Home   »   Breeds   »   Cairn Terrier

Get to know the

Cairn Terrier

Looking for a Cairn Terrier?

AKC Meet the Breeds®

Best known as "Toto" from the Wizard of Oz, the Cairn Terrier is a small, hardy working terrier. Originally bred to aid Scottish farmers in ridding their properties of pests, Cairns today use their tenacity to excel in obedience, agility, terrier and tracking trials. Alert and active, this breed possesses a harsh, weather-resistant outer coat that can be any color except white. The hair around the head gives him a general foxy expression.

Learn about the lifestyle of a Cairn Terrier, its grooming needs, and more, here.



A Look Back

The Cairn originated in the Highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Skye, initially grouped in the "Skye Terrier" class alongside the Scottish and West Highland White Terriers. In the early 1900s, the three breeds began to be bred separately. The name "Cairn" refers to the rock dens that foxes and badgers lived in throughout the countryside. The dog would squirm down into these "cairns" and bark to hold the predator until the farmer killed it.

Right Breed for You?

Cairns love their families, but may try to test their owner’s limits, so obedience training is necessary. Although they learn quickly, the Cairn may always have the instinct to dig and chase small animals, so new owners should be prepared for these behaviors. Regular brushing and exercise are also necessary to keep the breed fit and happy.

If you are considering purchasing a Cairn Terrier puppy, learn more here.

  • Terrier Group; AKC recognized in 1913.
  • Ideal size about 10 inches tall at the shoulder and 14 pounds.
  • Fox/rat/otter hunter.

© The American Kennel Club, Inc.