Cairn Terriers shed very little, but always should be hand-stripped. Using scissors or shears can ruin the dog’s rugged outer coat after one grooming. Hand-stripping involves pulling the old dead hair out by the roots. If done incorrectly, this can cause discomfort to the dog, causing it to shy away from future hand-stripping. Removing the dead hair in this manner allows new growth to come in. This new growth helps protect the dog from water and dirt.
Cairn Terrier ancestors are from Scotland, where the wire coat repels water and keeps the dog dry even in rainy or damp climates. Keeping the Cairn Terrier coat in its original state will prevent possible skin irritations. As dead hair is removed by stripping the coat, new growth comes in, and the skin and coat remain healthy. Clipper-cutting a Cairn might destroy the protective wire coat unique to this breed.
It is wise to have a pet examined to rule out heritable skin diseases when a Cairn is obtained from unknown sources (i.e. pet stores, rescues, or puppy mills).
These dogs are generally healthy and live on average about 12 to 17 years.
Cairns originated in the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye, initially grouped in the “Skye Terrier” class alongside the Scottish and West Highland White Terriers. In the early 1900s, the three breeds began to be bred separately.
The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom gave the Cairn Terrier a separate register in 1912; the first year of recognition, 134 were registered, and it was in that year that the breed was given Championship status.