General Information

Dog NameCairn Terrier
Other NamesToto Dog
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypeTerrier
Breed ForHunting fox and vermin
Country of OriginUnited Kingdom (UK)

Physical And Size

Min Life Span13
Max Life Span15
Min Ideal Weight for male5
Max Ideal Weight for male5
Min Ideal Weight for female4
Max Ideal Weight for male5


Intelligent Rank
Affection Level
Social Needs
Watchdog Ability


TemperamentCheerful, Alert, Curious
Prey DriveYes
Fighting DogNo


Stranger FriendlyHigh
Child FriendlyHigh
Cat FriendlyMedium
Dog FriendlyHigh
Office FriendlyMedium
Apartment FriendlyHigh
Senior Citizens FriendlyHigh
Service DogHigh
Search and Rescue DogHigh
Biting PotentialLow
Country of OriginScotland
Nicknames and Other NamesCairn, Toto Dog
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypePurebreed ( Hunting dog)
GroupTerrier Group
Bred ForHunting fox and vermin in farms
Life Span13-15 years
Ideal WeightMale: 14 pounds
Female: 13 pounds
Ideal HeightMale: 10 inches
Female: 9.5 inches
Fur TypeShaggy outercoat, soft undercoat
Common ColorsBlack, Brindle, Cream, Red, Red Brindle,
Gray, Gray Brindle, Silver, Wheaten
MarkingsBlack Points, Black Mask, Black Points
AvailabilityCommonly available
AchievementsFeatured in movies
Suitable for ApartmentsSuitable
Used in World WarNo
Most Similar ToNorwich Terrier

Cairn Terrier is a small sized, working dog terrier developed in Scotland. They are known for their fox-like expression. The head is broad with small erect ears. Their body is longer than it is tall with a small tail. The eyes are deep, wide-set and dark hazel in color.

Cairn Terrier is active and lively who wants to part of every family activity. They need regular exercise and should be taken out for a walk or to play for at least half an hour daily.

Origin and History

Cairn Terrier was originally bred on the Isle Skye and Scotland. They were bred for courage and for the turning away foxes and other vermin from heaps of stone known as Cairns, from which it got the name. They were also used by farmers to catch mice, squirrel, and other rodents. Cairns would hold and bark at the animals until the farmers come to claim it.

The American Kennel Club recognized Cairn Terrier and registered it in Terrier group in 1913. They currently rank 70 of 193 other registered breeds.

Is Cairns Child-Friendly?

Cairn adores children and is very tolerant of them. In fact, they love the noises that children make. They like to play with them and makes a great playmate. However, their playtime should be supervised and children should be taught how to approach dogs.
Cairn Terrier looking after a Baby

Behavior, Temperament, and Personality

Cairn terriers are of loyal, curious and fearless temperament. They are not aggressive and makes a great company for a family of all and every kind. Cairn is active, playful and is naturally a digger. They like to dig grounds and satisfy their curiosity.

As they like to be with their people most of the time, leaving them alone for a long time is not a good idea. They might become destructive and have separation anxiety.

With their high tendency to catch any small animals they see, they might just break out of the house. So, a properly fenced area is needed for them to live. They are also suitable for apartments but a regular walk out in the park is needed.


Cairn is an intelligent dog and they can be easy to train for a confident and patient master. They are stubborn like many terrier dogs. Positive reinforcement training is needed which includes treats, vocal praises and a gentle pat on their back.

Housebreaking a Cairn Terrier Puppy Training

Cairn Terriers are suspicious of strangers. They should be socialized at an early age so they can get along with them well.


  • Cairn Terrier named Terry was featured in the hit movie “Wizard of OZ” in 1939.
  • Though Cairn Terriers are small. they are not a lap dog. They are too lively to be a lap dog
  • Cairn Terrier name was given after the pile of stone where they used to catch rodents.

Health Issues

General HealthHealthy
Common Health IssuesGlaucoma, Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy,
Hypothyroidism, Progressive Retinal Atrophy,
Cataracts, Legg-Perthes Disease
Vaccination RequiredRabies, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper,
Leptospirosis, Kennel Cough,
Canine Coronavirus, Canine Parainfluenza
SheddingModerate Shedding
DroolingLow Drooler
Weight Gain PotentialAverage
Separation AnxietyHigh Chance
Diets and SupplementsProtein: 22%
Fat: 10%

Cairn Terriers are usually healthy with the life span of 13-14 years. They are prone to suffer from hereditary health issues. Other than that they might suffer from some canine diseases like:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Allergies
  • Liver disease
  • Retinal Dysplasia

Coats and Colors

Cairn Terrier coat is quite harsh. Regular brushing is necessary to avoid unnecessary tangle. They shed moderately and time to time brushing can decrease their shedding.

Cairn comes in different colors like

  • red,
  • brindle,
  • black,
  • sand,
  • silver
  • and gray


Cairn Terrier puppies
Cairn Terrier Puppies playing.
Image Source: pets4homes


The average cost of Cairn Terrier is $700- $1000 USD. However, adopting one can cost you way cheaper that includes only the expenses of puppy care before adoption.


The average size of a male Cairn is 10-13 inches and female is 9-12 inches. The weight of a male is 14-18 pounds and a female is 13-17 pounds.

Dog Breeds Similar to Cairn Terrier

Visit Doglime more information about dogs and their behavior.