The Airedale Terrier Dog Breed in Brief:
- Origin: England
- Height: Average height of 23 inches at the shoulder
- Weight: 45-100 lbs depending on strain
- Exercise Needs: High
- Grooming Needs: Moderate
- Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
- Good With Kids: Yes
- Trainability: Easy
- Common Misspellings: Airdale, Aerdale, Airdail, Aerdail
The History of the Airedale Terrier
Like so many other breeds, the origins of the Airedale Terrier are enshrouded in mystery and obscured by the hands of time. Due to the fact that ancient art pieces depict dogs of similar type, and the similarity between the Airedale and Old English Terrier, or Broken-haired Terrier, it is generally considered that this marvelous dog first appeared in the European countries, particularly England.
Even amongst those who might argue differently, it is a known fact that this unique breed was most certainly refined and strengthened in that part of the world.
It is believed that the now-extinct black and tan Old English Terrier was the foundation for the Fox, Irish, Welsh and the Airedale Terrier. Ranging in size from 17-30 pounds, these variants of terrier were used for hunting a wide variety of game, ranging from weasel to fox and even otter. Courageous and quick, they made excellent hunting dogs, as well as loyal companions.
It was the desire to improve the scenting ability of the breed that led to the introduction of the keen-nosed Otter Hound to the Airedale’s bloodlines. Additionally, the crossing of this rough-coated breed is believed to have had some bearing on the Airedale’s distinctive wiry brown and tan coat, while his patience and loyalty is suspected to come from an infusion of hound blood somewhere in his distant past.
The resulting line would come to be known as the Bingley, Working or Waterside Terrier and, in time, would develop into today’s Airedale Terrier.
Airedale Terrier Appearance
The Airedale is best summed up by a single word – balance. Known for their beautiful form, they are tall without seeming gangly, deep-chested without seeming too broad, and possess a well-muscled and athletic body, strong in muscling and in bone.
With males standing an average of 23 inches at the shoulder and bitches slightly smaller, they are a substantial dog and a very capable working breed.
Airedale Terriers come in only one color – the traditional black and tan of their ancestors. However, there are slight variations and no one dare ever say that these magnificent dogs all look alike – some Airedales possess a mingling of red hairs with their black, while others can even sport proud markings of white on their chest. Despite similar markings, no two dogs are ever alike!
Airedale Terrier Temperament
The Airedale Terrier breed has a very unique temperament and, in fact, the dog’s personality plays an important part in making the ideal Airedale. While gamey and courageous enough to qualify as a terrier breed, the Airedale is recognized for his patience and unconditional loyalty – in fact, the Airedale is one of the most popular dogs to have stayed in the White House. Even John Wayne owned one of these magnificent dogs!
It was the combination of the Airedale’s unflinching desire to defend his master, combined with a wary aloofness from strangers that made him a highly desirable police dog in Europe and the United States.
Additionally, his determination and uncanny ability to ignore injuries made him popular during times of war, where he helped with guarding and patrol, as well as delivering messages. From nose to tail, the Airedale is a very noble and brave breed, capable of great courage and yet gentle enough to be a loving companion and family pet.
Airedale Terrier Exercise Needs
The Airedale is a very enthusiastic and energetic dog that delights in his place as a working breed. Not as prone to obesity as other breeds, they are naturally busy and tend to find ways of exercising, even when they can’t get out for a good brisk walk.
Unfortunately, when kept pent up for too long, this alternate form of exercise can sometimes manifest in destructive behavior, so it’s best to ensure your Airedale puppy doesn’t get bored.
For most Airedales, a couple of walks a day will do wonders, provided they are offered at a pace that will let him jog a bit and work out the kinks. Dog parks or fenced yards are excellent opportunities for the Airedale Terrier to get out and stretch his legs as well, and this breed often does very well in obstacle courses and agility matches.
Airedale Terrier Grooming Requirements
While not as prone to matting as the finer-coated breeds, there is still some work involved in keeping your Airedale looking his best. For many, the easiest route to take is the occasional trip to the groomer’s, with weekly comb-throughs in-between.
This will help to keep your Airedale free from mats, as well as helping you to take note of anything unusual about your pet. If nothing else, your weekly grooming session provides you with the perfect opportunity to have some quality time with your four-footed friend and he’s sure to enjoy the attention.
In addition to the obvious brushing and combing of your Airedale Terrier, you should also pay special attention to his ears. Being a fold-ear dog, the Airedale is prone to ear infections and can get sick if his ears are not cleaned regularly. To do so, take a cotton swab and gently clean around the outer edges of your dog’s ear.
Never, however, stick the swab down into the ear canal – doing so can cause great pain to your dog or even cause him to lose his hearing!
Training Your Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier is a very intelligent and enthusiastic pupil who delights in learning new tricks and receiving praise for whatever he retains. They particularly excel in agility matches, where their natural athletic ability combines with their keen intelligence to make for a strong competitor. Additionally, they are also skilled hunting dogs who do well in field trials or obedience courses.
When training your Airedale, one of the most important things to do is to keep it upbeat, fun and positive. The Airedale Terrier loves praise and responds well to treats and shows of love and kindness. A strong hand or stern voice can often be met with stubbornness, typical of other intelligent breeds.
Airedale Terrier Health Concerns
The Airedale Terrier is an uncommonly healthy breed of dog, known for their rugged constitutions and their ability to ignore great pain in order to fulfill their duty to their masters. Consequently, the most common ailments that seem to trouble the Airedale are hip dysplasia or “itchy skin,” meaning they often have sensitivities to food or shampoos.
Additionally, itchy skin can be a result of excitement or psychological problems. If your dog should chew at himself or scratch excessively, it ‘s generally a good idea to have any abnormal behavior checked by your local veterinarian.
Is the Airedale Terrier the Right Breed For You?
The Airedale Terrier is a very wonderful and loyal breed of dog, dedicated to his owners and adaptable to his surroundings. A popular pet, they are known for their giving natures, their determination and their love of pleasing their masters. Few who have had the honor of knowing an Airedale have anything to say about them, aside from their being an incredible breed.
However, knowing an Airedale is smart and loyal isn’t always enough – it’s important to also note that the Airedale is a very energetic dog as well as being very family-oriented. If left alone for too long or ignored, he may turn to destructive behavior in an attempts to gain attention.
While a good pet, they are not for someone who has a busy or hectic life, nor are they the ideal companion for the couch potato.