Airedale Terrier has a broad range of skills – they can hunt birds, retrieve downed birds, and track and tree mammals, both large and small. Airedale Terriers were also the first breed used as police dogs in both Great Britain and Germany, and in wartime, served as guards and messengers. They were prized by both law enforcement and military because they retained their training well and would work through harsh conditions and discomfort.
The Airedale Terrier breed was developed in Aire, England, probably from the English Terrier. Some experts feel the Otterhound was crossed with the English Terrier to help create a waterproof coat and to add to the first breed’s hunting abilities. After the mid-1800s, the breed was known as the Working Terrier, Waterside Terrier, and Bingley Terrier. Male Airedales stand about 23 inches tall at the shoulder, with females slightly shorter. Both males and females are well-muscled and sturdy, with an athletic appearance. The black and tan coat is wiry with a slight wavy texture. Airedales stand tall, on straight front legs, with their heads held high. The ears are V-shaped, folded at the side of the head, and alert. The eyes are dark and expressive, with an alert, intelligent expression. The tail is carried high.
The Airedale’s coat requires daily brushing and combing to keep it clean and free of debris. The coat grows continually, and a visit to a professional groomer every six to eight weeks is necessary to keep the coat looking as it should. Airedales competing in conformation dog shows are hand-stripped (rather than having the hair cut with clippers). If you wish to show your dog, ask your dog’s breeder to show you how to do this type of grooming. Athletic, active dogs, Airedales need vigorous daily exercise. A casual walk morning and evening is nowhere near enough for a young, healthy Airedale. Instead, these dogs need a brisk jog or run alongside a bicycle, a twenty-minute game of tennis ball fetch, or a workout on the agility course (or all of the above) every day.
Airedale Terriers are intelligent dogs and retain what they have learned quite well. Airedale Terrier puppies should attend puppy kindergarten classes to begin their training. The socialization in these classes is also important. Airedales can be hardheaded when they get bored, and very stubborn if the training is not fair. You must figure out what motivates your dog, and keep one step ahead during the training process. Keep the training fair and structured and lots of fun, and the Airedale Terrier will always be looking for more to do. The Airedale today is a strong, active, and very physical dog. The breed retains its hunting instincts, so a gopher or squirrel in the yard could cause great excitement. They have excelled in many sports, including obedience, agility, tracking, search and rescue, and carting. Many are still used for hunting. As hunters, Airedales should not be trusted with small pets, and interactions with the family cat should be supervised. Although Airedales can be great family dogs, they are rambunctious and must learn to behave around small children.
The primary health concerns include hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.