No one can really say when the Cairn terrier as a breed came into being.That it is one of the oldest of the Scottish terrier breeds is indisputable. There are records by old historians going back to the 16th century of Earth dogs of the Highlands & islands of Scotland. Records from Elizabethan times and of earlier talk of a small breed of terrier used for hunting foxes and badgers in Scotland. While there is no conclusive proof that these were Cairn terriers, it leaves little doubt that they were the progenitore of the present day Cairn.
The Cairn Terrier was known as the "prick eared" or "short coated" Skye terrier up until 1910. The first official registration recognisable as a Cairn terrier appeared in the June 1907 issue of the Kennel Gazette. This was Calla-Mhor, a bitch registered to Mrs I.A. Campbell. A further two registrations appeared in 1907, both belonging to Mrs Campbell. There were a further two registered in 1908, again to Mrs Campbell. So there can be no doubt that this lady - Mrs Alistair Campbell - can be justly described as the founder of the breed as an exhibition animal. If you would like to read more about Mrs Campbell there is an excellent article about her on The Cairn Terrier Clubs website and there is a link to this article at the bottom of this page.
The following years saw registrations increase as the breed gained in popularity. In the June 1910 issue of the Kennel Gazette Cairn registrations were moved from those of Prick eared Skye Terriers and appeared under" any other breed or variety", during this year thirty five were registered. The breed was given a separate register in 1912 during which year 134 were registered and it was in this year that the breed was also given Championship status. The first challenge certificates being awarded at Richmond show where Mrs Campbell judged. The breeds first Champion was Champion Tibbie of Harris, made up in January 1913 and owned by Lady Sophie Scott. Since then and up to the end of 2004 there have been 1432 CC winners in the breed with 766 becoming Champions.
The breed has gone from strength to strength. Gaining in popularity over the years with registration numbers increasing. Cairn Breeders have strived to keep the breed as natural and as unspoilt as it was when the dedicated breeders of years ago fought to have the breed recognised. The photos on this page show Cairns down the years and show that the Cairn of today is remarkable similar to those of many years past.
It is impossible to put a complete history of the Cairn onto one page, so many breeders , some still with us
today some not, have shaped the breed into what we have today. We have to be thankfully that the Cairn breed has had some
very dedicated breeders whose lives have revolved around this charismatic terrier that is referred to as "the best little pal in the world"
by all who know it.