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The Cairn Terrier has a long and proud working history that dates way back to the 17th Century. Native to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, this trusty Terrier breed has successfully protected farms and game reserves for more than 400 years.
In fact, when it comes to working dogs from the wild and windy Western Scottish Isles, the Cairn Terrier most certainly looks the part.
With its petite yet stocky stature and an alert, eager and industrious personality, the Cairn Terrier is perfectly built to chase off a whole host of burrowing vermin such as mice, moles, rats, voles, and even badgers.
So, How Big Do Cairn Terriers Get?
When it comes to dogs in the Terrier group, Cairns are actually one of the smallest in the whole pack. And there’s a very good reason why.
You see, as a ‘go-to ground Terrier, the Cairn was specifically developed to dig and route around tiny spaces, in and amongst the rocks and cairns (hence the name!), to lure out, catch, and chase off those unwanted burrowing animals.
According to the American Kennel Club’s official breed standard, the Cairn is a small working terrier of the short-legged class’. And while this petite pup has been around for centuries, it has changed surprisingly little in appearance over the years.
Height-wise, male Cairns grow to around 10 inches in height once fully grown. In comparison, its female counterpart will reach approximately 9.5 inches tall.
As far as length goes, both male and female Cairn Terriers are expected to be approximately 15 inches long, from chest to rump, once fully grown.
In terms of this tiny pooch’s weight, ideally, male Cairns should be around 14 pounds, while females should be about 13 pounds.
As you can no doubt tell from these slight statistics, the Cairn Terrier is very much a dinky dog – but don’t let that fool you. Because what this dog lacks in height, weight, and length, it most certainly makes up for in strength and power.
When are Cairn Terriers Fully Grown?
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when thinking about the growth of dogs is this: the larger the breed, the longer it takes.
Take the Irish Wolfhound, for example. As one of the larger dog breeds in the world, it can take around two years for this magnificent beast to reach its full growth potential.
But for the Cairn Terrier, on the other hand, it will usually reach its full length and height by anywhere between 10 and 12 months of age.
However, it’s important to note that although the Cairn will likely reach its maximum height within the first year of its life, it may well continue its muscular growth for longer. In other words, the ‘filling out’ process might take a little longer than the first 12 months.
By the time your Cairn Terrier reaches 18 months, there’s a very good chance that it will be fully grown, from both a skeletal and muscular perspective, which means it will be looking much more like an adult dog rather than a fluffy puppy.
What Can Affect a Cairn Terriers Growth?
Irrespective of a dog’s breed, many different factors can affect a dog’s natural growth pattern.
From the type of food you give your dog to how often you feed them, diet and nutrition have a crucial role to play in making sure your Cairn Terrier grows healthily.
But it’s not just food that can affect their overall growth. As you’re no doubt aware, many dog breeds can be genetically predisposed to a range of different health issues, some of which can have a massive impact on your dog’s natural ability to grow.
And then there’s the issue of exercise. Too much or too little exercise can hugely impact a dog’s weight and may result in your dog not being as healthy as it could be.
So, what about Cairn Terriers?
Genetically speaking, while Cairn Terriers are known to be pretty healthy dogs, this particular breed is more likely than others to develop a condition called portosystemic shunt (PSS).
PSS is a disorder that causes some of a Cairn’s blood supply to go around – instead of straight to – the liver. This results in the liver being deprived of the correct blood flow it needs to work and grow as it should.
PSS also means that a dog’s liver won’t function as it should as it isn’t able to completely remove toxins from your dog’s bloodstream. If a Cairn Terrier is diagnosed with PSS, then the likely result will be stunted growth.
Another factor that could affect the growth of your Cairn is medication. Several prescription drugs available for dogs today can affect their weight. While some prescribed dog medication can cause a dog to put on more weight, others can result in a dog losing weight.
Should the need arise for you to give your Cairn Terrier medication, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your vet in advance to be fully prepared for any potential side effects that may come as a result of the medication.
Moving on to diet and nutrition, this is a crucial aspect of your dog’s wellbeing, and it’s super important that you provide your Cairn with a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Choosing the right food for your Cairn as it progresses from puppy to adult to senior is absolutely vital. At different stages of its life, your Cairn Terrier will have other nutritional requirements, so it’s essential to do your research to make sure you’re feeding your dog the right food.
As a puppy, your Cairn Terrier will need to be eating a diet that contains a higher amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to help your puppy grow healthily. When it reaches adulthood, however, these all need to be reduced.
If not reduced, it will likely result in your adult dog being overweight, which could cause much longer-term health issues such as obesity, skin conditions, and more severe joint problems.
But it’s not just what you feed your dog that matters – it’s how much you feed them. And if there’s one thing many of us dog lovers can be guilty of from time to time, it’s overfeeding our dogs.
We’ve all experienced those large, adorable puppy dog eyes staring at us as our manipulative little monsters beg for extra treats – and I’m sure we’ve all given in to them from time to time!
When it comes to how much we feed our furry friends, it’s essential to try and feed our dogs the correct number of calories to ensure a healthy weight for their breed. Because both overfeeding and underfeeding can have detrimental results for our dog’s weight and long-term health.
Another critical aspect of a Cairn Terrier’s growth is exercise. As a working Terrier, Cairns are lively, adventurous little bundles of energy that thrive on around an hour’s exercise each day.
Both physical and mental exercise are essential for Cairns, so offering a mix of different daily exercises that stimulate both their bodies and minds will be great for their all-around health.
As an energetic breed, you must meet the daily exercise needs of your Cairn. Under-exercising your dog will not only result in potential weight gain, but it could also lead to your dog being bored – and that alone could result in your Cairn displaying destructive behavior.
On the other hand, if your particular pooch is super high energy and bordering on hyperactive, then you may find that your Cairn burns off more than the expected number of calories it needs every day, which may result in unexpected weight loss.
If that’s the case, you must increase the number of calories your Cairn has each day to ensure they stay at their ideal weight. If you’re unsure about the number of daily calories your Cairn needs or the best food to feed them as part of a healthy balanced diet, it’s always wise to speak with your vet, who’ll be able to give you the answers and advice you need.
How Long do Cairn Terriers Live For?
The average life expectancy of a Cairn Terrier is between 13 and 15 years. However, it’s by no means uncommon for Cairns to live beyond their expected age, especially if they are well cared for.
To ensure your trusty sidekick lives the longest and healthiest life possible, here are a few things you can do:
- Purchase a high-quality dog food for your Cairn Terrier that’s specific its age
- Feed your Cairn twice a day – don’t leave food out for them all day as they can be prone to obesity
- Weigh your Cairn regularly to make sure it’s within a healthy weight range
- Groom your Cairn at least once a week and give him or her a bath approximately every three months
- If possible, brush your Cairn’s teeth weekly – more if it’s possible!
- Give your Cairn plenty of exercise – around one hour a day is ideal
We hope you’ve found this article interesting. If you’d like to find out more about the Cairn Terrier, then keep visiting our site for more articles on this lovely little bundle of fun!
About the Author
Hey there! I'm Jeremy and I’m the brains behind Pet Care Project, a website chock-full of pet-care know-how. I've got the experience and knowledge to help you keep your furry friends happy and healthy. And let's not forget about my own little fluffball, Lunar, my Ragdoll cat who keeps me on my toes.