Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz wasn’t the only one who adored this breed (and her beloved Toto)—Cairn terriers have long been popular dogs, especially for those who love affectionate, fun and incredibly intelligent four-legged friends. Originally from the Western Isle of Scotland where they were working dogs who excelled at pest control, this breed loves snuggles on the couch almost as much as they love adventurous romps in the great outdoors.
Another fun fact about these terriers—they really don’t require much when it comes to hair cuts and styles. Low-maintenance and charming? Sign me up for this pup.
And of course, those eyebrows! Their dignified, kindly faces truly set them apart in the canine kingdom—but also come with a few special instructions to keep them looking sharp.
To help you get there, here are some Cairn terrier grooming tips that are unique to this breed.
Keeping your Cairn terrier looking cute is all about regularly tending to their coif. They don’t need endless trips to the groomers, but they do need some general upkeep on your part to prevent mats and keep them looking tidy. Here are some tips:
- Brush, brush, brush! It’s best to use a pin brush since it reaches through the thick undercoat and also grooms the rough top coat, though some owners prefer a comb to help work through tangles.
- According to the AKC website, a periodic hand-stripping is recommended for your Cairn to keep their coat texture up to snuff (we’ll go into this more below).
- The folks at the Nest say you only need to bathe this breed once every few months because of their waterproof double-coat—you don’t want to chance robbing their coat of its natural protective oils. Also, choose a shampoo made especially for breeds with “hard coats,” since these are formulated especially for them.
- Don’t forget about those nails! Long nails are super uncomfortable for pups, so trim them regularly. The more you do it, the more used to it they’ll become.
- Keeping the hair around the eyes trimmed helps keep them healthy (and able to see).
- Pay attention to their toes—this is a curious, active breed, so make sure their feet are trimmed, well-maintained, and ready for adventure.
1. The Show Look
There aren’t really a ton of haircut options for your Cairn terrier. In fact, since they’re rockin’ that special hard coat on the outside, and soft undercoat, it’s generally recommended to not overdo it with the haircuts. The classic, most popular way to trim your terrier is by hand stripping.
This is something best left to the professionals (unless you’re a confident groomer yourself), as it can be uncomfortable for your pup if it isn’t done correctly. Essentially, special grooming knives are used to pull out the dead hair that needs to be removed from the coat. This method helps encourage new fur growth and stimulate oil production—giving your pet’s coif a serious boost. It also maintains the wiry, hard texture of the outer layer, and retains the color of the coat.
Some people do use thinning shears to help them with this (rather tedious-sounding) job. Find a groomer who has a technique you like. Luckily, the hand-stripping really only needs to happen a few times a year.
Though many fans of this breed will say that you must hand-strip your Cairn terrier, others opt for the more standard clip or trim haircut to keep their coat looking tidy (and some even decide on a skirt-inspired style!).
Though this seems a much simpler option than the Show Look described above, it does tend to change the texture (and color) of the hair, so talk to your groomer if you’re thinking about going this direction.
However you decide to groom your Cairn terrier, they will look dignified, dapper and oh-so-sweet—and you’ll be happy once you find the right style that fits in with your family (and budget and free time).
Just remember to always pay attention to the cues that your dog is giving you. If something is causing them stress, it may be time to find a different approach/hairstyle/groomer/etc. We hope these hairstyle ideas and grooming tips have been useful for jazzing up your pup’s coif. Happy clipping!
Does your dog need a fresh trim? A groomer can now come to your house! Rover offers dog grooming in Seattle, Austin, Washington DC, and Denver. To learn more, please check out our page here.