Tarahill Cairn Terriers &
Wags to Wishes K9 Training 

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The Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier

General description (from the Breed standard (Cairn Terrier Club of America: 1938)  "an active, game, hardy, small working terrier of the short legged class; very free in its movements, strongly but not heavily built, standing well forward on its forelegs, deep in the ribs, well coupled with strong hindquarters and presenting a well-proportioned build with a medium length of back, having a hard, weather resistant coat; head shorter and woder than any other terrier, and well furnished with hair giving a general foxy appearance."

Origin of the Cairn Terrier: The Cairn Terrier originated in the northwestern Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye and is the earliest of the short legged terriers.  As such, Cairns became the foundation for other important and more common breeds such as the Scottish Terrier and West Highland White Terrier.

Purpose of the Cairn Terrier: Cairn terriers were bred as working terriers - both their temperament and structure result from dedicated breeding over generations to produce a dog designed to excel at bolting quarry (especially foxes) from their lairs deep in the distinctive rock cairns that are a common feature of the landscape of northwestern Scotland.  Cairns are courageous and tenacious.  Their loud bark and vocalizations were a necessary feature designed to alert the farmer to the discovery of quarry.  Cairn Terriers were bred to work independently in completing their tasks. As a result they tend not to look to a handler for guidance - part of their charm, but also the source of many training challenges!

The Cairn Temperament: Cairn terriers in general have a wonderful temperament and make  good family pets.  The Official CKC Breed Standard of the Cairn Terrier describes the Cairn temperament as "fearless and gay disposition; assertive but not aggressive". The Cairn is also described as a keen, confident, friendly dog - often called the "best little pal in the world".  My experience with Cairns has borne out that they are great family dogs that generally love children - although like any dog care should be taken to introduce dog and children safely and set appropriate boundaries to ensure appropriate behaviour of both dog and child.

Famous Cairns

The best known Cairn is Toto, Dorothy's faithful companion in the Wizard of Oz, but Cairns have been canine stars in more than 50 movies! For more movies starring Cairn terriers see: http://www.cairnterriermovies.com

Well known Cairn owners include:

Judy Garland

Liza Minelli

Prince Edward & Wallis Simpson