- Activity Level: high
- Grooming Level: moderate
- Trainability: low
- Adaptability: moderate
- Kid/Pet Friendly: often
- Average Size: Medium
- Average Lifespan: 10-14 years
- Prey Drive: high
- Watchdog: aware
- Registered?: aca, akc
Airedale Terrier Breed Profile
The Airedale Terrier is known as the “King of the Terriers” for a reason because that’s one big terrier! This breed is intelligent and playful. They are an exceptional sporting dog, but also can serve as a capable working breed. This terrier originates from The Valley of Aire in Yorkshire, England. Black-and-tan terriers from the 1800s were originally crossed with Otterhounds for a hunting dog adept at chasing down and catching otters.
Although it was originally called the Waterside or Bingley Terrier, it became known as the Airedale Terrier in 1878. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized it in 1888 as part of the Terrier Group. The British army used Airedale Terriers as messenger and military dogs during World War I. It was also one of the earliest dog breeds to be used as a police dog in Germany and in Great Britain. The Airedale was also one of the first dog breeds to be used as search and rescue dogs.
Airedale Terriers are friendly, intelligent, and courageous dogs. This dog breed is versatile. They are hunters, athletes, working dogs, and companions. They are happiest when they have a job to do, even if that job is playing with and entertaining children. These are the largest of the terriers, so they can be determined, bold, and have an independent streak.
They do tend to get along well with children, showing a docile nature and patient temperament. However, they are courageous guardians with an instinct to protect their home and family. They have a strong prey drive and can be aggressive towards other dogs and animals. Early socialization and training is important with any dog breed and is especially important with Airedales as they are large, protective, and sometimes stubborn.
While the Airedale Terrier is not especially sensitive to disturbances in its environment, there are some things to be aware of. They will do well in moderate and cooler climates, although they may need a coat when the temperatures drop too low. They love to romp around on a warm day, but do not do well in excessive heat.
If you have a busy lifestyle or live in a small space, this may not be the dog breed for you. This is an intelligent dog breed with a high energy level that gets bored easily and does not like long stretches of alone time. If left without enough exercise or mental stimulation, they will entertain themselves, which can result in destructive or unwanted behavior.
Airedale Terriers are generally not a good fit for apartment living. As a terrier, this dog loves to dig, chase, and also is prone to barking. If trained early, the barking can be limited to certain situations. However, the Airedale is still full of energy and is best-suited for a family with an active lifestyle and a home where they have room to run in a securely fenced-in yard.
The Airedale Terrier is a generally healthy breed. However, some of the health concerns to be aware of with this breed are Gastric Torsion (Bloat), skin irritation, and hip dysplasia. Problems with the thyroid gland can also be present in this breed, leading to potential weight gain and worsened skin conditions. Knowledge of the parent’s genetics is helpful in minimizing the risks of these illnesses and allaying any health concerns you may have.
Airedale Terriers are very intelligent; they are strong and can be rambunctious. They are also the largest of the terriers, which means they have an independent mind and may be a bit stubborn at times. This dog breed is generally a better fit for experienced dog owners and is usually not recommended for novice owners.
Less experienced dog owners can have success training an Airedale, but they will need to be prepared for extensive obedience classes. Due to their intelligence and high energy, Airedale Terriers are easily bored, especially with repetition. When it comes to training, varying the training sessions will be more successful with Airedales.
This dog will also hold a grudge, so it’s important to keep training interactions positive. They are unforgiving of any treatment which they consider harsh. Consistent and positive obedience training is a necessity with an Airedale Terrier.
The Airedale Terrier has a double-coat. The top coat is dense and wiry and is manageable. Although it has a wavy texture, it is not curly. The undercoat is short and soft. However, Airedale Terriers are low shedders, so grooming is relatively easy. A weekly brushing is usually sufficient to remove dead hair and keep the coat healthy. Professional grooming is recommended 3-4 times a year.
The common coat color is tan with black or grizzle across the back, often referred to as a “saddle”. Grizzle is black mixed with gray or white. Some Airedale Terriers are born without a saddle. Skin issues can be common in Airedales. Frequently checking this dog breed for irritation of the skin can help catch any skin issues early.
As with all dog breeds, you’ll want to get your puppy used to getting their teeth brushed and nails trimmed early on. Their nails will need to be trimmed monthly throughout their life. You’ll want to brush their teeth regularly. Daily tooth brushing is ideal for keeping tartar buildup at bay and avoiding periodontal disease. Also, be sure to check your dog’s ears regularly to ensure they are clean and dry to avoid a buildup of wax or ear infections.
Terriers are known for having high energy levels and the Airedale Terrier is no different. With persistent training and plenty of exercise, however, that energy can be channeled into safe and productive outlets. For a happy, balanced, and well-behaved Airedale, make sure they have plenty of room to run, dig, and unwind.
Several walks a day, or time to run around in a fenced-in backyard, plus a moderate play session should be sufficient to keep your Airedale happy. You can also help the “King of Terriers” expel some energy by taking them on a hike or on a trip to the dog park. This dog breed is also prone to chewing, so it’s important to have sturdy chew toys available and to start training early on what is and is not acceptable as a chew toy.
This medium-sized dog breed generally stands between 22 and 24 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 40 and 65 pounds. Females generally range between 22 and 23 inches in height and 40 to 45 pounds in weight. Males generally range between 23 and 24 inches in height and 50 to 65 pounds in weight.
An Airedale Terrier usually lives 10 to 14 years.
Airedale Terriers have been popular with Presidents and famous authors. The U.S. Presidents who have owned Airedale Terriers include Woodrow Wilson, Warren G Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. John Steinbeck, author of “Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men”, also owned an Airedale Terrier.
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