Cairn Terrier

Self-assured, inquisitive, and rugged


Self-assured, inquisitive, and rugged

It’s a fact. No two Cairn Terriers are exactly alike, but they all share this description: A plucky, small shaggy dog with a foxy expression, and a weather-proof coat. At nearly 10 inches tall and weighing up to 14 pounds, the Cairn Terrier thinks of himself as a big dog in a little body. He’s alert, confident, and independent.

The Cairn Terrier comes from sturdy stock going back 200 years ago on the Isle of Skye and in the Scottish Highlands in Scotland. His tenacious and courageous ancestors worked at digging and routing vermin from the rock piles, called cairns, on Scottish farmland. These early terriers gradually evolved as the Scottish Terrier, the West Highland White, and the Cairn.

Today’s Cairn is affectionate and always ready for a game or scaring off the backyard squirrels. Most people know Toto, the most famous Cairn of all, from The Wizard of Oz.~EWG

Breed Standard

Official Standard of the Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier Club of America

General Appearance: That of 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-resisting coat; head shorter and wider than any other terrier and well furnished with hair giving a general foxy expression.

Head: Skull – Broad in proportion to length with a decided stop and well furnished with hair on the top of the head, which may be somewhat softer than the body coat. Muzzle – Strong but not too long or heavy. Teeth-Large, mouth neither overshot nor undershot. Nose – Black. Eyes – Set wide apart, rather sunken, with shaggy eyebrows, medium in size, hazel or dark hazel in color, depending on body color, with a keen terrier expression. Ears – Small, pointed, well carried erectly, set wide apart on the side of the head. Free from long hairs.

Tail: In proportion to head, well furnished with hair but not feathery. Carried gaily but must not curl over back. Set on at back level.
Body: Well-muscled, strong, active body with well-sprung, deep ribs, coupled to strong hindquarters, with a level back of medium length, giving an impression of strength and activity without heaviness.

Shoulders, Legs and Feet: A sloping shoulder, medium length of leg, good but not too heavy bone; forelegs should not be out at elbows, and be perfectly straight, but forefeet may be slightly turned out. Forefeet larger than hind feet. Legs must be covered with hard hair. Pads should be thick and strong and dog should stand well up on its feet.

Coat: Hard and weather-resistant. Must be double-coated with profuse harsh outer coat and short, soft, close furry undercoat.
Color: May be of any color except white. Dark ears, muzzle and tail tip are desirable.
Ideal Size: Involves the weight, the height at the withers and the length of body. Weight for bitches, 13 pounds; for dogs, 14 pounds. Height at the withers – bitches, 91⁄2 inches; dogs, 10 inches. Length of body from 141⁄4 to 15 inches from the front of the chest to back of hindquarters. The dog must be of balanced proportions and appear neither leggy nor too low to ground; and neither too short nor too long in body. Weight and measurements are for matured dogs at two years of age. Older dogs may weigh slightly in excess and growing dogs may be under these weights and measurements.

Condition: Dogs should be shown in good hard flesh, well muscled and neither too fat or thin. Should be in full good coat with plenty of head furnishings, be clean, combed, brushed and tidied up on ears, tail, feet and general outline. Should move freely and easily on a loose lead, should not cringe on being handled, should stand up on their toes and show with marked terrier characteristics.


1. Skull – Too narrow in skull. 2. Muzzle – Too long and heavy a foreface; mouth overshot or undershot. 3. Eyes – Too large, prominent, yellow, and ringed are all objectionable. 4. Ears – Too large, round at points, set too close together, set too high on the head; heavily covered with hair. 5. Legs and Feet – Too light or too heavy bone. Crooked forelegs or out at elbow. Thin, ferrety feet; feet let down on the heel or too open and spread. Too high or too low on the leg. 6. Body – Too short back and compact a body, hampering quickness of movement and turning ability. Too long, weedy and snaky a body, giving an impression of weakness. Tail set on too low. Back not level. 7. Coat – Open coats, blousy coats, too short or dead coats, lack of sufficient undercoat, lack of head furnishings, lack of hard hair on the legs. Silkiness or curliness. A slight wave permissible. 8. Nose – Flesh or light-colored nose. 9. Color – White on chest, feet or other parts of body.

Approved May 10, 1938

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