The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest and the smallest terrier breeds of dogs in the world. It was originally bred in the Scottish Highlands, among the vast open plains where the only permanent form of landmark markers were piles of stones called cairns. The Cairn Terrier was named after these, for they hunted vermin and small game that resided in and around the cairns. This dog is often considered "natural" looking because of its often unkempt and raggedy like coat, not to mention that mischievous twinkle in its eyes.
Here are other interesting tidbits about our favorite scrappy pets.
Actress, singer and pop icon Liza Minelli used to own a red coated Cairn Terrier named Lily. She is a well known dog lover and has maintained a number of pets over the years. Lately, reports claimed that Minelli was one of the judges for a Cairn Terrier dog show.
Because of selective breeding that was geared more towards the dog's ability to hunt, the Cairn Terrier has developed very few resistances or anti-bodies to fight off common diseases. In fact, this breed of dog is often plagued with various ailments at one or more points in its life. Strangely, the Cairn Terrier is proving to be severely allergic to many things, including fleas!
"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto." That was one of the more memorable lines in the 1995 blockbuster tornado movie Twister, which starred Helen Hunt in the lead role. The first scene in the movie showed a man and his Cairn Terrier pet in a storm cellar. The cellar was eventually spinning in the tornado.
In 1957, a movie called Pal Joey (which starred Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth) featured a Cairn Terrier named "Snuffy." Snuffy had no more than 15 minutes on the silver screen, but apparently did better with other appearances like a spot in I love Lucy, Anatomy of a Murder, and Dennis the Menace. The Cairn Terrier's real name was Danny.
In a 2006 study, the Cairn Terrier is at 35th place, tied with the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier, as dogs who can understand and obey new commands or instructions. The number one position belongs to the Border Collie.
In one part of the 1993 Disney Halloween Comedy Offering Hocus Pocus, a Cairn Terrier set the stage for the coming of the 3 witches who were portrayed by Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler.
Terry, a.k.a. Toto from the 1936 film The Wizard of Oz is considered to be the most popular Cairn Terrier in the world. Originally, Terry was an abandoned dog rescued by Carl Spitz who eventually managed to make Terry the Cairn Terrier popular in the Hollywood acting circle.
The idea that the Cairn Terrier is a placid lapdog may have been inadvertently propagated by the movie posters of The Wizard of Oz. In the 1936 poster, Toto was depicted wearing a ribbon-clad bonnet in Dorothy's basket. This is the complete opposite of the actual temperament of the Cairn Terriers because this breed of dog will never subject itself to such treatment.