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Airedale Terrier

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There’s no mistaking the proud look and memorable character of the Airedale. The largest of the terriers, this dog is intelligent, playful and loyal. Originally a hunting dog, the Airedale possesses a huge amount of energy and requires constant stimulation. These dogs are excellent family pets, but their independent streaks can make them difficult to train.

Which breed group is the Airedale terrier in?

Breed group: none – Terrier

Airedale terrier breed history

This majestic breed was developed in the Aire River valley during the 19th century. Mill workers in the region required dogs with impressive stamina which could hunt all day with horses but also kill vermin and foxes. They crossed black and tan terriers with otterhounds and English bull terriers and the result was the perfect dog for their needs. Due to their excellent scenting abilities and loyal natures, the popularity of Airedales spread quickly.

Airedale terriers were used extensively by the military during World War I. They served as messengers, sentries, carriers of supplies, scouts, ambulance dogs, ratters, casualty dogs, sled dogs, and guard dogs. They exhibited great bravery which garnered much attention. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge all owned Airedales.

The breed was first officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1886. The largest of the terriers, the Airedale has become a popular pet and successful competitor in the show rings.

Airedale terrier breed characteristics

Boasting incredibly proud looks, Airedales are distinctive dogs with black and tan coats. They are powerfully built and have long, flat heads, small dark eyes and ears with a V-shape in the fold. Their small feet feature slightly arches pads and their tails are set high.

Airedale terriers have dense and wiry outer coats which lie close to their bodies. Soft undercoats are shorter. The coats are tan with a black saddle to the back and often subtle shading around the neck and head.

Notable for impressive energy and stamina, Airedales are also highly intelligent. They can be stubborn and require a firm approach to training. They are easily bored and may become destructive if they don’t receive sufficient stimulation.

  • Lifespan: 11-12 years
  • Height: up to 61cm
  • Weight: up to 29kg
  • Powerfully built
  • Impressive stamina
  • Intelligent
  • Low boredom threshold
  • Black and tan wiry coat
  • Soft undercoat
  • Long flat heads
  • Proud stance

Health issues with Airedale terrier

  • The Airedale enjoys a good lifespan for a comparatively large dog but can be prone to the following conditions:
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Heart disease
  • Eye issues
  • Juvenile renal dysplasia
  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anaemia
  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer
  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Colonic Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushings disease
  • Malocclusion
  • Spondylosis

What is the Airedale terrier bred for?

This breed was originally developed as a hunting dog and killer of vermin but went on to serve in the military in a variety of roles.

What sort of owners does the Airedale terrier suit?

Excellent companions and incredibly loyal, Airedales are amazing pets which are great with children. They are good watchdogs but boast playful natures and a puppy-like quality. They shed only minimally. However, they require constant mental stimulation and a significant amount of exercise and so are best suited to active owners with a generous amount of time to devote to their dog.

Airedales may not be the best choice for inexperienced owners as they tend to exhibit independent streaks which can make them tricky to train. They possess a strong prey drive and require extensive grooming.

Those with the time to train and exercise an Airedale will be rewarded with a friendly, protective and characterful pet that will settle into family life with ease. Airedales are happiest in rural locations with access to the great outdoors and a garden to play in. They are rarely aggressive to other dogs but may chase cats and other small animals.


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