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Home »  Dog Breeds »  Cairnese

The Cairnese is a hybrid dog being a mix of a Havanese and a Cairn Terrier. He is a small or toy dog who will live between 12 to 15 years. He is a cheerful and curious or nosy little thing and he will need to be with an owner or family who have time for him and can give him lots of attention otherwise he can become very withdrawn. Therefore he is not best suited to people with super busy lifestyles.

Here is the Cairnese at a Glance
Average height 8 to 13 inches
Average weight 10 to 20 pounds
Coat type Double coat, soft under and coarse over, long
Hypoallergenic? No
Grooming Needs Low to moderate
Shedding Low to moderate
Brushing Low to moderate
Touchiness Fairly sensitive
Tolerant to Solitude? Not at all
Barking Low to Moderate
Tolerance to Heat Very good to excellent
Tolerance to Cold Moderate to good
Good Family Pet? Good to very good
Good with Children? Good to very good, better with older children
Good with other Dogs? Moderate - can be aggressive
Good with other Pets? Moderate - sees them as prey to hunt!
A roamer or Wanderer? Low to moderate
A Good Apartment Dweller? Very good
Good Pet for new Owner? Good to very good
Trainability Good to very good
Exercise Needs Low to moderate
Tendency to get Fat Moderate
Major Health Concerns Deafness, patellar luxation, heart problems, Legg- Calve-Perthes Disease, liver disease
Other Health Concerns Joint dysplasia, eye problems
Life Span 12 to 15 years
Average new Puppy Price Unknown
Average Annual Medical Expense $430 - $550
Average Annual Non-Medical Expense $525 - $650

Where does the Cairnese come from?

Mixed breeds dogs are not a new things. Sometimes it has happened by accident, sometimes on purpose, but mixing breeds is a very old thing. In the last two decades though there has been a move towards mixing two more unusual breeds, creating unique hybrids, or trying to get the best out of two purebreds into one dog. They are often given a name that blends the names of the pure breeds and these designer dogs are quite popular now. Without having a history to examine or known origins the best way to get a feel for a mixed dog is to understand a little about the combination of breeds it is comprised of. So here is a look at the Havanese and the Cairn Terrier.

The Havanese

The Havanese ancestor was brought to Cuba by Spanish settlers in the late 15th century. There it was bred with Bichon type dogs and became the dog we see today. By the 1800s they were the lap dog of many aristocratic Cuban families and European travelers who saw them fell in love with them and brought them back with them to Europe. For a time in the mid 1800s they were a very popular dog to own, Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria are just two well known fans. Sadly the trend came to an end and the breed almost disappeared even in Cuba. However a few survived and after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 some were brought to America with some refugees. Slowly the breed started to do better and people began to work on reestablishing them.

Today the Havanese is a affectionate and gentle and lives for keeping company with his owner. He may tail you around the house and they can get anxious when you leave them home alone. He is clever and can be goofy and funny. He is a great lap dog but should get early socialization to ensure he is well rounded.

The Cairn Terrier

Scottish terrier breeds were originally classed as Scotch Terriers but in 1873 a new system came in to play and there were now two classes, Skye Terriers and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. Cairns were included in the Skye terrier classification. They were developed 200 years ago on the Isle of Skye by a Captain Martin MacLeod. Eventually in 1912 the Cairn-terrier had its own designation and was so named after Scottish burial sites. He came to America in 1913 and was granted membership of the AKC that same year.

Today he is a friendly lovely dog, always happy and eager to meet new people. As a terrier he is independent though and very alert. He likes to dig, chase things and he is a barker. He is a devoted family dog, good with the kids but can be sensitive and does not do well if you scold him. Early socialization and training are important to help keep him more stable.


The Cairnese likes to be active and can be quite a curious dog, wanting to know where everyone is and what everything is! He is cheerful and clever at getting the attention he craves. If he is taught some tricks he will happily perform them to entertain you and any strangers visiting the house. They are playful and loving but if they feel they are being ignored they can become withdrawn and sad. They are faithful and confident and when trained and socialized they are usually gentle, otherwise the occasional one can be aggressive sometimes. They can be stubborn so training is important for that too. Keep in mind they do have the terrier in them so can enjoy hunting small animals.

What does a Cairnese look like

He is 8 to 13 inches tall and weighs 10 to 20 pounds. He is a small dog with strong but small legs, small ears, a medium sized muzzle with a black nose and small ears. He has hairy eyebrows that cover his dark eyes. His tail is full but short and he has a straight long double coat, soft under and coarse outer. Colors include golden, sandy, black, brown, gray, wheat and golden red.

Training and Exercise Needs

Will the Cairnese need much exercise?

He is small dog but still needs regularly time outside getting some exercise. Take him on a walk or two a day and add in some play time too at home. If you have a yard letting him play in the yard can be a part of his activity. He has moderate needs but things like a dog park are good still for him.

Does he train quickly?


He is smart and can be trained even to learn tricks for entertainment but sometimes he has a stubborn streak which some owners may run into. Obedience training and socialization early on are really important here to develop him into a well rounded dog and to train out any slight aggression he can have. Use some positive training, rewards, treats, praise and he will learn for you and perform for you. He is not quicker than other dogs to train but as long as you can establish yourself as the pack leader by being firm and consistent he will certainly not be slower.

Living with a Cairnese

Is he easy to groom?

He has a long over coat and that means ideally he needs to be brushed daily to avoid having mats, debris and tangles. You could opt to have his coat trimmed if you wanted to make it a little easier to take care of daily. Do not have it shaved as that coat actually protects him from extreme weather hot or cold. Professional groomers can trim that that for you and at the same time they can also take care of his nails. Some dog owners prefer not to clip their dog's nails because if you cut too low it can cause discomfort and bleeding.

Other grooming needs include wiping his ears once a week and brushing his teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week. Bathing is something that can happen when he gets a lot dirty or otherwise just every month to month and a half.

What is he like with children and other animals?

They like to play with children but tend to better with older ones rather than younger ones just because the latter do not always know how to be careful with them. He can sometimes be aggressive with other dogs though not always. Early socialization and training can help prevent any problems. Because of his terrier nature he likes to hunt and that makes other small pets prey to chase unless he is raised with them or socialized well.

General information

They are an alert dog and will bark to let you know if a stranger is nearby. They can also bark at random sounds they hear. He should be fed ½ to 1 cup of dry food of good quality each day, divided into two meals. He is suitable for apartment living but still needs time outside each day and if you get one that barks every time a neighbor walks by that could get annoying. He does have a double coat but that does not mean he can be left out in extreme cold for long periods.

Health Concerns

They are quite healthy usually but there is the possibility they might inherit one or more diseases from the Havanese and Cairn Terrier, or be prone to some of the things they are. In particular problems that might arise include joint dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye problems, heart problems, Legg- Calve-Perthes Disease, liver disease and deafness.

Costs involved in owning a Cairnese


Pricing for this dog is hard to judge as there are not any for sale currently in any of the usual places. At an estimate you are looking at something around $750, but if you buy from somewhere less reputable you may be able to get it cheaper. Your Cairnese will need the following items,

Carrier bag, crate, collar, leash, food bowls - $120 - $150

Medical tests on his blood, deworming, micro chip, vaccinations, neutering - $260 - $350

Annual medical costs of insurance, medical check ups, flea prevention, vaccinations - $450 - $500

Annual non medical costs covering things like long hair grooming, food, treats, toys, license, training - $520 - $580.


Looking for a Cairnese Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

This is a great dog for those living in apartments, people with experience in dealing with dogs where establishing yourself as leader is easy for you which means training will go fine. He loves to investigate things and nose into your business, and he will expect to be included in all things. He will give you many years of companionship and will be completely loyal to you and will earn your love within days of having him.

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