Origin and Attributions

Did you know that the group name “Terriers” comes from the Latin terra, meaning earth, for Terriers are earth dogs, dogs that go to ground for their prey?!

Cairn Terriers were grouped in a strain of Skye Terriers along with the Scottish and West Highland Terriers in the highlands of western Scotland hundreds of years ago to serve as hunting dogs.  In the early 1900s they began to breed the three separately therefore naming the Cairns after the piles of stones, known as cairns, used to mark property lines and graves in that area.  The Cairn Terrier proved to be very helpful routing foxes, squirrels and other small animals from their dens. Cairn Terriers were introduced at an Inverness dog show in 1909, but the judges disqualified them since they weren’t  proper Skye Terriers. Finally in 1912 Cairn Terriers were permitted to compete. They were registered by the AKC in 1913 and have been popular American pets ever since.

One of Hollywood’s most beloved dog, Toto from the Wizard of Oz, was in fact a Cairn herself! They have powerful hunting and working instincts that they put to good use throughout the house and yard. Cairns love to run, explore and dig. If they see a squirrel, rabbit or some other unfortunate little creature they will chase them.   Cairn Terriers are devoted pets, this can evolve into a fierce protectiveness and sometimes competitiveness for their master’s attention.  However, with the proper social training, they can be comfortable and lovable around new people.  Cairn Terriers are exceptional watchdogs, smelling intruders from a good distance and barking relentlessly!  Easily trained but clearly stubborn, Cairn Terriers like to learn tricks. They also love task-oriented activities and games. Cairns are big competitors and love to win. They also have a durability that makes them great hunting and exploring companions. Cairns are wonderful family dogs and very loyal and true, and, oh so lovable!