The “King of the Terriers,” the Airedale Terrier is not only the largest of the terriers, but has been called the dog who can do it all. Plus, isn’t he just adorable!? Best Bully Sticks Breed Spotlight on the Airedale highlights the regal, unique looking yet beautiful English breed and we know you’ll love learning about this terrier.
History & Background: First called Waterside or Bingley Terriers, the modern Airedale looks very different from the Airedale of the past. The breed originates from the Valley of Aire, a dale in West Yorkshire, England where the river Aire flows through the land. The first Airedale’s were used as all-purpose working terriers. This dog was mostly a hunter and was bred by crossing a black and tan terrier, bull and terrier dogs, and otterhounds. Hunters soon noticed this dog was adept at almost all hunting aspects; speed, quickness, cornering, following a scent and was even great in water.
When the World Wars came to Europe, the Airedale was again used in a myriad of ways. They carried messages to soldiers, transported mail, guarded camp, and found wounded soldiers on the battlefield. After their work in war, the Airedale transferred to police work. Before police forces started adopting German Shepherds for their work, Airedales were used extensively.
Airedales came to North America in the 1880s, but increased in popularity after WWI. The tales of Airedale bravery on the battlefield inspired dog lovers to have this breed in their own home. Another reason for gain in popularity was the Presidential owners of Airedales including Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding. It’s said President Harding’s Airedale, Laddie Boy, was the first celebrity White House pet. Mr. Harding even had a custom chair made for Laddie Boy to sit in during important Cabinet meetings. By the 1920s the Airedale was the most popular dog breed in the USA and continued to peak until 1949.
The Airedale is mostly a companion dog today, but is still used as a working dog in some parts of the world. The AKC recognized the Airedale in 1888, and the breed standard was approved in 1959.
Weight: Males: 50-65 pounds; Females: 40-45 pounds
Coat: The Airedale’s coat is straight, of medium length and lies close to the body. The texture is hard, dense and wiry. Some of the hardest coats have a slight wave or crinkle to them. Airedales do have very short and soft undercoats.
An Airedale’s coat was first useful while being used as hunters. Their dense, wiry coat helped guard against animal’s claws or teeth.
Color: The Airedale is a tan and black, or tan and grizzle colored dog and by all standards, should have very particular markings of those colors on the body. The head and ears of an Airedale should always be tan as well as the legs, thighs and elbows. The dark markings should appear on the sides and upper parts of the dog’s body.
Appearance: The Airedale is the biggest of the terriers and has a very square look. The head and muzzle of this dog are one in the same with a broad and long foreface, which ends in a small black nose. The face does narrow at the eyes, which are small, dark and have the full alertness of a terrier. The ears of the Airedale are small, V-shaped, and folded, hanging off the side of the head. An Airedale’s front legs are completely straight with plenty of muscle. This dog’s feet are small and round. The Airedale usually sports a docked tail, which stands straight and up on the back.
Temperament: The Airedale is a fearless, non-aggressive dog that loves being active. As with any terrier, socialization needs to happen early to be accustomed to strangers and children. Airedales are also extremely intelligent and train well with a persistent and stern attitude. Again, as with many terrier breeds, they have to be taught to be submissive to their owners or they will become top dog.
Because of this dog’s past as an avid hunter, an average sized, enclosed yard is best for an Airedale. They need a lot of mental and physical exercise or this dog will get bored which then turns into rowdiness or destructive behavior. For these reasons, raising Airedales in an apartment isn’t recommended.
American author and dog breeder, Albert Payson Terhune said this of the Airedale, “He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum and guard. …To his master he is an adoring pal. To marauders he is a destructive lightning bolt.”
Health & Grooming: The Airedale is a sturdy breed not only in stature, but in health as well. This dog is usually very healthy, but on occasion can suffer from hip dysplasia, eye problems and skin irritations, particularly skin dryness.
Grooming the Airedale needs to be “stripped” twice a year. This is the process of using a small, serrated knife to loosen this dog’s hair from the coat. If the coat is groomed regularly, then the Airedale shed very little. Airedales do require a good amount of grooming and should be trimmed every so often. The beard of this terrier should be washed and cleaned out daily from debris and food buildup.
Product Suggestions: Anything that gives the Airedale a challenge is good, so Best Bully Sticks wants to suggest something a little more unique than a ball. The West Paw Bumi allows you to pull, flex, throw, float, and repeat for hours of playtime and enjoyment for Airedales or any other breed! Very versatile and very sturdy, your dog won’t want to put it down!
A good treat for the Airedale is Lamb Weasand. Lamb Weasands are all-natural gullets from US free range lamb. They are twisted together to form the equivalent of a lamb jerky/chew. These are great for keeping teeth and gums healthy and clean.
Do you own or know an Airedale Terrier? Tell us your favorite Airedale story in the comments section!