Last Updated July 17, 2017
The Airedale Terrier dog breed, known as the "King of the Terriers," originated in the Aire Valley of Yorkshire, and was created to catch otters and rats in the region between the Aire and Wharfe Rivers. Being the largest of all the terriers this dog is an able sporting dog as well as an untiring working dog. And during the first World War this dog proved himself to be very intelligent and confident in his behavior.
There is a story that a dog named Jack during the first World War braved the battlefields to deliver a message to the British headquarters. This dog apparently ran through a half-mile of swamp while artillery was raining down on him. Although he accomplished his mission he had a shattered leg and a broken jaw. Sadly, Jack passed away soon after arriving at the British Headquarters. It was fortunate that Jack completed the task for the message he was carrying saved his battalion. Jack was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for "Gallantry in the Field." This type of bravery and courage is still exhibited in the Airedale's of today.
Airedale Terriers were bred to be a multi-purpose dog who had the keenness of a terrier, but could swim and smell prey. These dogs have the distinction of being both a sporting dog and a working dog. Today you can find Airedales competing in agility, obedience, and hunting tests.
This is a dog that really enjoys life when there is a job to be done. And because they get along so well with children many parents pass the job of watching the children off to the dog.
He is also no different from any other terrier dog breed. He is an avid digger, a compulsive chaser, and a noisy barker. He is very energetic and would do great going for a jog with you. Among his favorite activities are a good romp in the backyard and daily walks.
Owners of these dogs will always talk about the dog's independent streak. They will talk about his intelligence as this dog is very much an independent thinker. He will not always wait for direction from his owner. If you like dogs that are always giving you a challenge, the Airedale Terrier is the dog for you. He will absolutely keep you and himself challenged at all times.
Something that all owners need to know about the Airedale Terrier is that he is an unforgiving dog. If you reprimand this dog he will absolutely hold a grudge against you. He can also be very aggressive to other dogs and animals. Couple that with his strong prey drive and he can be a very difficult dog to handle. For these dogs you must provide consistent, positive obedience training and have a securely fenced in yard.
This dog also makes a great watchdog. He will protect his family from intruders with fierce and brave loyalty. However, he is friendly to invited guests in his home.
Even though the Airedale Terrier is a working dog he does have a comical and playful side. This is a dog that enjoys being around his family and showing his mischievous side. So if you are ever wondering what happened to that dirty sock or the turkey that was left on the counter go and ask the Airedale.
This dog is a fascinating breed that matures slowly. He will continue to be a puppy at heart until he is well into old age. A dog for truly active families.
Airedale Terrier FAQs
- Does the Airedale Terrier do well living in an apartment?
- Being a large terrier, and an active dog, this breed of dog is not recommended for apartment living. He is very playful and active and he loves to run. For this reason he would be better off living in the country or a rural area with a big back yard. (See List of Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living.)
- Is the Airedale Terrier a good first choice for novice dog owners?
- These dogs require a lot of patience. They are diggers, chasers, and barkers. They also have a stubborn streak which can make them quite difficult to handle. This is one type of dog that will not put up with any inconsistencies on the part of the owner. They require a stern leadership with no deviation from the leadership.
- Is the Airedale Terrier a sensitive dog when it comes to being reprimanded?
- Some dogs couldn't care less if they are scolded while others will sulk in a corner for hours. The Airedale Terrier falls in the middle of these two extremes. This also means that they can tolerate a relatively active and noisy environment. (See List of Dogs That Have A Low Sensitivity Level.)
- Does the Airedale Terrier mind being left alone?
- These dogs are considered to be group animals. They like to be around other dogs and with people. They also bond quite closely with their owners which can make it quite stressful to the dog when they are left alone for extended periods of time. (See List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited To Being Alone.)
- How well does the Airedale Terrier tolerate cold weather?
- The Airedale Terrier loves to play in the snow so they can tolerate cold weather relatively well. They are not outside dogs, however, and should reside in the house during colder seasons.
- Does the Airedale Terrier tolerate hot weather well?
- Strangely enough, even with their wiry, thick coat, they can tolerate the hot weather fairly well. If you are planning on having your dog stay outside for an extended period of time it is recommended that you provide a place for your pet to go an cool down. This should be a well-shaded spot if they cannot enter the house during that time.
- How affectionate are Airedale Terriers towards the whole family?
- If you are looking for a dog that will love the whole family the Airedale Terrier is a good choice if you get it at a very young age.
- Is the Airedale Terrier a kid friendly dog?
- Usually terrier dogs try to avoid kids. That is not the case with the Airedale Terrier. This dog loves the whole family equally. He will probably spend hours playing with the kids. Just be sure that when he has had enough that he has a place to go to wind down. Just remember that all dogs are individuals. There is no guarantee as to whether a particular dog that is considered to be of a kid friendly breed will actually be friendly to kids. It is your responsibility to keep a close eye on children whenever they are interacting with animals. And always teach children how to properly approach and treat an animal. It is always a good idea to train the dog to be sociable with people from an early age.
- Are Airedale Terriers friendly with other dogs?
- This is a hunting dog and as such is used to being in a pack. The Airedale loves to be around other dogs and will often assume the leadership role with other dogs. Just keep an eye on him as he can be a bit bossy with other dogs.
- Is the Airedale Terrier friendly toward strangers?
- If the Airedale was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy he will respond quite well to strangers as an adult.
- Does the Airedale Terrier do a lot of shedding?
- Some dogs are natural born shedders while others will hardly drop any fur. The Airedale Terrier is usually low shedding in this respect. But just like any other dog they will shed more during the Spring and Fall as they prepare for the seasonal change in climate.
- Do Airedale Terriers drool a lot?
- Some dogs are just natural slobbering dogs, the Airedale Terrier is very low in this area. This still doesn't mean that he will not be a drooler when you are preparing their meals.
- Is the Airedale Terrier and easy dog to groom?
- Some dogs require a lot of work to keep them looking good. The Airedale Terrier is not one of them. All they basically need is two good twenty-minute brushings per week to keep their coat in top condition.
- Does the Airedale Terrier have good overall general health?
- Usually this breed of dog has very good general health. There are some hereditary conditions that this dog is prone to as you will see below. My advice is that before buying any dog consult a veterinarian about the possible hereditary conditions that may exist in your breed of choice. The other thing that you should do is to buy the dog from a reputable breeder as he will have the medical histories of both parents and any standard medical certifications that may be required.
- Do Airedale Terriers gain weight easily?
- You need to understand that this is a working dog. It needs regular physical exercise to maintain its proper weight and to keep it in good health. Providing it with at least two twenty-minute vigorous exercise periods per day will help to ensure that your dog does not gain weight and stays healthy.
- Is the Airedale Terrier a big dog?
- Is the Airedale Terrier an easy dog to train?
- Some dogs are really easy to train as they want to please their human owner. Other dogs will always try to outsmart you. The Airedale is a great dog to train. He is attentive and smart and usually knows what you want him to do before you even say it. Teaching them new stuff is usually a breeze.
- Is the Airedale Terrier an intelligent dog?
- Dogs that were bred to be working dogs usually require some type of intelligence as they often have to think for themselves to solve problems. The Airedale is very high in this respect. Intelligent dog breeds are dogs that need to think for themselves and have good concentration. Two qualities that the Airedale has and loves to use.
- Is the Airedale Terrier a mouthy dog?
- Mouthiness in a dog refers to the dog's tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite. These dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold on to family members when they are playing. The Airedale Terrier comes very high in this respect. Usually there is no pain involved in this behavior but sometimes your dog may become a little more excited during play than usual. For this reason you need to keep an eye on the situation when they dog is playing with children. These types of dogs should have good chew toys around the house.
- Do Airedale Terriers have a high prey drive?
- Because these dogs are bred to hunt they will chase anything that they deem is prey and will give them a good chase. That includes cars. It is important that when you take these dogs for a walk that you absolutely keep them on a leash and maintain full control at all times. Many dogs have been lost because the pet owner didn't follow this basic walking rule. Also, these dogs are really good jumpers because of their springy hind legs so you need to have a fenced in back yard that has a fence that is high enough so they won't jump over and deep enough in the ground so they won't be able to dig under it before you notice.
- Do Airedale Terriers have a high tendency to bark or howl?
- Again you need to realize that these are hunting dogs. Hunters usually let these dogs run free in the forest to search for prey. When they find something they will let the hunter know by either barking or howling. The Airedale is no exception here. This is something that you will have to keep in mind when purchasing an Airedale Terrier. Do you live in an area where your neighbors won't tolerate a barking dog? Are there bylaws concerning barking noise in your neighborhood?
- Does the Airedale Terrier have a high wanderlust potential?
- As this is a hunting dog they do tend to wander away from their owners given the chance. This has to do with their high prey instincts and it's a natural behavior. All these dogs want to really do is to find something to hunt. So they will absolutely wander off in search of prey.
- What is the energy level of the Airedale Terrier?
- These are very active dogs. They can go for hours playing and hunting without getting tired. It is more likely that you will get tired way before this dog does. So, yes, the Airedale is very high in the energy department. A great dog for the very active family.
- Is the Airedale Terrier a dog with a high intensity level?
- This all depends on how this dog was trained. Normally if you allow the dog more freedom to do as he pleases he will do almost everything with vigor. The good news here is that you can train these dogs to be more laid back and mellow.
- Does the Airedale Terrier require a lot of exercise?
- Being a high energy dog these hunting dogs require a lot of exercise to expel the excess energy they have. Two good vigorous twenty-minute exercise periods should do the trick. If your dog still has energy to spare at the end of the day you might want to add a third exercise period to your day.
- Is the Airedale Terrier a playful dog?
- Sometimes you end up with a dog that is a constant puppy. The Airedale Terrier is pretty much a constant puppy. They are dogs that love to tease their family members. They always want to play a game with you. This is one reason why families with children get this dog. They will stand in as playmates for the dog.
- Dog Breed Group: Terrier Dogs
- Height: 1 foot, 9 inches to 1 foot, 11 inches (0.53 to 0.58 metres) tall at the shoulder
- Weight: 40 to 65 pounds (18.14 to 29.48 kilograms)
- Life Span: 10 to 13 years
Highlights of the Airedale Terrier
- Like all Terriers, Airedales have a natural inclination for digging (usually in the middle of a beautiful flower garden), chasing small animals, and barking.
- The Airedale Terrier is an active collector of human memorabilia. He will pick up just about anything (socks, underwear, children's toys) to add to his stash of treasures.
- Being a high-energy working dog, the Airedale Terrier needs daily exercise. In general, the he remains active and full of energy throughout his life. He is not suited to apartment life, and needs a home with a large, fenced yard.
- Chewing is another favorite Airedale habit. He will chew anything, and should be left in a crate or secure kennel with sturdy toys when you are away from home.
- The Airedale is an independent dog, but he enjoys being a member of a family. He is happiest when inside with his owners, and is not meant to be a backyard dog.
- Airedale Terriers are very good with children and are fondly called reliable babysitters. However, children and dogs should never be left unsupervised.
- Grooming is necessary, so plan on paying a professional groomer or learn to groom your Airedale yourself.
- Training and socialization is essential to teach the Airedale proper canine manners. If he is not used to other dogs and people, he can be quarrelsome.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
History of the Airedale Terrier
This dog is very distinct among the Terriers, he is the largest one. The first known attempt at creating an Airedale Terrier was in 1853 when a Rough-Coated Black and Tan Terrier was bred with an Otterhound in the hopes of creating a well-rounded sporting dog that could hunt otters in the rivers and rats on the land.
The first attempts produced a dog that possessed the keenness of a terrier and was able to swim and scent game. These first dogs were originally called Waterside or Bingley Terriers. Twelve years later this dog became very popular as a sporting terrier.
This new dog breed was entered into competition at the Aire Valley dog show under the Broken-Haired Terriers class in 1864. At that time author Hugh Dalziel, who judged the competition, commented on how great the dog was which brought about the immediate interest for the breed.
It wasn't until later that a group of fanciers gathered together and renamed the breed the Airedale Terrier.
In 1880 Dalziel had another opportunity to judge the Airedale Terrier and after referring to the breed as the Airedale Terrier the name began to take hold. However, at several dog clubs it was known by its original name which confused many people. This was soon cleared up by the Kennel Club in England which accepted the Airedale Terrier as the official name of the breed.
The Airedale Terrier Club of America was founded in 1900 and, in 1910, the club started a perpetual trophy that is offered at parent club shows. This trophy is known as the Airedale Bowl and has the names of winners' engraved on the bowl and pedestal.
Throughout World War I the Airedale Terrier was used for such duties as messengers, sentries, scouts, ratters, ambulance dogs, carriers of ammunition and food, sled dogs, guard dogs, and Red Cross casualty dogs. All through the war there are stories of the Airedale Terrier's bravery and loyalty. These stories helped to spark the interest in these dogs.
In 1949, the Airedale Terrier was ranked 20th in popularity by the American Kennel Club, but has since dropped in rank. Part of this decline is due to the increased use of German Shepherds in roles traditionally filled by Airedales.
Males stand 23 inches (58.42cm) tall, and weigh about 50 to 65 pounds (22.68 to 29.48 kilograms). Females are slightly shorter, and weigh 40 to 55 pounds (18.14 to 24.95 kilograms).
Personality of the Airedale Terrier
This is a hard-working, independent, and athletic dog that has a lot of energy, stamina, and drive. He really loves to dig, chase, and bark---behaviors that come naturally to all terrier breeds. This is the main reason why first time owners become frustrated if they are unfamiliar with the Airedale personality.
Those thinking of getting one of these dogs should consider whether they are willing to live with a dog that has a propensity towards undesirable behavior. If so then you will absolutely enjoy the company of this fun-loving and comical dog.
This is a very lively breed of dog that requires plenty of activity to keep it occupied. It is best not to leave this dog alone for long periods of time. Doing so will cause him to become bored and he will most likely create a fun game of chew the furniture and your slippers. And while training these dogs you should keep the training as interesting as possible. Give him treats and other positive reinforcements when he does well and he will learn quickly.
The Airedale Terrier also makes a very reliable watchdog. He will take great pride in protecting his family. He can be a very fierce guardian so he needs to be trained on being sociable around strangers who come to visit.
You will find that the temperament of the Airedale is affected by a number of factors: heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies that have a nice temperament will be very curious and playful. They will want to be held by people.
When buying an Airedale Terrier it is always best to meet the mother dog to see how sociable they are and that you are comfortable with their temperament. If you can, try to meet some of the siblings and other relatives of the parents. This will help you to evaluate what a puppy will be like when it grows up.
When you acquire your Airedale you need to start the socialization process as soon as possible. The pup needs to be exposed to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences as possible. This type of training helps to ensure that the puppy grows up to be well-rounded.
Many people find that enrolling their dog in puppy school is a great start. Also inviting strangers over as often as you can will help with the socializing of the pup. And taking him to busy parks and other places that allow dogs to meet different people will help in the socialization process as well.
Health Considerations of the Airedale Terrier
Airedales are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Airedales will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you the health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Airedales, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
Other hereditary conditions that you should be aware of include:
- Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
- Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and the Airdale is no exception. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
- Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It's thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Umbilica Hernia: Present at birth, this is an affliction in which abdominal fat or internal organs protrude against the abdominal wall near the umbilicus. If the hernia is small, it can be left untreated. Some small hernias spontaneously close by the time the puppy is 6 months old and some dogs live with small hernias their entire lives without difficulty. Large hernias require surgery, which is often done while the dog is spayed or neutered. Surgery is used to prevent a more serious condition in which an intestine loop drops into the hernia causing life threatening strangulation of the intestine.
- Von Willebrand's Disease: Found in both dogs and humans, this is a blood disorder that affects the clotting process. An affected dog will have symptoms such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from surgery, prolonged bleeding during heat cycles or after whelping, and occasionally blood in the stool. This disorder is usually diagnosed between three and five years of age, and it can't be cured. However, it can be managed with treatments that include cauterizing or suturing injuries, transfusions before surgery, and avoidance of specific medications.
- Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis: This disorder causes vomiting and diarrhea with either fresh or digested blood. This disorder comes on very quickly, and the cause is unknown. Diagnosing is a process of elimination because many other diseases cause similar symptoms. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis needs prompt medical treatment. Although it run its course within a few days, the dog needs treatment of intravenous fluids to keep hydrated. If the dog becomes dehydrated, his red blood count will continue to rise until the blood becomes thick and slow moving. This can cause another disorder, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and can result in death. The disorder is also treated with antibiotics and anti-ulcer medications.
- Cancer: Like humans, dogs can develop cancer. There are many different types of cancers, and the success of treatment differs for each individual case. For some forms of cancer, tumors are surgically removed, others are treated with chemotherapy, and some are treated both surgically and medically.
Caring For Your Airedale Terrier
Since this is a working dog he has a lot of energy and great stamina. You will need to give him regular exercise at least twice a day. Playing a good game of fetch or taking him for a good swim are all great activities. And if you like to go jogging you will find that he makes a great companion for jogging.
Proper training and socialization is essential for this type of dog. You should incorporate socialization with training by taking your dog everywhere you go. This way he will get to meet many different people and become accustomed to many different sights and sounds.
You will also need to train your dog in how to behave with children. As well, the child also needs to be trained in how to behave when around dogs.
Crate training is also strongly recommended with the Airedale Terrier. Not only does it aid in housetraining, it also provides him a safe den in which to settle down and relax. In general, Airedales do very well with most training as long as you remember that they have a mind of their own. Ask him to sit or stay in full sunlight in the middle of the summer and it's very likely he'll decide he'd prefer to do so in the shade.
The best way of training the Airedale Terrier is with positive reinforcement. Having fun while training will help to keep him from getting bored with you and the training session.
Feeding the Airedale Terrier
The recommended daily amount of food for your Airedale is 1.5 to 2.5 cups per day. Make sure that you only feed high-quality dry food and that his daily allowance is divided into two separate meals.
How much your dog will actually eat depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Remember that dogs are individuals and not all dog of the same breed require the same amount of food.
Keep your Airedale in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. Doing so will prevent your dog from overeating and gaining weight.
Coat Color and Grooming Your Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier has a two layer coat: a dense and wiry topcoat with a short and soft undercoat. Most Airedale Terriers have a specific coat combination: the majority of the dog is tan (ears, legs, head, underbelly, and occasionally the shoulders) and the back and upper sides are either black or grizzled (black mixed with gray and white). Sometimes there is a speckling of red in the black and a small white star on the chest.
These dogs are great for people who don't like a lot of dog hair in the house as they are not know for extreme shedding. Twice a year, however, he will usually do a quick heavy shedding. To keep his coat in top condition you need to perform regular brushing once or twice a week. You can give him a periodic bathing but only as needed as over-bathing will soften his coarse terrier coat.
Trimming of the coat is not necessary in the Airedale. If you wish you can take him to a professional groomer a couple of times per year so that they can make him look neat and fancy. Professional groomers will thin the Airedale's coat by either trimming or stripping it. Just keep in mind that this procedure can be very expensive.
Another area that needs regular attention is your dog's teeth. It is best to brush your Airedale's teeth at least three times a week. Doing so will remove any tartar buildup and bacteria from the mouth. If you can it is better to do daily teeth cleaning as this will go a long way in preventing gum disease and bad breath.
Another area that needs regular attention is the dog's nails. These should be trimmed at least once a month. Doing so will prevent painful tears and other problems that come with overgrown nails. A good rule of thumb for determining whether the nails are too long is if you can hear them clicking on the floor when he walks they need to be trimmed. Be careful when trimming his nails so that you don't cut the quick.
The next task during the grooming process is to keep his ears clean. For this you use a pH-balanced ear cleaner to dampened a cotton ball and then gently wipe the outer ear until clean. Do not insert anything into the ear canal. Their eardrums are not very deep and doing so can damage the dog's ear.
To get your dog accustomed to being groomed you should start when the dog is a puppy. Handle his paws frequently and look inside his mouth. Make the grooming process a positive one with plenty of praise. Your veterinarian will appreciate this as he will not be fought every step of the way through a medical examination.
Remember to check for sores, rashes, signs of infection, tenderness, and other inflammation of the skin while you are grooming. Check the eyes to make sure that they are clear with no redness or discharge. Doing this as you groom will allow you to spot potential problems early and not later on when they tend to get out of control.
The Airedale Terrier With Children and Other Pets
Taking the time to properly train and socialize your Airedale Terrier will go a long way in curbing his behavior around children and other pets.
This is a fun-loving dog that loves to be around his family. Especially children. However, because he is a high energy and active dog it is not recommended to let him play with extremely young kids.
As a parent you need to teach children how to approach and touch dogs. You should also supervise any interaction between a dog and a child so that you can intervene if things start to get rough. Also, make absolutely sure that your child never ever approaches a dog while they are eating. This is a leading cause of dog bites in children.
If you have other dogs in the household your Airedale will get along with them as long as they are properly socialized and trained. The Airedale can be aggressive to other dogs in the house because they are real pack dogs. But with training this can be kept to a minimum. For other dogs in the neighborhood your Airedale will come to think of them as rivals.
For other small pets such as rabbits, cats, gerbils, and hamsters, it is best to keep him away from them. The Airedale has a high prey instinct and will absolutely chase and hunt these animals.
Airedales are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Airedales in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward an Airedale rescue.
Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Airedale Terrier.
Last updated on July 17, 2017
Airedale Terrier Puppy Pics
Airedale Terrier Puppy Pics