West Highland Terrier vs. Cairn Terrier

West Highland Terriers and Cairn Terriers are both small, hardy breeds originating from Scotland, known for their spirited temperament and sturdy build. However, they have some key differences. West Highland Terriers, often known as Westies, have a distinctive white coat, while Cairn Terriers are typically brindle, black, sand, or gray.

While both breeds are energetic and playful, Westies are usually more independent and strong-willed, requiring clear boundaries. Cairn Terriers, on the other hand, are known to be more social and tolerant. Grooming needs also vary, with Westies requiring more regular grooming due to their longer coat.

Though both breeds make excellent family pets, your preference will depend on specific characteristics such as personality, appearance, and grooming needs.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

There are a variety of Scottish Terrier breeds available Two of the most popular include two of them: the West Highland White Terrier and the Cairn Terrier. There are numerous similarities between the two breeds however there are some major distinctions. If you’re here because have to choose one of the. If you’ve found this article for a little of Scottish canine training, you’ve certainly found the right resource!

The two dog breeds are cute and small however, they possess distinct personality traits that could make one breed slightly better suited to your needs. Certain breeds are not suitable to every household and various kinds of dogs may possess distinct personalities.

In the breed comparision, discover all you need to be aware of about both the Westie and that of the Cairn Terrier. Then, we’ll guide you through all you must be aware of their exercise training, grooming, health needs, and much more.

West Highland Terrier vs. Cairn Terrier

Breed History

The history of the breed of a puppy can reveal many things about what they could be in a relationship with a dog. It is believed that the Westie as well as Cairn Cairn are earth dogs both that hail from Scotland. There is a belief that the majority of Scottish Terriers are derived from the same canine ancestral lineage. Let’s look at how their stories are connected and how well-known they are today.

West Highland White Terrier

Rodents were a major issue in the past. It posed a threat to the livelihoods and the food supply of farmers as well as frustrated nobles living on large estates that sprawled. In the end, Scottish farmers gathered to form tiny earth dog breeds to stop rodents from invading their homes..

There are a variety of Scottish Terriers who originate from various parts of Scotland, but are all connected by blood. However, it’s not officially known which ancestors they came from. Scottish Terriers are frequently mistaken for the Westie, because of the way they look. Since they were bred to deter rats and foxes, they are West Highland likely shares some genetics with the Scottie as well as that of the Cairn Terrier.

This is why the full background of West Highland White Terrier is not known, however they are from the northwest of Scotland. The Malcolm clan from Scotland of the Poltalloch estate has documented breeding small white Terriers. This is the reason they are often referred to as Poltalloch Terriers..

First Westies to be displayed in Scottish dog shows took place in the latter part of 19 century. century. They were first displayed in the AKC ring in the year 1906. They are currently the 42 and most well-known breed of dog in America.

Cairn Terrier

The word “cairn” in Scottish terms refers to the pile of stones that mark the grave. Rodents, including rats are often nest in these. The Scots required a small dog to get into the Cairns without damaging the graves to kill rats. They therefore created this dog and named it appropriately “the Cairn Terrier. He is commonly seen on Skye, which is the Island of Skye, which is the reason he’s often known as”the Shorthaired Skye Terrier. Because they have the same instinct to work hard and leave no rat unattended There is a high chance there is a good chance that both they are related. Westie as well as Cairn Cairn are related in some way in the middle.

The theory is that the Cairn arrived in America at the beginning of the 20 century. century. The first time he was acknowledged by the AKC at the time of 1913 a year following the Westie. Cairns are a less common in comparison to the Westie and are currently listed in the top 69 the most loved breed of dog in America. The most well-known Cairn Terrier was Toto in the hit MGM film, The Wizard of Oz. Toto’s remarkable Hollywood success was due to her training ability and her friendliness on the set.


Both breeds are very similar in appearance to dogs. They’re both small hairy and stunning. They are both gorgeous. Westie is considered to be the larger one of both breeds. Westies are between 10 and 11 inches tall, from shoulder to paw and weigh anywhere from 15 and 20 pounds. Cairns are among the Scottish Terriers that are the smallest. They are between 9.5 -10 inches, and they weigh between 13 and 14 pounds.

They’re both alert and playful small dogs. While they are both smaller, the Cairn is smaller than the Cairn, the Cairn has a wider head when compared to their bodies. The ears of both are tiny, straight, as well as triangular which gives them each an attractive look. Both have tails that resemble carrots that are high and proud, without feathers. They are small-sized dogs that are sturdy and yet compact.

The two dogs have two-coat breeds with coats that have similar textures. Their outer coats are tough and brittle, making it weather-resistant. Their undercoats are soft and dense , which helps ensure they are warm as well as well-insulated. Westies tend to be white, which is why they are called that. They’re White coats are among the reasons why people often confuse them with Poodles. Other colors are punished in the show rings. Also, Cairns could include any other color than white. Their color is the simplest method to tell if the dog that is walking by is an Westie or Cairn. Cairn.


The personalities of both breeds are also quite alike. However, there are some differences that make them distinct. Let’s start with the similarities. Both are terriers, that means they’re both alive and full of energy. Families seeking a playful pet to add to their family will be very happy with either of these breeds.

They are extremely loyal and affectionate dogs. They would love nothing more than spending the evening with the love of their beloved humans after a long day. They’ll be with their human regardless of the task at hand. Therefore, don’t go to the bathroom by yourself! The desire for human interaction could make them both susceptible to anxiety about separation. They both would prefer to have a family that will spend the majority of their time together.

Many families believe that they can live a full-time lap life because they’re tiny, but this is not the truth. They are extremely active and require an active and busy life. Without the right stimulation, they could be destructive and troublesome dogs. They are awestruck by games (and squirrels! ) So play with them each day and you’ll make an everlasting friend.

They’re both warm and charming, and they are great with both adults and children. The Cairn is aloof aspect to his character. However, with treats and sweet praise, he’ll quickly be attracted by strangers. The Westie is extremely social and loves to roll over to get belly rubs and play with any person who wants to pet him. They are both great watchdogs when they bark at strangers and you may be interested in learning the command to be quiet.

It is believed that the Cairn Terrier is the most serious breed The Cairn Terrier is the most serious, while it is the Westie is the most playful. The Westie is a fan of being the focal point and can delight everyone with his hilarious routines. While Carin Terriers are equally entertaining but they’re not as awkward or snarky. The Cairn has an established reputation for being a grown-up and you’d be surprised! This could make the Cairn more relaxed in the home than the grumpy Westie.


The two breeds are alike in their needs for exercise. They require a home by a family that can maintain their terrier-like energy. They each require at least 30-45 minutes of vigorous training each day. However, they’d be more content with an hour of exercise if you could. A dog who is tired is a happy dog and this is especially true in the world of dogs.

They are full of mental energy too They are playful and curious. This means that they require lots of time in their homes. Don’t expect them to be comfortably in their crates all the remainder of the day! Consider buying toys that you can throw around for amusement and play that is based on breeds. Also, solo chew toys like those that look like animals, as well as the squeaky toys can drive the two of them crazy. If you think they’ll play all day long and you’ll see your yard sunk within a matter of minutes.

Being aware of their extremely high prey drive , they shouldn’t be allowed off leash. Even with the most effective recall training (which isn’t available for dogs that retch) It’s not advised. It’s not just a struggle to retrieve them however, it’s also extremely risky for them since they’ll chase animals on the street without thinking twice. The only safe places to let them roam are in your home, secure dog parks or in enclosed fields.


The needs for training of the two breeds are similar. They’re both eager to be loved and eager to learn new techniques. They are excellent options for new owners. Should we have to choose one breed that is more easy to train generally it would be the Westie. Because the Cairn can be an aggressive dog when having a bad day. However, that’s not always the case because Toto was an extremely smart and well-behaved dog.

As with everything else that happen in the world, you’ll find out what you put into. Training should begin at an early age and make sure you’re consistently following the instruction. You must be able to withstand their gorgeous puppy eyes if you wish to have an animal that is obedient. Positive reinforcement training is the most effective dog training method to use for both of these dogs. Treats and toys can do great.

Socialization is extremely important because it teaches children how to live in the world. Not just how to interact with humans and dogs courteously, but also how to be comfortable within their environment. A happy and confident dog is one that is friendly. Mix them up with the most diverse animals, people, or sounds, and they’ll surely grow into well-trained and well-rounded dogs.

Both dogs can benefit from Crate training for both dogs. Both are sensitive dogs that are anxious when left on their own in a confined space for long periods of time. A cage and the right training can help ease your worries after you go. You’ll also have security knowing that they won’t be able to engage in any inappropriate behavior while you’re away.


Both breeds of dog are healthier and have more than the expected lifespans of between 13 and fifteen years. As a dog’s parent or a dog’s mom you have a responsibility to ensure their health. Engaging with a reliable breeder and ensuring regular health check-ups are among the most effective methods to ensure they are in good health. As with all purebred dogs they’re both susceptible to certain ailments Let’s take a look.

Hip dysplasia is a frequent problem in the Westie breed, therefore a reputable breeder should check their parents’ hips for any abnormalities. Furthermore, Westie armadillo syndrome is only found in those who belong to the Westie bloodline. It is a skin condition that causes pain that can cause yeast infections throughout the entire body. Another condition that is worth be studied could be the white shaker dog disorder. It is an acquired nervous system disorder which can be treated by medications.

Both the Westie as well as the Cairn are susceptible to patella luxation which is basically an injury to the knee cap. Additionally, they suffer from various eye issues which is why breeding dogs must undergo annual eye exams by an ophthalmologist. Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy is an uncommon but serious disease that affects all breeds. It is a condition that causes rapid loss of nerve impulses as well as cognitive function. A DNA test will identify the people who carry the gene.

In addition to the common issues mentioned above in the article, in addition to the above-mentioned issues, Cairn can also be susceptible to a variety of heart-related issues that responsible breeders must be aware of. Mitral valve diseases are the most frequent condition and results from a defective heart valve. If not properly diagnosed, it could cause serious and even deadly consequences. Cairns are susceptible to liver shunts and kidney and liver aplasia as well as dysplasia. These are serious diseases, but can be treated once they are identified.


The Westie is likely to eat more than the other due to the fact that they are larger. Cairn Terriers typically consume about one cup of food per day, as opposed to between 1 or 1.5 cup for the Westie. In any case the cost of food is lower than larger dogs. The amount you feed them will be based on to their size, age and their lifestyle, so ensure that you adhere to the feeding guidelines on the label.

Both require an kibble made for the nutritional requirements of dogs with small breeds. Smaller dogs require slightly more energy per kilogram than larger breeds, and so the standard food won’t suffice. Additionally, their tiny mouths require smaller pieces of kibble. It is essential to give them as well as the highest quality food that you are able to afford. Always choose an appropriate suitable kibble for the needs of their age.


The two breeds share almost identical grooming routines, which means this may not be an accurate indicator when trying to decide between them. They both have similar textured double coats which shed somewhat throughout the all year and are a bit more frequently in autumn and spring. It’s not a good idea to expect hair storms however, you shouldn’t count on your house to be completely hair-free also.

Since both have a shaggy coat that is medium in length that you must clean them every week. Pin brushes are ideal to get rid of that tough and brittle topcoat. When your pet is just an animal and not a show dog grooming them is simple. If you own an exhibit dog of any breed, you might want to take your dog to an expert groomer to get an expert strip and shape.

Both require bathing every 2 to 3 months so you don’t become too muddy during their walks. Be careful not to shower too often because they will change from a hair’s structure from a hard and stiff one to a more supple one. It is essential to brush their teeth every week to keep periodontal diseases at low levels. This is especially important for dogs with small breeds and their mouths that are tightly packed.

Puppy Prices

The cost of the cost of a Westie pup is typically slightly lower that the more well-known Cairn however, not much so. The cost of an Westie from a reliable breeder typically begins at around $1,000 and is about similar to the Cairn. If you think that buying a puppy isn’t the right option for you, make sure to think about adopting one. Since these dogs are alike, it’s probable that their costs over the long run will be similar.

Don’t be enticed to purchase an Westie or an Cairn priced less than the typical price of the puppy. This means they’re likely to be from an unreliable breeder or, even worse, puppy mills. It’s not widely known to know that the pet shops also purchase puppies from breeders who are not responsible So, avoid them as well. Make a few extra dollars to increase the chances of getting an animal that is healthy and happy.

Final Thoughts

It is believed that the West Highland White Terrier and the Cairn Terrier are both lively Scottish dogs that are very alike to each other. This is the reason why families face difficult time picking among the two. They are tiny, playful and energetic, affectionate and sweet dogs that will easily fit into the majority of family homes. They require plenty of love, affection and exercise to flourish.

However, hopefully, after having read our guide to comparing breeds we’ve identified the traits that could help one breed stick out. It is the Westie can be the more relaxed and fun than the other breeds that gets to be with all. It is the Cairn can be the most balanced of the two at family, but he may be aloof at times. Whatever small breed you pick be sure that everyone will be delighted with the choice you make. Other than rodents and the other visiting animals in your yard, obviously!

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