Cairn Terriers UK
Cairn Terriers UK


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Cairn Terrier Information



About the name :

Cairn - A mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker.

Terrier - Any of several typically small, active breeds of hunting dog originally developed for driving game from burrows.

Named the Cairn Terrier because it was breed to hunt small vermin. which naturally lived in piles of rocks and stones also referred to as Cairns.




History of the Cairn Terrier :

The Cairn Terrier is believed to be one of the oldest breeds of terrier north of the border. It is also rumoured to be an ancestor to all Scottish terriers, although there are no reliable records. Originally known as the 'short-haired Skye terrier,' it is native to the Isle of Skye situated off the North-West coast of Scotland. However, in 1910 the name was changed to 'cairn terrier' in order to distinguish it from the 'Skye terrier,' which was obviously native to the same small island.

It is believed to be the work of the Dryknock and MacDonald family that kept the short-haired Skye alive. Captain Martin MacLoed of Dryknock was a great Highland sportsmen, as well as a keen otter hunter, and he maintained a pack of silver grey short-haired Skye terriers for forty years before emigrating to Canada at the end of the 19th Century. It was John MacDonald who continued the breeding, and the terriers were able to carry on making their mark for a further seventy years.

In 1912, thanks to a pair of persevering women named Mrs Alistair Cambell and Mary Hawke, the Cairn terrier, as we know it today, was recognised by the British Kennel Club to be a breed in it's own right.

The Cairn terrier is not only famous for having a distant history, but something to be admired by no less than Kings. It is recorded that King James I of England and VI of Scotland, who was a lover of working terriers, sent a number of them to the King of France.

'Working terrier,' is surely an understatement. These tough little dogs were born natural hunters and, therefore, found extremely useful in the Highlands and neighbouring islands around the Northern coasts of Scotland. Centuries ago vermin were a severe problem, and difficult to control, as they often hid beneath rocks and cairns. The Cairn terrier, therefore, made an excellent, antidote to this problem, as it could easily burrow underground and consequently reach inaccessible hideouts. Foxes, badgers and otters also were no match for this terrier and kept them entertained when the rats were in shortage!