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Finding the Right Breed: Cairn Terrier


Part of an ongoing series on helping you find the right breed of dog for your lifestyle.

The cairn terrier is the oldest of the terrier breeds, originating in the Scottish Highlands and is recognized as one of Scotland’s earliest working dogs. They are tiny little hunters that like to burrow their own prey.  

Although this dog sounds really rough and tough, it’s actually only small and fluff. These dogs range between 13 to 18 pounds.

“They are a scruffy little terrier that’s always ready to go play,” says Dr. Arthur Bass, veterinarian at the Newport Pet Clinic in Tustin.

This terrier is a good dog for families. They work well for individuals that want a dog to go running with and to play in the backyard with.

“If properly socialized, they can make a good family companion. Due to their terrier personality, they may not do well with children and small pets,” says Katie Ingram, community outreach supervisor with OC Animal Care.

Although they may be a lapdog, they are not a delicate lapdog. Like most terriers, they have high energy and are very intelligent.

“Cairn terriers are very energetic and can be a lot of fun to own,” Ingram says. “However, without the proper enrichment and exercise, they can develop behavior issues like barking and digging.”

This dog is relatively low maintenance and doesn’t require a lot of grooming. Their main health issue is dental and sometimes orthopedic because they are so active and playful.

Interesting Fact: Toto from The Wizard of Oz was a cairn terrier.

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