Other names: King of Terrier, Bingley Terrier, Waterside Terrier
The Airedale Terrier is the biggest breed of terrier. It was first bred in Northern England in what is now the Aire Valley in Yorkshire. A versatile hunting and working dog the Airedale is these days also considered a playful companion and excellent family pet. It is a confident dog however, and occasionally exhibits stubbornness and independence.
Key facts about the Airedale Terrier
Life expectancy :
Temperament :Playful Hunter
Origins and history
The Airedale came about in the 1800s. It was a dog bred by the working class for the working class of the industrial Aire River valley in Yorkshire. The Otterhound, Irish Bull Terrier and the now-extinct Old English Rough-coated Terrier are thought to have played a part in the creation of the Airedale.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 3 - Terriers
Section 1 : Large and medium sized Terriers
Physical characteristics of the Airedale Terrier
Female : Between 22 and 23 in
Male : Between 23 and 24 in
Female : Between 37 and 49 lb
Male : Between 40 and 53 lb
Airedales are instantly recognisable by their coat. The majority of the dog is tan and the back and upper sides black or a mixture of black, grey and white. There is occasionally some speckling of red across the chest.
Type of coat
The hair is short.
The coat of the Airedale Terrier has two layers: a topcoat (dense and wiry) and an undercoat (short and soft).
Small, dark-brown eyes.
The skull of the Airedale should ideally be about the same length as the muzzle; it tends to be long and flat with a squared-off appearance that gives the dog a solid look. The top of the head leads gradually down to a flat topline across the back. The V-shaped ears fold forwards to the side of the head. The dog’s chest is deep and its front legs are perfectly straight. Its tail is set high.
Good to know
The Airedale is a loyal dog but its loyalty spills over into defensive at times, especially with new arrivals to the family. Care should be taken when introducing other animals into the domain of the Airedale.
An affectionate and loyal dog, the Airedale is a playful companion. If socialised appropriately this breed makes a superb family dog. However, terriers are known for their tenacity and stubbornness and Airedales are renowned for their independence; this sometimes causes them to be aloof and unaffectionate.
A playful dog, but one that must be taught to ‘play nicely’; highly competitive, the Airedale seeks to win and does not lose graciously. Be wary of young children playing too roughly with this dog: their tolerance is short-lived.
A calm dog not easily excited. In fact, very little fazes such a breed that was designed to work with and dominate big livestock. The Airedale will not appreciate drama however, and rather than be timid amid excitement prefers to control a situation with force.
The Airedale can be trained to a high degree but this needs to be done sensitively and with variety. Airedales tend to get bored easily and seek to try to control the pace of the training. Be consistent and confident with an Airedale and the rewards will be apparent.
Like other terriers, the Airedale was born to enjoy a hunt and to never give up. Airedales have a high prey drive, which means that when tempted they are single-minded in the pursuit of their quarry. They are also lively and rowdy with lots of stamina.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Airedales will be loyal to their family and because of this can be wary of strangers. Good socialisation puts pay to this but if the trait is not addressed in the dog’s early years (with puppy classes, etc.) then problems will arise with unknown visitors to the family later in life.
A thoroughly independent dog, the Airedale was bred to work and to hunt by itself. Because of this it is a reliable and trainable dog but it has a tendency to do its own thing if not properly managed. The Airedale will seek to dominate where it can.
Behaviour of the Airedale Terrier
An Airedale will cope with solitude but only up to a point. Like any dog, they should not be left alone for long periods of time. If an Airedale is left alone it will become destructive. Terriers are on the whole excellent diggers and chewers but your furniture and carpets are in the firing line of a bored Airedale Terrier.
Easy to train / obedience
The Airedale is an exceptionally intelligent dog but requires proper training to fulfil its potential. Inconsistent and irregular training will bore this dog and you will be unable to hold its attention. Once trained the Airedale is obedient, but watch out for the signs of independence (previously touched on).
The Airedale is not a vocal dog but it is quick to let you know of approaching danger either when it is in the house or out walking.
Tendency to run away
Most terriers can slip into their old ways at a moment’s notice, especially if they catch the scent of something. Good training puts pay to this instinct to a degree, but not wholly.