Towsytyke Cairn Terriers, Australia


Welcome to Towsytyke Cairn Terriers


TEMPERAMENT: The standard describes a Cairn terrier as gay, active and fearless. They can become very attached to one person, but can be wary of strangers, and for this reason make excellent watchdogs. The Cairn terrier’s good temperament, adaptability and boundless energy make them an excellent dog for children as well as a loyal companion for the elderly.

PURCHASE PRICE: . Puppies should have a vet's certificate for clearance from PSS, be registered with a Canine Control (have papers), be vaccinated, wormed and in New South Wales will be microchipped. A reputable breeder will not sell a puppy before it reaches the age of 8 weeks. Please check the prices on our puppies page

BRIEF HISTORY: The Cairn terrier breed has its origins in the mists of antiquity, but it is an indisputable fact that it is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, pure bred terrier breed in the British Isles .The Cairn terrier originated on the mainland of Scotland, the Isle of Skye and the Western Hebrides. Refer to the article, The Cairn terrier, past and present, which appears on this web site for more detailed information.The word, “Cairn” means a pile of stones or rocks, and the Crofters of Scotland needed a small, game, sturdy little dog to flush out vermin. The breed was introduced to the U.S.A. in 1913 and is best known for “Toto”s” appearance in the Wizard of Oz. Toto followed Judy Garland (Dorothy) down the yellow brick road and they both had the adventure of a lifetime. This film was made in 1939 and still has a “cult” following to this very day. Liza Minelli, Judy Garland’s daughter has a Cairn terrier. Of course, its name is “Toto.” Queen Victoria had a Cairn terrier. J.Edgar Hoover, the head of the American F.B.I. for so many years had a Cairn terrier. His name was “G.Boy.” Wendy Richards, the actress who played Miss Brahms in the sitcom “Are you being served” has a Cairn and is very active in Cairn rescue in Britain.

APPEARANCE: The Cairn terrier is a small, rather short legged terrier. He is “compact” and has a shaggy, workmanlike appearance. He is double coated, he has a harsh outer coat, and a woolly undercoat. His coat is weather resistant. The Cairn terrier comes in a large variety of colours. They can be red, wheaten, grey, silver, and dark, nearly black. But Cairns do not come in black, white, or black and tan. Dark points, especially the muzzle, chest and ear tips are very typical of the breed.

HEALTH: Cairn terriers are rough and tumble little dogs, have low maintenance coats and very few health problems. Just keep your dog free of fleas, keep him fit and not overweight and he will more than likely live a long, happy life. If you live in one of the Eastern States of Australia please check out the four most important things which will influence your Cairn terrier’s well being – namely, Heartworm, Tick paralysis, Fleas, and Toad poisoning.

FEEDING: As the Cairn terrier is only a small breed he is not costly to feed each week. He should have a balanced diet that should include raw meat or chicken, dry food, vegetables and some pasta or rice. Make sure you give your Cairn bones to keep his gums healthy and the tartar from his teeth. You can give him a RAW chicken wing or RAW chicken necks.DO NOT FEED COOKED CHICKEN BONES OR BONES WHICH MAY SPLINTER.Give your Cairn a bone at least twice a week. If his teeth and gums are healthy he will not suffer from bad breath.

HOUSEPET POTENTIAL: The word “terrier” comes from “terra” meaning earth. Every terrier will dig especially if bored. Give your dogs some toys to play with. Check that the toy does not have eyes or such that the Cairn may swallow. Most times he will grow out of it.

EXERCISE: All dogs need exercise and the Cairn terrier is no exception. Even though he is small he is quite capable of taking a long walk. Most Cairns love the water and will swim at the first opportunity. If you have a swimming pool put something in the shallow end so that he may get up on it and be able to get out.

GROOMING: The Cairn terrier has a waterproof, double coat. It is desirable to groom him at least once a week so that he has no matts or knots in his coat. All you will need is a medium steel comb and a stiff bristled brush and a sharp pair of scissors. Comb him through first and then brush him to keep his skin healthy. Keep him free of fleas. There is a product called “frontline”. It is expensive but it works and also helps in repelling the scrub or paralysis tick. Bathe your Cairn when he gets dirty or smelly. You can use eucalyptus wool wash instead of shampoo. This is cheaper and does not make his coat soft. Check in his ears. Pull any excess hair out with finger and thumb. Trim around the tips of his ears with scissors being careful not to cut the ear. Hold the foot in your hand and trim the excess hair from around his feet. Trim between the pads also. Keep his toenails trimmed.

TRAINING: Cairn terriers are intelligent and respond well to training but they can be “single minded”. Make sure that they know that you are the boss. They can be house trained at an early age and mature quite early. If you have the time take your puppy to a puppy kindergarten so that he learns to interact with other dogs. Cairns have done well in Obedience and Agility . Cairns are also used in Pets as Therapy.

USES: Cairn terriers were bred to hunt vermin and their hunting instincts are part of this delightful breed. They are always busy looking for things to do. They make a good little watchdog as they are alert and will bark vigorously at intruders. There is only one thing better than to own a Cairn – and that is to own TWO.

FURTHER INFORMATION: If you require any further information or the name of a registered breeder please contact one of the following organizations.
The Cairn Terrier Club of New South Wales.Miss Margaret Hill 02 97466475
The Cairn Terrier Club of Victoria,Miss Fiona Ward. 056 299 311 Email


The Cairn Terrier breed has its origins in the mists of antiquity, but it is an indisputable fact that it is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, pure bred Terrier in the British Isles bred on the mainland of Scotland, the Isle of Skye and the Western Hebrides. There are records of the “earthe dogs” of Argyllshire, Tuberville way back in the 16th century. Dr Calius refers to the Terriers of the North in Elizabethan times and John Leslie wrote of the small breed of Terriers used for hunting fox and badger a century earlier.
Several of the old Scottish families have long records of the dogs owned by their ancestors, the best known being the MacDonalds of Waternish and Drynock strain of the MacLeods both of the Isle of Skye. Another important Skye Kennel was that of the MacKinnon of Kilbride and it is principally from these three strains that the modern Cairn Terrier evolved. There are other kennels in Argyllshire, Ross Shire and as far north as Cape Wrath on the Isle of Mull and in Harris.

The Cairn Terrier is related to the Skye Terrier, and the Dandie Dinmont, the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier, all of whom owe their origins to the ancient working Scottish Terrier. The last of the Scottish breeds to be recognised as a show dog, being registered by the ”Kennel Club” of England in 1909, although he had existed in the Isle of Skye the islands of the Western Hebrides and the rugged terrain of Scotland itself., he rapidly became the most popular of the many terrier breeds in the United Kingdom. The first records date back to the 15th century. This bleak and harsh environment with its rocky hillside, cairns and glens demanded a tough, rough and fearless dog, ready and capable of going to earth with the fox, badger, otter and other vermin.

Every laird had his “cuallach de madaidhean” (pack of dogs) and every crofter “hismadah” or house dog. Originally known as the short haired Skye, the real rise of the Cairn Terrier to popularity was principally due to the activities of Mr Alistair Campbell. The breed was not intended to follow hounds but to work as a pack on foot by Keepers or Sportsmen , so did not need the longer legs as did some of the other terrier breeds. They are capable of fast movement when it is called for. Their back had to be of medium length, supple and be able to turn in and around the rocks. The ribs are heart-shaped, well sprung from the backbone, with adequate heart room and of good depth – not round or too narrow but with a flattish appearance at the side.

On the Island of Skye the otters during the day frequented the cairns or piles of rocks formed on the seashore by fallen rocks. When the terriers entered the cairn where they had located an otter, the otter retreated to a position where it could face the Cairn Terriers one by one and fight on equal terms. Woe betide the little Cairn Terrier of which the otter got hold, for he would be killed instantly or frightfully mauled. A strong terrier, pulling himself from the otter’s grip would often be minus the pad of his nose, a lip or even an ear. Packs of hunting Cairn Terriers were seldom without plucky little fellows who bore these battle scars but still went into battle against their formidable foes. A large “dog” otter of 22lbs could free himself from any number of small terriers, but the strongest and pluckiest terrier would slow down the otter’s passage to the sea by fastening himself firmly to the otter’s tail, thus enabling the huntsman to shoot the otter. The badger, too, was a powerful and cunning foe.

In 1909, as mentioned previously, the Cairn Terrier was shown at “Crufts” the biggest dog show in the United Kingdom under Robert Leighton. They were classified as short haired Skyes and were brought by Mrs Campbell from Ardiskraig on Loch Tyne. It was not until 1912, after much controversy, that the name “Cairn Terrier” was accepted and a separate register opened, enabling them to compete for Challenge Certificates at designated dog shows.

Reprinted from N.Z. Kennel Gazette Vol 30 9th October 1990.


Home | About Us | Studs | Bitches | Past Champs | Breed Info | Puppies | Health | Fun | Cairns with Jobs