Airedale terrier, shortened to Airedale, as commonly called, gets its name after the Airedale Valley in England’s Yorkshire, where it developed. It owes its lineage to a host of breeds like the presently extinct black and tan terrier, Otterhound, and even the Yorkshire terrier. Originally developed to serve as a hunting dog, it has shown immense versatility over time, engaged in a whole lot of occupations as a war, police, and even guard dog. At the same time, the Airedale has excelled as a great companion, efficiently fulfilling the duties of a babysitter too.
Its immense strength, big size, and even indomitable spirit have compelled people to nickname it the ‘King of Terriers.’
What do they look like
Typically identified by their black and tan coat, these dogs appear larger than most terrier breeds. Though, as stated by the American Kennel Club, they weigh around 70 pounds, the bigger Airedale strains, known as Oorangs developed in the first half of the 19th century, weigh a lot more, up to 120 pounds. Other characteristic features of the Airedale terrier include their small, v-shaped ears, small, dark eyes, black nose, and a high set tail.
|Other Names||Waterside terrier, Bingley terrier|
|Nicknames||King of terriers, Airedale|
|Coat||Double coat that mostly appears broken: Topcoat– Hard, stiff, and wiry; Undercoat- Short, soft|
|Color||Black and tan; grizzle and tan|
|Litter Size||8-12 puppies|
|Personality||Intelligent, friendly, alert, confident, courageous|
|Good with Children||Yes|
|Barking Tendency||Medium to high|
|Climate Compatibility||Moderate; can withstand heat and cold to a certain extent, barring the extremities|
|Do they shed||Moderately; are seasonal shedders|
|Are they Hypoallergenic||Yes|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/Information||KC, FCI, AKC|
The Airedale terrier’s origin dates back to the second half of the 19th century, created by the mill workers to develop a large, fearless working breed who could hunt ducks and rats. They included several breeds in the Airedale terrier’s development to achieve their purposes, like the English black and tan terrier and Otterhound.
One could even spot traces of several other terrier breeds like the Yorkshire, Bedlington, and Irish terrier. Because of the Airedale’s game hunting skills, people think that several setters, retrievers, and even herders were perhaps a part of their breeding program.
They were first exhibited at the Airedale Agricultural Society-sponsored championship dog show in 1864. The breed fanciers named it Airedale in 1879, which the Kennel Club of UK acknowledged in 1886, also giving it recognition in the same year.
From Europe, they migrated to America during the 1880s, with Bruce being the first terrier to reach the continent in 1881. Then there was no looking back, and as per the studbook records in Canada, the Airedale’s registration happened around 1888-1889. While the American Kennel Club recognized it in 1888, the United Kennel Club gave the Airedale recognition in 1914. The Airedale Club of America (ATCA) was formed in 1910 as the AKC’s parent club, working towards bettering this breed.
The Airedales served the armed forces of Britain during the First World War. They played a multipurpose role, from messengers to sentries and even emerging as efficient guard dogs. They played a significant role in the Russo-Japanese war, mainly carrying the wounded soldiers away from the battlefield. Their popularity was at its peak after stories of their bravery circulated worldwide.
Airedales were even a favorite with the US Presidents. Many of them, including Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding, owned this breed. Warren Harding’s Airedale, Laddie Boy, always accompanied him to cabinet meetings, seated on a hand-carved special chair. In 2020, it ranked 62nd out of the 195 dogs in AKC’s Most Popular Breeds list.
They have various attributes associated with their personality, from being hardworking to independent-minded, and finally, a fabulous family dog. The Airedales are high on alertness and courageousness and display immense loyalty towards their owners. Along with this, they even have high barking skills, not missing out on an opportunity to warn their owners of any intruder into their household. This trait of theirs raises them to efficient guard and watchdogs.
They show immense patience when handling kids, often labeled as reliable babysitters to the little ones. Yet, they should be socialized to deal with kids well, lest the terrier they are, the Airedales could act a little stubborn and independent with the latter.
As you may say of the Airedale, one hidden talent is its knack for collecting everything that belongs to their human friend, from socks to shoes, kid’s toys to bags, and so on. These dogs do well when in the company of their family, and leaving them to themselves inside or in the backyard could make the Airedales bored and destructive.
Bred as hunting dogs, the Airedale would possess a strong prey drive that often gets triggered at the sight of smaller animals and birds. They could even act aggressively towards other dogs if not trained in socialization. The same goes with felines, as cats of the family are fine, lest they could turn chasers getting after the former.
The Airedale terrier is high on energy and should be exercised well to channelize its physical and mental needs well. They aren’t the typical apartment dog and would do well in spacious homes with a yard or garden. Ensure to exercise them for at least two hours a week, in the form of perhaps two 30-minute walks and plenty of play. They would at their will be your running or hiking partner, enthusiastically willing to hike for long hours. However, their trait of chasing anything they see along the trails could make things a little challenging for you. So before making them your hiking partner ensure that you train them well to wear a leash.
Their short and wiry coat doesn’t need a high amount of maintenance. Brush the Airedales one or two times a week using a pin brush to minimize shedding and remove dead hair. During the grooming or brushing session, if you come across any matts and tangles, pull them apart using your fingers and then brush them off with the comb. Bathe your Airedale once in two months or perhaps more frequently if it gets dirty.
An entire grooming session that includes bathing, brushing, stripping or clipping, or both at the same time is to be done about four times in one year. You could take the task into your own hands or even seek a professional groomer’s help in this regard.
Besides this, brush its teeth thrice a week, trim its nails once or twice a month, and even clean its ears and eyes regularly to keep infections at bay.
Common health problems seen in the Airedale terriers include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal dystrophy, and allergies.
There are several pros and cons in training the Airedale terrier. The boon is their intelligence since they rank 37th as per Stanley Coren’s rating in his book The Intelligence of Dogs. Teamed with this is their urge to please their masters. However, the bane is their inherent terrier-like stubbornness and rambunctious nature. Hence, start training at the earliest when you bring the Airedale puppies home.
Obedience: This is the foremost training that you should give your Airedale to help them minimize or eventually get over their stubborn behavior and even their boisterousness. Always teach the basic commands first, like ‘Stop’ and ‘Stay,’ so that once they are seasoned in following these commands, the Airedales would think twice before doing something undesirable.
Socialization: Acquaint the Airedale with different situations and people to eventually help them differentiate the good from the bad and not perceive every stranger or visitor as a threat.
These large dogs with high energy levels need good quality dry dog food rich in protein, carbohydrates, and essential minerals. Check out the treats you offer, as too many of them could trigger obesity that they are already prone to suffer from.
Both the dogs originated in the United Kingdom and have a striking similarity, perhaps due to their black and tan coat. Yet, they come with visible physical differences, distinguishing the two, the most striking one being their size. The Welsh terrier appears smaller, about 15 inches tall, and 22 pounds heavy. Some other breeds that look similar to the Airedale terrier include the poodle, barbet, and labradoodle.
Black and tan and back and grizzle are the official coloration of the Airedales. Black Airedales are a rarity, though.
Yes, the Airedales make for an efficient guard dog because of their boldness, courageousness, and alertness teamed with a high barking tendency.
Oorang is a strain of the Airedale terrier developed in an Ohio kennel by the same name in the early 1900s. Capt Walter Lingo is credited with developing this breed of a larger size than the standard Airedale. However, they haven’t been recognized by any noted breed registries and hardly exist today.