Cairn Terriers are amazing little creatures. They are balls of fluff that seem to have inherited generations of inexhaustible vigor. Initially bred to be small game hunters and vermin exterminators, Cairn Terriers are known for their power, persistence and dynamic temperament.
If you are thinking about adopting a Cairn Terrier, you have to remember one or two minor details. One, try to get your Cairn Terrier from a respectable breeder. Puppies that are sold in pet shop or puppy mills as they are called, are often plagued with sickness and diseases. They also have less energy to spare, and may cost you more in veterinary bills than you care to spend. Two, if you prefer to adopt a full grown dog from animal rescue shelters or dog pounds, make sure that your prospective pet has gone through inoculation and neutering or spaying. A microchip identification tag may also be a good idea for Cairn Terriers are excellent escape artists.
A Cairn Terrier likes nothing more than to romp and run the entire day. Its hunting instincts remain fairly strong, even though a modern day Cairn Terrier sees the insides of an apartment or house more than it sees the great big open spaces of the Highlands.
It also likes to dig, dig and dig. Digging is a hunting trait that it has inherently acquired over many generations. You see, a Cairn Terrier was trained to chase out prey (usually rodents and large rats) from burrows inside or underneath rock piles called cairns. Soon, this digging trait was also used to flush out small game like hares and rabbits, which helped add a bit of meat to the farmers' pots. Larger preys eventually made it to the Cairn Terrier time table, as the farmers used their pet dogs to track down and corner larger pests like foxes, otters and weasels. Digging is also a natural way to help wear down the rather fast-growing nails of this breed.
A Cairn Terrier also likes to incessantly chew on things - anything that its teeth can gnaw at is fair game. This is also an inherent habit - a product of evolution when farmers of old valued a large canine toothed dog for a companion. Chewing helps the Cairn Terrier to actually sharpen its canines. And a Cairn Terrier bite can be painful. For other dog breeds, chewing is a sign of distress and boredom. This is not the case with Cairn Terriers. Chewing is a natural habit that is sometimes encouraged to help maintain the dog's dental health.
Incredibly, a Cairn Terrier dislikes anything that it considers "prey" - basically smaller animals or creatures it considers lower in pack ranking. These "creatures" may include your other smaller pets like hamsters, rabbits and turtles. Unfortunately, a very young child or toddler is someone that the Cairn Terrier considers of lower pack ranking. It would be wise to keep these two apart for the time being.