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
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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.
If it finds itself in an enclosed space or at home for long periods of time without exercise and fresh air the Airedale will notify you of its displeasure by destroying your furnishings, doors, window sills and carpets. Terriers are chewers and will not let up until you do something to address the problem.
Greedy / Gluttony
Airedales vary from dog to dog in their eating habits. Some are very particular eaters and can become sick easily by new foods or foods that are marginally out of date. However, others of the breed are capable of eating themselves into obesity.
The Airedale is a good guard dog, fiercely loyal to its ‘pack’ and confident. Because of its size its deep bark is an excellent deterrent. The Airedale is not afraid to back up its defensive stance with an aggressive move.
A great first dog and one that will entertain both adults and children; however, such a dog requires consistent training because it tends to want to assert its dominance over others of the household. Socialisation and obedience training will weaken this instinct but it is worthwhile to consider that it does not completely go away.
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Airedale Terrier in a flat
The Airedale needs plenty of exercise. It is a dog bred for the outdoors and enjoys most of the time being outside on an adventure. A garden dog, it can be if need be but it prefers long walks and interaction with the environment.
Need for exercise / Sporty
A sporty, versatile and energetic dog you will need to buy a good pair of walking boots or trainers if you intend to care for an Airedale Terrier.
Travelling / easy to transport
Once trained, an Airedale is exceptionally obedient. It is comfortable with new surroundings and enjoys new experiences. In fact, this is not a dog that will be happy to stay in one place for a long period of time.
Airedale Terrier and cats
To be raised with cats or to have become used to their presence is preferable for an Airedale. With a high prey drive, loyalty and firm dominant streak it is not advisable to introduce any other animal into the home of a settled Airedale.
Airedale Terrier and dogs
Many Airedales are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same gender.
Airedale Terrier and children
Airedale Terriers are good with children. They are robust enough to withstand some rough play, but they will soon reach the limit of tolerance. They do not seem overly bothered by loud noises and general excitement but can exhibit dominance.
Airedale Terrier and the elderly
Because it is a dog that requires lots of exercise, interaction and socialisation the Airedale may not be the perfect choice of dog for some people of senior years.
The price for an Airedale Terrier can vary according to his age, gender and origins. But you could count approximately £960 for a dog registered with the KC.
The average monthly budget ranges from £60 and £100 in order to fully meet the needs of the Airedale Terrier.
Airedale Terriers require clipping every few months.
The Airedale does not shed its fur excessively but it is not the ideal dog of people who are prone to allergies.
Nutrition of the Airedale Terrier
The Airedale requires protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fat. Premium dog foods containing a large quantity of lean protein (such as chicken) are ideal for this medium-sized dog.
Health of the Airedale Terrier
10 to 13 years.
Strong / robust
The Airedale Terrier is a resilient dog that has been successfully bred as a pedigree for around 100 years. As such it has a strong constitution and is not prone to sickness or weakness.
The Airedale will not tolerate hot weather. Its double coat will make it particularly unhappy during the summer months.
The double coat of the Airedale keeps the dog warm even in the snow.
Tendency to put on weight
Weight gain is seen of some Airedales; these dogs have a huge appetite and will eat to obesity. However, others are very particular about their diet and get sick quite easily on new food or by eating too fast.