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Norwich Bulletin - 10/22/2006

The Cairn Terrier

"I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too." Such a famous line that most people would recognize. But exactly what breed was Dorothy's Toto? A small, intelligent with a whole lot of spirit: the Cairn Terrier.

There has been a lot of debate as the origin of this little dog, which is said to be the original terrier on the Isle of Skye. Cairn Terrier breeders hold that it was this dog that was the basis for the Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier, and the Skye Terrier. This little dog has endeared itself to its human companions because of its work ethic, clever disposition and cute as a button face. In 1910, England recognized the breed after a lengthy battle against opposition that believed the Cairn was merely and inferior Skye Terrier. But the perseverance of dedicated breeders like Alastair Campbell and Mary Hawke, led to their eventual acceptance.

Mrs. Henry F. Price was the first person to import two Cairn Terriers from England to America in 1913. They debuted in October of that year at the Danbury, Connecticut dog show and were shown in the Miscellaneous Class. In 1915 they became their own breed class and in 1917 the Cairn Terrier Club of American became a member of AKC and adapted the same standard as England's Kennel Club. The Cairn was on its way!

The Cairn Terrier possesses personality plus, but if you are someone who demands a high level of obedience in your dogs, look elsewhere. With a Cairn you have to have a sense of humor and be ready to laugh when you give a command and they give you "that" look (you know, the same one your kids give you). But you have great rewards if you can handle their independence.

You will come home every day to a bundle of joy and energy that will make you smile and forget everything that happened in the course of a bad work day. But remember, you can't leave this breed in the back yard all day and night and just forget about him. The Cairn demands and needs a high level of attention and interaction with their humans. The more time you spend with this little dog, the more you will get back. Eventually they become family members and almost like a person.

A Cairn Terrier usually makes a wonderful show dog or show business dog, because they have attitude! A cocky little dog that shows the world they are full of themselves and have a right to be.

This little dog should appear as an "active, game, hardy, small working terrier of the short legged class; very free in its movements, strongly but not heavily built, standing well forward on its forelegs, deep in the ribs, well coupled with strong hindquarters and presenting a well-proportioned build with a medium length of back, having a hard, weather resisting coat; head shorter and wider than any other terrier and well furnished with hair, giving a general, foxy expression" (taken from the AKC breed standard)

The dog's coat is an extremely important quality. The Cairn was bred to withstand life in the harsh Scottish Highlands and sports a dense undercoat and water repellent outer coat.

The Cairn Terrier was bred to be a strong thinker, having to make the decision to kill or flush out the vermin from the ground. Once you understand that these dogs can actually think for themselves, you will have a better take on their nature and be able to obedience train them a little easier. Do not let a Cairn outside without a leash or behind a solid fence.

If this little dog sees a mouse or a cat down the street, it will be out of the yard and down the street faster than you can ever imagine. It could go right under the wheels of a car because it's only looking at what it perceives to be the vermin it is supposed to be catching.

Cairns are great pets in general if you are the right kind of family for this active little dog. They are adaptable, loyal companions that will worm their way into your heart and become an essential part of your life.

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