Cairn Terriers are a small breed of terriers that originated in Scotland. These dogs are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and energetic nature. Cairn Terriers are popular pets for families, but many people wonder if they are good with cats. Are Cairn Terriers Good with Cats? While every dog is different, some general traits of Cairn Terriers may make them more or less compatible with cats.

One of the key factors in determining whether a Cairn Terrier will get along with a cat is their personality. Cairn Terriers are known for being independent and strong-willed, which can make them difficult to train. However, they are also loyal and affectionate towards their owners. When it comes to cats, Cairn Terriers may be more likely to get along with them if they are socialized from a young age. Socialization can help dogs learn how to interact with cats and other animals calmly and respectfully.

Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terrier Overview

Breed History

The Cairn Terrier is a small terrier breed that originated in Scotland. They were originally bred to hunt vermin, particularly rats and foxes. The breed's name comes from the piles of stones, or cairns, that were used to mark the location of the all game. Cairn Terriers have been around since the 16th century, and their popularity has only grown since then.

Physical Characteristics

Cairn Terriers are small dogs, typically weighing between 13 and 18 pounds. They have a sturdy, hardy appearance, with a shaggy, weather-resistant coat that can come in a variety of colors, including red. They have a cheerful, alert expression, with perky ears and a tail that is usually carried high.


Cairn Terriers are known for their intelligence, independence, and affectionate nature. They are playful and energetic and enjoy spending time with their owners. While they can be stubborn at times, they are generally easy to train and respond well to positive reinforcement. Cairn Terriers are also known for being good with children and other pets, including cats.

Overall, Cairn Terriers are a healthy, hardy breed that makes great companions for those who are looking for a small, playful dog with a big personality.

fi smart dog collar

Compatibility with Cats

Cairn Terriers are active, intelligent dogs with a strong prey drive. While they were originally bred to hunt small game, they can coexist peacefully with cats when properly trained and socialized.

Prey Drive and Hunting Instincts

Cairn Terriers have an instinct to chase and hunt small animals, including cats. However, with proper training and socialization, they can learn to control their impulses and live peacefully with feline friends. It is important to note that some Cairn Terriers may have a stronger prey drive than others, so it is crucial to assess each dog's behavior before introducing them to a cat.

Training for Coexistence

Training is essential when it comes to introducing Cairn Terriers to cats. Positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise can be used to teach the dog to ignore the cat and focus on other activities. It is important to supervise interactions between the two animals and intervene if the dog shows any signs of aggression or chasing behavior.

Introducing Cairn Terriers to Cats

Introducing a Cairn Terrier to a cat should be done gradually and in a controlled manner. The dog should be on a leash and the cat should be in a carrier or behind a baby gate. The two animals can be allowed to sniff each other through the barrier, and positive reinforcement techniques can be used to reward calm behavior. As the dog learns to tolerate the cat, the barrier can be gradually removed under close supervision.

Overall, Cairn Terriers can coexist peacefully with cats when properly trained and socialized. It is important to remember that each dog is an individual and may have different levels of prey drive and tolerance for cats. With patience and consistency, a harmonious relationship between a Cairn Terrier and a cat can be achieved.

Cairn Terrier Overview

Behavioral Traits

Cairn Terriers are known for their friendly and playful temperament, making them great companions for families. However, when it comes to cats, their behavior can vary depending on their personality and training.

Exercise Needs

As a terrier breed, Cairn Terriers are active dogs that require regular exercise to maintain their energy levels. This can include walks, playtime, and other physical activities. Providing them with enough exercise can help prevent behavioral issues such as excessive barking and destructive behavior.

Barking and Vocalization

Cairn Terriers are known to be vocal dogs and may bark at anything they perceive as a threat or potential prey. However, with proper training and socialization, they can learn to control their barking and become less reactive to cats and other animals.

Playfulness and Energy Levels

Cairn Terriers are playful and energetic dogs that love to play and interact with their owners. They are known to be great hunters and may try to chase cats or other small animals. However, with proper training and socialization, they can learn to coexist peacefully with cats and other pets.

Overall, Cairn Terriers can be good with cats if they are trained and socialized properly. However, it is important to remember that each dog is unique and may have different behavioral traits and needs.

Health and Care

Grooming Requirements

Cairn Terriers have a double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and clean. They have a harsh outer coat and a soft undercoat, which means they need to be brushed at least once a week to prevent matting and tangling. Cairn Terriers also need to be stripped at least twice a year to remove dead hair and promote new growth. Stripping involves pulling out the dead hair by hand, and it is best done by a professional groomer. Regular bathing is also important to keep their coat clean and shiny.

Common Health Issues

Cairn Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health problems. Some of the most common health issues in Cairn Terriers include cataracts, hip dysplasia, and allergies. Cataracts can cause vision problems and may require surgery to correct. Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects the hip joint and can cause pain and mobility issues. Allergies can cause skin irritation, itching, and other symptoms. It is important to take your Cairn Terrier for regular check-ups with a veterinarian to monitor their health and catch any potential problems early.

Diet and Nutrition

Cairn Terriers require a balanced diet to maintain their health and energy levels. They should be fed high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level. Treats should be given in moderation to avoid overfeeding and weight gain. Cairn Terriers are prone to dental problems, so it is important to provide them with dental chews or toys to help keep their teeth clean. It is also important to provide your Cairn Terrier with fresh, clean water at all times.

Living with a Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers are known for their spunky and adventurous personalities. They make great pets for families who are looking for a small but lively companion. However, before bringing a Cairn Terrier home, there are a few things to consider.

Living with a Cairn Terrier

Family and Home Environment

Cairn Terriers are generally good with children and make great family pets. They are adaptable to different living situations and can do well in apartments or houses with yards. However, it is important to note that Cairn Terriers have a high prey drive and may not be the best fit for homes with small pets such as cats or rabbits.

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization are crucial for Cairn Terriers. They are intelligent dogs and can be trained to do a variety of tricks and obedience commands. However, they can also be stubborn at times, so consistent training is important. Socialization is also important to prevent aggression towards other dogs and strangers.

Exercise and Playtime

Cairn Terriers have high energy levels and require daily exercise and playtime. They enjoy going for walks and playing with toys. Interactive toys such as puzzle toys and treat dispensers can help keep them mentally stimulated. It is important to note that Cairn Terriers should always be supervised during playtime to prevent injury.

Overall, Cairn Terriers can make great pets for families who are willing to provide them with the attention, training, and exercise they need. However, it is important to consider their high prey drive and need for socialization before bringing them into a home with small pets or children.

Choosing a Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers are a popular breed due to their intelligence, loyalty, and playful personality. However, before bringing one of these adorable puppies into your home, it's important to consider a few things to ensure that they are the right fit for your family.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

When looking for a Cairn Terrier puppy, it's important to find a reputable breeder. A good breeder will be able to provide you with information about the puppy's health, temperament, and any potential issues to be aware of.

fi smart dog collars

It's recommended to do some research and ask for referrals from other Cairn Terrier owners or breed clubs. A reputable breeder should also be able to provide health certificates and genetic testing records for the puppy's parents.

Considerations for Potential Owners

Cairn Terriers are known for their stubbornness and high energy levels. They are also natural hunters and may have a strong prey drive, which could make it a challenge to train around cats or other small animals.

Potential owners should be prepared to provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation for their Cairn Terrier. They also need to be consistent with training and socialization to help mitigate any potential behavioral issues.

Adoption and Rescue Options

If you're considering adopting a Cairn Terrier, there are many rescue organizations and shelters that specialize in this breed. Adopting a dog from a rescue organization can be a great option, as these dogs are often already trained and socialized.

When adopting a Cairn Terrier, it's important to be aware of any potential health or behavioral issues that the dog may have. It's also important to take the time to get to know the dog before bringing them into your home to ensure that they are a good fit for your family.

Living with a Cairn Terrier

Overall, Cairn Terriers can make great pets for the right family. By doing your research and considering all of the factors involved, you can ensure that you're making the best choice for both you and your new furry friend.


In conclusion, are Cairn Terriers good with cats? While every dog's temperament varies, Cairn Terriers generally have a moderate to high prey drive due to their hunting instincts. With proper socialization and training from an early age, many Cairn Terriers can coexist peacefully with cats. It's crucial to supervise their interactions initially and gradually introduce them in a controlled environment. Additionally, providing separate spaces for the cat and dog to retreat to can help prevent conflicts.

Understanding each pet's body language and behavior cues is essential for fostering a harmonious relationship. Some Cairn Terriers may exhibit strong chasing instincts towards smaller animals, so caution and supervision are necessary. Ultimately, successful integration depends on the individual personalities of both pets and the effort put into training and supervision. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, Cairn Terriers and cats can potentially form strong bonds and live together happily. However, it's essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of both pets above all else.