Cairn TerrierCare

The Cairn is a double-coated breed; regular brushing and occasional professional grooming required.

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.

nutrition &FEEDING

Depending on the size of your dog as an adult you are going to want to feed them a formula that will cater to their unique digestive needs through the various phases of their life. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large and giant breeds. The Cairn is a small breed and has a lifespan of 13 to 15 years.

What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


Periodic hand-stripping to maintain the coat’s texture is recommended. Having a comb and soft slicker brush handy will help with the grooming tasks. Spending time grooming your Cairn will allow you to bond with you new puppy. Their nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Their small, prick ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

coat length Medium
grooming Occasional Grooming

energy &EXERCISE

Cairns are a natural at agility. Tracking and terrier trials are other possible worlds for you and your Cairn to explore. Cairns are very intelligent and curious. Be sure you train your puppy with firmness and consistency. Harsh punishment is not necessary. Be sure, though, that your Cairn knows that you are in charge. Like children, they will test your limits, but need discipline to turn out well. A good obedience training class is highly recommended. “Kindergarten puppy training” classes are especially valuable for the novice owner of the clever Cairn. Even if you don’t do formal obedience training, teach your puppy to walk on a leash. A Cairn’s natural instinct is to chase small animals and they often challenge larger dogs. A leash can save your Cairns life—they don’t look both ways before crossing the street. A Cairn should not be tied out in a yard, or allowed to run loose, for his own safety and to avoid bothering your neighbors. Your Cairn should wear a collar with an ID tag at all times in case he is ever lost. His tag is his ticket home—replace it if you move. Ask your veterinarian about microchipping as well.

energy level Some Exercise

Cairn Terrier &HEALTH

The selection of a good veterinarian should be made promptly, as your puppy needs supervision of his vaccination schedule and preventive medicine against heartworms, as well as regular check ups. Cairns are sturdy and inherently healthy, but owners should not attempt to diagnose or treat a sick dog. Human medications can be harmful or fatal for dogs. Cairns are a healthy breed. But like all breeds there may be some health issues, like patellar luxation, eye and cardiac disease.

Some dogs may be faced with these health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Cairns are healthy dogs. Working with a responsible breeder, those wishing to own a Cairns can gain the education they need to know about specific health concerns within the breed. Good breeders utilize genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.