How Much Do Cairn Terriers Cost? Actual Breeder Prices! (2024)

Cairn Terrier in tall grass
Image Credit: Marina & Enrique

Don’t let a Cairn Terrier’s small frame fool you. These little dogs are a lot tougher and smarter than you might think. Due to their history of tunneling through rock piles and under the ground, Cairn Terriers are sturdy, courageous, and alert with strong shoulders and large feet.

They are known to be independent thinkers, a trait that was bred into them intentionally so they could efficiently outwit and catch their prey without guidance from their master. This intelligence coupled with a loyal, loving, and inquisitive personality makes a Cairn Terrier an excellent companion pet for the whole family.

How much do Cairn Terriers cost?

Cairn Terriers generally run between $1,000 and $2,000 if purchased from a respectable breeder. Price is typically based on the breeder’s reputation and experience, health screenings performed, and the puppy’s age, registration, and pedigree.

Let’s look at some actual Cairn prices, learn what factors influence the price, and see how to identify a  skilled breeder or locate Cairn Terriers up for adoption.

Actual Cairn Terrier Prices

To give you a realistic idea of what you can expect to pay for a Cairn Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder, we got in touch with the following breeders to see how much they are currently charging.

Breeder Location Price
Stone Soup Farm Terriers New York $950
Marma’s Cairn Terriers Oregon $1,500
Cairn Terrier Creek Florida $1,500 – $1,800
Kristy’s Country Aire Cairn Terriers Missouri $1,000
Pandy’s Terriers New Jersey $2,000

What Are Some Factors That Impact the Price?

Cairn Terriers are certainly not the most expensive breed out there, but they aren’t the cheapest either. Is a price tag often over $1,000 justified for such a small dog?

The Reputation and Experience of the Breeder

A breeder who has worked with Cairn Terriers for years (often decades) has accumulated a vast amount of first-hand knowledge about the breed and is much more likely to produce healthy puppies with excellent temperaments than someone new to breeding. 

Over the years, the quality of an experienced breeder’s puppies will earn them a superior reputation and their website will often have a section dedicated to client testimonials. Naturally, experienced breeders with glowing reputations can, and should, charge a bit more for their puppies.

The Puppy’s Age

Many states have laws in place that dictate how old a puppy must be before he may be sold. This is for good reason as studies have shown that puppies removed from their mother and littermates before they reach 8 weeks old have a much greater inclination towards negative behaviors such as:

  • Nuisance barking.
  • Possessiveness of toys, food, and owners.
  • Fear of the unfamiliar.
  • Destructive tendencies.
  • Not getting along well with other dogs.
  • Aggression.

Please never purchase a puppy younger than 8 weeks of age. 

Often, puppies are in such high demand that the breeder will accept deposits on litters that have not yet arrived. Once those pups are ready for their new homes, they usually sell out very quickly. The closer they are to 8 weeks old, the more expensive they tend to be.

Occasionally, a buyer will back out of a sale or not all of the puppies born were sold and the breeder is left with a puppy who is growing older by the day. In these instances, a breeder will often lower the price with hopes of placing the puppy before he gets any bigger.


The majority of Cairn Terriers are priced at limited registration rates. A limited registration means that the puppy is registered and may compete in any licensed event except for breed competitions. Should the puppy one day produce any offspring, they would not be eligible for registration.

If you are interested in a fully registered Cairn Terrier who can compete in any licensed event including breed conformation and whose future litters are able to be registered, you can expect to pay a much higher price.


The price of a puppy is often based upon his bloodline and/or number of title-winning dogs in his ancestry. Puppies out of championship bloodlines will, of course, cost more as will pups with a dam or sire boasting recent titles.


Though not always the case, you will often find that breeders from rural areas offer lower prices for their puppies as compared to those based in or near large cities. This is because there is usually a much lower concentration of people in rural locations and therefore less of a demand. Low demand usually equates to lower price.

The location of the breeder may mean that you’re forced to travel to pick up your puppy. Whether you drive or fly, expenses will be incurred on your way to get your new dog. Some breeders are willing to ship a puppy, but as you might guess, you are responsible for the fees.

Genetic Testing and Health Screening

Serious Cairn Terrier breeders will genetically test their breeding stock before breeding to reduce the occurrence of  inherited diseases and conditions common in the breed. 

For Cairn Terriers to obtain official Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) certification and be issued a number, they must be evaluated for patellar luxation and eye and cardiac health and be tested for Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy (GCL). The Cairn Terrier Club of America also recommends a renal ultrasound and testing for serum bile acid level.

As you can imagine, the costs of these tests quickly add up and will be reflected in the puppies’ price.

How Can I Be Sure That I’m Getting a Quality Cairn Terrier?

Choosing a high quality, reputable breeder is your best bet for ensuring that your new Cairn Terrier will be free from hereditary conditions, have a friendly, gentle disposition, and adhere closely to the American Kennel Club’s standards for the breed. 

How can you know a breeder is credible and trustworthy? A quality breeder will:

  • Always put the best interest of the puppy first.
  • Ask you questions to determine if you can provide a stable, loving home for the pup.
  • Maintain clean, odor-free facilities and only have friendly, happy, healthy dogs.
  • Gladly introduce you to the parent dogs and show you where the puppies have been raised.
  • Knowledgeably share breed-specific information such as temperament, physical traits, and common health issues to be aware of.
  • Perform the recommended health tests before breeding and have the results available for public viewing on databases such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and CHIC.
  • Have already begun socializing the puppies to new people, animals, sounds, sights, and experiences.
  • Will have information packets and a contract outlining the buyer’s responsibilities.

If any of the above qualifications are not met, you run the risk of bringing home a puppy who doesn’t meet your expectations and may be prone to lifelong health and/or behavioral issues. It’s definitely not worth the potential heartache, and it’s best to search for another breeder.

Can I Adopt a Cairn Terrier?

Sadly, there are many Cairn Terriers who have been dumped at animal shelters or humane societies, are rescued from horrific conditions, or are surrendered from puppy mills and backyard breeders once their usefulness has expired. 

Choosing to adopt a Cairn Terrier isn’t only less expensive but is a noble undertaking as you are saving a dog’s life and freeing up space to allow for another dog to get a second chance at life and happiness.

Local animal shelters and national databases for dogs ready to be adopted are often a good place to start. Check also with Adopt-a-Pet, Petfinder, Rescue Me!, and Pet Adoptions by Overstock. Also, try getting in touch with nearby breeders, as they are often in-the-know about locally available purebreds.

There are also several rescue networks dedicated solely to Cairn Terriers such as Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network, Cairn Rescue USA, and the Cairn Rescue League that use a network of volunteer foster families to lovingly care for and rehabilitate (if needed) rescued Cairns until the dog can be placed in a forever home.

If you’re enthralled by the breed but aren’t quite ready to adopt, these rescue networks will welcome donations to fund their rescue missions and keep saving these wonderful little dogs.