All About the Cairn Terrier

The 1929 Dog World editors tell us all about the Cairn Terrier, an intelligent and determined dog breed.

By Dog World editors | Posted: Dec 29, 2012, 8 a.m. EST

From the Archives of Dog World: Enjoy this all-access pass to dog history from the pages of the longest published dog magazine. This content remains in its original form and reflects the language and views of its time. Health and behavior information evolves and only the most current advice should be followed.

The Cairn Terrier is a compact little dog with well sprung ribs and strong quarters. Almost any colour, either self or brindled is correct; black mask, ears, and tip of tail being very typical and a great asset. The Cairn Terrier's coat must be double dense and harsh, so as to be thoroughly weather resisting. His body must be neither too long nor too short, and his tail short, well carried, but on no account to curl over the back; a good set of strong teeth being indispensable.

At work there is not a terrier pluckier or more determined. Once at work the Cairn Terrier will "gang his ain gait” and when in a burrow will take a lot of getting out, unless he can bring his prey with him. This dog breed is an exceptionally good watchdog and discriminates more wisely than most. I have never known Cairn Terriers to bark at regular comers and goers, unless they have been teased by them— they never forgive an injury.

The Cairn Terrier is not as a rule a fighter, in the sense that he does not seek a fight, but if attacked will go for his enemy tooth and nail, and the strength of his jaw makes him a more formidable opponent than his size denoted. A very general error is the idea that the Cairn Terriers are expected to kill their quarry. This is quite a mistake. Their work is to go to ground and to bolt the game, whatever it may be — otter, badger, fox, or the more homely rat, which he will soon finish up.

In the Highlands most districts have their fox hunter, with his pack of Cairn Terriers, for it would be a really serious matter to the sheep farmers if the foxes were not kept down. It is a very different sport to foxhunting in the Lowlands; in this case the dogs enter the Cairn Terriers, and bolt the fox, which is quickly shot.

There is no trouble in training the Cairn Terrier to the gun, and he is very useful rabbiting. A farmer can have no more helpful employee than this terrier dog breed, as they will keep his place clear of rats, stoats, not to mention cats, who are so destructive to young rabbits. 


Excerpted from Dog World magazine, February 1929, Vol. 14.



3 of 3 Comments View All 3 Comments

Give us your opinion Give us your opinion on All About the Cairn Terrier

User Avatar

June   Sand Springs, Oklahoma

3/4/2015 6:19:50 AM

I have a Cairn mix that I adopted from a local rescue and she is personality plus. If I'm not paying attention to her and she wants something she puts her paws up on the coffee table and pats things to make a noise while looking straight at me till she gets what she wants. Loves to run when I tell her I'm going "to get you". Not much on cuddling but is such a sweetheart that I forgive that. Smart llittle girl.

User Avatar

Linda   johns island, South Carolina

2/21/2013 5:47:51 PM

I have owned dachounds, mastiffs, german shepards, and Westies over the last 60 years, but now I have three cairns,2 boys I got as puppies and a female that I adopted as a 9 year old. They are great fun, keep me laughing and keep all the vermin off the 3 acres we live on. The female even keeps the vultures from flying over head. The boys are 3 now and entertain us all day long. All three are very smart, love all visitors and play great with my grandson. They travel well too in our RV and help us meet lots of travelers at campgrounds. One is brindle colored , one is a wheaten color, and one is red color and they are all as different as their colors, but all have qualities that make them endearing. They are highly intelligent and howl like coyotes to get back in the door. Coyote howling is their doorbell sound. Gotta love them.

User Avatar

Joanna   Las Vegas, Nevada

1/2/2013 12:24:35 PM

After years of having various kinds of field gun dogs, I decided to get a smaller dog. I didn't want one so small I could trip over it. It had to have personality, and be 'fun'. After over a year of research and attending dog shows, I decided to get a Cairn Terrier. What tipped it was the HUMANS who were attached to this dog. Some other breeds were a bit snotty and stiff but 'Cairn People' are generally as much fun as their dogs. That was over 20 years ago and it was the best decision I've made. Cairns are very intelligent, can be stubborn, easy to care for, totally un 'typical'... some can be cuddlers, some are not, some are quiet, some are 'talkers'... but all in all Cairn Terriers are just about the perfect dog.

Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below

First Name : Email :
International :
City : State :

Captcha Image

Get New Captcha

Top Products