Comparing The Standards

A side-by-side comparison of the United States and United Kingdom Cairn Terrier Standards.
(See also historical standards.)

United States

United Kingdom

General Appearance: That of an active, game, hardy, small working terrier of the short-legged class; very free in its movements, strongly but not heavily built, standing well forward on its forelegs, deep in the ribs, well coupled with strong hindquarters and presenting a well-proportioned build with a medium length of back, having a hard, weather-resisting coat; head shorter and wider than any other terrier and well furnished with hair, giving a general foxy expression.

General Appearance: Agile, alert, of workmanlike, natural appearance. Standing well forward on forepaws. Strong quarters. Deep in rib, very free in movement. Weather-resistant coat.

Should impress as being active, game and hardy.

  Temperament: Fearless and gay disposition, assertive but not aggressive.

Skull: Broad in proportion to the length with a decided stop and well furnished with hair on the top of the head, which may be somewhat softer than the body.

Muzzle: Strong but not too long or heavy.

Nose: Black.

Head & Skull: Head small, but in proportion to body. Skull broad, a decided indentation between the eyes with a definite stop. Muzzle powerful, jaw strong but not long or heavy. Nose black. Head well furnished.

Teeth: Large, mouth neither overshot nor undershot.

Mouth: Large teeth. Jaw strong with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to jaws.

  Neck: Well set on, not short

Eyes: Set wide apart, rather sunken, with shaggy eyebrows, medium in size, hazel or dark hazel in color, depending on body color, with a keen terrier expression

Eyes: Wide apart, medium in size, dark hazel. Slightly sunk with shaggy eyebrows.

Ears: Small, pointed, well carried erectly, set wide apart on the side of the head. Free from long hairs.

Ears: Small, pointed, well carried and erect, not too closely set nor heavily coated.

Tail: Tail in proportion to head, well furnished with hair but not feathery. Carried gaily but must not curl over back. Set on at back level.

Tail: Short, balanced, well furnished with hair but not feathery. Neither high nor low set, carried gaily but not turned down towards back.

Body: Well muscled, strong, active body with well-sprung, deep ribs, coupled to strong hindquarters, with a level back of medium length, giving an impression of strength and activity without heaviness.

Body: Back level, medium in length. Well sprung deep ribs, strong supple loin.

Shoulders, Legs and Feet: A sloping shoulder, medium length of leg, good but not too heavy bone; forelegs should not be out at elbows, and be perfectly straight, but forefeet may be slightly turned out. Forefeet larger than hind feet. Legs must be covered with hard hair. Pads should be thick and strong and dog should stand well up on its feet.

Forequarters: Sloping shoulders, medium length of leg, good but not too heavy bone. Forelegs never out at elbow. Legs covered with harsh hair.

Hindquarters: Very strong muscular thighs. Good, but not excessive, bend of stifle. Hocks well let down, inclining neither in nor out when viewed from the rear.

Feet: Forefeet, larger than hind, may be slightly turned out. Pads thick and strong. Thin, narrow or spreading feet and long nails objectionable.

Coat: Hard and weather-resistant. Must be be double-coated with profuse harsh outer coat and short, soft, close furry undercoat.

Coat: Very important. Weather-resistant. Must be double-coated with profuse, harsh, but not coarse. outer coat, undercoat short, soft and close. Open coats objectionable. Slight wave permissible.

Color: May be of any color except white. Dark ears, muzzle and tail tip are desirable.

Colour: Cream, wheaten, red, grey, or nearly black. Brindling in all these colours acceptable. Not solid black or white, or black and tan. Dark points such as ears and muzzle, very typical.

Ideal Size: Involves the weight, the height at the withers and the length of body. Weight for bitches, thirteen pounds; for dogs, fourteen pounds. Height a the withers, bitches nine and a half inches; dogs, ten inches. Length of body from fourteen and a quarter to fifteen inches from the front of the chest to back of hindquarters. The dog must be of balanced proportions and appear neither leggy nor too low to ground; and neither too short nor too long in body. Weight and measurements are for mature dogs at two years of age. Older dogs may weigh slightly in excess and growing dogs may be under these weights and measurements.

Weight & Size: Approximately 28 cm to 31 cm (11 to 12 inches) at withers, but in proportion to weight - ideally 6 to 7 kgs. (14-16 lbs.).

Condition: Dogs should be shown in good hard flesh, well muscled and neither too fat or thin. Should be in full good coat with plenty of head furnishings, be clean, combed, brushed and tidied up on the ears, tail, feet and general outline. Should move freely and easily on a loose lead, should not cringe on being handled, should stand up on there toes and show with marked terrier characteristics.

Gait: Very free-flowing stride. Forelegs reaching well forward. Hind legs giving strong propulsion. Hocks neither too close nor to wide.


  1. Skull: Too narrow in skull.
  2. Muzzle: Too long and heavy a foreface; mouth overshot or undershot.
  3. Eyes: Too large, prominent, yellow and ringed are all objectionable.
  4. Ears: Too large, round at points, set too close together, set too high on the head; heavily covered with hair.
  5. Legs and Feet: Too light or too heavy bone. Crooked forelegs or out at the elbow. Thin ferrety feet; feet let down on the heel or to open and spread. Too high or too low on the leg.
  6. Body: Too short back and compact a body, hampering quickness of movement and turning ability. Too long, weedy and snaky a body, giving an impression of weakness. Tail set too low. Back not level.
  7. Coat: Open coats, blousy coats, too short or dead coats, lack of sufficient undercoat, lack of head furnishings, lack of hard hair on the legs. Silkiness or curliness. A slight wave permissible.
  8. Nose: Flesh or light-colored nose
  9. Color: White on chest, feet or other parts of body.

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness of the fault should be in exact proportion to its degree.

Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.