Cairn Terrier Dog Grooming Tips

Cairn terriers originally hunted foxes and weasels in Scotland.
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Made famous by Toto from The Wizard of Oz, the cairn terrier is a small dog with big personality. The grooming needs of your cairn are low and easy for even the busiest owner, with your wiry pup needing just a regular brushing and occasional bath.


Your cairn's waterproof double-coat helps protect him as he romps about the countryside, racing through the brush and bramble and terrorizing the local small wildlife. Bathing him too frequently will strip his coat of protective oils and soften its natural coarse texture. One bath every three months or so works well for your little hunter. Wash him as necessary between regular baths if he gets himself into something nasty or smelly.

Hair Care

Not one to fuss over his hairdo, your cairn is a wash-and-wear kind of dog. His hair grows fairly quickly, and he'll need at least weekly brushing to remove dead, loose hair tufts that would otherwise tangle and form unruly mats. Use a slicker brush or a pin brush to run through his coat and keep it tangle-free. Start this regular brushing early in his life, so he'll learn to love it -- or at least accept it and sit still.

Stripping vs. Clipping

As your cairn terrier's coat grows, his hair will begin to look a little scruffy around the edges. If you brush him regularly, you shouldn't have to worry about mats, but he'll need an occasional trim to stay neat and tidy. You have two options for shaping his coat – stripping and clipping. Show dogs have their coats stripped two or three times a year, meaning the hair is hand-plucked or shaved off using grooming knives. This encourages new growth and will keep the hair wiry, conforming with the breed standard. Pet coats can be stripped too, but many owners choose to clip the hair short instead. This will soften the hair as it grows back, but clipping will ease grooming requirements immensely.

Additional Attention

Because he is apt to run around and stick his head into bushes as he chases squirrels and rabbits, your cairn terrier's eyes and ears can be injured. Check him at least once a week for signs of infection or injury. Wipe his ears, using a cotton ball and ear cleaner. Brush his teeth at least three times a week to promote dental health. Have a professional groomer trim his toenails at least once a month to prevent injury to his sensitive pads. While he's there, have the hair around his face trimmed up nice and tidy.

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