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Group: Terriers
Breed Family: Terrier

Scotland was the birthplace of many of the rough-coated, short-legged Terrier breeds that are closely associated with one another, such as the Cairn, the Skye, the Scottish, the West Highland White Terrier, and the Dandie Dinmont. Which of them was the primary type is difficult to say, although many experts suggest that it was the Cairn Terrier. These small Terriers -- bred to bolt and destroy foxes, otters, badgers, and other small vermin from the cairns and crags of the Highlands -- had been kept for generations both by the lairds of large estates and the farmers of the small crofts.

There is no doubt that the Cairn originated centuries ago. Many early authorities mentioned such a Terrier. Dr. Caius makes reference to these vermin-killing dogs in 1576, and there are depictions of dogs resembling Cairns as we know them today in paintings of the period.

The history of the breed was closely associated with the Isle of Skye, so it seems fitting that when it first appeared at the Inverness Dog Show in 1909, it should be classified as a Short-haired Skye. There were scores of complaints by Skye Terrier enthusiasts and the controversy raged up until 1910 when the name of this hardy little dog was changed to the Cairn Terrier, a designation chosen because of the nature of its work. Two years later, the Cairn was granted official breed status by The Kennel Club.


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