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What’s the Cairn Terrier Price & Cost of Ownership?

If you fell in love with Toto from The Wizard of Oz when you were a kid, then you probably couldn’t wait to have a Cairn Terrier as an adult.

You’re probably wondering, though, how much one of these little cuties costs.

The Cairn Terrier average price ranges anywhere from $1,200 to $5,000.

Cairn Terrier Playing Outside

However, before you break out the checkbook, you should probably get to know this breed’s temperament a little better.

Certain aspects of a particular breed may change your mind on whether or not to buy.

So, on that note, let’s take a closer look at the Cairn Terrier breed.

The Cairn Terrier, Up Close

When Cairn Terriers first popped on the scene, their main purpose was for hunting.

Everyone from shepherds to foxhunters used Cairn Terriers for pest control.

These little pups would hunt or chase away foxes, rabbits, or rats, but especially otters and badgers.

This is good to know because dogs who used to hunt back in the day often can’t turn it off even today.

You, therefore, don’t want to have them around any pets they might consider as “prey.” So, if you have a hamster, you might want to consider a different breed.

Cairn Terrier Temperament and Personality

Here are some of the more common personality traits that all Cairn Terriers share. You can then decide for yourself if this is the right kind of dog for you.

He’s a Hunter

As noted above, the Cairn Terrier started out as a hunter – and his instincts to do so have never left him.

He has a strong chase instinct, and therefore too a strong prey drive.

cairn terrier temperament

He will chase after anything that looks like prey.

You should therefore never let your Cairn off-leash on a walk or at the dog park.

Not only will he chase after anything that moves, he won't listen when you call him back either.

He’s Not a Cuddler

Not all small dogs care to function as lap dogs – the Cairn is proof of that.

This breed is not a cuddler. He’d much rather bound around with you playfully all day long.

Cairns stay active long after they officially reach adulthood, so they may be a little too high-energy if you’re considering a new dog for Grandma.

He’s Stubborn

The Cairn would much rather boss you around than listen to you.

You must show him you’re the one in charge, else he’ll take the opportunity to rule the roost.

While it might seem cute to watch him strut around like he owns the place, it’s incredibly frustrating for training purposes.

He Likes to Bark

If you’re not careful, you can have a yappy little dog with a Cairn Terrier. He loves to hear himself bark.

You need to train him early on when and where it is appropriate for him to use his bark.

Otherwise, he’ll drive you – and your neighbors – crazy rather quickly.

He Can Act Aggressive with Other Animals

While we’ve already established the Cairn’s hunting instinct, his stubbornness can lead him into fights with other dogs, too.

This is especially bad when he tries to fight with dogs who are much bigger than he is.

Socialize the Cairn early and often to combat this personality trait. It also helps if you humble him early on, because the less bossy he is, the less combative he’ll act.

He’s a Digger

The Cairn Terrier is a digger by nature, and it’s something you’re just not going to train out of him.

His hunting instinct encourages him to dig for rats and mice, and he isn’t going to stop now!

You’ll need to incorporate some sort of fence to keep your Cairn away from your rose garden. Else, you can keep him in the opposite yard from the outside items you care about.

Something fun you can do to help him get out his energy is burying his toys in the yard in a place you won’t mind him tearing up.

Cairn Terrier Size

An adult Cairn Terrier grows to a maximum height of 9 or 10 inches tall, and a maximum weight of 13 to 14 lbs.

This may be too small or too large for you, depending on the type of dog you’re looking for.

That’s why it’s good to know this information before you buy, since it’s not so easy to tell when looking at a puppy.

Cairn Terrier Price – How Much Do Cairn Terriers Cost?

As mentioned before, the Cairn Terrier puppy price varies widely, from $1,200 to $5,000.

The Cairn Terrier price range may seem impossible to pin down, but it all boils down to the breeder you choose.

Cairn Terrier Price

And, of course, the stronger the dog’s bloodlines, the higher the purebred Cairn Terrier price will be.

You can save a few dollars on the purchase price of the Cairn, however, by opting to rescue or adopt one.


The Cairn Terrier is the 70th most popular dog of the AKC’s 194 recognized breeds.

This means that the Cairn isn’t overly popular, or overtly rare. You should therefore be able to find one at a fairly reasonable price.

Cairn Terrier Rescue and Adoption

You can look into Cairn Terrier rescue organizations if you’d much rather rescue a dog than buy one.

The Col Potter Cairn Rescue Network is one such source. They offer information about their rescue, as well as instructions on how to rescue one of their own.

Rescue organizations typically charge around $500 to cover the costs associated with taking care of the dog.

Adopting a dog from your local shelter costs significantly less, with an average cost of around $150.

This cost covers the dog’s shots and neutering before you can bring him home.

However, the downside to a shelter is that you have to wait for the exact breed you want to come in. If you’re open to a mixed breed, you may be able to get one sooner.

Else, you can put your name on a list, and they can call you once they have a Cairn come in.

Checkout our Complete Guide to Breeders:

We wrote the definitive guide on finding, selecting, and dealing with dog breeders. This will give you the smarts and confidence to save you money, time and heartache. Read On…

Cairn Terrier Cost of Ownership

It is always important to factor in the costs of ownership when totaling the overall Cairn Terrier dog price.

For instance, what is the price of Cairn Terrier dog food? And what about costs like grooming, training, and vet care?

Cairn Terrier Temperament

Here is a short breakdown of additional costs you should budget for when you’re considering purchasing a Cairn Terrier.

Cost of Food

Because the Cairn is a smaller dog, you don’t have to worry about going bankrupt feeding him.

You can choose to buy one of the smaller bags of dog food each week or opt for a larger bag (around $35) that will last you a while.

And don’t forget to check with your vet on the specific kind of food you should feet him to keep him happy and healthy.

Health Care Expenses

Little dogs tend to have more health problems than mid-size dogs.

For the Cairn in particular, here are some of the conditions you need to have awareness of:

Of course, some of these conditions require more long-term care than others.

But, in either case, you’ll still need to bring your Cairn to the vet more often if he develops any of these conditions.

And, of course, don’t forget to include any medications involved with treating any of these maladies.

Your Cairn is not guaranteed to develop any of these conditions, but it’s still a good idea to know about them just in case.

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: Our Health is #1 Priority. It should be no different for your dog. But you need to help him. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is the answer. This handy guide will help you recognize the symptoms of the health problems above. Get the knowledge to stay ahead of these terrible issues that can rob your lovely dog from vigor and life. Help your friend make it to 14 yrs+ without pain and suffering.

Training Programs

The Cairn is a stubborn little guy, so you may need some help in the training department.

If you find he’s just not listening to you the way he should, don’t give up on him.

Dogs whom their owners give up on have behavioral problems for the entirety of their lives. Don’t become that owner.

Look into the different training programs in your area to see which one would best suit him.

You can sign up for individual lessons or packages, one-on-ones or group lessons.

The Cairn may benefit from group lessons just because he can learn better to coexist with other dog breeds out there.

Helpful Online Dog Training Resource:

The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.

Grooming Costs

You may not have to worry about grooming with this breed because he is not high maintenance.

He simply needs a weekly brushing and you’re good to go.

However, if he needs his nails trimmed and teeth brushed, and he won’t let you do these things, then you may need to consider paying for a groomer.

Some groomers can come to your home with a mobile grooming van, while with others you’ll need to bring your Cairn in.

Shop around before you settle for a groomer though. The closest one may not be the ideal choice for your budget.

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