Adoption FAQ

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions on adopting a dog through our organization.

cairn terrier 8 months old sitting in front of w 2021 08 26 18 01 56 utc

Adoption Frequently Asked Questions

Our full bred terriers and mixes come from several places.  They come from shelters, owner surrenders, government seizures, stray pickups, breeders.  Anywhere there is a need and we can help and are contacted to help, we do our best.

People give Cairns up for the same reasons people give up any dog. Some of the reasons we hear most often are: death, illness, divorce, moving, allergies and financial problems. It is not unusual to have even the most loving household experience health or personal problems that necessitate the placement of their pets. The most common reason is that the owner doesn’t have time for the dog. As a result, the Cairn could develop behavior problems from lack of attention and training. Some Cairns are abandoned on the streets, some are turned in to shelters that are only able to hold dogs a day or two, while others are obtained through auctions or kennel closures.

It is very important for people to do research before getting any breed as a family member, terriers of course, require extra effort because they are headstrong and usually really smart.  People that don’t do research, don’t know what to expect from the breed and turn the dog over for its natural behavior.

Fortunately, Cairns are a very adaptable breed and rescue Cairns adapt well to new situations with the proper care and training.


Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network (CPCRN) adoption process is a 4-step process:

  1. You must submit an on-line Adoption Application (in full) for review by our Adoption Committee. PLEASE NOTE: If your Application is not complete, it cannot be processed.
  2. A thorough reference check will be conducted in which we contact the references you gave us in your Application. A member of our Communications Team will contact all of your references, as well as your veterinary reference. A telephone interview with you may be conducted. After this, a reference report will be submitted to the Adoption Committee for review.
  3. A home safety inspection must be conducted and a report submitted to the Adoption Committee for review.
  4. Once the first 3 steps have been completed, the Adoption Committee will vote on your Application and a Committee member will officially notify you of the results.

If you are approved to adopt a dog from us, we will make every attempt to match you and your family with the dog best suited for you. Our Placement Services Team is prepared to help find you a dog that is suitable to your family’s needs. A Placement Specialist (a Match Maker) will be assigned to work with you individually to find the right dog for you. Finally, once a dog has been found that is determined to be the best match, you will be asked to talk to the foster parent of that dog. This is your chance to ask all the hard questions about the dog and to learn as much as you can before final adoption approval for that particular dog is granted. After you have spoken with the foster home the Director of Placement Services will discuss with you the final adoption approval decision. CPCRN cannot “hold” or “promise” any dog for any Applicant until official adoption approval for that dog has been granted by the Committee and an Adoption Contract has been tendered to an Applicant. Any change in status of the dog on the Available Dogs page prior to you talking to a foster family will mean the dog is being adopted by another family.

Here is a video that may help to understand the process:

After your Application has been submitted and received by the Committee, the entire process can take approximately 2 or 3 weeks. However, you can help us speed the process along by answering all the questions on the Application in detail and alerting your personal references that our Reference Coordinator will be contacting them by phone for a reference check. Delays are often encountered when we cannot reach an Applicant’s references or their Applications are incomplete. Please verify all telephone numbers and e-mail addresses prior to submitting your application.

Of course during peak holiday periods and vacation times, it can take longer as we are all volunteers and have jobs and other life functions, outside of rescue.

Your approved application will have a “shelf life” of six months.

Yes. It is preferable for the adoptive family to travel to the foster home to adopt the dog. Occasionally, the adoptive family and the foster caregiver will each travel part of the way and meet in between at a specified location. Of course, this will depend upon the schedule of the foster caregiver and his/her ability to travel. Not all foster homes can travel to transport their foster dogs. When any of our volunteers (including the foster home) helps transport the dog any portion of the journey to its adoptive family, we ask for a 15¢ per mile round-trip NON-tax-deductible donation to help defray the cost of rescue and transportation. We are not transporting dogs via airline at this time or for the foreseeable future. Some foster homes have the time to travel a few hours to meet the adoptive family and some do not. We try to do everything we can to place the right dog in the perfect home. We will work with you in that regard, however, we ask that you give careful consideration to the rescue dog’s location and how you might be able to transport him or her to your home should you be approved to adopt.  We can adopt to all United States except Alaska and Hawaii.

Cairns can make excellent family pets. However, because the rescue’s life history and prior experience with children is rarely known, Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network normally does not adopt rescue Cairns to families with children under the age of 12. Exceptions may be made if we have a detailed history of the rescue Cairn and its history with children. Families with children with current or recent experience with TERRIERS would be considered for any age dog from puppy to senior.

Our Cairn rescues have already suffered at least one, and often more than one disruption in their lives. Our mission is to assure that their placement is a successful one. Virtually all rescues come into rescue with at least some emotional “baggage,” and Cairns being Cairns, will attempt to find their place in the family “pack” shortly after being adopted. Usually this happens over a month or so and the true nature of the dog will be seen.  Loving and gentle children, who have been raised to treat animals with respect and care, will help the new dog fall into place in the family “pack”.

It is also important to note that small dogs in general, and terriers specifically, can become over-stimulated around small children who run, scream, cry, pat them on the head, pull their fur, ears, tails, or make sudden movements. Cairns who have not been raised in a household with children can become agitated or over-protective when they hear children’s high-pitched, excited voices or hear them crying. Cairn Terriers were bred to chase, hunt, and kill vermin, therefore they have a very strong “prey drive.” This instinct, which is virtually impossible to train or breed out of them, results in their chasing anything that runs or moves quickly, as children often do. It also, sadly, can lead to tragic accidents if children inadvertently leave doors open or ajar. Cairns will instinctively chase rabbits, squirrels, bunnies, birds, etc., as well as bicycles, rollerbladers, scooters, papers fluttering down the street and other moving objects, animate and inanimate. Therefore, close supervision and secure containment as well as being ON LEASH at all times is paramount to their safety.

It is our recommendation that families with children under the age of 12 who are interested in adding a Cairn terrier to their home seek out a reputable breeder. Here is a link to Cairn Terrier Breeder Referral:

All of our foster homes are volunteers who have families, jobs, and dogs of their own. Often, they have more than one foster Cairn in their care. In order to reduce their workload, visits and phone calls from applicants who are not yet approved to adopt a dog are not permitted. Once you have completed the approval process and are approved to adopt one of our Cairns, you will be put in touch with the foster home to discuss the dog you’re interested in adopting. Until then, we will answer any questions you may have about any of the dogs in our rescue program.  We do not have a brick and mortar facility because we are national and our dogs are fostered in homes all across the US.

By all means, if you see more than one CPCRN dog that you might like to adopt or learn more about, please notify the Placement Specialist of your interest.  Once your application is processed and your HSV is completed and approved, you will be sent a questionnaire to fill out.  Once that is done and submitted, you will be assigned a matchmaker to coordinate your adoption.

We only accept interests to be placed on dogs listed as READY or AVAILABLE on our website/Facebook.  Once you are approved you will be in contact with your Placement Specialist (Match Maker) and they will know where your interests lie.  Please fill out the Adoption Application and once you are approved to adopt from CPCRN, a Placement Specialist will be assigned to assist you in finding the right dog for you.  Remember, there are several dogs in the wings waiting to be listed as available.

Puppies and dogs under the age of two don’t come into the Rescue program very often.  But when they do, there is usually a long list of folks waiting for that age range, and a match may be made even before the dog is officially listed on our website.

Whether or not a rescue Cairn is housebroken depends on the individual situation. All rescue Cairns MUST HAVE a crate, and the owners are urged to train the Cairn as one would a puppy for the first several months regardless of whether the Cairn was housebroken before or not. Good beginnings make for happy endings, and it is better to reinforce the desired behavior from the start rather than try to backtrack and retrain later. Cairns are a smart breed and will learn the rules if the owner takes the time to properly train.

Many of our Rescues are escape artists, which is how they came into Rescue in the first place. Electric fencing is NOT recommended for anyone with a Terrier (Rescue or otherwise) for two primary reasons:

  1. Terriers will often take the electric-shock “hit” if they see something they consider prey (like a squirrel or bunny), but they will NOT take the “hit” to return to their yard. Therefore, they’re in danger of being lost or killed by a car.
  2. Electric fencing does NOT prevent other, often larger, dogs from entering the dog’s property; Cairns are sometimes killed or severely injured by dogs from which they cannot escape. Add to that the fact that most Terrier Rescues have NOT been trained with electric fencing since they were young, and it’s a potential tragedy waiting to happen.

All our dogs must be ON LEASH at all times or they must be contained by secure fencing. Therefore, we do not adopt our Rescue Cairns to anyone with electric fencing as their primary means of containment.

Read A Disease Called Trust

The major expense of caring for a Cairn is its food and preventive medical care. Some Cairns are sensitive to wheat, corn, or beef and need a special diet, such as lamb and rice. This type of food can be found in most pet supply stores, but not in grocery stores.

Cairns may also develop common canine diseases such as rabies, distemper, kennel cough, or worms just through contact with other dogs or the fecal matter of other dogs. Also, during warm weather, dogs are susceptible to heartworms that develop from being bitten by mosquitoes in some parts of the country. Appropriate vaccinations and medication can prevent all of these problems.

Cairns should also be hand stripped to maintain the health of their skin and coat, so if you do not plan to do this yourself, you should add a groomers fee to your expenses.  But clipping is also acceptable, based on the need of the owner and the dog.

Of course, you will want to have the proper leash and collar and toys to keep your Cairn out of trouble. Yes, toys will keep him out of trouble as they give him something to do (and chew) that will prevent unwanted attention to your best shoes or rug. After a Cairn is properly housebroken, he will need some type of bed if he does not sleep on yours or in his crate.

The costs for normal care of a healthy dog run about $30-50 a month. If you travel and your Cairn does not go with you, you will also need to figure in some type of care for him while you are gone.

We would like to remind you that a dog of any breed may develop diseases same as humans such as cancer, heart problems, arthritis, diabetes, incontinence, etc. These diseases are not transmittable to humans. We bring this issue up only to make you aware that you might want to consider how you would handle the situation if your dog develops problems due to age or illness.

At the time you adopt one of our rescue Cairns/Australians/Borders/Norfolk/ Norwich/Schnauzer/Scottish/West Highland Terriers (or a mix there of), you will be asked to make a donation to CPCRN. This donation helps defray shelter fees and other costs paid to procure our Rescues, the cost of transporting them to our foster homes, the costs of providing them with food and appropriate veterinary care, including spay/neuter, immunizations, heart worm testing and prevention, and other medical and/or grooming needs as are required by the particular dogs in our program. The requested adoption donations for our terriers are:    

  • Up to one year old – $500
  • One day over one year old to three – $425
  • One day over three years old to six – $400
  • One day over six years old to eight – $300
  • One day over eight years old to 10 – $250
  • One day over 10 years old – $150
  • One day over 11 years old $100

For our mixes

  • Puppy up to four years old $350
  • One day over four years old to eight years old $250
  • One day over eight years old to 11 years old $150
  • One day over 11 years old and up $50

If a puppy is not altered prior to placement (which would typically be the case if the puppy is under 6 months), we also require that the adopting family agree to a spay/neuter deposit which is FULLY refundable upon presentation and verification of a spay/neuter certificate. This is further explained in the rescue protocol for young puppies, which you will receive if you are applying for a pup under six months of age. Please verify the requested donation amount on any dog that you are considering for adoption. As adoption donations do not constitute purchase monies paid for the Rescue, they are not refundable in the event that you decide to return the Rescue or for any other reason.

Regarding payment for an adoption – we accept check, credit card and Paypal.

Yes! If you are approved to adopt a dog from our organization, you will be assigned to a member of our Placement Services Team. A Placement Services Specialist will work with you to find a Cairn that matches your family’s wants and needs.

No! If you have determined that the Cairn terrier breed is right for you, please submit your Application now. We encourage you to fill out an Application even if you do not currently see a Cairn on our site that seems to fit your family’s needs. Our website is updated regularly due to the large number of Cairns that we rescue and rehome. We are currently adopting out about three Cairns a week, so there is a lot of turnover. If you are approved to adopt, you will be assigned to a Placement Services Specialist (known as a Matchmaker) who will work with you until we find you a Cairn to love! It is at that time you have the option to request an available dog by name. The Placement Specialist will be able to give you more information on that dog. Our goal is to get the right dog for your family, but equally the right family for each dog. Please note: Any change in status of the dog on the Available Dogs page prior to you talking to a foster family will mean the dog is being adopted by another family.

A home safety visit is a requirement in order to adopt one of our Cairns.  We have a volunteer/representative come to your home OR we conduct a “virtual visit” with a checklist and also to conduct an interview, see your other pets, neighborhood, meet other family members.  Your home must meet some simple specifics in order to be accepted in our adoption process.  Even if you are a repeat adopter or one of our precious foster homes, a new HSV will need to be conducted, if you apply again, every five years.