Cairn Terrier Health Group.

CHAIRPERSON; Maud Hawkes - 01623 812856

Secretary/Treasurer; Yvonne Catto - 0131 449 2790

Trustee; Sonia White - 01844 292051

Veterinary Advisor; Elaine Shaw - 01698 887100

The Cairn Terrier Health Group monitors and records health conditions in the breed.

The Cairn is an active, hardy and game little dog with a life span of approximately 12 to 15 years. But like all living creatures some of them will on occasion have a health problem. If your Cairn develops a Health problem then the Cairn Terrier Health Group would welcome your report.  It is important to the future wellbeing of the breed that any conditions that may become frequent are noted early.

When reporting a condition, please send a veterinary report and copy of pedigree of the Cairn involved to Maud Hawkes, who will deal with all data on health conditions.

Information can be sent to Maud by email at;

by post to, Holmlea, Moorhaigh Lane, Pleasley, Mansfield, Notts, NG19 7QF.

Or cases can be discussed by telephone on 01623 812856.

All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Latest News From Health Watch (posted August 2010);

The Joint Cairn Terrier Clubs UK Cairn Terrier Symposium, Saturday 16 July 2011

I am very concerned that British Cairn Terrier lovers should fully understand the significance of our Symposium planned for the 16 July next year.

Our breed is at a crossroads and we need to decide which way we want to go. We have to face the fact that entries at shows are dropping and so further sets of CC’s will be lost. Registrations are falling and generally we need to attract new people into the breed. I personally am delighted when I see a young person competing, but are we doing enough to keep them interested and do they feel welcome?

Over the years the breed has changed. Some changes are good of course, but are we, often unwittingly, changing the essential type? Is today’s Cairn too sculptured? Or too exaggerated? Are we relying too much on ‘potions and lotions’ for our presentation?

Are we doing enough to guard the health of the breed? Important steps in this area are being taken, but are they enough? We are fortunate to have good people to lead us, but are we giving them the right support? The same can be said about the rescue of Cairns in distress. Again we are fortunate to have a team of dedicated people in charge of this, but do we ordinary people give the necessary support?

Are we doing enough to encourage new specialist judges? Good though many non-specialist judges are and I would be the last person to say they are not necessary for the well-being of our breed, we also need to bring on our own new, younger judges to take the place of our ageing population.

There has been criticism of our Breed Standard. Does it meet today’s need: should it be amended or enlarged? Or would too much detail go against the Cairn Terrier envisaged by its founders?

All these area will be discussed at the Symposium and we need the views of everyone who loves our breed. Of course we want to see our best breeders, exhibitors and judges, but we also need to see the people who breed the occasional litter or go to the occasional local show. Often these will be the people who see most for the very reason that they are not chasing breed records etc. and will recognise what we need to do to take our wonderful breed forward. We desperately want their input and to know what they think. This goes for every single person who is interested enough to join a breed club.

The Symposium is being carefully planned so that all these points can be discussed. The idea is that everyone’s views will be taken on board for full discussion by the clubs. Those who do not like speaking can always forward their views to their breed club or get someone else to speak for them. We need to have a detailed plan before we run the breed’s World Symposium, and to do this we need everyone’s help.

Ferelith Somerfield.

Further information, details of the programme and booking forms will be circulated with Club Year books early in 2011. In the meantime any inquiries regarding the Symposium can be made to Frances Goldfinch,EMAIL,  or Tel: 01304 851818

(posted June 2009)

Real time health recording became a requirement for all breeds, when the KC breed health plans were introduced in 2009. Our breed is of course one step ahead, since health monitoring has already been undertaken from the mid 1990s. It was however decided that the health reporting could be made more efficient with the aid of a Health Form to accompany all puppies (and re-homed older dogs), when they go to their new owners. The Cairn Terrier Health Group’s form is now ready for launch and will be available to download for printing on the clubs’ website's. Breeders without downloading/printing facilities can order their forms from Sonia White, Tel:01844 292501, email:


Liver Shunt (PSS)

The research at the University of Utrecht to establish the inheritance of this disease, and thereby enable the development of a DNA test, is progressing well. This work can however only be speeded up with the submission of more DNA samples from affected dogs and their close relatives. DNA swabs from the UK have therefore been sent to Utrecht for some time now. It is vital that everybody, unfortunate to breed a puppy or own a dog with PSS, helps the research along by submitting buccal swab samples ! It is a very simple procedure and the swab kits, together with all the necessary instructions, are available from Maud Hawkes, Tel: 01623 812856, email:

Many more breeders are now also using bile acid testing on their litters and this is good news indeed. It must however be pointed out that when the single test is used, then this would best be done on a post prandial sample. Discussions with Federico Sacchini (IDEXX) and Dr Jackson (Glasgow Veterinary School) have confirmed that the post prandial test is sufficient when looking for liver shunt.

Latest News From Health Watch (posted February 2008);

Two conditions in the breed are of special concern to the Health Group.  These are Liver Shunt (PSS) and the eye condition Ocular melanosis.   It has to be stressed that cases are far from common, but it is important to try and ensure that it remains that way.

LIVER SHUNT - (Portosystemic shunt; PSS)

Though there is no test for liver shunt at the moment, research is being carried out in many countries. Hopefully in the future a DNA test will become available and then Breeders will be able to carry out their breeding plans with the hope of eliminating the chance of breeding a liver shunt puppy.

The bile acid testing of puppies is the only action available to Breeders at this time. The Cairn Terrier Health Group strongly recommends that Breeders use this test on their litters. This will give Breeders the confidence that they have done everything to avoid the heartbreak of a Pet Owner having the terrible experience of an ill puppy.

If you have had your litter bile acid tested, then please send your results and copy of pedigree to Maud by post or email.


This is a hereditary eye condition caused by Abnormal Pigment Deposition (A.P.D.).  It is advisable to test regularly to enable early detection.   Such testing will also reveal any other eye condition the dog might have been unfortunate to develop.

The Health Group subsidises (in conjunction with the Joint Cairn Terrier Clubs) an eye testing session each year at one of the shows held by a Breed Club.

The members of the Group are happy to advise on any queries you may have concerning the health of your Cairn Terrier!

Home - link buttonHOME