Poultry and Cairn Terriers

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HEChicken

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 12, 2009
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BuCo, KS
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I've always loved cairn terriers and have an opportunity to adopt a puppy but….I have poultry who free-range and have spent years making sure any addition to the household is poultry-safe. I'm interested in hearing from those who have cairns to know if there is any possibility they can be good around poultry. I know a lot is in the training and I figure if I'm starting with a puppy, rather than an older dog that may have bad habits, I might have a chance of teaching it from the get-go that the chickens are a no-no. On the other hand….they are a terrier breed and strong-willed.

So please - if you have a cairn and you have poultry, can you tell me your experience with them? Did you have the dog first or the poultry? Does the poultry free-range? How successful have you been teaching the dog to leave them alone?

In the interest of keeping the answers "clean", if you don't have a cairn, please don't respond with opinions….I'm really looking to hear only from those with direct experience. Thanks!
 

SIMZ

Crowing
10 Years
Apr 29, 2011
2,168
229
281
Northwest Indiana
We have a small Cairn mix - not sure with what, but most likely another terrier breed. She's had some temperment "difficulties" from a puppy, which may be breed or just how she is. (Born in a shelter to a stray...) That said, she's ok around the chickens when they're out or she's in their yard with me. She's actually a little afraid of them. She hates turkeys, though. When we have turkeys I can't have her around them because she'll try to attack them.


We were out the other day and one of my newer chickens jumped on her back when she wasn't looking. She'd attack a chicken in a heartbeat over something like that. I won't let her wander by herself in their yard anymore after that so someone doesn't get hurt -- either the dog or the chicken, not sure which is tougher! LOL

I hope someone else chimes in. She's the only terrier I've ever been around, so I'm not sure she's typical. Plus, she tends to attack things more out of fear or anger than from a prey perspective, and I'm not sure if that's typical for Cairns.
 

katelk

Songster
6 Years
May 6, 2013
412
11
111
White Bluff, TN
I apologize if my experience is not applicable. I do not have a cairn, but I do have 2 beagles and a border collie. I would expect these breeds to have issues with small animals like chickens as well.
With any breed I seriously think it depends on exposure and training. My beagles were fully grown when I first started raising chickens. They definitely could not be trusted around baby chicks! However, once the birds were fully grown, I did not have any issues. One of my beagles will take chase if a chicken runs right in front of her, but she can easily be called off. The border collie (their personalities are extremely varied) is actually just terrified of chickens :rolleyes:
I trust all 3 enough to let run around the chicken yard as I go about coop cleaning and whatnot. They mostly ignore the chickens. I would not leave them in the chicken yard if I was not out there though. I have allowed the chickens to free range around my property when the dogs were tethered outside with them. That way in case the dogs decided to chase, it would only go so far. Any dog though may have a random moment where they decide to hunt and kill one. It can be unpredictable. I don't think a specific breed matters.
 
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HEChicken

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 12, 2009
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BuCo, KS
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My Coop
I thought I'd provide an update to this old thread. I did end up getting a Cairn Terrier and he is absolutely perfect around the poultry. I decided it was best to get a puppy - something I've never done before as I've always adopted older dogs from shelters. However given the high prey drive of terriers, I felt that exposure from the time the pup was young was the best way to wind up with a poultry safe dog. I brought my pup home at 10 weeks of age and from day one he accompanied me to do my chores. Consequently he has never seen the birds as anything other than "pack members". He runs confidently among them but doesn't find them the slightest bit interesting. Many times he has become thirsty while we were outside and will run to the nearest poultry waterer and drink alongside whichever birds are drinking at the same time. He runs in and out of the pop door and has on occasion been locked in the chicken yard for a short time. He finds it endlessly fascinating - after all, is there any more delicious treat than a freshly laid chicken turd? - but finds the birds themselves either of no interest (if they are chicks) or slightly scary (if they are adults).

I know everyone's experience will be different but wanted to update this so that someone else searching on a similar topic can find the information.
 

Rainekitty

In the Brooder
5 Years
May 11, 2014
74
2
48
We had a Cairn and that dog was a voracious hunter of small animals. She would sit in the same spot for hours waiting for a chipmunk or mouse to come out of it's home. She hunted toads, squirrels, small birds, you name it. However, they might be okay with chickens, especially standard size. Cairns are bred to hunt vermin, and a standard size chicken might be a little too big for them to be seen as prey.
 
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