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Other Names: Cairn
Dog Group Kennel Club: Terrier (AKC, KC)
The Cairn Terrier has a short compact body, with a broad head, small erect ears and bushy eyebrows. They have large teeth, and large feet with strong nails.
Cairn terriers have a double coat consisting of a shaggy outer coat and a soft downy undercoat. Coat colours include: Cream, grey, red, wheaten, or nearly black. Adult colour may change dramatically from puppy coat.
Weight: 13 – 16 lbs
Average Life Span: 13 – 15 yrs
Cairn Terriers are bold, alert, intelligent, gentle, and playful little dogs. They are excellent with children as they can withstand rough and tumble play, making them great family pets. They can get along with other dogs and animals but only if they are socialised to them from early puppy-hood. Males can be male dominant within this breed. They make good watchdogs, alerting you when something is amiss. It must be remembered that these are terriers and that they do like to dig.
These can be independent and stubborn dogs, therefore they require loving but firm and consistent training that should begin in early puppy-hood.
Cairn Terriers should be brushed and combed once a week to keep their coat and skin healthy. During moulting, which usually occurs twice a year, the coat should be hand stripped to remove the dead hair. It is also recommended they should be professionally groomed every 8 weeks.
Cairn Terriers are lively playful dogs and require daily walks to keep them fit and happy. They should be kept on their leash as their terrier instincts will make them give chase almost anything. Only let them off the leash if you have trained them you come back to you when you call.
Cairn Terrier Health Issues
Allergies: can be broken down into inhalant, contact, or food allergy origins. Flea allergies, grass allergies, and environmental toxin induced allergies are the most common causes of skin conditions in Cairns. Allergies can be chronic or seasonal. They can be minor or severe in occurrence. They tend to become worse with age. Treatment is much better than in bygone days. Environmental controls, antihistamine treatment, and desensitization injections have made huge strides in the last few years.
Luxating Patella: Slipping knee joints (also referred to as luxating patellas, slipped stifles) are a common problem in small breeds. In this condition, the kneecap slips out of its groove and moves against the thighbone (femur) instead of along its natural groove. Although this has been found to be a heritable condition, small, active breeds are likely to aggravate it through the course of their natural activities (jumping up and down) around taller objects such as furniture.
Legg’s Perthes Disease: (commonly mistaken for hip dysplasia) is due to the death of the head of the femur bone. This causes wearing and promotes arthritic changes. Therefore, after the condition has progressed for some time it is difficult to diagnose whether the resulting degenerated joint is a manifestation of hip dysplasia or Legg’s Perthes. This condition is congenital and has no known cure. The accompanying pain and arthritic changes can be controlled with steroids.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): is a family of diseases all involving the gradual deterioration of the retina. It is diagnosed by a retinoscopic exam or by means of an electroretinogram (ERG). Early in the disease, affected dogs become nightblind and lack the ability to see in dim light; later on daytime vision also fails. As their vision deteriorates, affected dogs adapt to their handicap very well, as long as their environment remains constant. Certain breeds are affected early in life, whereas in other breeds, PRA develops much later in onset.
Cataracts: cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) – is an autosomally (not sex-linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time (somewhat similar to hemophilia in humans) and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. A DNA test for vWD is now available. Carrier-to-carrier breedings, in theory, will produce puppies that are 25% clear, 50% carriers, and 25% affected. Ideally, only clear-to-clear or clear-to-carrier should occur, so that no puppies will be affected. Not all dogs that are vWD affected will have severe bleeding problems, but they ARE at risk whenever they need to have surgery or have an accident. Some unlucky affected dogs will actually bleed out from a needle stick or minor wound.
Globoid Cell Leukodystophy (Krabbe’s disease): Is a degenerative disease of the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. Affected puppies die at a very early age or have to be euthanized. Mode of inheritance is by a single autosomal recessively passed gene. There is now a test available that can identify carriers of this disease. Breeders can use this test to eliminate GCL in Cairns.
Cairn Terrier History
There is evidence that one of the oldest-known strains of Cairn, or “Short-haired Skye Terrier,” as the breed was generally known at the turn of the century, was founded by Captain Martin MacLoed of Drynock, Isle of Skye. Captain MacLoed was a great Highland sportsman and an enthusiastic otter hunter. He maintained a pack of silver grey Short-haired Skye Terriers for forty years before emigrating to Canada in 1854. The Drynock strain was kept alive by Mr. John Macdonald, Bridge of Ose Kennels, Isle of Sky. Mr. Macdonald was a gamekeeper to the Clan Chief MacLeod of McLeod, Dunvegan Castle, for more than forty years. In 1917 he wrote that he and his brother had this Drynock strain for the last seventy years. The Mackinnos of Kilbride was another kennel of good Short-haired Skye Terriers. These terriers were descendents of an old breed owned by Farquhar Kelly of Drumfearn, Isle of Skye in the seventeenth century. All of these strains played a part in the early lines of the breeds pioneers.
Mrs. Alastair Campbell and Mary Hawke were the pioneers of the Cairn Terrier as we know it today. It was their persistence that led to the Cairn Terrier being recognized by The Kennel Club in 1910. On May 29, 1912 The Kennel Club Committee gave the Cairn Terrier a separate register. The Cairn could now compete at designated championship shows in the United Kingdom.
In 1933 one of the most influential and important Cairns of all time was whelped. Eng. Ch. Splinters of Twobees would go on to indelibly mark the breed. The winner of eight CCs and his prowess as a stud dog made Splinters an important contributor to setting the type we know today.