Airedale Terrier

Table of Contents

airedale terrier's face close up
Get ready to meet the king of terriers – the Airedale Terrier! This charismatic, intelligent, and versatile breed is renowned for its larger-than-life personality and keen sense of adventure.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Airedale Terrier is an excellent fit for active families and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a spirited canine companion. If you’re ready to commit to regular training, grooming, and plenty of playtime, the Airedale Terrier could be the ideal four-legged addition to your life!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEAiredale Terrier
OTHER NAMESWaterside Terrier, Bingley Terrier
ORIGINEngland
BREED GROUPTerrier Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT21-24 inches
WEIGHT50-70 lbs
LIFESPAN11-14 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK65th
airedale terrier standing on grass
Photo: daniel84hiw/Pixabay

Appearance

The Airedale Terrier is a medium to large-sized breed with an athletic and well-proportioned build. Standing tall at about 22 to 24 inches for males and 21 to 23 inches for females, these sturdy dogs typically weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. Their muscular bodies are designed for strength and agility, making them natural-born athletes.

Airedales possess a distinctive head shape characterized by a long, flat skull and a powerful, square muzzle. Their dark, medium-sized eyes have an intelligent and alert expression, reflecting their keen sense of curiosity.

Adding to their unique appearance, the ears are V-shaped and fold forward, sitting slightly to the side and above the level of the skull. The breed’s characteristic beard and mustache give their face a distinguished and charming expression.

The Airedale’s strong neck transitions smoothly into well-laid-back shoulders, giving them an elegant posture. With a deep chest and well-sprung ribs, these dogs have ample room for lung capacity, essential for their high-energy lifestyle.

Their straight, level topline showcases a sturdy back, while their muscular loins demonstrate the breed’s power and strength. The tail is customarily docked, set high on the back, and carried gaily but not curled over the back.

One of the most striking features of the Airedale Terrier is its dense, wiry coat. The outer coat is hard and crisp, while the undercoat remains soft and short, providing insulation against harsh weather conditions. The coat’s colors typically range from black and tan to grizzle and tan.

The Airedale’s powerful legs contribute to their agile and nimble movements. Their forelegs are perfectly straight with strong bone structure, while their hind legs showcase well-developed, muscular thighs. The breed’s feet are compact and round, with thick pads and arched toes that provide a firm grip for swift and agile movement.

Overall, the Airedale Terrier’s physical characteristics combine to create an impressive and striking appearance. Their well-balanced proportions, strong musculature, and distinctive coat make them stand out as a truly unique and memorable breed.

airedale terrier on a beach
Photo: airedalelover/Pixabay

Temperament

The Airedale Terrier is known for its lively and intelligent personality, making it a delightful and engaging companion. This breed’s temperament is characterized by its courage, loyalty, and affectionate nature.

Airedale Terriers are highly intelligent, which can sometimes manifest as stubbornness or independence. They are quick learners and enjoy mental stimulation through puzzle toys, interactive games, and advanced training exercises.

This intelligence, paired with their natural curiosity, means they can easily become bored if not provided with enough mental engagement. It’s essential to keep an Airedale’s mind active to prevent them from becoming destructive or resorting to undesirable behavior out of boredom.

This breed is known for its strong protective instincts, making them excellent watchdogs. They are naturally suspicious of strangers and may display wariness or caution when encountering new people. However, once they have had time to assess the situation and determine that the newcomer poses no threat, Airedales typically warm up quickly and become friendly and sociable.

Airedale Terriers are generally good with children and can form strong bonds with all family members. They are patient and tolerant, making them suitable playmates for kids.

However, due to their size and exuberance, it’s essential to supervise interactions between Airedales and young children to ensure the safety of both parties. Early socialization with children and other pets is crucial for a well-rounded and adaptable Airedale.

While Airedales can get along with other dogs, their strong prey drive may cause them to be less compatible with smaller animals such as cats, rodents, and birds. To foster harmonious relationships with other pets, early socialization and consistent training are key. It’s important to remember that each dog is an individual, and some Airedales may be more tolerant of other animals than others.

Airedale Terriers are known to be vocal dogs, often using their voices to communicate with their owners. They may bark when they are excited, want attention, or sense something amiss.

While this trait can be useful for alerting owners to potential threats, it’s essential to establish boundaries and teach your Airedale when it is appropriate to use their voice. Training them to respond to a “quiet” command can help manage excessive barking.

Despite their independent streak, Airedales are deeply loyal and affectionate towards their families. They thrive on human interaction and enjoy being involved in family activities. This breed is not well-suited for long periods of isolation or being left alone in the backyard, as they may become anxious or develop undesirable behaviors.

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for an Airedale Terrier is one that caters to their energetic nature and provides ample opportunities for physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Ideal Owner

These dogs are well-suited to active pet parents who enjoy spending time outdoors and participating in activities such as hiking, jogging, and playing fetch. Airedales thrive when they have a consistent daily routine that includes regular exercise, playtime, and mental challenges.

Other Pets

When it comes to cohabitation with other pets, Airedales can get along well with other dogs, especially if introduced at a young age. However, due to their strong prey drive, they may not be the best fit for households with small animals such as cats, rodents, or birds. Early socialization and consistent training are crucial to help your Airedale develop positive relationships with other pets in the home.

Physical Environment

Airedale Terriers can adapt to various living situations, including apartments and homes with yards. However, it’s essential to ensure that they receive enough daily exercise to prevent boredom and restlessness. If you have a yard, a secure fence is necessary since Airedales are known to be escape artists and may attempt to dig or jump their way out in search of adventure.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, Airedales are generally well-suited to handle both cold and hot weather conditions. Their dense, wiry coat provides insulation against the cold, while their natural athleticism helps them regulate their body temperature in warmer climates. However, precautions should be taken during extreme temperatures to ensure their safety and comfort.

In cold weather, provide your Airedale with a warm, dry shelter and avoid prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. It’s also essential to check their paws for ice or snow buildup and protect their pads with booties or paw wax when walking on salted surfaces.

In hot weather, make sure your Airedale has access to shade and plenty of fresh water. Avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day and be vigilant for signs of heat exhaustion, such as excessive panting, drooling, or weakness. Providing a cooling mat or a kiddie pool can help your Airedale stay comfortable during hot summer days.

airedale terrier running
Photo: NateDogg85/Getty Images Pro

Grooming

The Airedale Terrier has specific grooming needs due to its distinct, wiry coat. Proper grooming is essential not only for maintaining their appearance but also for promoting good health and hygiene. By establishing a regular grooming routine, you can keep your Airedale looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

Airedales have a double coat consisting of a soft, dense undercoat and a hard, wiry outer coat. One of the primary grooming tasks for this breed is hand-stripping, which involves plucking the dead hairs from the outer coat to encourage new growth and maintain the coat’s texture.

Hand-stripping should be done every 4-6 months, depending on your dog’s coat growth rate. Alternatively, some owners choose to have their Airedales professionally groomed with a technique called “rolling the coat,” which achieves a similar result as hand-stripping but requires more frequent visits to the groomer.

In addition to hand-stripping, regular brushing is necessary to remove loose hair, prevent matting, and distribute natural oils throughout the coat. Aim to brush your Airedale at least once or twice a week using a slicker brush or a pin brush.

Along with brushing, you may also use a metal comb to remove any tangles or mats, paying particular attention to areas prone to matting, such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the neck.

Airedale Terriers do not have a strong doggy odor and generally require infrequent bathing. Bathe your Airedale every 2-3 months or as needed, using a gentle dog shampoo formulated for wiry coats. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the coat to remove all shampoo residue, as this can cause irritation and dryness.

Dental Care

Dental care is an essential aspect of grooming for all dog breeds, including Airedales. Regular teeth brushing helps prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Aim to brush your Airedale’s teeth at least 2-3 times a week using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste.

In addition to brushing, you can provide dental chews or toys designed to clean your dog’s teeth and support overall oral hygiene.

Nail Trimming

Airedale Terriers have fast-growing nails that require regular trimming to prevent overgrowth, splitting, or cracking. Check your dog’s nails every 2-4 weeks and trim them as needed using a guillotine-style nail clipper or a grinding tool.

Be cautious not to cut the quick, the sensitive blood vessel inside the nail, as this can cause pain and bleeding. If you are unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

Additional Grooming Tips

Lastly, remember to check your Airedale’s ears regularly for signs of infection or irritation, such as redness, excessive wax buildup, or foul odor. Clean your dog’s ears as needed using a dog-specific ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls or pads, being careful not to insert anything deep into the ear canal.

For more details, check out our article on how to groom an Airedale Terrier.

airedale terrier sitting outside
Photo: atomadog/Getty Images

Exercise

Airedale Terriers are energetic and athletic dogs that require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. As a breed originally developed for hunting and working, Airedales thrive on activities that engage both their bodies and minds.

Exercise Amount and Types

Daily exercise is essential for an Airedale Terrier. Aim for a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day, which can be divided into several shorter sessions. This exercise can include brisk walks, jogging, hiking, or playing fetch.

In addition to structured exercise, Airedale Terriers benefit from having access to a securely fenced yard where they can run, play, and explore safely. However, it’s important to remember that a yard should not replace daily walks and interactive playtime, as these activities provide essential mental stimulation and socialization opportunities.

Since Airedales are highly intelligent, incorporating interactive games such as hide-and-seek or scent-based activities can help keep them mentally stimulated and engaged during exercise.

Dog Sports

Airedales are also well-suited for various dog sports and competitions. Their agility, strength, and intelligence make them excellent candidates for activities such as agility trials, obedience competitions, rally obedience, tracking, and even search-and-rescue training.

Participating in these activities not only provides your Airedale with the physical exercise they need but also strengthens the bond between you and your dog while allowing them to showcase their natural talents.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Airedale, consider their age, health, and fitness level. Puppies and senior dogs may have different exercise requirements than young adult dogs. Always consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s exercise routine or if you notice any signs of discomfort or fatigue during physical activity.

It’s also crucial to take precautions during extreme weather conditions. In hot weather, avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day and ensure your dog has access to water and shade. In cold weather, protect your Airedale’s paws with booties or paw wax when walking on salted surfaces and avoid prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures.

Training

Airedale Terriers are intelligent and eager learners, making them highly trainable when approached with the right techniques and consistency. However, their independent nature and strong will can sometimes pose challenges during training sessions. Understanding their temperament and employing positive reinforcement methods can significantly improve the training experience for both you and your Airedale.

When training an Airedale Terrier, it’s essential to establish yourself as a confident and consistent leader. These dogs respond well to clear communication and firm, but gentle guidance.

It’s important to use positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and play, to encourage desired behaviors and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Avoid using harsh or punitive methods, as these can damage your relationship and hinder the training process.

Socialization is a crucial aspect of training for Airedale Terriers. Exposing your puppy to various people, environments, and other animals from an early age can help them develop into a well-adjusted and confident adult dog. Enrolling in puppy socialization classes or visiting dog parks can provide valuable opportunities for your Airedale to interact with other dogs and learn appropriate social behavior.

Consistency is key when training an Airedale Terrier. Be sure to maintain a regular training schedule and practice commands daily to reinforce learning. Breaking training sessions into shorter, more frequent periods can help keep your Airedale engaged and prevent boredom. Remember to always end training sessions on a positive note to leave a lasting impression of success and enjoyment.

Airedales can excel in various dog sports and activities, such as agility, obedience, rally obedience, and tracking. These activities not only provide mental and physical stimulation but also offer a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your dog while showcasing their natural talents.

airedale terrier's face
Photo: jarobike/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of an Airedale Terrier. Providing your dog with the appropriate food, portion sizes, and feeding frequency can help support their active lifestyle and promote overall good health.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting dog food, look for high-quality options that follow the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These guidelines ensure that the food meets the necessary nutrient requirements for your dog’s age, size, and activity level.

You may choose to feed your Airedale dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, depending on your preferences and your dog’s specific needs. Consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations based on your dog’s individual requirements.

The amount of food you should feed your Airedale Terrier depends on factors such as their age, weight, and activity level. Generally, adult Airedales require approximately 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals.

Puppies and adolescent dogs may have different feeding requirements due to their rapid growth and development. It’s essential to consult your veterinarian for specific feeding recommendations tailored to your dog’s unique needs.

Treats & Water

Treats can be a valuable training tool and a tasty reward for your Airedale. However, it’s important to remember that treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake to prevent obesity and related health issues. Opt for healthy treat options such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, and be mindful of the number of treats you offer throughout the day.

Fresh water is a crucial component of your Airedale Terrier’s diet. Ensure that your dog has access to clean water at all times to stay hydrated and support their overall health. Regularly wash your dog’s water bowl and refill it with fresh water to encourage proper hydration.

Health

Airedale Terriers are generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 11 to 14 years. However, like all dog breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these potential concerns can help you monitor your dog’s health and take preventive measures to ensure their well-being.

Some common health issues associated with Airedale Terriers include:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to arthritis and pain. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

Allergies: Airedales can be prone to various allergies, such as food, contact, or environmental allergies. Identifying the allergens and implementing appropriate treatment plans can help alleviate symptoms.

Hypothyroidism: This is an endocrine disorder where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, leading to weight gain, lethargy, and skin issues. Hypothyroidism can be managed with medication and regular monitoring.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a degenerative eye disease that leads to blindness. Regular eye exams can help detect PRA early, and while there is no cure, early detection can help you prepare for your dog’s future needs.

Von Willebrand’s Disease: This is a blood clotting disorder that can cause excessive bleeding during injuries or surgeries. Regular blood tests can help detect this condition, and your veterinarian can advise on appropriate precautions and treatments.

To keep your Airedale Terrier healthy, it’s essential to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to their age, size, and activity level. High-quality dog food that meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is recommended. Consult your veterinarian for specific dietary recommendations based on your dog’s individual needs.

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for maintaining your Airedale’s health. Routine exams can help detect potential issues early and ensure that your dog receives appropriate vaccinations to protect them from common diseases. Additionally, preventative care such as flea, tick, and heartworm treatments should be discussed with your veterinarian to safeguard your dog’s health further.

airedale terrier under the sun
Photo: marefoto/Getty Images

History

The Airedale Terrier, often referred to as the “King of Terriers,” boasts a rich and fascinating history that traces back to the mid-19th century. The breed originated in the Aire River Valley of Yorkshire, England, where it was developed to fulfill various working roles, including hunting, guarding, and companionship.

The Airedale Terrier is a result of crossbreeding between the now-extinct Old English Black and Tan Terrier and the Otterhound. The goal was to create a versatile dog that could excel in both water and land-based tasks. Early Airedales were primarily used for hunting small game, particularly otters and rats, thanks to their keen sense of smell, strong swimming abilities, and unwavering tenacity.

As the breed continued to develop, Airedales gained recognition for their versatility and intelligence, leading them to be employed in various roles beyond hunting. During World War I, Airedale Terriers served as messenger dogs, carrying crucial information between troops on the battlefield.

Their courage, loyalty, and resilience earned them high praise and further solidified their reputation as exceptional working dogs.

In addition to their wartime contributions, Airedales have also served as police and military dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and even guide dogs for the visually impaired. Their adaptability, intelligence, and eagerness to learn make them well-suited for numerous working roles and dog sports.

The Airedale Terrier has made its mark in popular culture as well. Several notable figures throughout history have owned and cherished Airedale Terriers, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Warren G. Harding.

John Wayne, the famous American actor, was also known to be fond of the breed and owned an Airedale named Duke. These associations with influential individuals have further boosted the breed’s popularity and status.

The breed’s first appearance in literature can be traced back to the early 20th century. British author Alfred Ollivant featured an Airedale named Bob in his novel “Owd Bob: The Grey Dog of Kenmuir,” published in 1898. The story centers around a sheepdog trial and highlights the loyalty, intelligence, and courage of the Airedale Terrier.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Airedale Terrier in 1888, and the breed has remained a popular choice among dog enthusiasts ever since. Airedales continue to excel in various dog sports and activities, such as agility, obedience, rally obedience, and tracking, showcasing their athleticism and intelligence.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Airedale Terrier in the United States is the Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA). Founded in 1900, the ATCA is dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of the Airedale Terrier breed.

The club provides resources for Airedale enthusiasts, including breed information, responsible breeding practices, and event listings. To learn more about the Airedale Terrier Club of America, visit their website here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Airedale Terrier’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

airedale terrier under snowfall
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Acquiring

When considering acquiring an Airedale Terrier, it’s essential to prepare for the responsibility of dog ownership and ensure that this breed is a good fit for your lifestyle. Airedales are intelligent, energetic dogs that require regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training.

Instead of purchasing a puppy, consider rescuing an Airedale Terrier in need of a loving home. Many dogs are waiting for adoption through rescue organizations and shelters. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA) can help connect you with reputable rescue groups that specialize in Airedales.

Before bringing an Airedale Terrier into your home, prepare by gathering necessary supplies such as a crate, bed, food and water bowls, grooming tools, and toys. Research reputable trainers and veterinarians in your area, and be prepared to invest time and effort into socialization, training, and regular healthcare.

FAQs

Are Airedale Terriers good family dogs?

Yes, Airedale Terriers can make excellent family dogs. They are known for their friendly and outgoing personality, intelligence, and loyalty. With proper socialization and training, they can get along well with children and other pets. However, due to their high energy levels, they may be better suited for families with older children who can engage in active play.

Will Airedale Terriers protect you?

Airedale Terriers have a natural instinct to protect their family and home. They are alert and courageous, making them effective watchdogs. With proper training, they can serve as reliable protectors without being overly aggressive.

What are Airedale Terriers known for?

Airedale Terriers are known as the “King of Terriers” due to their size and versatility. They were originally bred for hunting small game, particularly otters and rats. Airedales are also recognized for their intelligence, agility, and adaptability, making them suitable for various roles such as police work, search-and-rescue, and dog sports.

Do Airedale Terriers bark a lot?

Airedale Terriers are not excessive barkers, but they will bark when they feel it’s necessary, such as when they sense a threat or want to alert their owners. Proper training and mental stimulation can help manage and minimize unnecessary barking.

Can Airedale Terriers live in an apartment?

While Airedale Terriers can adapt to living in an apartment, they have high energy levels and require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Apartment dwellers should be prepared to provide daily walks, playtime, and opportunities for mental stimulation to keep their Airedale happy and healthy.

Are Airedale Terriers hypoallergenic?

Airedale Terriers have a dense, wiry coat that is considered low-shedding. While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Airedales may be more suitable for people with mild allergies due to their lower shedding tendencies. Regular grooming can further minimize allergens in the home.

How much exercise do Airedale Terriers need?

Airedale Terriers are an active and energetic breed that requires daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. Providing at least 1 hour of exercise per day, along with mental stimulation, will help keep your Airedale physically fit and mentally engaged.

Fun Facts

  • Standing tall and proud, the Airedale Terrier holds the title of the largest of all terrier breeds. Their size, combined with their athletic build, makes them stand out in any crowd. So, if you’re an Airedale owner, get used to hearing, “What a big terrier!” on your daily walks.
  • Airedale Terriers aren’t just cute faces; they’re also brave heroes. During World War I, these dogs served in the military, working as messengers and carrying packs. Their courage and dedication earned them high praise and proved that they’re more than just great pets.
  • The Airedale Terrier has fans in high places. President Warren G. Harding had an Airedale named Laddie Boy who lived in the White House. Laddie Boy even had his own chair to sit in during cabinet meetings. Talk about a dog with political pull!

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