Cairn Terriers are commonly known and easily recognizable dogs; they have a wiry, scruffy-looking double coat and can come in a variety of different colors including black, sand, and gray. But what about shedding? Does this breed shed a lot of hair and how do allergy sufferers tend to get on when in their company? Here is what you will want to know.
So, do Cairn Terriers Shed? Cairn Terriers do shed, like all dogs, although are considered to be a low shedding breed. As such, they are described as hypoallergenic and allergy sufferers tend to do better with them than with some other dogs. Interestingly, Cairn Terriers shed less than other breeds despite having two coats, which generally causes more shedding, as is the case with Labrador Retrievers for example.
All dogs shed to some extent. For it is the process of dead hair falling out to make room for their new hair to grow in.
For Cairn Terriers, its not such a common occurrence. Even if it does go directly against the regular theme of dogs with double coats.
One of the primary benefits of owning a Cairn Terrier is that their coat is easy to groom; they do not require the kind of level of work and maintencence that can be the case with other dogs.
Let us now take a closer look at the unique coat of the Cairn Terrier and look more closely at what you can expect when it comes to shedding.
We will also be covering some similarly related topics; such as why the breed is classed as hypoallergenic and whether or not they require haircuts.
Lastly we will cover some expert tips and recommendations for owners who take on this dog and want to keep the coat in as healthy and optimal condition as possible.
So be sure to keep reading through this article to get all the information you need when owning this hardy terrier breed!
How Bad Do Cairn Terriers Shed?
Cairn Terriers don’t shed very much at all; however, they do shed their coat year-round. Though many owners only often report noticing a couple of hairs after a rough play session or period of cuddling.
Most dogs will shed heavily in Spring as the weather warms up and then again in the Fall, preparing for their winter coats. When it comes to the Cairn Terrier, they don’t have heavy shedding during these times and many owners don’t even notice a difference during the Fall.
Cairn Terriers are small dogs, generally topping out at around 10 inches, which helps in keeping their shedding down as a smaller dog ultimately means less hair.
Overall, they don’t need a lot of grooming to keep their shedding under control. Grooming is needed more for controlling matting and tangling than it is for controlling shedding.
This is why some of the Poodle breeds, and cross-breeds, usually are considered to be more high maintenance.
The hair of the Cairn Terrier is not only wiry but is medium length and relatively dense. With the hair type that the Cairn Terrier has, one would think that they would shed a lot more than they do.
Or at the very least it would look like they would due to the length and amount of hair per inch.
But that is not the case, and thankfully, you should not expect a lot of hair deposited around your home when owning this dog.
Are Cairn Terriers Hypoallergenic?
Cairn Terriers are considered to be hypoallergenic dogs. While one of the biggest factors for determining if a dog is hypoallergenic is the amount they shed, a dog’s hair or fur is not the cause of allergies.
Most people believe that their allergies are due to a dogs hair or fur.
In actuality, it’s the dander attached to the hair and fur, such as their saliva, as well as sometimes the urine that cause the allergic reactions.
Beyond this, dogs can actually have either hair or fur. Many people wrongly believe that dogs with hair have a higher chance of being hypoallergenic, but this is not the case.
Dogs, humans, and all other animals with fur, hair, and feathers produce dander and there is nothing to support the argument that either hair or fur causes more allergies.
Yes, even humans have dander, which is just microscopic pieces of skin that are attached to dead hair.
In humans, an excessive amount of dander is known as dandruff, and yes, it can cause allergies just like pet dander can!
While the hair is not what causes the allergic reactions, than why is the amount of shedding the number one factor when it comes to whether a dog is hypoallergenic or not?
That’s because the more a dog sheds, the higher amount of dander that gets into the air and on the surfaces around the house, such as furniture and carpets. It’s this added dander throughout the house that causes an inflammation of allergies.
In other words, more dander is being naturally dispensed and sent around into the atmosphere and deposited on items as the coat falls out.
Interestingly, Cairn Terriers really do buck the trend. While they have double coats, which usually means that they will shed their coat (especially from their top outer coat) quite a bit, this does not happen.
Since the Cairn Terrier doesn’t shed much at all, the opportunity for their dander to spread throughout the house is very minimal, allowing them to be considered hypoallergenic.
Do Cairn Terriers Need Haircuts?
Cairn Terriers need haircuts. Or at least trims, especially around their eyes and ears. These trims do not need to be performed frequently, every three months or so, but they will help to keep your Cairn Terrier looking neat, feeling comfortable, and remaining more hygienic.
The biggest reason for needing to give your Cairn Terrier a haircut, other than to keep their hair out of their eyes and ears, would be to control matting and tangling. Brushing regularly can keep the shedding down without needing a haircut to control it.
If you plan on showing your Cairn Terrier in competitions, then you will need to groom your dog differently and on a different schedule. However, a pet Cairn Terrier can be trimmed regularly at home with a pair of dog-grooming scissors.
To maintain the wiry look of your Cairn Terrier, especially for show competition, it is recommended to shorten and shape their coats by stripping with a stripping knife.
This is a longer process as each hair is plucked individually and should be done by someone more professional.
The process is controversial in some circles with many groomers not practicing it anymore. Nevertheless, this is going to be down to your individual preference, and what is available to you locally.
Tips For Maintaining And Grooming The Cairn Terrier Coat
When it comes to maintaining and grooming your Cairn Terrier’s coat there are a few things that you can do.
The breed has a naturally wiry outer coat with a softer under coat. Some purists believe that using clippers on the Cairn Terrier’s coat will make it become more soft. Which for some is the look they’re going for.
Cairn Terriers have sensitive skin and they only need to be bathed only every so often, about every three months or so.
Over bathing can cause skin irritation and other skin conditions with your dog. If you find that your Cairn Terrier breaks out or develops scabs after bathing, you can use specialty shampoo for dogs with skin conditions.
Nevertheless, it is recommended to use a shampoo designed specifically for dogs. This will help prevent any initial irritation as the formulation is designed to be more nourishing and kind on a dogs more sensitive skin. This is the product I use on my dog and get from Amazon.
Brushing your dog is one activity that you’ll need to get acquainted with if you own a Cairn Terrier.
Luckily, they don’t have to be brushed regularly, once a week at minimum should suffice. However, brushing more than once a week will help to keep the coat clean, reduce any chances of tangles and will also promote the health of the coat.
Regular brushing will also keep your Cairn Terrier’s shedding down even more by removing their dead hair before it has a chance to become airborne or land on any of your household surfaces.
In addition to grooming their coats it is important to take care of other grooming needs. You should brush your Cairn Terriers teeth on a weekly basis, with a toothpaste that is specifically made for dogs.
Cairn Terriers have short ears that stick up, so they are less likely to get ear infections but it’s still a good idea to check their ears regularly.
Cairn Terriers, like most dogs, will also need their nails trimmed on a regular basis.
Some dogs who have access to cement and other rough surfaces may grind their nails down naturally, not needing trimming to occur often. But this will ultimately depend on your own unique context.
Starting the grooming routine, or at least touching your Cairn Terrier in ways a groomer would, when they are very young, will help the grooming process. It makes them more relaxed and confident in the process.
This way, when they are older, it will be much easier when you need to brush and detangle them. They’ll be less fidgety and keen to sit still.
Cairn Terriers are unique dogs as they have double coats but don’t shed very much at all.
They shed all year long but do not have an increase in shedding during the change of seasons like most dog breeds do. Many owners don’t even notice an increase in shedding during the Fall at all.
Their small amount of shedding adds to the factors that make them a hypoallergenic breed as well.
When it comes to dogs and allergies in humans, hair and fur, and more specifically the amount of shedding of them, is the number one factor that defines the severity of the reaction.
Contrary to popular belief it is not the hair itself that causes the allergies. The hair simply transports the dander from the dog throughout the air and house surfaces.
There are two methods of grooming your Cairn Terrier, depending on the look that you are going for.
If you want to keep the wiry look of your Cairn Terrier you can do so by stripping their hair.
If you want a a soft fluffy Cairn Terrier than you can use a slicker brush on them and clippers to cut their hair, which many believe leads to a softer coat.
So, if you have someone in your family who suffers from allergies but wants a dog, a Cairn Terrier may be a perfect breed for them.
On top of that, you don’t have to worry about showing up for an important meeting or interview with your work clothes full of fur.
While these dogs tick the box from an allergy perspective, one other key thing to consider is their temperament.
Cairn Terriers were initially bred in Scotland on the Isle of Skye as a working dog, where they were used by farmers to get rid of vermin, as well as used in fox and badger hunting.
They put their intelligent, tenacious, and courageous tendencies to work and this made them ideal candidates for the job.
The breed still holds these characteristics to this day, so these traits are definitely something to consider if you are thinking of getting one.
They do need a lot of psychical activity and mental stimulation, or otherwise, they are prone to digging holes, barking, and other destructive behaviors.
Nevertheless, they do make an excellent family companion when raised firmly but fairly, and when a confident owner can help minimize their naturally assertive nature.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.