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Cairn or Westie?

Guest Charlie

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Guest Charlie

Hello to you all.

My girfriend and I have, after much research, decided that we are going to purchase a pup before the end of the year. The trouble is we're torn between a Cairn or a Westie. We have several books on each breed, but just can't make our minds up. This forum has been a GREAT source of information and I would respect any of its members views.

We have a friend with a Cairn and also a friend with a Westie and both dogs are so special. I tend to want a Cairn more, but my girlfriend would like a Westie. :confused:

We are both Scottish and would love to have a Scottish dog.

Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated. :)

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We love our Cairns and are very happy with our choice. The few people who tried to talk us out of getting one, were former Westie owners who had bad dogs! That said, I'm sure most Westies are great. I guess you have to decide if you want a groomed white dog or a scruffy dog of any color but white!

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You can always go with the Scottish Terrier (Scotty) :P

My first Cairn Missy passed away this past November at age 17. I love the Cairns to me there the best breed. Missy was more dominate and alpha. Very much she was the boss. We now have a new male Cairn terrier, Kramer who is 9 months old today. He is the most loveable, layed back guy I ever met. I call him my teddy bear as he is such a lap dog. He wants to always be by you and right by you. Loves people and all animals. Very friendly and very easy going. Missy was very stubborn and had a mind of her own, Kramer he is a follower not leader. Missy

had a totally different disposition as Kramer but there each indivuales and I will always love and miss my girl, she is in my heart forever. Kramer is my boy and I love him dearly he has really helped me cope with Missy's loss. I think if you go with a cairn you wont be sorry.

Godd luck :wub:

Rhonda,Kramer & Angel Missy "Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog". "It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are" Missy Rainbow Bridge Memorial

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That is a hard decision. Are you sure you can't get both? I have a Cairn and a Westie that I got as rescues and love them both dearly. The Cairn's personality is a little more devilish (speaking of my Cairn, that is), but the Westie is also pretty darn feisty. They are also very sweet little guys. I have owned two Westies prior to this one but owning a Cairn is a whole new deal. I couldn't give either one of them up. I guess the upside of your decision is that no matter what, you are going to own (or be owned by) a wonderful little dog. :P


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Awww....I faced the same decision this year. I lost my darling and perfect Westie at age 14 in 2003....while I was off in the Iraq war. I was so torn between missing her and wanting another one just like her (which is impossible). After two years, I still cried looking at her picture. So I thought it was a good idea to get something totally different, like a pug or French bulldog....dear husband said no way would I be happy with a non-terrier and he suggested the Cairn....very similar, but not the same color, so maybe not such a reminder of my beloved Westie.

I still miss her but....we got a little girl and little boy Cairn and I love them to pieces! The boy is such a sweet, good chap and the girl is sooo bitchy in a good way!

And they don't show the dirt they way a Westie does.

So my bottom line is: if you are a "terrier person" get either--the personalities seem pretty similar to me. Just be sure and buy from a reputable breeder,

I'll have a Westie again one day. And many more Cairns, too. :thumbsup:

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Our first dog was a cairn. When he died several years later, we got a westie, then about six months later, another westie. The personalities between the cairns and westies are almost identical. It would be my choice however, to get a cairn, as we had serious medical problems with both westies (small white dog shaking syndrome, which white or light colored dogs are prone to) and it is for that reason I would never recommend anyone get a westie. It was absolutely horrible. After we had to have them both put down, we got Cooper the cairn and could not be happier. He now has a partner in crime, Yoda and schnoodle, and they make the perfect pair!

Good luck in your decision!


Children don't care how much you know...they want to know how much you care.
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Guest Charlie

Thank you all very much for your replies.

I think the Cairn Terrier is the one for us.

Like I said, we have purchased many books on both breeds and to me, the Cairn seems the most suitable.

I was quite disturbed by the "small white dog shaking syndrome" as this was never mentioned in any of the Westie books. I have heard of it, but never really gave it too much notice. After reading a few articles today, it has totally put me off owning a Westie. I know any dog can become sick but to me, that is a huge negative towards the Westie.

Our only other 2 concerns now are the age old debate of male Vs female (Our friends Cairn is female and you couldn't ask for a nicer dog), and to crate train or not to crate train. Crate training here in Scotland is not as popular as it is in the US and is looked down upon as being cruel. I would love to be able to avoid it if possible. Are there any success stories out there where a Cairn was successfully paper trained?

We are coming over to the US in September to visit family, so hopefully soon after, we will have our new addition.

Again, many thanks for all your help. :thumbsup:

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Guest Guest

DH and I are going to Scotland in the fall. We hope to see some Cairns in their homeland! I guess mum's the word on crate training over there, but it worked great for us.

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Crate training here in Scotland is not as popular as it is in the US and is looked down upon as being cruel. I would love to be able to avoid it if possible. Are there any success stories out there where a Cairn was successfully paper trained?


Carolina is 7 and until she was potty trained, I put her in a crate whenever I left the house. When I was home she was not in it but she DID have accidents on the carpet. (I did not paper train. I lived in a condo and just took her outside a LOT!)Once she was trained, I did not use the crate any longer. Now she uses it in the car anytime we go anywhere.

I know some people keep their puppies in the crate most of the time, unless playing or eating. I would just try to watch Carolina and whenever she started sniffing the carpet, I would snatch her up and out we went! It worked for us.

I don't think your puppy will think you're being mean if you put him/her in it as long as you don't use it for punishment. As for people thinking it's cruel, if anyone says anything, I would say something to the effect of you're just keeping your puppy safe. :thumbsup:

Looking forward to "meeting" your new little one when you get him/her!

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Hi Charlie,

I have one of each. My Cairn (Duffy) is almost two years old and my Westie (Miki) just turned 9 months. Both are extremely wonderful dogs and we love them both equally. As far as behavior, Miki minds much better than Duffy. Miki will come when he is called and stops what he is doing when we tell him "no". Duffy won't. They get along really well with each other and having one of each breed has been great for us. Since it is my opinion that like humans, dogs need other canine company, why don't you get one of each, then you will have the best of both!


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I don't think you can go wrong either way....I'm partial to Cairns....but Westies are cute too!

ps. My DD spent last semester in Scotland, for school, and she saw very few Cairns...in fact, I wanted her to purchase some items with Cairns on it and she couldn't find anything! :( They had mostly Yorkie stuff...can ya believe it??

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I don't think you can go wrong w/ either breed. When I was a little girl, I use to spend some weekends at my grandma's house. Her neighbor had a westie and a scottie. I was only allowed to play w/ the westie. The scottie was too sassy. My dh has a thing for westies, but we're cut off from having anymore dogs being we're at 5 now. I like them, but prefer cairns because I like the smaller size.

<img src=&quot;http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/maiwag/terriersiggy.jpg" border="0" class="linked-sig-image" />

Beth, mom to Ninja (5), Hannah (7), Abbey (7 1/2), Kiara (10)

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Charlie, good to see you are researching and keeping your options open...But I gotta be honest here, Westies are not match when comparing to Cairns. Lets list the reasons:

Westies are not as healthy overall-IE White Dog syndrome (scary)

Westies are sissy white, which never looks white but rather Dingy and dirty when they get older.

Westies are all too common these days, Cairns are rare-who wants a trendy dog (yuck!)

Cairns are more Ol' World Scottish breed-although people can debate it. I met an woman and her family visting the US from Ireland in a retail store here in Boston recently that allowed pets (so of course we brought Digby). She knew exactly what he was the minute she saw him. Said they were popular in the old country and good to see we didn't get a Westie. No joke!

Anyway, I know this is obviously a biased opinion, I make no bones about it. I just think you should get a Cairn (or as they say with an Irish/Scottish brougue-'CARN'). They are wonderful little creatures, so bright and interested in people and rugged (not dainty white) and best of all loving. You can't go wrong. And you have all of us for support as a bonus!! Its a no brainer!

Either way, you will be happy with your dog...Good luck in all you do.

I attached a picture of Digby, he wishes you well. :D


“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”


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I just want to add my two cents.

Our cairn, Abraham, did NOT like the crate from the word go. He was a real little turd. rolled in it literally every night. cried all night long, and he was not taking to the potty pad method. So, one night my husband said, block of a particular area, and let him have at it. put the pad down, blah blah.....and I did. And it was just like flipping a light switch. Abe started sleeping, and getting near the potty pad (keep in mind he was only 8 weeks old when we got him) and then before I knew it he was on the potty pad !!! and to this day, those same 6 inch high barriers are there, and he knows where he can or can not go, and has NEVER crossed them. it is really quite funny, because he is so much bigger and could literally step right over them.

Everytime we were around and he hit the pad, we all made a big deal out of it, and then rewarded him with a little treat. It was the answer for us. But, keep in mind that he also sleeps with me now too! (husband works second shift)

Nowadays, he uses the pad through the night, and goes outside. I think this is just the breed, he loves to be outside, and prefers to do his business out there. and I do not mind! less clean up for me.


Now theres a face only a mama could love.

PS~we just got our second cairn, Scruf and we love him already. He is completely different from Abe.

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Guest Darcy's Mom

You asked if anyone paper trained their pup? We got Darcy (Cairn) when she was only 6 weeks old. I know, that's kinda young but we were desperate for a new little girl Cairn as our other 2 Cairns had passed away. Anyway, after getting Darcy home, we immediately put down some newspaper in the kitchen. That's how we had always taught our other two, to go to the paper if necessary. I swear, being as young as she was and as tiny, after three days she was completely paper trained. We did not have the option of letting her out on the deck to do her business because the deck had steep steps and my husband had to puppy proof it first by putting up a gate, etc. Same for the front steps, too big for her to go up and down at first.

We progressed from the kitchen (newspaper) to the deck after it was fixed so she couldn't fall off of it and she started using the deck until she could learn to go up and down the steps. then she would only go outside.

Most folks on this site swear by crate training and I know it is a good thing for alot of people, but for us the paper training has always been our option. It's entirely up to the individual as to which method works best.

By the way, it is my biased opinion that you can't go wrong with a Cairn. I can't speak to the Westie, never had any experience owning one. Just remember, the key word with any pup is patience, patience, patience. Good luck and keep us posted as to your decision. Everyone loves to see pictures of other folks' pups too.

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Guest Charlie

Once again, thank you for all your contributions. They have been most helpful.

I'll be sure to check out the forum on a regular basis and hopefully make more posts once we get our new pup.


PS Was walking through Edinburgh today and saw 2 cairns and 2 Westies on 4 separate occasions during the course of the day. Is someone trying to tell me something? ;)

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I had one of each and it was wonderful. I thought having two dogs brought out a wonderful, playful side in both dogs. I got the Westie first (a female), followed by my Cairn a year later (male). My Westie has always stuck by me - I'm her person - but the Cairn was the family dog and he loved everyone equally.

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