Welcome to the Cairn Rescue League
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Have a question? Well, we have an answer! Please scan through the list of FAQ's below, if you still cannot find an answer to a question you may have please eMail us.

Why do Cairn Terriers Need Rescue?
What are Cairn Terriers like?
Are Cairn Terriers good with children?
Are Cairn Terriers good with other dogs?
Are Cairn Terriers good with cats?

Are Cairn Terriers lap dogs?
Do Cairn Terriers require a fenced yard?
Are electronic fences safe for Cairn Terriers?
Are Cairn Terriers active dogs?
Do Cairn Terriers like to play?

Are Cairn Terriers hard to train?
Are Cairn Terriers barkers?
Are Cairn Terriers good in a car?
Do Cairn Terriers like to swim?
How long do cairn terriers live?

How big are Cairn Terriers?
Are Cairn Terriers a healthy breed?
How much exercise do Cairn Terriers need?
Do Cairn Terriers need to be groomed?
What happens when a Cairn Comes into rescue?

How does your adoption process work?
How much does it cost to adopt a Cairn from rescue?
How often do you have puppies available for adoption?
Do you do long distance adoptions?
What sort of support is available once I've adopted my dog?



Why do cairn terriers need rescue?

Cairn terriers come into rescue for many of the same reasons other dogs do. Among these are lifestyle changes – owners get divorced, can no longer afford to care for their pets, they have to move somewhere where they can’t have pets, etc. Occasionally, the owner dies or has to move into assisted living.

Behavioral issues are another reason. Again, these are reasons that would apply to most dogs, not just cairn terriers – issues such as housebreaking, barking, escaping, etc. For one reason or another, the owner gets to a point where they feel they are unable/unwilling to follow through on whatever measures are necessary to correct these behaviors (most of which work themselves out once the dog is in rescue and placed in a more suitable environment).

Another reason cairns come into rescue is that their owners adopt a cairn without understanding what terriers are like and/or without doing the homework necessary to determine whether a cairn is the best dog for them. People also see The Wizard of Oz and expect their cairn to be as well behaved as Toto. Cairns are wonderful dogs, but like other dogs, they do need training.
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What are Cairn Terriers like?

For information on what cairn terriers are like, please see Meet the Cairn Terrier on the Cairn Terrier Club of America website - http://www.cairnterrier.org/meet/. This will provide you with information on their appearance, temperament and training, health and feeding requirements, grooming, and the differences between male and female cairns.
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Are Cairn Terriers good with children?

Because they were bred to hunt small game, cairn terriers have a highly developed prey/chase instinct. For that reason, they are inclined to give chase when small children squeal and run, which can be mistaken for aggression. Because they at times had to defend themselves from their prey, cairns do not respond well to teasing.

Applications from families with children will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Because of the above, and because a rescue cairn’s history with children is often unknown, it is our strong preference to place cairns in families where at least one of the adults has experience with terriers. The Cairn Rescue League will not place a cairn in a home with children unless we know the cairn has a history of being good with children.
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Are Cairn Terriers good with dogs?

Cairn terriers were bred to hunt in packs, so they generally do get along with other dogs. In our experience, cairns of opposite sexes tend to do well together, as do males. Females can also do well together. It really does depend on the individual dogs, and the Cairn Rescue League will not place a cairn in a home with other dogs unless the cairn is known to play well with others!
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Are Cairn Terriers good with cats?

Despite the fact that they were bred to hunt small game, cairn terriers usually do get along well with cats, with one caveat. A cairn may get along well with “its cat(s),” but not with cats outside the home. The Cairn Rescue League will not place a cairn in a home with cats unless the cairn is known to get along well with cats.
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Are Cairn Terriers lap dogs?

It really depends on the individual dog, but cairns do tend to be independent. In some ways, they are more like cats than dogs. Most cairns are affectionate, but most are not lap dogs in the true sense of the word. Male cairns tend to be more affectionate than female cairns although again, there are individual differences.
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Do Cairn Terriers require fenced yards?

Because of their highly developed chase instinct, cairn terriers can NEVER be off-leash unless they are in a securely fenced area. The most highly trained cairn will take off after a small animal like a squirrel with no regard for danger.

The Cairn Rescue League does not require that an adoptive home have a fenced yard, but we do require that the cairn will never be off-leash unless in a securely fenced area.
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Are electronic fences safe for Cairn Terriers?

No. Cairn terriers have a highly developed prey/chase instinct, they are very intelligent, and they have a high tolerance for pain. They will “take the hit” and go out through an electronic fence to get whatever it is they’re interested in (usually a small animal such as a squirrel), but they are too smart to take the hit to come back in.

Electronic fences also do not stop other dogs from coming into the cairn’s yard, and cairns will not always take the hit to leave their yard if attacked.

The Cairn Rescue League will not adopt to a home where an electronic fence is used as the primary means of containment, although they are acceptable as reinforcement for other types of fencing.
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Are Cairn Terriers active dogs?

Because they were bred to hunt small game, cairn terriers are active, hardy dogs, but they are not hyper. Most have a moderate to moderately high activity level, and most also spend a fair amount of time relaxing.
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Do Cairn Terriers like to play?

Most cairns LOVE to play. Some are ball fanatics, and others love to tear the stuffing and squeakers out of toys. Back to Top

Are Cairn Terriers hard to train?

Terriers in general need to be trained a little differently than other types of dogs. Cairns, like most terriers, are highly intelligent and love a challenge, so they prefer training methods that keep their attention. Most cairns do like to please, but they will not necessarily obey just for the sake of obeying like some other breeds will.

Cairns do NOT respond well to training that utilizes negative methods or punishment. The Cairn Rescue League recommends training for all of its dogs, and it is important to find a trainer that understands terriers and the use of positive training methods.
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Are Cairn Terriers barkers?

Most cairns will bark for a reason, but most are not what would be considered a nuisance barker.
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Are Cairn Terriers good in cars?

Most cairn terriers love to go for rides, but there are individuals that don’t. For the safety of the cairn and the occupants of the vehicle, the Cairn Rescue League recommends that a cairn be safely confined in a crate or with a seat belt harness specifically designed for dogs.
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Do Cairn Terriers like to swim?

Most cairns are good swimmers, but whether or not they enjoy it depends on the individual dog. Applications from homes with swimming pools or close proximity to other bodies of water will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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How long do Cairn Terriers live?

According to the Cairn Terrier Club of America, the average life span of a cairn terrier is 14-15 years, and most cairns remain active well into their teens.
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How big are Cairn Terriers?

Cairns are usually about 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 15 lbs., give or take a pound or two. It is unusual for a cairn to weigh much over 20 lbs. unless it’s overweight.
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Are Cairn Terriers a healthy breed?

Cairn terriers tend to have less health problems than many other breeds, but like any breed, they are not problem-free. For a good discussion of cairn health issues, please see Health Related Concerns on the Cairn Terrier Club of America website - http://www.cairnterrier.org/health/.

The two most common health issues confronting the cairn are skin allergies, which usually can be controlled with proper flea control, grooming, and diet, and luxating patella, in which the kneecap can slip out of its groove. This is usually asymptomatic and is common in most small breeds of dogs, as is hip dysplasia in larger breeds.
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How much exercise do Cairn Terriers need?

Cairns are a hardy breed, and most do well with a moderate amount of exercise. Most cairns are just as happy living in an apartment with 4 walks a day as they would be on a farm. In addition to playing ball, walking is a good form of exercise for a cairn. Healthy cairns can tolerate walks of up to 1-2 miles. However, because they have short legs, jogging is not appropriate for a cairn.
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Do Cairn Terriers need to be groomed?

Cairn terriers have a double coat – a harsh outer coat and a soft undercoat. Cairns do not need to be bathed as often as some other dogs, because the outer coat protects the skin and undercoat from getting dirty.

However, the outer coat should be groomed on a regular basis. Otherwise, the undercoat can become overgrown and suffocate the skin, leading to itching and allergy problems. The outer coat should be hand stripped or combed with a grooming tool called the Mars Coat King. Clipping or shaving can result in the undercoat becoming overgrown.

Other than that, cairns do not need to be groomed as often as some other breeds, because a natural, slightly shaggy appearance is desirable. Nails, however, should be trimmed regularly.
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What happens when a Cairn Terrier comes into rescue?

Once a cairn comes into rescue, it is placed in an approved foster home for evaluation and rehabilitation, if necessary. We feel a cairn should stay in its foster home for at least 3 weeks. In our experience, it can take this long for the cairn to become comfortable enough to start showing its true colors.

While in its foster home, the cairn will be evaluated for any behavioral issues, and the foster home will work on these issues as necessary. As possible, the foster home will attempt to determine whether the cairn is good with children, other dogs, cats, etc.

In addition to being evaluated, any dog adopted from the Cairn Rescue League will be fully vetted. This includes an examination by a veterinarian; rabies, distemper, and bordatella (kennel cough) vaccines; and heartworm and fecal tests. We will use the heartworm/Lyme/ehrlichia test when available. Your dog will be current on flea/tick preventive if necessary and current on heartworm preventive as dictated by the area in which your dog is being fostered.
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How does your adoption process work?

Our adoption process begins as soon as you submit your application. You should receive a copy of your application, but because we are run by a small group of volunteers, we probably will not be able to contact you again until you are matched with a specific dog.

If you have specified on your application that you’re interested in a particular dog, we will review your application to try to determine if you would be a good match for that dog, as well as whether that dog would be a good match for you. We will usually ask the dog’s foster home to review the application as well to see what they think, since they are the ones who generally know the dog best. If it is determined that the dog would not be a good match for you, we will let you know if we think you might be a good match for another dog in our program.

Once you are matched with a dog, we will contact you to make sure you are still interested. If so, we will begin the placement process by calling your personal references and your vet’s office. This will be followed by a safety home visit, which is an opportunity for you to meet one of our volunteers and ask any questions you might have. The volunteer will also point out any hazards in your home you might not be aware of.

One your reference check and home visit have been successfully completed, you will usually have an opportunity to talk to your dog’s foster home. As we’ve said, they know your dog best. This is an opportunity for them to see if they think their dog is the best match for you, but also an opportunity for you to get more in-depth information about the dog.

This process usually doesn’t take longer than 2 weeks. References not being available and finding someone to do your home visit are usually what cause delays. Once everything has been completed, however, a final determination will be made about the placement, and you will be notified as soon as the decision has been made.
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How much does it cost to adopt a Cairn from rescue?

We ask for an adoption donation rather than charging a fee for our rescues. These donations help to defray the costs of vetting and rehabilitating the dogs in our program. Our suggested donations are as follows:

Under 1 year old - $350
1-5 years old - $300
6-10 years old - $250
Over 10 years old - $150

We also require a spay/neuter deposit of $200 for puppies under 6 months old. This deposit is completely refundable upon proof of spay/neuter. Donations for dogs with special medical needs will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

All donations to the Cairn Rescue League are tax deductible.
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How often do you have puppies available for adoption?

We do occasionally have puppies available for adoption, but most of our dogs are anywhere from 1-2 years old to seniors. It is not common for puppies to end up in rescue.
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Do you do long distance adoptions?

We prefer to adopt regionally (usually within a day’s drive), but will consider long distance adoptions on a case-by-case basis. Some dogs can be shipped (the adoptive home assumes the cost of the shipping), others can be transported by car. It may also be possible for you to fly to pick your dog up.
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What sort of support is available once I've adopted my dog?

We do respect the privacy of our adoptive homes, but we also like to follow up at regular intervals for the first 6 months or so after you’ve adopted your dog, just to make sure things are going smoothly for all concerned. After that, we will attempt to touch base on an annual basis, but welcome contact from our adoptive homes at any time. We love to hear how our dogs are doing, it’s what makes all of our efforts worthwhile. We want to hear from you ANY time you have a question or concern.
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Cairn Rescue League