The Airedale Terrier, also known as the Waterside Terrier, the Yorkshire, the Bingley Terrier, the Warfedale Terrier, the Broken-haired Terrier and the Working Terrier, is a hardy, water-loving dog that is the largest of all terriers. Its name comes from a small otter-river, the Aire, in northern England. The Airedale is known for its extreme intelligence, dense wiry double coat, high energy level and tenacity.
This breed is peaceful unless provoked; they are said not to pick a fight, but always to finish one. Airedales will fight furiously to protect home and family and typically are better with people than with other dogs. If not properly socialized and trained from a young age, Airedales may exercise their intense prey drive on smaller dogs and cats. Without regular exercise, they can become destructive. Male Airedale Terriers should be 23 to 24 inches in height and weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. Female Airedales should be 22 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and between 40 and 45 pounds in weight. Fairly intensive grooming is a lifelong requirement to keep an Airedale’s coat and skin in good condition.
They do not shed as much as many other dogs, but they do shed their entire coats twice a year. Acceptable coat colors are tan and black, and tan and grizzle. The Airedale was accepted into the American Kennel Club’s Terrier Group in 1888.
Airedale Terrier Quick Facts
Airedale Terrier - Appearance & Grooming
Airedales are large terriers with deep chests and long, flat heads. They have dark, thoughtful eyes and alert, pointed and folded ears. Their faces are long and strong. These terriers have a distinctive coat in both texture and pattern, which is coarse to the touch. They are two-toned dogs, most commonly in black and tan. Their legs, bellies, shoulders and heads are tan, contrasted by a black or red saddle. Airedales that will be shown should have docked tails, but family dogs can have full size tails which are long and fluffy.
Size and Weight
Airedales are one of the larger terriers. On average they range in height from 21 to 23 inches at shoulder and their weights ranges from 40 to 65 pounds. Male Airedale Terriers should be slightly larger than females, and should be 23 to 24 inches in height and weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. Female Airedales should be 22 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 40 and 45 pounds.
Coat and Color
Airedale Terriers have a a distinctive coat in color and texture. Most Airedales are tan around the head, ears, legs, and belly; and have a black “saddle” across their back. Sometimes the saddle is red or grizzled, meaning there are specks of gray. A white patch on the dog's chest in the shape of a star is an attractive and common occurrence.
Airedales have a wiry, dense topcoat and a soft, short undercoat which together creates the distinctive texture of the breed. A soft topcoat is not an acceptable feature.
If left untrimmed, the Airedale's coat can become quite unruly. Owners of family Airedales have their dogs trimmed or stripped several times a year in order to keep the coat short and manageable. Show Airedales require regular stripping to keep the coat up to snuff. Weekly brushing is required to keep the coat neat between baths and trims. Airedales do not require frequent bathing, in fact over-bathing this breed can cause the coat to break down and become soft, which is not the proper texture.
Airedale Terrier's nails should be trimmed monthly, and though they are not prone to ear infections, the ears should be cleaned monthly as well.
Airedale Terrier - History and Health
Airedale Terriers are a relatively young breed, created in the 19th century by the working class rather than by aristocrats in the industrial Aire River Valley region of northern England. Their exact origin is not well-documented, but the Otterhound (for its sensitive nose), the Irish and Bull Terriers (for their tenacity) and the now-extinct Old English Rough Coated Black-and-Tan or Rat-Catcher Terrier (for its rough coat) are considered to be prominent in their development. Other contributors include assorted setters and retrievers, sheepdogs such as the Yorkshire Collie, and Bedlington Terriers. What we know today as the Airedale Terrier first emerged around 1840 and was bred to hunt otter, duck, weasel, badger, fox, water rat and other small game.
The breed’s intelligence, agility and strength, combined with almost boundless energy, made them equally valued as guard dogs and personal companions. These unique terriers have been used as rat-killers, duck-catchers, deer-trackers, working dogs, war dogs, hunting dogs, guard and police dogs, gun dogs, army-messenger dogs and all-around sporting dogs. They were used in both World Wars to locate the wounded and to carry messages and medical supplies. They have also been used to hunt large game.
The Airedale was first shown competitively in 1876 at Shipley, in the Aire River Valley, and became officially recognized in England shortly thereafter. The breed came to North America in the early 1880s, where it rapidly became known as a three-in-one gun dog – perfectly suited to hunt game birds on land, waterfowl on water and four-footed mammals wherever they might appear. Airedales grew steadily in popularity in the United States during the first part of the 20th century, especially among western farmers and ranchers. According to a publication of the American Kennel Club: “They became first-choice farm and ranch dogs because of their versatility and grit. Their do-it-all skills included guarding the farm or ranch against two- and four-legged predators; babysitting toddlers; herding sheep and cattle; and being a gundog when there was time for upland bird, waterfowl, or fur hunts.”
The American Kennel Club recognized the Airedale as a member of its Terrier Group in 1888. The Airedale Terrier Club of America was formed in 1900 and is still the breed’s parent club in this country. As a testament to its versatility, in addition to their supreme hunting talents, Airedales have been awarded Best in Show at the most prestigious dog shows in both England and the United States. Today, they are still used by countless devotees to hunt all manner of game. They also perform police and search-and-rescue work, as well as for therapy and assistance dog work, herding, sledding, carting and backpacking. Airedales excel in obedience, agility, flyball and other performance disciplines, and they are extraordinarily devoted and affectionate family companions.
The Airedale Terrier has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years. Generally speaking, this is a healthy, hardy breed. Breed health concerns may include:
- Cancer (Various forms): Defined as any malignant, cellular tumor
- Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
- Hypothyroidism: a clinical syndrome caused by inadequate production and release of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4)
- Skin Problems: Conditions that affect the dog's fur and skin. Causes are often related to allergies, bacteria, fungus or parasites.
- Urologic Disorders
Airedale Terrier - Temperament & Personality
Airedale Terriers are hard-working, hard-playing dogs with boundless energy. The are vigilant and protective, making them excellent watchdogs, though they are friendly to family and friends. A true family dog, the Airedale loves attention from all people, will enjoy running and playing with children by day, and curling up for a belly rub with parents by night.
Airedale Terriers are a high-energy, thinking breed. They need as much mental activity as they need physical activity, and apartments are not the right living situation for them. Families with large, fenced yards are ideal, as the Airedale needs plenty of room to run during the day. They enjoy chasing and hunting, so fetching and hide-and-seek games are among an Airedale's favorite activities.
Airedales do well with children, though they can exert dominance over small children. If an Airedale is raised alongside small children, however, they can be socialized to know that children are not to be dominated.
The Airedale is a thinking breed – in addition to keeping his physical activity high, he will require mental stimulation as well. Basic obedience should be conducted with confidence and positive reinforcement. This breed likes to be the Alpha Dog, so it is important to establish who is in charge from an early age, and always be consistent, because Airedales will take a mile if given an inch. They excel in advanced obedience, tricks and agility training, thanks to their high intelligence.
Training should be conducted with treats, and a drill-style of repeat tasks works best to keep an Airedale Terrier's attention.
The Airedale is a terrier, so barking is a common complaint of owners. Airedales will bark at strangers, other animals, neighbors, cars, anything that moves. Early training to obey a stop barking command is imperative.
Like barking, chasing is a common behavior of terrier breeds, and the Airedale is no exception. They should be kept in a fenced-in yard or on a leash whenever outdoors. Once and Airedale takes off on a chase, it will be nearly impossible to stop him.
Digging can also be a problem with this breed. If outside, they should be supervised as they can tear up a flowerbed in record time.
Cats, rabbits or other small pets should not be brought in to a home with an Airedale. They were originally bred to hunt, and this instinct is still very strong.