The Cairn Terrier is a peppy, very hardy little terrier with an abundant shaggy outer coat and a soft, downy undercoat. The coat comes in red, brindle, blackish, sand, and various shades of gray. Any color except white is acceptable, though dark points (ears, eyes, and muzzle) are preferred. Adult coat color is hard to predict from the puppy coat, as the color often continues to change for several years. The Cairn Terrier has a compact body, about 14-1/2 to 15 in. from forechest to back of hindquarters. The head is broad, with bushy topknot and eyebrows and a black nose. The ears are small, pointy, and naturally erect. The short, hairy tail is carried gaily. Faults to avoid: missing teeth, pinkish nose, white on the chest or feet, soft or curly body coat.
Named for the piles of small stones used to mark Scottish farm borders and graves, the Cairn Terrier's job was to rout small animals from their lairs in these stone piles. Though used for such purposes for centuries, the Cairn Terrier is now primarily a companion dog. He also excels at earthdog (Go-to-Ground) trials. Everyone remembers a Cairn called Toto in the film The Wizard of Oz. The Cairn is one of Scotland's original terriers, probably a contributor to today's Scottish, West Highland White, and Skye Terrier breeds.