The Airedale Terrier is a strong but loving breed.
These athletic yet elegant dogs are very energetic and have a lot of personality to match.
They’re excellent watchdogs and are highly independent.
They also have a fun and playful side, enjoying the company of their family and creating a lot of mischief for everyone.
But do they make good family pets?
History of the Airedale Terrier
Of all the Terriers, the Airedale is the largest and is known as the King of Terriers.
Airedale, located in the West Riding of Yorkshire, is where the breed originated.
It was created in the mid-19th century by crossing the English Terrier with the Otterhound.
The Kennel Club of England recognized the Airedale Terrier as a breed in 1886, and the American Kennel Club recognized it in 1888.
They were used around this time in sporting competitions involving hunting otters and other small animals and were very good at it.
Aside from that, they made excellent watchdogs for the average person back in the day.
The breed was also used during World War I to find wounded soldiers and deliver messages to the backlines.
There’s a tale of an Airedale named Jack who delivered a message through enemy fire!
Size, Height, and Weight of the Airedale Terrier
The Airedale is a large terrier breed, weighing between 50 and 70 pounds on average.
They’re often 23 inches tall, although the females are sometimes a bit smaller.
While this is the average, larger Airedales up to 121 pounds can be found.
They’re a big dog, so they aren’t recommended for apartment living in most situations.
With a medium-length black and tan coat, Airedale Terriers are quite unique looking.
According to the AKC, Airedales are mostly tan, with black or grizzle on the back and upper sides.
They have two coats. The topcoat is rough, being dense and wiry, while the undercoat is softer.
When kept short, the coat will be straight.
They appear strong and square and are very muscular.
The Airedale has a long skull that’s flat but not overly broad.
This feature gives him a distinct look that separates him from other breeds of Terriers.
Because he’s a hunter, his back legs are quite strong and muscular.
Airedale Terrier Temperament and Behaviors
Having been used as a hunter and working dog back in the day, they continue to be very athletic.
And like other Terriers, the Airedale can act as a herding dog.
They are very independent dogs, and they often think and act for themselves.
They love to dig, chase, and are known to be quite vocal. It’s recommended to give them the opportunity to exercise a lot.
This breed is also quite stubborn. However, when they’re trained well, they can get along well with other dogs, small children, and even cats.
However, they aren’t the type to let themselves be poked at, which is why small children need to know how to interact with them.
The last thing you need to know is that the Airedale Terrier may chew anything that they can get their hands on. Give them lots of toys to chew.
General Care and Airedale Terrier Grooming Tips
This breed is hypoallergenic, meaning they typically won’t cause an allergic reaction.
They aren’t known to shed a lot, but you may see some very minimal shedding at certain times of the year.
To keep their coats clean and fresh, frequent brushing is required.
The undercoats are often hand stripped, seeing as Airedale Terrier shedding is very minimal.
Stripping them removes dead hair and is required a couple of times a year, as it improves the quality of their coat.
It’s recommended you use a professional to do this, as it can be hard to perform yourself for the first time.
If you frequently brush your Airedale Terrier, you won’t need to give them many baths.
Brushing in combination with a wet towel wipe-down is enough to remove dirt and oils.
With that said, when you are washing your Terrier, it’s important to do so in the direction their fur grows.
Health Issues Inherent to the Breed
Canine hip dysplasia is a condition commonly found in large dogs, and unfortunately, the Airedale Terrier is known to be affected by it.
In these cases, the hip joint rubs and grinds on the socket rather than smoothly gliding over it.
Some common symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include decreased range of motion, decreased activity, stiffness, and loss of thigh muscle mass.
While it can be inherited, there are other factors that come into play.
Environmental factors, like a dog’s diet and exercise habits, can increase their risk of developing hip dysplasia.
In fact, one study found that free-feeding led to more instances of hip dysplasia diagnoses.
Like other Terrier breeds, the Airedale is prone to skin conditions, namely atopic dermatitis.
However, due to their wiry coats, this can go unnoticed unless it’s very severe.
Dermatitis can make an appearance in the form of acral lick dermatitis, which is when the skin becomes inflamed due to excessive licking.
Hand stripping the coat could also contribute to some forms of dermatitis, albeit rare.
Because the Airedale Terrier is a tough breed, noticing injuries can be difficult.
It’s important to know your dog’s behaviors, and when something seems off, do a full inspection just to be safe.
Exercise and Training Requirements
Airedale Terriers, because of their athletic hunting nature, require a lot of exercise.
They aren’t the best dogs for small-apartment living, and they need to be walked multiple times a day to get out their pent-up energy.
They’re prone to digging and chewing to get out their energy.
So if you aren’t able to let them be active multiple times a day, they may not be the best breed for you.
The breed is very loyal and loving, but they can be tough to train at first.
This is because of their tendency to be independent and strong-willed, as well as their hunting instincts.
To make training easier, the Terrier needs to be given opportunities to use up his energy.
And of course, it depends on the personality of your individual dog as well as your ability as a trainer.
The Perfect Home
The Airedale Terrier’s size is perfect for most families.
He’s small enough to fit into smaller homes while being big enough to fight off intruders.
He’s a natural watch dog, so families looking for a sense of security would be wise to get an Airedale.
Unlike other Terriers, they aren’t known to bark too much.
Airedale’s are natural hunters, so introducing a full-grown Airedale to a small animal or cat is unwise.
They’re also known to sometimes be aggressive toward same-sex dogs.
That’s why it can be difficult to introduce an adult Airedale into a home with pets.
However, Airedale Terrier puppies can be trained to get along with small animals and cats.
The perfect home is also one where the Airedale gets the chance to exercise often.
A backyard is recommended but not needed if you’re available to give him plenty of walks throughout the day.
When it comes to small children, Airedales are great. They are loyal and full of energy.
As long as they aren’t being poked and prodded at, there will be no problems.
How to Find and Pick Airedale Terrier Puppies
Like other dogs, the most important thing to consider when choosing your Airedale Terrier puppy is whether they were raised in a loving home.
Puppies raised in healthy environments turn into well-adjusted, healthy adult dogs.
If at all possible, visit the breeder yourself to check out the premises.
Ask them any question you might have about taking care of Airedales.
Also, a good breeder will ask you questions as well, as they likely want to make sure you’re a good fit for their puppy.
If the puppy’s parents are available, meet them.
Check to see if they are well-adjusted and healthy, and ask whether they’ve recently seen a vet.
It’s important to find out whether the parents have any health issues that could be passed down to the litter.
With that said, you should also take a look at the rest of the litter.
Lastly, make sure that your Airedale Terrier puppy has been examined and is up to date with all of the treatments necessary when you pick him up.
References and Further Reading
- Kealy, R. D. et al. Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs. Report of Original Studies, 1992.
- Roque B. Joana et al. Atopic dermatitis in West Highland white terriers is associated with a 1.3-Mb region on CFA 17. Immunogenetics, 2011.
- The American Kennel Club
- The Kennel Club UK