Origin: United Kingdom (Scotland)
Dog Breed Group: Hunting Dog
Life Span: 12-15 years
Weight: Male: 5-7, Female: 5-6
Height: Male: 9.5-10, Female: 9-9.5
Origin of Name: The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest of the terrier breeds.
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The Cairn is one of several terrier breeds, some still extinct others, who have patrolled Scotland's game preservation and farms for centuries. The history of these breeds is difficult to unravel as they were smuggled together as Scotch Terriers for so many years. Not until early 1800s did the fanatics formulate strict breeding programs and classifications for this rigid family of radicals. The name Cairn Terrier did not appear in print until 1887, although the Cairn-type Terrier was around for a long time by then. Cairns were known to have lived in the Western Highlands since at least the 1600s, particularly on the Isle of Skye, the birthplace of their kin Sky Terrier.
At one time in Scotland, a mound of stones was used as a border or to mark the grave, known as ""Cairn"". Under the protection of the Highland Game, rodents live within these rock piles. The Cairn Terrier, among the smallest of the go-to-ground terriers, was developed to dig into the Cairn and take out the critters. When grouped into packs, these lazy little predators also work on foxes, otters, and other predators. Cairn's independence, courage, ferocity, and vigilance were qualities that served him well when digging into a cairn alone and encountering sharp-toothed mammals.
By the end of the 20th century, British Terrier fanatics had sorted out various Scotch Earthdogs and started breeding Cairn, Scottish, Sky and West Highland White Terriers as distinct pure breeds. Cairns were featured in British dog shows of the era, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1913.
The public profile of the breed received a major boost in 1939, when a Cairn named Tory was selected to play Toto in MGM's production of ""The Wizard of Oz"".