When most people think of a Cairn Terrier, the first image that pops into mind is Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Released in the late 1930s, The Wizard of Oz was single-handedly responsible for shooting Judy Garland to fame for her portrayal of the lead character, Dorothy. However, Judy Garland was not the only one to receive instant notoriety from the film.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s sidekick was a little dog named Toto, played by a Cairn Terrier named Terry. Terry’s handler, Carl Spitz, was one of the most famous dog trainers in Hollywood, an accomplishment due in no small part to the work of his charming little Cairn Terrier in the movie. Carl Spitz and Terry worked together on over a dozen films after The Wizard of Oz.
It is said that Judy Garland and Terry the terrier had a very affectionate working relationship and developed a very strong bond throughout the filming of the movie, which is most likely what led to Garland’s ownership of a Cairn Terrier afterwards. Garland’s daughter, as many know, is Liza Minelli, who is also a very famed owner of Cairn Terriers. Minelli is notorious for her love and care of dogs, but most specifically this breed, an affection for which she undoubtedly acquired via her mother.
Prince Edward and his wife, Wallis Simpson, famous for their royalty and time in the public eye, are also known for their ownership of Cairn Terriers. As pets of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, their pets certainly received the royal treatment! Edward and Simpson’s Cairn Terriers had their meals prepared by chefs trained specifically to make food for the dogs and were served privately in the Duke and Duchess’s rooms out of silver bowls, as if the dogs were royalty themselves. It is said that the dogs were even spoon-fed by their owners!
Edward and Simpson owned a number of Cairn Terriers throughout the years, the first one being Slipper, a multi-colored gray Cairn who had so many issues with housebreaking that he was eventually nicknamed Mister Loo. After Mister Loo came a cream-colored female named Pookie, a gray brindle similar to Mister Loo named Detto, and a brindled cream female named Prisie. After several generations of Cairn Terrier ownership, however, the Duke and Duchess eventually started keeping Pugs as their companion animals instead.
The most famous Cairn Terrier breeders are Brenda and Ron Birch. After three decades of careful and selective breeding practices, the Birches have made quite a name for themselves by producing champion after champion in their litters. Their dogs are so renowned that their bloodline carries its own name: Kinkim. Many people consider their success with these dogs a result of the couple’s heavy interaction with them. While many breeders will hire handlers and groomers, the Birches are notorious for showing and training their dogs themselves. Their most prodigious Cairn Terrier, Champion Kinkim Ludvic, was awarded over 25 certificates in various competitions. How’s that for a successful pup?