Background and History
Background and History
It would have been rude not to start with the dog known as the king of terriers. The Airedale Terrier is the largest of the terrier breeds. They take their name from Aire Valley in Yorkshire, England.
They fall into the long-legged variety of terrier and are the result of crossbreeding the Otterhound with terriers during the nineteenth century. This resulted in a rounded dog able to hunt on land and flush out prey in water. It consequently became known as the Waterside Terrier but the name Airedale Terrier started to become more common in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.
This breed is placed at the intelligent end of this smart group of breeds and were judged by Stanly Coren as the 29th most intelligent breed of dog .
They remain a popular breed of dog. They are currently ranked as the 69th most popular breed according to the AKC’s 2020 registration data.
Character and Temperament
The Airedale Terrier is a tenacious, sturdy and athletic dog. They enjoy chasing around at every opportunity. They are very good swimmers and love being in water. Though this comes as little surprise considering their Otterhound heritage.
What makes Airedale Terriers so impressive is their versatility. They were highly prized on farms as all-rounders during hunting (here they rub shoulders with the HRP dogs in the Sporting Group). They can fulfil all the functions of other dog specialists. The Airedale Terrier is an adequate pointer. This means they can spot or find prey. Also, like spaniels can flush this prey out. Finally, in place of retrievers, they are able to carry quite large game back to their owners.
This intelligent adaptability made them tremendous assets in war. The breed has deservedly been commemorated for their outstanding contribution in WW1 . They were adept at finding injured soldiers on the battlefield. The medical packs on their backs saved many lives. They were also frequently running messages through the trenches. They proved excellent sentries and were alert to any furtive approaches of the enemy. The time-honored function of the Terrier also proved useful. These dogs were invaluable in ridding the trenches and living quarters of rats!
In terms of sentry duty in the modern home these dogs are good watchdogs. They will bark an alarm and are protective towards members of the family.
For the different stages in a puppy and adult dog’s development please click here.
The Airedale Terrier is an intelligent dog who is able to be trained to a high standard. A well-trained Airedale proves to be very versatile and able to respond to a range of commands. But the intelligence alongside the natural tenacity of a Terrier sometimes leads to Airedales having something of a mind of its own. This occasionally leads to stubbornness but this can be overcome with consistent, positive but firm training.
As any Terrier this breed can be distracted by scents out on a walk so recall should be prioritized. Some Airedales can also be unfriendly towards other dogs without early socialization training.
This breed can make suitable first-time dogs but only if the owner is prepared to put in the time to attend training classes to ensure the Airedale receives firm and consistent training. A well-trained Airedale is simply a joy to have as a canine companion both outside and indoors.
The Airedale is an active dog who requires around one to two hours a day of walking.
They love interactive play, particularly anything that involves following a scent trail, or, hunting for items in a safe enclosed outdoor area. Be aware that these Terriers or ‘earth-workers’ also love to dig whenever they get the chance.
The energy and playfulness of these dogs is best-suited to an outdoors space which means they are not ideal for apartment-living.
These dogs are the tallest of the Terriers. The male dog stands at around 22-24 inches (56-61cm) with the females only moderately smaller. They can weigh between 40-65 pounds (18-30kg).
They have bearded muzzles with distinctively v-shaped drop ears. These dogs are elegantly proportioned with a flat back and a slightly curving tail carried high when alert.
Coat and Grooming
Another advantage of this breed is that they are easy to groom. They have a dense, wiry coat, designed to protect them during their hunting duties over land and water which does not shed very much. Even if their digging makes a mess of your garden or yard, at least they will not drop too much hair around the house.
The colors are black/grizzle and tan.
Lifespan and Health
These dogs have a lifespan of between 10 to 13 years. They are generally spry and healthy dogs but can suffer from hip dysplasia as well as gastric torsion.