Many movies, such as The Wizard of Oz, have featured a cairn terrier. Toto, the adorable dog in the movie, played a major role in making the breed more popular around the world. Cairn terrier is one of the many terrier breeds that exist, having originated from the Scottish Islands and with a long history as one of Scotland’s working dogs.
The unique name Cairn comes from its initial job of hunting and chasing quarry around the cairns in the Scottish islands. They have a unique weather-resistant coat that can either be black, grey, sandy, cream, red, or brindled in any of these colors.
If your Cairn is brindled, do not be surprised if his or her color changes to a darker hue as he ages.
Most cairns also have an outer layer of shaggy, fuzzy fur that differentiates them from the Norwich terrier, but they have a soft, downy undercoat.
Cairn Terriers weigh in at 4.5-7.3kg (10-16lbs) and have a height ranging between 9 inches (23cm) and 13 inches (33cm).
Do These Dogs Enjoy Cuddling?
Cairn terriers are among the most devoted pets around, and they are incredibly fun to have around. However, they are not the cuddly type.
They prefer to run about, explore, and dig. Despite their dislike for cuddling, cairn terriers are still among the top choices for home pets.
Even though they may not like cuddling, they do not mind rubs and tickles and can be quite affectionate.
Cairn Terries are fun, brilliant, devoted, athletic, and loyal. Their strong instinct to dig, work, and hunt also makes them great companions.
If well cared for, groomed and trained, a cairn will make the perfect pet.
What Fun Activities Do Cairn Terriers Like?
Cairns love to dig. They stand out among other dog breeds for their irresistible and strong instinct to dig.
If you have a cairn, do not stop them from digging; this would be akin to stopping a cat from scratching a post.
Cairns were developed to find rats, mice, and other small vermin, and digging is one of the ways in which they flush the critters out.
Their feet are actually adapted to digging, where their front paws are larger and more padded than their rear ones. Rather than stop them from working out this knack, why don’t you use this as a way to spend quality time together?
Do Some Gardening
Now that you cannot bond in a hammock or bed, consider trying activities that allow him or her to dig, such as gardening.
If you have a home garden, save time and energy by bringing your Cairn with you as you maintain the plants. To ensure he does not disrupt the whole garden and ruin your plants—designate a digging patch for him.
Cairn Terries are quite impulsive, and once they start digging, stopping can prove hectic, which is why you need to initiate control from the beginning.
Once you select a patch for them, start digging in that area, and soon, they will get the drift and start digging.
Work on the patch together until you are satisfied with the depth, then command him or her to stop and offer him a treat for being obedient.
K9 Nose work
Like other dogs, your Cairn has a remarkable sense of smell. They use this impeccable gift to discern new people, explore their surroundings before eating, and to determine the presence of other dogs in their territory.
The K9 Nose Work is a fun way to tap into your Cairn’s sense of smell. It is an informal version of the training that professional scent dogs go through and will be a perfect way to stimulate your dog’s physical and mental side.
Such activities will also keep your brilliant dog active, reduce boredom, and improve communication between the two of you.
Starting with the basics is an integral part of all canine activities. Choose one of your dog’s most favorite items (toy or treat), then hide it someplace where he or she can easily find. From there, move on to other parts of the home, then reward him with a treat once they find.
Once they master the art of finding treats and toys, use more challenging scents. Professional scent canines are trained with cloves, anise, and birch for nose work.
Also, consider taking the fun outdoors, where you can hide the scent in a shallow patch of soil. This way, you stimulate both their digging and sense of smell.
For fun and vigorous activity, all you will require is a leash. Cairns are active, energetic, and lively, making Earthdog trials a perfect sport for them.
You may have heard of the canine game where small dogs dig and go through a tunnel or den to find a rat safely enclosed in a dog-proof wire cage. These trials are not competitive; they are done to determine your Cairn’s skill and abilities across varying difficulty levels.
Cairns have a strong background in digging and sniffing out vermin, and this can be a great sport for them.
To find a place where you can sign up your dog, look for the American Working Terrier Organization or American Kennel Club. Their rules may vary, but their objectives remain the same.
Once your dog joins the trial, they will be taught the basics of den and quarry work, then trained to find vermin. Each level will become harder, and your Cairn will get better with time.
Cairns may be small, but they are excellent hiking companions. They are inquisitive and athletic and will thus not bog you down on your adventure. However, you should keep them on a leash because they get distracted easily and may run after other animals.
Cairns are not known for their obedience. Cairn lovers say, ‘If you give a cairn an inch, he won’t take a mile; he’ll take 100 miles.’ They are affectionate but must be taught boundaries. They are intelligent but are known to be quite stubborn at times because they are also independent.
Cairns are also more on the impulsive side, and if you teach them basic commands, your relationship will be a lot easier.
Ground rules learned as early as possible will help them grow into well-behaved dogs. If they are young, puppy kindergarten is an excellent solution to get started on the right note.
You can train them yourself with basic commands or take them for professional training sessions. Repetition may be key, but being intelligent, cairns will quickly get bored.
Alternate commands like sit, lie, and fetch are far more effective. Even after training, they will still mess around, but it is to be expected of a dog. Cairn Terries will challenge you often, but you will need patience and kindness with them.
How Much Exercise Does My Cairn Terrier Need?
Cairns are energetic and curious, and to prevent them from getting bored and remain healthy, they need up to an hour of exercise daily.
They enjoy the outdoors, so it will be better if you took them outside to a garden for some fun. Remember to keep them on a leash.
How Can I Keep My Cairn Terrier Happy?
You do not have to worry about a cairn terrier living fully if you own a small apartment. Being small, they will fit just right, so long as they remain stimulated and happy. Being terriers, they are also strong enough to handle life on a ranch or outdoors.
Minimize the amount of time you leave your dog alone because they hate being left alone and will be so much more destructive. Instead, it is better to leave them in the care of a roommate or family member they may recognize.
Health is also a crucial part of a cairn’s happiness, so look out for signs of trouble. Even the best-bred cairns with the healthiest parents are at risk of developing diabetes, LCPD bone disorder, craniomandibular osteopathy, allergies, and obesity.
You should also understand parts of his behavior that cannot be changed, like digging, barking, and chasing.
Get Him the Best Quality Food
There are specialized dog foods for cairns that account for their being small and terriers. Ask a vet for a trustworthy brand and refer to the instructions to ensure you provide sufficient food.
Since cairns can become obese quickly, feed them twice a day rather than leave food out all the time. If they are the right weight, you should see their waist and feel their ribs if you put your hands on him.
If he often looks or feels underweight, consult a vet.
Keep Him Well-Groomed
Every week, schedule one hour to groom your Cairn. Comb and brush him or her gently to prevent shedding and keep his coat healthy. You can take them to a professional groomer for stripping and trimming.
Every three months, give him or her a full bath. If the ears are waxy, clean them gently with a clean cloth. Clip his nails once a month or twice a week to ensure they do not crack or split.