ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Airedale Terriers

Airedale Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The distinctive looking Airedale Terrier is not a suitable breed for the faint-hearted. This stylish breed is known for their independence and out of the box problem solving. Their wit and charm might be appealing, but make no mistake — the Airedales can outsmart most humans and have things their way.

In so many words, the Airedale Terrier is not for the inexperienced novice dog owner.

The breed rose to fame in the years following World War I, after stories of courage and bravery in battle surfaced, and made them one of the most popular breeds in the world. The sophisticated breed is known to be energetic, an independent thinker, outgoing, friendly, goofy and silly, all in the same package. They do well in agility classes, and obedience events, and are famous for their hunting instincts as well as strong affection and loyalty to their families.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityBelow Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog breed group: Hunting dogs
Height:Generally 23-24 inches tall.
Weight: 40-65 lb, the females are slightly smaller.
Life Span:10-13 years on average.

Known as the king of Terriers, the Airedale Terrier is the largest of all Terriers and originated in England. They are also known to be called a Bingley Terrier or Waterside Terrier.

Many novice Airedale owners purchase or adopt an Airedale without fully understanding this fascinating multi-layered breed. The Airedales are notoriously intelligent, independent thinkers, and problem solvers. They are in need of constant mental challenge and their training routine in particular needs to be kept interesting and innovative, or else they bore easily and are off chasing the next squirrel.

The Airedales require plenty of physical activity and then some. Running, playing, and romping around the yard are just a few of their favourite things to do. Often times, they will out-tire the most active owner. Just to give you an idea, they are known to be used excessively during World War I in military and police active service duties.

The hard-working Airedale Terriers are well known for their clownish behaviour and entertainment value, and can generate laughter from the most stern of humans.

The breed’s protective nature makes them a wonderful family pet. The Airedales will fiercely protect their family and make a great watchdog. Their playful nature and tender affection for their humans makes them a fantastic companion to children. Although, unless properly socialized from a very early age, they will not do well with other pets such as cats or rabbits.

They enjoy life most when around their humans and will not do well as a backyard dog; they will become bored and take it out on your most prized flower bed.

Main Highlights
  • The Airedale Terriers are fiercely loyal to their family, and protective toward the younger members of the family.
  • They are known collectors of human treasures. Among the prized items are dirty socks and underwear, slippers, toys, and just about anything they can get their paws on.
  • The Airedales need constant mental stimulation as they bore easily and can turn to destructive behaviours such as digging, chasing small animals, and excessive barking.
  • The breed was at one point the celebrity breed of the White House, loved and owned by presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge.
  • They have served extensively on the front lines during World War I.
Breed History

The Airedale Terrier originated in the Aire Valley of Yorkshire, England. They are the result of breeding between a rough coated Terrier and an Otterhound for the purpose of introducing a new breed of sporting dogs that are skilled in hunting prey both on land and in water, and are excellent swimmers.

They continued gaining popularity as a hunting dog, and were heavily utilized in World War I as messengers, food and ammunition delivery dogs, scouts, ambulance dogs, Red Cross casualty dogs, as well as guard dogs.

The Airedales were known as a highly versatile breed that can do just about anything. In 1949, they were one of the most popular breeds and stories of their bravery and courage spread like wild fire.

One of the most famous stories were about an Airedale Terrier named Jack, who travelled through swamp and enemy fire to deliver a message to the British headquarters. Unfortunately, shortly after successfully completing his mission, Jack passed away from wounds inflicted on him during his heroic attempt. The message he delivered saved his battalion and Jack was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the field.

The Airedale Terriers were also used in Russia by the Red Cross in 1923 and performed duties such as guard dogs, police tracking dogs and casualty dogs.

The breed was first introduced in the United States in 1881 after a dog named Bruce won the Terrier class in a New York dog show, and catapulted to fame when President Warren Harding had a special chair made for his Airedale Terrier, to sit on during important cabinet meetings. US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge were also known for their affection for the breed.

Today, their popularity dropped as more and more roles that were fulfilled in the law enforcement and military by the Airedale Terriers are now given to German Shepherds.

Size

This stylish breed is the biggest of all Terrier breeds, weighing in at 40-65 pounds, and stands at 1 foot, 9 inches to 1 foot, 11 inches tall at the shoulders.

The largest Airedale Terriers known today are called ‘Oorangs’, and most likely to be found in North America, they can weigh up to a staggering 121 pounds.

Personality and Character

The spunky Airedale Terrier has much love and laughter to give, but the breed also requires a lot of attention and exercise.

This highly energetic breed needs exercise, exercise, and then a little bit more exercise. If you think you’re in top physical condition, the Airedale will prove you wrong.

They love anything that will keep them moving, running, swimming, fetching, jumping, playing, and more undesirable activities such as digging, chewing and chasing.

This ball of energy will not do well in an apartment, they absolutely require a fenced yard to run around and play in, but they are not a backyard dog, so if you think you can get away with leaving them in the yard all day, the Airedale will prove you and your beautiful flower garden wrong.

The lively Airedales love being around their family and a part of the pack. They make excellent family pet and will fiercely guard their humans. They are also known to be a comedian breed and will keep you entertained for hours with their goofy and playful antics. They are also big fans of collecting treasures such as socks, toys, underwear and anything else they can get their paws on and hide.

This friendly breed is very good with children, but due to their hunting instincts, might not get along so well with other animals such as cats or rabbits, and may spend their days chasing them. If not properly trained and socialized, they might even hurt the small animal.

They do well with training as long as the owner proves themselves as alpha and the training is kept interesting for the Airedale’s taste. They are quick to boredom and like most Terriers are prone to develop digging, barking, and chasing habits. The rowdy Airedales don’t do well with harsh training and tend to hold a grudge against the aggressor. A fun and consistent training routine is a must, as they respond best to positive reinforcement and tasty treats.

Although, sometimes even the best training is futile against the independent thinkers that are the Airedale Terriers, they tend to think for themselves and don’t always wait for instructions or directions from the owner.

As with most breeds, but even more important with the Airedale Terrier, early socialization is critical for a well-rounded dog, with the naturally aggressive Airedale Terrier it is key.

Health and Potential Problems

The Airedale Terriers are generally a healthy breed, although due to their coat, they are more prone to skin conditions than other breeds. As with other famous breeds, it is important to purchase or adopt from a reputable shelter or breeder that understands and respects the breed.

  • Hip Dysplasia- It is an inherited condition that causes the thigh bone not to fit properly into the hip joint, and causes discomfort and lameness.
  • Allergies- A common condition in dogs and is treated with nutritional adjustments, medications, and environmental changes.
  • Hypothroidism- Thyroid gland disorder that is responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, obesity, lethargy and many more, it is usually treated with nutritional adjustments and medications.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- An eye disorder that causes a gradual deterioration of the retina.
  • Umbilica Hernia- It is a condition in which the abdominal fat or internal organs protrude against the abdominal wall. It usually presents itself in birth and can be left untreated if it is small enough.
  • Many cases resolve themselves, however, it will require surgical intervention if the hernia is large, to avoid the intestine loop dropping into the hernia and causing the strangulation of the blood circulation in the intestine.
  • Von Willebrand Disease- A blood disorder that affects the clotting process of the body and can be found in humans as well. Symptoms may be nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and bloody stool. There is no known cure but can be managed with special treatment.
  • Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis- The cause for this disorder is unknown, this condition causes vomiting and diarrhea with fresh or digested blood. It requires an immediate medical treatment and is treated with antibiotics and anti-ulcer medication.
  • Cancer- This unfortunate disease can also affect dogs and comes in various types, some are treated with chemotherapy or surgery, some are treated with a combination of both.

With plenty of exercise, proper diet, mental challenge and regular vet checks, your loyal companion will remain by your side for years to come.

Care Features

The Airedale Terriers are bold and aggressive, having being bred for hunting and sport purposes. That’s why early socialization is highly important. The Airedales need to be introduced to children, people, and animals from a very early age; they must be included in various activities to grow to be well rounded dogs. Failure to do so may cause some behaviour issues such as aggression towards strangers and other dogs, chasing small animals and possibly hurting them.

The Airedales will do well with a calm, confident pack leader that can keep them on their toes and teach them many exciting things. They are highly intelligent and can be taught and do almost anything. They don’t respond well to harsh treatment or training and tend to hold a grudge so they will do best with a firm and innovative approach instead. They may challenge family members that in their eyes can be perceived as submissive.

The training must be kept fun and flexible as the Airedales bore easily due to their high stamina and independent thinking. Also it is strongly recommended that your dog should be create trained, as if left unsupervised he/she might wreck and chew anything in sight.

The Airedale Terrier will do best in a home with a large fenced yard, where they can participate in family activities and are considered as members of the pack. They perform extremely well in obedience classes, hunting and sporting events.

They are very protective of the children in the family and are very polite with strangers, although unwelcomed intruders will regret coming into the Airedale Terrier’s home.

This highly fun loving breed will do well with an active owner as some of their favourite past time activities include running, chasing, swimming, fetching and playing.

Feeding Schedule

Each dog’s nutritional needs are different based on size, age and activity levels. The Airedale Terriers will greatly benefit from one or two cups and a half of high-quality, no grain or filler, meat protein, rich in nutrients dog food.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Airedale Terriers usually have a dense and wiry outer coat, and a soft and short undercoat. The common colours are usually tan, black or grizzled.

The unusual and interesting looking coat was designed with the ultimate hunter in mind. It was designed to protect the dog from the predator in sticky situations. However, the dense coat leaves the Airedale Terrier more prone to skin conditions. They will benefit greatly from regular trips to a pet groomer, about 2-3 times a year for hand stripping. The groomer will usually insert a small knife to pull out loose hair from the dog’s coat.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

This loyal breed is very protective of their children, and is known to be a great babysitter. Their playfulness makes them a great companion to children. Still, they should be introduced to kids from a very early age and play time should always be supervised by an adult.

Children should be taught patience and respect when it comes to handling an Airedale Terrier and any ear or tail pulling should be discouraged immediately. Their rambunctious playfulness may prove a little too much for the younger kids, but as long as they are properly socialized and trained, the Airedales prove themselves as a great friend and protector for the younger members of the family, together they could find many adventures as well as get into mischief.

The Airedales generally won’t do as well with other two or four legged critters in the family unless properly socialized and raised together. Their strong prey drive may cause them to chase cats, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters and practically anything else that starts running. They also don’t find strange dogs a very favourable company and might have some dominance and aggression issues toward them.

They have some herding instincts, but unless properly trained and taught to direct their energy into positive endeavours, they will irritate and annoy the livestock or cattle.

If you are in search of a biddable cute couch potato, you will find the Airedales frustrating. Many people fall for their charm and goofy ways without realizing how much work the Airedale requires. However, as big of a commitment as they are, the reward of having them as companions and part of your family is that much bigger.

The Airedales require vigorous exercise routine and mental challenge. They are a very unique and complex breed that will keep you on your toes, and will make you laugh for hours. The Airedales are stubborn and think for themselves, and sometimes think they know better than the owner.

This versatile breed works hard and will protect their family until their last breath; they are brave and courageous, but also goofy and silly. Few breeds can compete with their strong drive and intelligence. They will be the most loyal companion and your best friend in time of need.

As many owners of the Airedale breed claim, once you’ve fallen in love with this interesting breed, the only thing better than one Airedale is two.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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