The Cairn Terrier is a small athletic looking dog that has a mischievous and intelligent look. Often their face is described as being almost fox-like in appearance with sharp pointed ears that are set relatively high on the head. The ears are always carried erect and the bushy topknot and longer hairs on the ears give a softened outline to the head. The muzzle is strong looking but not square and is somewhat pointed in appearance. The face has a definite stop between the deep set brown or hazel eyes that are framed by bushy eyebrows. The eyes of a Cairn Terrier seem to sparkle with intelligence and good humor and they are very interested in watching everything around them.
The body is relatively short and very compact. The dogs are sturdy looking without being heavy or stocky in appearance. The Cairn Terrier has different sized feet, with the front feet slightly larger than the back feet. The legs are short and very straight with longer, harsh fringe and feathering over the legs for added protection in moving through dense vegetation and brambles.
The short tail is always carried high and is usually wagging and in motion, especially when these active little dogs are one hunt or are out on a walk. They have a very springy gait and move fluidly despite their smaller size. Since they were originally a ratting breed, they have the coarse, outer coat that provides both protection and water resistance and the softer, insulating under coat keeps them warm even in cold weather. The coat is slightly wavy to straight but is never curly. The breed can be found in many different colors including gray, black, red, sand and brindle but cannot be white. White patches on the chest or feet are considered faults, but darker hair on the ears, legs, muzzle and tip of the tail is acceptable.
These dogs thoroughly enjoy playing with all sorts of toys, including kong dog toys.
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