Health Watch

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

The Breed is an active, hardy and game little dog with a life span of appox 12 to 15 years. But like all living creatures some Cairns will have on occasion a health problem.

If your Cairn develops a Health problem then the Cairn Terrier Health Group would welcome you reporting it to the Group.

All members of the group are happy to give advice on health conditions.

Contact Maud Hawkes or telephone 01623 812856.

When reporting a condition, please send a vet report and copy of pedigree of the Cairn involved to Maud Hawkes, who will deal with all data on health conditions. Information can be send to her at or cases discussed on telephone 01623 812856. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.



Many Thanks to all the owners, who have kept us informed during the year! Emails, letters and quite a number of phone calls have yet again been received. Some contacts have been re documented case histories, whilst others have been about more general concerns and worries. Notable cases reported this year include Addison's disease and Steroid Responsive Meningitis Arteritis (SRMA); both autoimmune conditions. Portosystemic Shunt (PSS) has sadly again been reported.

Health report data are typically dealt with on a generational basis for statistical purposes. This is also the method used by the Kennel Club (KC) for the intervals of their Health Surveys (see below). The end of spring 2017 marks the 10 years of data collection made by the Cairn Terrier Health Group (CTHG) and the results will be published, as soon as the data have been processed.

It would be most appreciated, if any information, you may have forgotten to report earlier, could be forwarded to make the data as representative as possible!


The results of this latest survey were published in the spring 2016 and can be viewed at The response to the 2014 survey was slightly better than to the 2004 one but still rather poor. 300 live and 38 deceased Cairn Terriers were represented. Most dogs (198 dogs or 66%) were not affected by a disease condition. The most common disease in live dogs was lipoma and the two most common, equally represented, causes of death were old age and hepatic(liver)tumour (median age for the latter 13.5 years). There were strangely no cases reported as diagnosed with neither PSS/MVD nor Ocular melanosis (OM), but they could of course be hiding under another umbrella.


The Animal Health Trust (AHT), together with the KC, launched this worthwhile project early in the year. The aim is to get the genome sequenced for as many breeds as possible to enable/facilitate future research. It can be of benefit not only to one specific breed but also to other breeds involved in DNA analysis and sometimes even in human mutation research (e.g. certain cancers). The KC was subsidising a limited number of places, on a first come, first served basis. The normal price for sequencing is £2000/dog, but the KC are now paying half the cost. It was decided that the Cairn should have a place in this DNA collection, so an application was made and accepted and £1000 were sent from the CTHG. Comprehensive information, including on peer reviewed, published research, also had to be submitted. It was most encouraging to be notified that the researchers at AHT have decided to sequence the DNA from a Cairn with OM and cooperate with other research done on the condition. Very good news since a DNA test would be so much better than regular eye testing. Let us hope the research bears fruit!


The CTHG has subsidised several sessions of Eye testing this year and paid £840 towards these. It is unfortunate that the BVA increases the cost so frequently, but regular testing of breeding stock is obviously very important.

Many Thanks to Yvonne Catto for her invaluable help all these years !

Sincere Thanks to a benefactor for a generous donation of £100 to the Health Fund !

Maud Hawkes BSc(Hons)Animal Science

Tel: 01623 812856