The largest of the Terriers, the Airedale is referred to as 'King of the Terriers' and is easily recognized because of his distinctive wiry coat. The Airedale's great intelligence and hardworking nature made the breed popular as police dogs in Germany and Great Britain, and as messenger dogs during World War I. Heroic stories of the Airedale Terrier's bravery during wartime led to a surge in the breed's popularity in America in the 1920s. The steadfast, loyal Airedale Terrier grows close to his family and often does well in homes with children when properly socialized.
The Airedale Terrier is also known as Airedale and is nicknamed the King of the Terriers. Early names considered for the breed were Waterside Terrier and Bingley Terrier.
The Airedale Terrier has a double coat, with a wiry outer coat and soft undercoat. The outer coat is rough, dense, and very slightly wavy. The fur on the dog's head is tan, with a slightly darker shade on their ears. The legs are also tan up to the shoulder and haunches, while black or dark grizzle fur runs down the back of the neck and along the back, sides, the top of the tail, and sometimes in a collar around the neck.
Average Height: 23 inches
Average Weight: 50-70 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Airedale is an intelligent, medium-sized dog with an athlete's build and a quick, graceful gait. He holds his long head high and proud, with an alert, enthusiastic expression. The fur around his mouth grows slightly longer than fur on the rest of his face, giving him a charming goatee. Airedale Terriers are prone to stubbornness, but with proper training they make gung-ho companions.
The Airedale Terrier was created in the mid-19th century in Airedale, the Aire River valley in Yorkshire, England. People in the region wanted a versatile dog who was adept at hunting both otters in the water and small game on land. To that end, they crossed the Otterhound with the rough-coated Black and Tan Terrier, a now-extinct breed. Early on, the new breed was called the Bingley Terrier or the Waterside Terrier.
The dog drew attention for its intelligence and noble carriage in dog shows not long after it was first bred, and its popularity grew quickly. By the late 1800s, the breed was referred to as the Airedale Terrier based upon its geographic origin.
In World War I, the brave Airedale Terrier was used to carry messages, food, and ammunition, and as a guard dog. Word of the Airedale's heroics made it popular in the United States for many years, and it was the treasured pet of three presidents—Roosevelt, Harding, and Coolidge.
AKC Breed Category
The Airedale is a dog who works hard and plays hard. A true terrier, he is feisty and fun loving. He can also be difficult for first-time dog owners because of his strong instincts for digging, chasing, and barking. He requires patient, consistent training that changes up frequently to stave off boredom. With his bottomless energy, the Airedale makes a perfect companion for an active family.
Are Airedale Terriers Good with Kids? Airedales are rambunctious dogs who enjoy playtime with the children in their family. Because of their tendency to bounce and jump, they require constant supervision, especially with younger kids.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Airedale Terriers Good with Other Pets? Airedales are often aggressive with dogs, especially those of the same sex. But they can live peaceably with other dogs when they have been socialized with them from an early age. Their strong prey drive makes them less-than-ideal companions for cats and other small animals.
Airedales are very protective of their families and their territory.
Are Airedale Terriers Good Guard Dogs? Airedales make exceptional watchdogs and guard dogs. They will bark continually to alert the household of would-be interlopers. They will also become aggressive if they sense a threat towards their family members. Once people are invited into the house as friends, however, Airedales are welcoming and ready for a new playmate.
Airedales have high energy levels. They thrive when they stay active and engaged in sports, field, or agility training.
- The Airedale possesses a digging instinct that is difficult to curtail.
- He will chase small animals.
- He is prone to excessive barking.
- He is prone to destructive chewing.
- He can be aggressive with other animals if he is not socialized.
- He has a low tolerance for being alone.
- He is stubborn and independent.
Airedale Terriers are indoor dogs. They are most happy when they are close to their people, and get into mischief when left in the yard too long. Thankfully, the breed's low-shedding coat means they don't leave much fur behind them. Airedales don't make good apartment dwellers because of their high energy and tendency to bark.
Airedale Terriers need to spend a lot of time outside, training for the newest dog sport or going for a run. A fenced-in yard is a must because they will chase after any small animals they see. Also, it's best to plant your flower garden away from your Airedale's outdoor space and digging paws.
Airedale Terriers require more than an hour of vigorous exercise and mental stimulation each day to stay healthy. Household destruction ensues when this breed has pent-up energy or becomes bored.
The Airedale seems to have self-charging batteries. They possess the stamina for long training sessions, as long as the training engages them mentally.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Airedales are excellent running partners who will run by your side for five miles and more.
- Hiking Miles: Airedales have the stamina for long hikes, but their instinct to chase everything that crosses the trail may make hiking an exercise in frustration.
Airedales require approximately 1½ to 2½ cups of high-quality dry dog food each day, given in two meals.
The Airedale does not relish spending time alone. Ideally, a family member will stay with him throughout the day to keep him occupied and take him out for exercise. When you must leave your Airedale alone for an hour or two, it's best to crate him with plenty of tough dog toys to chew.
Health and Grooming
Airedales require professional grooming every two to three months to look their best and keep their wiry coat manageable. Brushing once or twice weekly is all that's required for the light-shedding breed. They should be bathed only when they become dirty, as frequent bathing makes the wire coat overly soft. Check your Airedale's ears once a week for signs of infection, and clean them with a gentle cleanser to avoid wax and dirt buildup. Clip his toenails about once per month to avoid breakage.
Common Health Issues
Airedale Terriers may present some breed-specific health concerns—some serious—including:
- Elbow and hip dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Von Willebrand's disease
- Canine cancer
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
You can minimize serious health concerns in an Airedale Terrier by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Airedale Terriers are smart and will pick up on basic obedience commands quickly. The breed is independent-minded and stubborn, however, so whether they decide to listen is another story.
Airedales benefit from agility training and dog sports that harness their energy and keep them busy. Though they may be frustrating to teach at times, patient training pays off in a happy, engaged Airedale.
Sporting Dog Training
Though originally bred as hunting dogs, for the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st they were mostly considered companion and show dogs. In the last decade, however, Airedales have grown in popularity as gun dogs and there's renewed appreciation of their hunting skills.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Airedale Terriers.
Yes. Airedale Terriers are considered a hypoallergenic breed. But although they shed lightly, their wiry coats contain pet dander, which is the cause of most pet-related allergies. The breed's coat requires monthly grooming, which also helps minimize allergens.
Airedales are a boisterous breed, and can be energetic their entire lives. However, consistent training can help make the Airedale's exuberant, independent spirit more manageable. With enough exercise, they will be happy to curl up in their dog bed at the end of the day.
Airedales were bred to be at ease hunting in the water and on land. They will jump at any chance to go swimming or play fetch in the water.