention, warn you of approaching strangers, and express fear or excitement.
Good training can give owners tools to tell a dog to stop barking and teach a dog not to bark as often. However, barking is part of a Cairn Terrier’s personality.
Another first-time behavior owners should be aware of is digging. Cairn Terriers were originally bred in Scotland to hunt rodents on Highland game preserves. This heritage means digging is has long been behavior in this breed.
Though training can help with digging, owners should keep an eye on their flower beds, yards, and fence lines while their Cairn Terrier is outside. Of course, another way to limit digging is to ensure the dog has ample exercise and mental stimulation so that they do not become bored.
Life Span and Health of Cairn Terriers
Overall, most Cairn Terriers are generally healthy, and the breed isn’t predisposed to any major health concerns. This means that first-time owners should not need to worry about heavy vet bills, surgeries, or illnesses.
However, like every pet, Cairn Terriers do need regular check-ups and vaccines. Though first-time pet parents may not be familiar with vaccine schedules and the timing spay or neuter procedures, a good veterinarian can walk you through everything you need to do to set your pup on a path to good health.
When you adopt a new pet, you will want to spend as long as possible with them. The typical lifespan of a Cairn Terrier is 13 to 15 years. First-time owners will have many days of park playtimes, long walks, fetch and puppy cuddles ahead of them.