Airedale Terrier Description
The Airedale Terrier is the undisputed "King of Terriers". They are the largest dog of the Terrier Group, and a very useful and versatile dog. They were prized by Yorkshire hunters for hunting a variety of game, from fox to rats. They would also retrieve birds. They were one of the first breeds used as a police dog in Germany and Great Britain, and has also been used as guard dogs during wartime, as well as for messenger duty. They are sweet dispositioned dogs who will stand up for himself when challenged. Their overall look is neat and upstanding.
According to breed standard, the Airedale Terrier's skull is long and flat with small alert eyes that are positioned more to the side of the head. The eyes should be typical of a terrier, full of fearlessness and intelligence. The ears are folded and V-shaped. Their back is level with a high set tail of medium length. Their feet should be small and round. The Airedale has been recognized by the AKC since 1888, and is in the Terrier Group.
Airedale's have a noticeable beard and moustache giving the muzzle a very angular appearance. They also have bushy eyebrows that add to their expressiveness. The coat is hard dense and wiry with a softer undercoat.
The Airedale Terrier is brimming with personality. They are bold, playful, and adventurous, making an excellent lively and protective companion dog. Besides being playful, they are hard workers (though they like to work with you, not for you), making them good as hunting, agility, obedience and even police and military dogs. Airedale's have the trademark terrier temperament: energetic, curious, feisty, and boisterous. Many are comedians and will provide years of comic relief to their owners.
Airedale's are intelligent and quick learners. It is important to not let them get bored, or their mischievous nature may take over, leading to destruction, as they love to dig. This is not unusual with most puppies, but they Airedale thinks he is a puppy until he is about two years old. Much of this type of behavior can be avoided by regular exercise and play.
Hunters by nature, Airdales love to chase other small animals, so they may not do well with smaller pets in the home unless they are raised together. They do well with older kids, but their high energy can lead to exuberant rough housing. They are not usually recommended for homes with smaller children who can accidentally get hurt. With so much energy, they are relatively high maintenance dogs who want to join you in everything that you do. For the right family they make excellent pets.
The Airedale Terrier's outer coat is short and wiry with a thick, wooly undercoat. They should be brushed about twice a week, using a grooming rake or pin bristle brush. Just make sure you brush down to get the undercoat where they will most like mat. Airedale's can be heavy shedders, but this can be minimized with with regular stripping (plucking the long dead hairs from the coat).
These dogs do best with a regular trim. Usually they are given a uniform short clip, called a puppy clip, except for the hair on the beard and eyebrows, which is left long and natural.
The Airedale Terrier originated in the valley of the Aire in northern England in the early 1800's. It's early progenitors were the black and tan type terriers that were found in the area. The locals wanted a larger sized terrier that could double as a ratter and a hunting dog, so they crossed the largest of the medium sized terriers available with Otterhounds. The result was a terrier that was a better swimmer and had better scent tracking abilities.
Despite other names, the breed was recognized as the Airedale Terrier in 1878. As it became more of a show dog, it was cross bred with the Irish and Bull Terriers to minimize the influence of the Otterhound. Though not as popular as some of its smaller terrier cousins, the Airdale is well represented around the world, and are easily noticed.
The Airedale Terrier is a strong, intelligent and very alert dog with a dominant streak. When trained with consistency and fairness, they are excellent at obedience and agility training. They are not always easy to train since they tend to be headstrong and willful, especially during their "teen" years.
Because of the Airedale's high energy, it is best to have training sessions after they have had a lot of exercise so they can focus on what you are doing without the distraction of wanting to run and and play. Since they are smart and can learn fast, make sure they are only learning good habits. They will learn bad habits just as quickly, which can be a lot more difficult to break later on.
Being a dominant breed, socialization with other animals and pets early on is very important; if not, they can become aggressive. Once they get to know other pets in the home, they usually do quite well. But don't be fooled, they will rarely pass up the opportunity to chase a cat they do not know!
A very hardy and overall healthy breed (like most terrier breeds), although some may suffer from eye problems, hip dysplasia and skin infections. One thing to be aware of is their high tolerance for pain. They may be happily wagging their tail while ill or injured.