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 Breed History

  • The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest of the Scottish Terrier breeds. Although it was the last to be officially recognised by the Kennel Club in the very early 1900's.
  • Before being known as the Cairn Terrier the breed was known as either the Prick eared or short coated Skye Terrier.
  • The first official registration recognisable as a Cairn terrier appeared in the June 1907 issue of the Kennel Gazette. This was Calla-Mhor, a bitch registered to Mrs I.A. Campbell. A further two registrations appeared in 1907, both belonging to Mrs Campbell. There were a further two registered in 1908, again to Mrs Campbell. So there can be no doubt that this lady - Mrs Alistair Campbell - can be justly described as the founder of the breed as an exhibition animal.
  • The breeds first Champion was Champion Tibbie of Harris, made up in January 1913 and owned by Lady Sophie Scott. Since then and up to the end of 2004 there have been 1432 CC winners in the breed with 766 becoming Champions.
  • The breed has gone from strength to strength. Gaining in popularity over the years with registration numbers increasing and is still one of the most popular of the terrier breeds.
  • The Cairn was originally kept by the crofters and gamekeepers in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. His purpose being to go to ground and either flush out their quarry or to kill it in their den. They were worked in small packs, so had to get along with the other dogs, but still had to be ferocious fighters when working, as they were used to flush or kill foxes and badgers as well as the other smaller vermin of the Highlands..
  • The breed standard states that Cairns must have thick strong pads on their feet, as when working they would sometimes have to dig their quarry out. This digging instinct is still very strong in most Cairns today.
  • The Cairn Terrier is one of the most naturally presented and unspoilt of the native Scottish breeds of terriers.
  • While Cairns make wonderful family pets it must be remembered that for many years these little dogs were only kept for their working capabilities and this instinct is still very strong in most Cairns to this day.
  • Cairn Terriers have a thick double coat. This consists of a thick close and soft undercoat, which keeps the dog warm and a longer harsh outer coat which is weather proof and protects the dog against the elements. This coat is HANDSTRIPPED, by this we mean the coat is plucked by pulling out the dead longer coat, which keeps the coat looking clean and tidy. This method of tidying the coat also keeps it weather resistant as well. If a Cairns coat is clipped or scissored the harsh outer coat very soon becomes soft and looses its ability to protect the dog from the elements.
  • There are now six breeds clubs dedicated to the breed in the UK.

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