While the Cairn Terrier is most certainly a very popular dog, owning one is not for everybody! The breed is extremely energetic, excitable, and notoriously stubborn. However, if you have the time and patience to raise a Cairn Terrier, it will be one of the most rewarding decisions you’ve ever made.
The first step in acquiring a new Cairn Terrier as a pet is deciding where you are going to get your dog. Would you rather get a puppy from a breeder or rescue an adult dog from a shelter? If you choose to go with a breeder, you must do your research. You wouldn’t buy a new car without researching dealers, would you? When you find a breeder who has a litter due, ask them for references. Speak with people who have purchased their puppies in the past. Make sure to get copies of the sire and dam’s AKC registration. These steps are important because the popularity of the Cairn Terrier has led a lot of people to attempt breeding without the requisite knowledge or experience in order to make a quick buck. Irresponsible breeding can lead to any number of health and temperament problems in the future. For this reason, it is imperative that you thoroughly research your breeder.
If you decide that you want to rescue a dog and adopt your Cairn Terrier from a shelter, you should always make sure that the dog has been properly vaccinated beforehand. If you have children or other pets at home, you should bring them to the shelter to make sure that your potential new dog will not have any aggressive issues. Sometimes adult dogs who were not raised around children or other animals cannot get used to living with them. Adult Cairn Terriers may be more difficult to train than puppies, and they will certainly be more difficult to find in a shelter as opposed to through a breeder, but rescuing a dog will save a life and warm your heart.
To keep your Cairn Terrier happy and healthy, you must provide plenty of exercise! These are one of the most energetic breeds of dog out there. Their appetite for physical activity is nearly insatiable. You must be an active person to own a Cairn Terrier, as they will certainly wear you out before they are tired. Long games of fetch or chase in the back yard will work wonders towards keeping your Cairn happy and fit.
If you have lots of rodents, birds, or other small wildlife in your area, you must be prepared for your Cairn Terrier’s reaction to them. The smallest dog in the Working Group, the Cairn Terrier’s natural inclination is to hunt and kill small game. This can be quite an obstacle if your Cairn is not leash trained and tries to yank you all over the park!
You must also be sure to to “terrier-proof” your yard and your home. Cairn Terriers love to chew and dig, and are capable of destroying your favorite shoe or burrowing right under your back fence and escaping! The best ways to curb this behavior are by placing chewable items out of reach, or pouring cement at the base of any outdoor fences to make digging impossible. Though there are many measures to keep your Cairn Terrier from getting into trouble, the most important is constant supervision. Never leave a Cairn unattended outdoors or it is likely that you may never see him or her again!