GROUP 2 - TERRIERS
The Airedale Terrier, or the “King of Terriers”, is a relatively young breed in comparison to many other breeds of dogs, with its origins being traced back to a little over 150 years ago.
The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to “Airedale”) was developed by the working men from the Aire Valley of Yorkshire in England. These men spent time hunting along the river valleys of the area and wanted a dog that could run with the hunters, was obedient to their masters, courageous and versatile, and then return home at night as a companion to their families. The workmen of the day, not being well off, appreciated that the Airedale was not a greedy eater and only needed a nutritious meal to support their growth and maintain the dog’s substance.
The Airedale Terrier was bred from the now extinct Black and Tan Terrier and an Otterhound,and probably some other Terrier breeds, originally to hunt otters. In Britain this breed has also been used as a war dog, guide dog and police dog.
The Airedale is the largest of the Terriers, weighing 20–30 kilograms in fit condition, and height at the withers is 58–61 centimeters for males, with females slightly smaller.
Their coat is hypoallergenic, which means it tends not to generate an allergic reaction in people, due to its non shedding coat. The outer coat is hard, wiry and stiff and the undercoat is softer and generally groomed by hand stripping, where a small serrated edged knife is used to pull out loose hair from the dog’s coat.
The Airedale should stand alert with head and tail held high, be interested and inquisitive, and show an intelligent, steady quality. The head should be well balanced with little apparent difference between the length of skull and foreface; skull should be long and flat; ears should be V-shape with carriage rather to the side of the head; eyes should be dark, small not prominent and full of terrier expression; neck should be of moderate length; shoulders should be long and sloping well into the back; back should be short, strong and level and hindquarters should be strong and muscular.
Airedale Terriers are hard-working, hard-playing dogs with boundless energy. They are vigilant and protective, making them excellent watchdogs, though they are friendly to family and friends.
A true family dog, the Airedale loves attention from all people, will enjoy running and playing with children by day and curling up for a belly rub with parents at night.
The Airedale is outgoing, confident and alert at all times. The Airedale is very courageous and although non-aggressive they show very little fear and are always willing to defend themselves. The Airedale is very smart, but also independent and athletic, requiring regular mental and physical stimulation.
A very hardy breed with very few health issues.
Being a medium to large dog there is always the risk of joint issues with Hip Dysplasia being one of the main risks, which has significantly reduced within the breed due to testing of hip scores.
Airedales are also prone to the occasional skin conditions, such as hot spots and various infections, and can also suffer from both dietary and environmental allergies.
The Airedale Terrier is very loyal and will tend to bond strongly with one family member. They make fantastic family dogs and are great with children, so long as they are exposed to them as young puppies, and both the child and puppy are taught how to behave around one another.
They can play quite roughly and it may be too much for very small children, so they must always be supervised together. Airedale’s are quirky, goofy and fun loving, and their strong will power will never fail to make you laugh (or cry).
As the Airedale is a very lively breed, equipped with high energy levels, they should be sufficiently challenged, both mentally and physically, otherwise they may misbehave and become destructive. The Airedale enjoys regular walks between 30-60 minutes per day and thrives in obedience training.
Words: Margaret Fittler, on behalf of the Airedale Terrier Association of NSW
Image courtesy of Jo Pemble
Now you know a little more about the Airedale Terrier you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Airedale Terrier and its needs and whether this breed would indeed suit your lifestyle.