The Airedale Terrier is one of the largest terrier breeds, well-known because of their fame as fearless and hard-working dogs. At first glance they can look like giant, black and tan Fox Terrier, but in fact the differences between the two breeds go beyond size and coat color.
If you are considering adopting an Airedale Terrier, you must learn more about their temperament and requirements: this is a very active and peculiar breed that needs specific care. In this AnimalWised file you'll learn all you need to know about them. Read on!
- United Kingdom
- Group III
- More than 31
Origin of the Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier breed was developed more than a century ago in Airedale, in Yorkshire, England, where it was originally named Waterside Terrier. These dogs were bred to eliminate vermin and accompany hunters, chasing out prey from underground lairs. When their hunting abilities were noticed, breeders decided to hone their swimming skills by crossbreeding them with Otterhounds and other terrier varieties.
Over time, these dogs got their current name. Airedale Terriers played many different functions: hunting, seeing eye, police work, search and rescue, etc. Nowadays they are mostly kept as companions, but their drive to work is still noticeable. In general, Airedale Terriers are considered to be noble, versatile and elegant dogs.
Physical traits of the Airedale Terrier
Airedale Terriers have a compact, muscular and square build, although they can be longer than they are tall. Their chest is deep and narrow, and their neck is strong and of moderate width. Their tail is set high on their backs, and it is carried erect but not curled. While it was common to dock the tail of Airedale Terriers, nowadays that cruel practice is banned in many countries and less and less common in breed standards.
Their head is long, with a flat skull and without a noticeable stop: their jaws are powerful, but not so muscular that they give their cheeks a round shape. They have strong teeth, with a notable scissor bite. The Airedale Terrier's ears are small, but not disproportionately so, and V-shaped. They are folded over, appearing slightly above the skull.
This terrier breed has a double coat, with an outer rough and wiry layer and an inner soft and short layer. Their hair must be thick, and while it can be wavy it cannot be curled. The Airedale Terrier's coat must be black and tan, in which black may be mixed with gray and/or white hairs. The back must be dark, while the rest of the body must be some shade of red. White hairs on the chest are acceptable. Airedale Terriers are considered a hypoallergenic breed.
The standard height for males ranges between 58 and 61 cm (23 to 24 in) at the withers, while for females it ranges from 56 to 59 cm (22 to 23 in). Their average weight is of 23 to 29 kg (50 to 63 lb) for males and 18 to 20 kg (39 to 44 lb) for females.
Temperament of the Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier is a cheerful, confident, brave and intelligent dog. They are usually friendly with people and other dogs, but they need a proper socialization process from a young age. They are impulsive and have a strong prey drive, so it will be necessary to train them as puppies through positive reinforcement, as we will explain below.
Because of their sharpness and resilience, the Airedale Terrier is the perfect candidate to join dog sports. They perform well at all types of sports, from Schutzhund to Canine Freestyle and Agility. Their temperament makes them great assistants for hunters, as they are not afraid of other animals. This courage also makes them excellent guard and protection dogs.
Although this is a very versatile breed, they require much physical and mental exercise. Moreover, Airedale Terriers can be a bit too rough when playing with small children or other dogs.
Caring for an Airedale Terrier
Airedale Terriers need quite a lot of exercise, so they are not recommended for apartments. You can consider adopting one if you have a garden or courtyard where they can play freely. Moreover, you will have to offer them long daily walks to allow them to socialize and channel their energy. Playing is an excellent way to train Airedale Terriers. Even if you have a garden and offer daily walks and playtime, your Airedale Terrier may need even more activity, especially during the first three years. They will enjoy trips to the countryside or playing a dynamic dog sport like Agility.
Caring for an Airedale Terrier requires time, especially to groom them. Their coat needs frequent brushing, and also regular specialized care. You will have to brush your dog frequently - especially around the beard, as food may get stuck - and take them to the dog groomer at least twice a year. If you have a show Airedale, it's best to leave the hair care to an expert, to whom you will have to go even more often.
Training an Airedale Terrier
As we pointed out before, you must start training your Airedale Terrier early, when they are still a puppy. This will allow you to follow a proper socialization process, during which your dog will learn to get along with people and other animals as well as become familiar with their environment. Offering diverse positive experiences will prevent later behavioral problems. Physical exercise is especially important, as if they don't channel their energy Airedale Terriers can become over-excitable and destructive. Intelligence games are always a good choice.
Obedience can get complicated with this headstrong and independent breed, but through positive reinforcement your Airedale Terrier will be perfectly able to learn basic dog commands and the house rules. Teaching your dog advanced tricks, skills and different sports will be greatly helpful.
Common health problems of Airedale Terriers
This is a sturdy and generally healthy breed. However, if you adopt an Airedale Terrier you'll have to watch out for eye conditions, skin infections and hip dysplasia. It's best to prevent these health issues before they develop, so we recommend taking the following measures:
- Although Airedale Terriers are active dogs, do not force them to over-exercise since that can cause premature hip or elbow dysplasia.
- High-quality feed based on rice and fish will help your Airedale prevent skin conditions. Omega-3 and omega-6 supplements will add shine to their coat.
- Pay attention to their facial hygiene, removing rheum, food crumbs and accumulated dirt or debris. When you go to the dog groomer, ask them to pay special attention to the face.
- Go to the vet twice a year and follow the vaccination and deworming schedules. Regular check-ups will help you monitor developing diseases before they get worse.