The Cairn terrier is a robust little dog breed that is recognized internationally for its role as Toto in "The Wizard of Oz." The history of the Cairn terrier began in 14th century Scotland on the Isle of Skye and in the Highlands. If you are interested in getting a Cairn Terrier, first research the positive and negative aspects of this breed.
Cairn terriers are suitable pets for families with children, which is one of the breed's biggest strengths. The dogs enthusiastically adore being around children and are capable of displaying impressive calm and patience around the most active and energetic of them.
Some of the negative aspects of owning a Cairn terrier are the behavioral patterns associated with terriers. Terriers are bred to hunt everything from foxes to otter. As a result, the breed likes to chase, dig holes and bark excessively. With training, owners can reduce these behaviors, although remnants probably will always exist. Extensive training can help a Cairn Terrier become less rowdy, but that characteristic always will be a small part of the dog's temperament.
One of the advantages to owning a Cairn terrier is the relative good health of the breed. For the most part, Cairn terriers live about 14 to 15 years. However, Cairn terriers are prone to obesity, so they must get sufficient exercise and follow a well-balanced diet (dry food is recommended). Although these dogs usually are healthy, some of the most common health problems they experience include skin allergies; epilepsy; cataracts; joint problems; and patellar luxation, or dislocation of the kneecap, according to the University of Pennsylvania.
The Cairn terrier is a smart dog that responds well to training and can accomplish a wide array of obedience commands and tricks. For optimal results, begin teaching a Cairn terrier socialization and tricks from a young age.
One of the difficulties of owning a Cairn terrier involves grooming. The breed is known for its shaggy coat, which can experience severe matting, knotting and tangling if not frequently clipped, brushed and combed. To keep a Cairn terrier looking and feeling its best, weekly grooming (approximately one hour) is essential. With sufficient grooming, the breed does not shed very much.
The Cairn Terrier, like most other terriers, is a good watchdog due to its propensity to bark. As a result, the breed can provide homes with security by alerting owners to potential intruders.