Airedale Terrier

From serving in war to the police, the Airedale Terrier is proud, clever, courageous, while most consider the breed as the “King of Terrier.”

Decorated with a history of many daunting and physically challenging jobs, to their current main purpose of providing families with companionship, the Airedale has thrived regardless of assigned tasks.

What else makes this such a popular choice with dog lovers from around the world?

Here is what you need to know about the Airedale Terrier.

History

The King of Terriers resulted from being crossed between an Old English Black and Tan Terrier, which is now extinct, and an Otto Hound.

Hunters needed a dog with great sensing abilities and agility, so they sought after to get that dog. It is reported that these hunters developed the Airedale Terrier around the mid 1800’s using a combination of the two breeds above. 

The birth of the Airedale is from the Aire River valley in Yorkshire, England. At first, the breed’s main purpose then became known as the working farm dog. 

Their first public appearance dates back to the 1864, at a championship dog show as an exhibit. During this time, the breed didn’t go by the name Airedale Terrier. They were named either Rough Coated, Bingley, or Waterside Terrier.

The Waterside Terrier became a name affiliated with a popular dog sporting event that involved the breed chasing and killing large rats that inhabited the Aire River. The Airedale thrived and excelled at this event, and eventually found a role in other respects.

In 1879, the dog was officially named the Airedale Terrier and about the Kennel Club of England recognized them in 1886.

By then, they were known as a sporting dog for the common man.  Thanks to their agility, scenting skill, and aptitude for water work made them ideal dogs and competitors.

Yet, it was their handsome disposition and sweet, loving, as well as loyal personality that gained favor with the general population of England.

In the United States, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1880. Americans used Airedale Terriers to hunt upland birds, big game and water fowl.

During the 1900’s, the breed was being utilized in many capacities. An Airedale Terrier could be used as a messenger, carriers of food and ammunition, scouts, ambulance dogs, Red Cross casualty dogs, sledding and guards. 

One famous story during World War 1 involves an Airedale Terrier by the name of Jack. Jack was said to have been delivering a message that saved an American battalion from destruction. It was said that the opposition attacked and beat the Airedale, but determined, the dog got away and began limping 1.5 miles through swampy conditions to deliver the message to headquarters. This effort helped the crew and was honored by the U.S. military.

Airedales were very popular during the 1940’s and 1950’s being ranked as high as 20th by the American Kennel Club. Their population has dropped since, but they have again began to win favor with dog fanciers today. They are ranked 55th most popular dog breed.

Size 

The Airedale Terrier is considered the largest of the Terrier Group, which is why they inherited the legacy of King of Terriers.

This medium sized breed should stand at 23 inches to the shoulders.

According to the American Kennel Club, an Airedale should weigh between 50 to 70 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

The Airedale Terrier is listed as a medium energy breed, but in truth, they are a dog that requires plenty of mental stimulation and loves a lot of physical challenges. This breed is happiest working along side their master and using their incredible senses to explore and satisfy their adventurous side. While you can get through with an average size backyard, bringing this dog into a smaller space like an apartment isn’t the best idea.

This breed doesn’t do great alone and can become destructive when they feel ignored. You should socialize them early so that they can have a companion from a fellow canine. This is a very capable and intelligent dog, thus picking up obedience and other commands should be easy. That doesn’t mean they won’t be stubborn and make you work for their display of trickery. Crate training is typically the best bet for this kind of breed, just as any other Terrier. This settles and calms them down but also teaches them their boundaries within the pack.

True to their historical form, the Airedale is a capable watchdog, that is protective and very alert. They won’t stand for intrusion and anyone or anything trying to hurt their masters. These traits has earned them their bold and brave entitlements.

While some caution supervision with either smaller children and dogs, the Airedale Terrier is fine with children and smaller dogs or fellow Terriers. With early socialization, you’ll find an Airedale that is loving, friendly and affectionate with the entire family.

They enjoy walks, visits to the dog parks, runs or anything that involves their family. Someone with experience,  patience and positive reinforcement enjoys a dog that is great for the family.

Health

The Airedale Terrier has an average life expectancy rate of 11 to 14 years. If you buy from a reputable breeder, you should have full proof of clearances and proper documentation. A proactive relationship with the veterinarian will go a long way in ensuring your dog’s best health.

There are some known links related to this breed’s health. Most of them consist of the eyes, but it isn’t uncommon to find issues such as Gastric Torsion. This is also called Bloat, when the stomach produces an abundance in air that doesn’t leave the body. This excessive air will distend the stomach, that creates the insides to twist. This can cause great pain, discomfort, and sometimes death.

Hip Dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint, which is usually found in dogs once they are 2 years or older can be found in this breed. 

Colonic Disease, where the dog suffers from constipation and diarrhea bouts. This can cause issues like blood and mucus in the bowels.

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, a condition where the dog’s system destroys their own red blood cell count, which causes death. There’s no real explanation as to why this happens with the breed or any dog.

Cerebral Ataxia and heart disease can be found in this breed. 

8 percent of Airedale Terriers are affected by Cataracts. Cataracts or cloudiness of the eye lens can cause partial to complete vision loss.

The leading cause of death with the Airedale Terrier is cancer at nearly 40 percent.

Allergies and Hypothyroidism are other health complications to keep your eye on.

Care

Airedale Terriers need a master that is patient and consistent. They need someone who will remain diligent with them. They can thrive in many mental stimulation exercises, and will take special interest in activities that require a high level of energy to be used. If you train in a negative respect, you will receive a product that can irritable and aggressive. If you use positive reinforcement, then you’ll find a dog that is loving and kind.

Their medium sized coats will require some regular grooming, including stripping. You will need to check their ears for bacterial buildup. This can lead to infections, so cleaning out their ears on occasion is a great idea. A monthly bath or as needed. Trimming the nails, so that you don’t hear them clinking off the floors will prevent splitting and overgrowth. Daily walks of about 40 to 60 minutes should be plenty enough for this breed.

If you have smaller pets like mice, birds, or even smaller cats, you may need to watch your Airedale Terrier around them. It’s not uncommon that this breed shows cases of prey drive.

This breed can be vocal, use their paws to dig, and at times chew. These bad behaviors can be broken and you should begin at an early age.

Feeding

Your Airedale Terrier may not require the same diet recommendations as other dogs. Elements such as metabolism, age, activity rate, whether your dog is spayed or neutered all play into consideration.

High quality dry food should go without saying for any breed. The Airedale Terrier isn’t a very picky dog when it comes to food. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed them top rated food and protein value food like lamb, meat, chicken, veggies, and fish.

Filler, corn, wheat, or anything artificial preservatives should be avoided at all costs. A protein intake such as 20 to 26% will help your Airedale Terrier build its muscle, coat, hair, and organs.

Feeding this breed twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening, is the best practice many Airedale owners have used. This also lessens the chances of the dog suffering from Gastric Torsion, which is a health complication linked to the breed. 2 to 3.5 cups per days will suffice.

As always, you should have fresh, drinking water available for your Airedale Terrier.

Coat

Regular grooming and a seasonal shedder comes along with the Airedale Terrier manual. Their wiry and dense topcoat, and soft yet short undercoat can be found in two different coloring patterns. The two colors are Black and Tan, as well as Grizzle and Tan. Your Airedale most likely will feature dark tone markings. 

Fun Airedale Terrier Facts

  • The Airedale Terrier is very popular among the presidential crowd. Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding each owned an Airedale.
  • The Duke, John Wayne, the famous western actor owned an Airedale he named, Little Duke.
  • John Steinbeck, the author of classic, “Of Mice and Men,” owned an Airedale.
  • This breed isn’t just great at chasing rats away, the Airedale Terrier has won the Westminster’s Best in Show four times. Although it’s been a while, Airedales won in 1912, 1919, 1922, and 1933.
  • Airedales were one of the first breeds to be used as police dogs in England and Germany.
  • The movie, “101 Dalmatians” featured a shaggy Airedale Terrier.
  • It is believed that the breed use to chase 500 pound Bears away and set them up for a kill. It’s also believed that they chased Panthers into caves for their fellow Hounds to hunt them.

Closing Words

The Airedale Terrier isn’t just a dog with a sweet disposition and eyes full of life, they are a breed that has proved themselves time after time as talented hunters, hard working farm dogs, reliable messengers, and dependable when emergencies called for their services.

Now, the Airedale enjoys a much more tame and simple life. One that they fulfill quite well as a family companion dog.