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Cairns REALLY like?


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Hi there I have changed my mind so much recently that i am about to give up and never get a dog, its just too hard. I recently settled on the cairn as my ideal apartment pet (after thinking the italian greyhound was till i learned about its terrible teeth, prone to leg breaking and escaping) that doesnt need lots of exercise and maybe able to stop yapping at an early age, no shedding and a lovable scruffian.. but after reading topics on here you guys are saying they are VERY hyper and need lots of exercise?? http://www.glowdog.com/bestdog/ this website says otherwise so who am i to believe?? this is the trouble i am having with anything i choose, someone else will always say that breed bit my daughter or something. What are they REALLY like, someone who has owned or known a few can you comment please? and what is meant by it is not a lapdog? does that mean if i try to pick it up to put on my lap it will growl and bite me? all i want is a lovable fluffy friend who wont try to run away, attack a neighbour, get the police called with noise pollution, dig up the shared garden or make hair in clumps all over my new apartment floor.. i thought there would at least be a few choices but apparently they dont make dogs that dont get in trouble. as you can tell i am not a dog owner and its lookin like i never will be as every breed has massive disadvantages on paper.. but im not sure what any are really like to live with. any words of wisdom by some smart people here? ;). would i cairn be ok if i specifically ask a rescue center for a quiet calmer than usual one? then again i cant help shake the feeling if i go to a rescue center theres a bigger chance that the dog is there for a reason and i will get stuck with that reason. what should i do?

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From the description of things you are wanting in a dog, I would say the Cairn is not the right dog for you. They bark A LOT, they are bred to dig, and they are high energy. I understand your frustration when you say what you have read about Cairns doesn't jive with what most owners say about their dog and its behavior. I got a Cairn based on what I read, which was totally opposite from his actual temperment. However, he is still a puppy, so he could match the books someday! :) I am amazed at how some information on Cairns describe them as a perfect appartment pet. I don't really agree. They need run time to stretch their legs and get all that energy out! However, I know there are some great folks on this forum who are appartment dwellers, so I could be way off here.

With all due respect, you know what would fit your needs perfectly? A cat! The more I read in your letter, the more I thought your perfect companion would be a feline! I adore cats and would have 5 if I could! My husband has a new respect for cats since we got our puppy. He realized how easy and practically effortless cat ownership can be. Something to think about....

I wish you the best of luck in your quest for your new companion! :)

All creatures great and small, the Lord God, He made them all!

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Our Cairn Terrier was our first family dog - and he is 16 months. I also researched and reflected on how this breed would fit in with our lifestyle, children and busy schedule of work. Just like people - not all Cairns are the same - each has it's own personality and habits - good and bad. Having said that- I would start with a good line - go to a reputable breeder - and experience the personality of the mother/sire if possible. The next step is devotion to helping focus the natural curiosity of the breed - early and often. I find key characteristics - post puppy to be: independent thinkers - yet obedient when consistent training, sweet - and loving - very devoted to their masters. They don't like to stay in a lap - but will often - nudge your hand to throw a toy, or lick your face or arm when they are feeling real lovey. I think every animal needs exercise- and a daily walk will keep your pup happy. I could not imagine a day without a Cairn in my life- it seems as though if I give him one act of kindness- he gives me 5 in return. Oh, and they are smart - and know when you are disappointed in their behavior. They respond well to consistent direction/rules and love praise. Good luck with your choice - I hope this helps you make the right decision.


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Well I love my Cairns tremendously and am a terrier lover in general - but I really don't think that terriers make good apartment pets - Cairns have tons of energy and really need a yard - even if it's a smaller yard, you'd be on so many walks trying to keep that Cairn busy you might just go crazy. I'm with Barney's mom -cats are super - and I wouldn't hestitate on a cat at all if I were in an apartment or small townhome. I've known some really affectionate loving cats. I'd say if your heart is set on a dog then I'd go super small - like a Pomeranian. I have a friend that has one that live in an apartment and has trained hers to use the Purina Dog Litter - (don't try the Purina dog litter with Cairns! - they'll eat it - I tried it's a disaster and better designed for tea cup or Pomeranian size) - As far as a dog that won't get you in trouble with the neighbors - Cairns can be barkers, most of them don't shed if you take care of the coats well - but they can dig and they could destroy your house/apartment if they're in the mood - especially in puppy stages - but they are terriers and some never outgrow the urge. My vote is a cat - dogs are way too high maintenance for apartments :) I don't mean to discourage you but it's so much harder when you can't scoot their little butts out the door for yard time. And any dog could have the urge to run... especially if they see something they like to chase (i.e. cat, mouse, squirrel...motercycle) and good luck catching them - terriers I swear can do 90mph.

Hollie Edelbrock & Brystal Sonoma
Chris, Stacy and Little Noah
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that doesnt need lots of exercise

Last night I took mine on a 2 mile walk, during which he got to bolt at top speed back and forth on his flexi-lead (15 ft each direction!) for the first half. After that, he drank some water, and then proceeded to take about 40 laps around the living room at quite a tear, which is a funny thing that a lot of terriers tend to do. Then he begged me to tug-a-war with him and we played for about 30 minutes. Periodically interspersed he rang his bells to go out about 4 separate times, not because he had to go, but because he wanted to play outside at 10/11 at night (we're still working on "do you really have to go?"). Finally, I crated him because I needed to go to sleep, but he could have gone for an hour more at least. He's 8 months old, and nights like these are becoming less frequent, but that can still be the case a few times a week. Other nights, a 1/2 mile walk or 30 minutes at the dog park will suffice and he'll be out cold by 9 or 10. No matter what end of the behavior spectrum he's on, he's always sweet, loving, cute and playful.

There are many "Senior" dogs in need of rescue of just about every breed. I had a westie before my cairn, and she slowed down quite a bit in her old age, however, she could still go on a wild tear around the house when the mood struck even at age 13!

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Sophie is an apartment dog. And unlike many Cairn's she is not loud at all. She barks when someone is at the door or at other dogs. She sleeps most of the day while we are gone.

She takes a 6 block walk, 2-3 times a day. She also has a full spirited game of fetch in the house and several games of 'shake the toy'. Her energy level isn't as high as is described by many, but she is a grown dog at least 4 years old.

Sophie is also a rescue. She was used as a caged breeder for her whole life. Her challenges have little to do with digging, chewing, noise or destruction and more to do with trust and relationship building.

I wouldn't describe Sophie as a lapdog. She will sit beside us, and sleep with us, but she's not usually on us. She is very affectionate in her way, lots of smiling, lots of tail wagging, licks on the hand.

I did not know Sophie was a Cairn when I got her, and probably wouldn't of chosen this breed from reading about it, but she is a the perfect dog for our life and lifestyle.

Cairns are very adaptable.



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Cairns are wonderful dogs. For the right personality. Might I suggest you visit some Cairns "in person" so you can get a better feel for the breed.

As for not need much exercise, I would have to beg to differ. Cairns were bred for hunting. They have a great deal of stamina. They are also very intelligent. Intelligence comes at a price; they need mental stimulation. A bored Cairn = trouble. My Cairn has a job. He is a certified Search and Rescue dog. And yes, he hangs with the big boy. Sometimes he shows them up too.

I wouldn't trade mine for anything. But I have an edge, I've been a dog trainer/handler for many years. Training a Cairn takes patience and understanding. Training must be tailored to the individual dog.

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I have owned Brittanys, Springer Spaniels, Labs, Schnauzer, Poodles, Muts, and a Cairn. I don't care what kind of dog you get, It is only as good as the time you put into training them. All puppies are a lot of work as you're training them to be good citizens, potty training etc. It is a comittment no matter what breed you go with.

I will say that the Cairn is the most independent thinker and more stubborn than any other breed I've owned. BUT persistance pays off if you're consistent and put the time into to work with them. Good Luck with your decision, but don't make your decision lightly.

abbyrose17lk.gifAbby Rose
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Hi Phil,

I'd rule out all terriers. However, I would recommend a Cavelier King Charles Spaniel. They are lovely, sweet, gentle and generally quiet dogs.

All dogs need exercise. All dogs are born trouble makers - at least until they are grown up. All dogs need attention and affection.

If you are worried about your floors and furniture, don't get a dog. My well trained 3-year old Rudi barfed on my bedroom carpet this morning. :( You cannot afford to be overly "house proud" and a dog owner at the same time.


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Please take a good look at French Bulldogs! I think one would be perfect for your situation, and they are darling. They are quite distinct from English bulldogs, smaller and I think cuter.

Terriers are hooligans, and that is the truth of it!

I think the AKC website has the best breed info.

You are so smart to inquire befoer getting a dog! Good on YOU and good luck!! There IS a perfect dog out there for you.

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I always love the laps around the living room!

I was cracking up when I heard you say this. Diego does the same thing.....and he really goes on a tear.

Debbie and Diego!

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I own two Cairns and a Pug if I had to have one in an apartment it would be the Pug. Biggest problem is the shedding.

Have you thought about a chinchilla? My son had one, he was a neat pet and they have no odor, not even the waste. He likes to cuddle and sleeps in a cage. He lived to be 12 years old and loved to be petted and held. Or maybe a bird, we have a Sun Conure and he likes to ride on our shoulder but he is loud.


Rebel, Hammurabi, Sugar, Dirty Harry, Paint, Duncan and Saffron

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