Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier: What are the Differences?

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: September 28, 2022
© A-Z-Animals.com
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Cairn terriers and Norwich terriers are small terriers that originated from Great Britain. During the mid-1800s, there were no distinctions between these two breeds. They were just general farm dogs. They were initially bred to work on farms and hunt foxes, badgers, and rats

Cairn terriers and Norwich terriers have compact bodies with short legs. They are not aggressive and will not start a fight, but they are fearless when faced with an adversary. Norwich terriers are known to have honorable scars from fair wear and tear. These scars are accepted because of their nature.

At first glance, these two breeds might look similar, but certain attributes differentiate them. Here are the main differences between cairn terriers and Norwich terriers.

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Comparing: Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier

Cairn TerrierNorwich Terrier
SizeWeight: 14-16 lbs
Height: 11 to 12 inches
Weight: 11 to 12 lbs
Height: 9 to 10 inches
Color VariationCream, wheaten, red, gray, or nearly blackRed, wheaten, black and tan or grizzle
CoatDouble coat; slightly wavy harsh outer coat; soft and short undercoatMedium-length double coat; wiry outercoat, soft undercoat 
TemperamentActive, hardy, and fearless; assertiveLovable disposition, not aggressive, tremendously active, hardy, and fearless
TrainabilityIndependent and observant but very stubborn, so training should start from an early ageIntelligent and stubborn, but they will work well with rewards and treats
Life Expectancy13 to 15 years13 to 15 years

The Key Differences Between Cairn Terriers and Norwich Terriers

Cairn terriers and Norwich terriers have similar appearances and personalities. Both breeds have pointed and erect ears. They are tremendously active and hardy, ready to hunt rats and leave no stones unturned. They are adventurous and curious. However, their average size, color variations, coat textures, and body proportions differ.

Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier: Size

Types of terrier dogs
Adult cairn terriers are larger than adult Norwich terriers.

©iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography

Cairn terriers and Norwich terriers are toy-sized dogs, but their average sizes vary. Adult cairn terriers are larger than adult Norwich terriers. Cairn terriers can grow up to 11-12 inches (28 to 30.5 cm) at withers and weigh up to 14-16 lbs (6.4 to 7.3 kg). Norwich terriers’ average height at the withers is 9 to 10 inches (22.8 to 25.4 cm), and their average weight is 11 to 12 lbs (5 to 5.5 kg).

Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier: Color

Cairn Terrier standing in the grass
Cairn terriers’ colors vary between cream, wheaten, red, gray, or nearly black.

©Nick Chase 68/Shutterstock.com

Cairn terriers’ colors vary between cream, wheaten, red, gray, or nearly black. According to the FCI standard, brindling of these colors is acceptable, which means their fur can be a combination of more colors. However, solid black, white, black, and tan are not breed standards. Some cairn terriers have darker muzzles and ears.

Norwich terriers differ from cairn terriers in terms of coat color. Norwich terriers’ colors vary between all shades of red, wheaten, black, tan, or grizzle. The FCI standard lists white marks and patches as undesirable patterns.

Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier: Coat

norwich terrier standing in the grass
Norwich terriers have hard, wiry, and straight coats.

©Lenkadan/Shutterstock.com

Cairn terriers and Norwich terriers have double coats. However, their textures and undercoats are different. Cairn terriers have a weather-resistant coat, which prevents soaking, keeps them warm, and helps them swim in cold waters. The outer coats of cairn terriers are profuse and harsh. Their undercoats are soft and short and can be slightly wavy. 

Norwich terriers have hard, wiry, and straight coats. Their undercoats are thick and close to the body. Their neck areas have longer and rougher hairs, while the hairs on the face, head, and ears are shorter and smoother.

Both cairn terriers and Norwich terriers are groomed using a technique called hand-stripping, which implies removing old outer hairs and excess undercoat to make room for new hairs. Cutting their hair may change the coat’s color and texture.

Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier: Body Proportions

Cairn terriers are longer than Norwich terriers, so they are taller when they sit. The height of Norwich terriers, measured at the withers, is typically equal to their bodies’ length from their shoulders to the base of their tails. Cairn terriers, on the other hand, have longer bodies. The length from their shoulders to the base of their tail is 1.5 longer than their height at the withers.

Cairn Terrier vs. Norwich Terrier: Cost

three norwich terriers standing in the grass
The average cost to obtain a purebred Norwich terrier ranges around $1,500.

©Lenkadan/Shutterstock.com

When you’re buying a purebred puppy, the breeder should present an American Kennel Club certificate for the pedigree and a health certificate from the vet. On average, the cost to get a purebred cairn terrier ranges between $350 to $800. This varies on your location, the breeder’s location, and the quality of the dog’s litter. Additional costs may apply when screening your puppies. A responsible breeder will ensure a Cairn terrier puppy is healthy by undergoing health tests. 

Here are the recommended health tests for cairn terriers:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • GCL DNA Test
  • PSVA
  • MVD
  • Kidney Aplasia/Dysplasia

On the other hand, the average cost to obtain a purebred Norwich terrier ranges around $1,500 and can go up to $4,000 – $5,000. Additional costs may apply when undergoing health tests, which are important to ensure that the breed’s unique qualities are preserved and that the dog has no disorders that its puppies could inherit.

Here are the recommended health tests for Norwich terriers:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

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Cairn Terrier vs Norwich Terrier
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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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Sources
  1. Federation Cynologique Internationale, Available here: https://www.fci.be/en/nomenclature/NORWICH-TERRIER-72.html
  2. Federation Cynologique Internationale, Available here: https://www.fci.be/en/nomenclature/CAIRN-TERRIER-4.html
  3. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/cairn-terrier/
  4. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/norwich-terrier/
  5. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/norwich-terrier-vs-cairn-terrier-how-to-tell-the-difference/