Pet Insurance for Cairn Terriers

Find out all about Cairn Terriers and their common health conditions, and then compare pet insurance options from some of Australia’s leading insurers.

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, updated on September 15th, 2023       

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Price range



23cm - 33cm


6kg - 7.5kg


Playful, cheerful, independent

Coat length

Short, wavy

Exercise needs




Life expectancy

12 - 15 years

Cairn Terrier


The Cairn Terrier, originating from Scotland, is a small and spirited breed known for its distinctive shaggy waterproof coat and charming personality. They were originally bred to hunt rats and foxes on the wild Isle of Skye and in the Scottish Highlands as early as the 1600s. Their name derives from the Scottish cairn, which is a rugged pile of rocks. The breed was made famous by the Cairn Terrier Toto, Dorothy’s brave little dog in the Wizard of Oz. 

Cairn Terriers are known for their lively and independent spirit, their happy nature and their love of chasing and digging. They are intelligent, but can be strong-willed and stubborn, requiring very patient training. They have a wiry, weather-resistant coat that requires regular grooming. Cairns make great friendly companions for active individuals and families with children who can provide them with the exercise and mental stimulation they need so they don’t become yappy. 

Common diseases and conditions of Cairn Terriers

  • Hip Dysplasia: Cairn Terriers can develop hip dysplasia, affecting their hip joint development.
  • Patellar Luxation: They may be prone to patellar luxation, where the kneecap dislocates.
  • Dental issues: Cairns Terriers are known to have dental issues which can lead to gum infections.

Breed-specific issues:

The strong prey drive of the Cairn Terrier may lead them to chase smaller animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, so close supervision is always necessary. They can be vocal and may bark frequently if left alone or bored. 

How much does pet insurance cost for a Cairn Terrier?

Most Australians can expect to pay between $20 and $60 a month for pet insurance. There are many factors that can influence the cost of pet insurance for your Cairn Terrier, including the following:

  • Age: The older your dog is, the more pet insurance is likely to cost. This is because senior dogs tend to have more physical health conditions and illnesses due to age, and so present a higher insurance risk.    
  • Type of insurance you choose:  There are three basic types of pet insurance available in Australia; accident-only, accident and illness, and comprehensive insurance. An accident-only policy is the cheapest type of insurance available, with comprehensive coverage costing the most.  
  • The policy annual limit: Each pet insurance policy has an annual limit, which is the maximum amount that will be paid out on the policy in one financial year. Annual limits range from around $10,000 up to $25,000 or more.   
  • Sub-limits: In addition to an annual limit, there may also be sub-limits that apply to the policy, for example, a $300 sub limit for consultation fees, or a $5,000 limit for cruciate ligament conditions.   
  • Benefit percentage: Pet insurance does not cover 100% of the cost of your vet bill. Instead, it may pay a percentage of the total bill. This can range from 50% for cheaper policies, up to 90% for the best policies available.   
  • Excess amount: This is the amount you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket each time you make a claim on your policy. Some pet insurance policies do not come with an excess amount, whilst others do.  
  • Any add-ons you choose: It’s possible to add on more cover options to a basic policy, such as emergency boarding fees, routine care and dental care. These add-ons extend the scope of your pet insurance, but do increase the overall cost of the policy.  
  • Discounts: some insurers offer discounts of between 5% and 15% if you have multiple pets insured together, if you pay your premium annually, or if you bundle your pet insurance with other forms of insurance with the same company.

Types of pet insurance you can choose from

Why compare pet insurance with Savvy?

Common questions about Cairn Terriers

Do Cairn Terriers make good lap dogs?

No, they are not ideal lap dogs as Cairn Terriers are known for their spirited and independent nature. While they can be affectionate and enjoy sitting on a lap sometimes, it will be on their terms and probably only for a short time. Their active and adventurous nature means they often prefer play and exploration rather than sitting still.  

Are Cairn Terriers known for their barking?

Yes, Cairn Terriers are alert and protective, which can lead to regular and excessive barking. Early socialisation and training can help manage their barking tendencies, and teach them when it is, and is not appropriate to alert their owners. 


Do Cairn Terriers respond well to training?

No. Cairn Terriers are intelligent dogs, however, they have a stubborn nature and are not known for their listening skills! With consistent and positive reinforcement training methods they can be taught basic commands, but they are not the sort of dog who can easily be taught tricks, as they are very independent and can choose to ignore commands when it pleases them.   

Are Cairn Terriers known to get on OK with cats?

The compatibility of Cairn Terriers with cats and other pets will vary. Early socialisation and supervision are key to fostering positive relationships between them. Some Cairn Terriers can get along fine with cats, while others might see them as prey and want to chase them. It often depends on the individual Cairn's personality and also the cat's temperament and behaviour.  

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Cairn Terrier

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