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I'm new, been lurking, have questions.


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I have been reading posts and topics for a week or so..your site is very infomative. We are thinking of possibly adding a second dog to our household in a year or so and I have met a few Cairns that I adore. I like the spunkiness and playful clown personality and the "big dog in a little body" attitude of the Cairn's I have met. I have read conflicting information about their temperament. Some dog breed books say they are good with kids some say no...Some dog breed books say they are aggressive with other dogs..some books say great with other dogs....

We are considering a Cairn but I want to make sure it is the right dog for us and our existing pets. We plan on doing alot of research before we make any decision.

We have a 2 year old female Labrador named Lucy. She is very socialized with people and other dogs. I don't think she has met a dog she didn't get along with.

We also have 1 cat who is 13 years old. He is not super friendly with dogs...just wants to be left alone. Lucy and my cat Hammy coexist but pretty much ignore each other.

We do not have children.

We are very active physically and take Lucy everywhere with us. Hiking, walking in the woods..jsut about everywhere we go Lucy goes. We have a fenced in yard and I work part time so I am home part of the day. Lucy goes to doggie daycare 2 days a week for socialization and play. I would like for our second dog to participate in all these activities as well.

We always thought we would get another Lab when we were ready to add a second dog to the household. I am considering a Cairn because they are active, sturdy and athletic...but alot smaller.

If we were to get a Cairn, we would like a pup.

So my questions, if you would be so kind to answer, are...

Can Cairns learn to live with cats? They don't need to be friends..but can I train a Cairn to leave my cat alone?

Are Cairns sociable with other dogs??If I start training and doggie daycare early, can I expect a Cairn to get along with most dogs? I have read that some terriers can be very scrappy with other dogs. I don't expect a dog to get along with everyone but I don't want an aggressive dog either that picks fights..

Is there a temperament difference between female and male Cairns?

Based on my description of our lifestyle and household..what do you think? Is a Cairn a good option for us?

Thanks in advance for any advice/opinions.

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Welcome Molly!

Kudos to you for doing such thorough research before deciding on a breed. It sounds like you've got a great home and any dog will be lucky to have you for caretakers!

I'm not an expert. I'm only speaking from personal experience here. I have three dogs and a cat. My oldest dog, Rocky, is a Golden Retriever/Rottie mix. He was 5 years old when we got our first cairn, Zoe. They did wonderfully together. Unfortunately, she was hit by a car before she was a year old. I waited almost a year to get another cairn. I brought Tucker home when he was 8 weeks old. Tucker definitely is more aggressive in his play with Rocky, but being the older, wiser, (and bigger) dog, Rocky is able to keep Tucker in check when he needs to.

We adopted Scruffy when he was 10 months old. At first, I worried that Scruffy would try to be dominant b/c he is older than Tucker, and he tried. But Tucker didn't take anything from Scruffy, and they've settled into a very nice pack. Once I got them all neutered, life has been wonderful.

Since our cat was still almost a kitten when we got Tucker, they grew up together and Tucker loves him. Scruffy wants to chase him, but that's because he wasn't raised with a cat from the beginning. I think that if you bring a puppy into the house, you will have less trouble in that area. I would think a puppy would adapt better with an older dog and cat.

As far as temperament between the sexes, there are some. I found that Zoe was much more independent and less affectionate than my boys. She was a true "bitch" but we loved her for that. Now, the boys are independent too, but they tolerate us wanting to cuddle them for longer periods!

I think that if you socialize them from the beginning, and train them well, they won't be aggressive to other dogs. My Tucker loves to bark and growl at everyone while we walk, but all the while his tail is wagging. That's his way of talking.

Sorry this is so long. Good luck with your search! Be sure to get your puppy (whatever you decide on) from a reputable breeder. Meet the owners, see the parents. Ask lots of questions. Find out about their disposition. See how the puppies interact with eachother. That's the first step in making sure you are getting a well rounded, well socialized dog.


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I belive a Cairn would be a good dog for your family. If you get him as a pup he will have no problem socializing with you other dogs. Just introduce them with care at first and all should be fine.

As far as the cat goes....again being a pup it shouldnt be a problem if you discourage any bad behavior towards the cat( if the cat has claws the pup will learn quickly). Our Petey goes after our cat quite often(he knows he's not suppose to but cant help himself at times).....but the cat antagonizes him quiet often too, so its really quite comical at times. Just be sure and train him as a pup to leave kitty alone....we didnt do a good job of this because the cat was much bigger and could easily fend him off as a pup....now Petey is bigger and can bully her so we are having to be stern with him now.

As far as hiking and other outside activities , just remember a Cairn is not going to have the same recall as a Lab....keep them on leash at all times if not in a fenced area with you there. Petey loves to be outside in any kind of weather and could go allday long on a trail walk....he also loves to ride in the car so taking you Cairn with you want be a problem IMO.

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Thanks Thela and Greg for your advice and opinions.

I am going to continue visiting this forum and when we are ready, we will approach some breeders. I am aware of the importance of getting a dog from a reputable breeder. (No BYB, puppymill or petstores)

As far as the walking in the woods, our Lab is trusted off leash and has terrific recall. I have read over and over that Cairns cannot be trusted off leash. We plan on leashing for safety.

Your comments make me feel confident that we are on the right track. If we do decide to get a Cairn...I will be posting pictures and stories often!

I like the independence of my Female Lab...I like affection but not clingy dogs...I am leaning towards a female Cairn...

Thank you!

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I like the independence of my Female Lab...I like affection but not clingy dogs...I am leaning towards a female Cairn...


If the females of this breed are more independent than the males are you may want a male. Petey is very independent and hard headed at times....but he is very content to curl up and sleep in your lap in the evening...he is not what I would call "clingy" though. Independence is part of the nature of the breed, male or female from what Ive read.

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Bruschi is our male 3 month old. He responds well to every dog he has met so far. A yellow lab next door when he met for the first time he tried to lay down with her and just loves her. He was fine with a very large german shepard and some dogs at the vet he saw.

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Sounds like you have the perfect environment for a cairn. As one person said, they love the walks, lots of them, but they do have to be leashed! I wish it wasn't so, cause my last dog I didn't have to either. But they will be good for a few minutes, see something, and they are gone. No matter how much you call them to come back. They come when they are good and ready.

Someone mentioned females and males. Why are the males is this breed so much more affectionate then the females? The female struts her stuff and lets YOU know when she is ready to be petted!!!!! Is this in all breeds?

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Welcome Molly!

My cairn is 7 and our cat is almost 9. They get along well, although neither fully trusts the other. If the dog is sleeping and the cat gets withing a few inches of her, Carolina, (dog) snaps at the cat. They go back and forth being the "alpha". When we egg Carolina on, she'll chase the cat to the basement stairs, stopping at the top while the cat runs down. He, (cat) will sometimes chase her right back! She leaves him alone and they get along great.

As for getting along with other dogs, I'm not sure about that b/c we just have one dog. My parents have a litter mate to Carolina and the sisters get along great! Carolina likes other dogs as long as they aren't too hyper. She loves it when dogs play "hard to get" with her. Our neighbors' dog does this and she LOVES him. If we meet a dog in the park and it's calm, she's ok. If it's hyper and rushes up to her, she tends to snap. I have noticed recently that she's getting better with this and snapping less.

If and when you get your cairn, be sure to post pics! We love 'em!

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