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Cairn Terrier - Appearance & Grooming

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Cairn Terrier


The best known Cairn Terrier of all time is “Toto” from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Cairns are small, sturdy little terriers with shaggy coats which give them a “scruffy”look that comes in shades of red, brindle, black, sand or gray; and dark points at the ears, eyes and muzzle are desirable. They are small dogs with broad heads that are shorter and wider than all other terrier breeds and they sport bushy topknots. Cairns have small, erect, pointed ears and short tails which sit high on the body and should be carried gaily.

Size and Weight

The ideal weight for female Cairn Terriers is 13 pounds and for males, 14. Females should stand about 9.5 inches at the withers whereas males stand slightly taller at 10 inches. Balanced proportions are more important than actual height and weight for a show Cairn.

Coat and Color

The double coat of the Cairn is wiry on the outside and soft and plush underneath, giving them their distinctive scruffy appearance. Cairns come in many colors including red, brindle, black, sand and gray. It is difficult to tell what color an adult Cairn will be, as the coat can change color several times as the dog matures from pupphyood.

Grooming Needs

Cairn Terriers should be brushed once per week to remove loose and dead hair. They only need to be bathed every few months, or as-needed, because over-bathing can cause the coarse coat to become soft, which is undesirable in the show ring. Cairns do require some trimming to stay tidy, which for show dogs should be done with a stripping knife, whereas family dogs can be clipped with clippers. This only needs to occur two or three times per year.

It is important to maintain the dental health of the Cairn Terrier, and weekly brushing of the teeth can help keep gum disease, tarter, and bad breath at bay. Use only a veterinarian-approved solution to clean the ears, and trim the Cairn's nails on a monthly basis if he does not wear down his nails naturally.

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