What is the history of the Cairn Terrier? February 7, 2019 15:46 1 Comment

What is the history of the Cairn Terrier?

The history of the Cairn Terrier can be traced back at least the sixteenth century on the Isle of Skye when they were often referred to as “earth dogs”.  They were highly prized for their working ability, their endurance, their sure-footedness and their courage.  They hunted vermin in difficult and rugged landscapes.

Some dogs were sent to the King of France as a gift, but so concerned were the senders for their precious cargo that they sent them in separate ships in case one should sink and all would be lost. 

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If you are interested in owning a Cairn Terrier as a family pet, here are some other articles that you may find useful:




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The dogs we see today are actually very close to their early ancestors in their physical form, as well as their mental toughness, some would insert the word “stubbornness” at this point!  Certainly their penchant for digging is still alive and kicking.  They may not still be hunting rocky outcrops for rats, but by golly that instinct has not been lost.

In 1873 the Scotch terrier group divided the breed into two, making Skye and Dandie Dinmont distinct breeds.  In 1881, another split resulted in Skye and Hard Haired terriers.  Next, the Hard Haired terriers were split into West Highland Whites, Scotch and Cairns.  Finally the Cairn breed was officially named as a breed all of it’s own in 1912 when 134 were registered. 

Early Cairns were mostly white, but crossing them with Westies was banned in 1920, so now you will get wheaten, grey, red, charcoal and brindle, but never white.  Interestingly, our little Bella has a white chest and a little white paw, a bit of a throw back!

The breed’s popularity rocketed after the appearance of Toto in the ever-marvellous Wizard of Oz.  The Breed club motto still remains “The best little pal in the world”.  Who could possibly disagree?!

Why not treat yourself to an artist signed print of a Cairn in its natural environment, sitting on a cairn while you are here? 

Cairn on a cairn