Airedale Terriers

The Airedale Terrier, the King of Terriers, is the largest of the sporting terrier family with a splendid reputation for reliability and gameness.

Are Airedale terriers good family dogs?

The “King” is a grand sportsman, easy to train and big enough to give a good account of himself against any other dog.

Like most other British terriers, the Airedale is a “made up” breed.

He hails from the north of England and possesses undoubted Otterhound blood in his veins.

Otterhounds are now practically extinct, and their fall can be attributed in some measure to the fact that the Airedale would do the same work in a better fashion.

The Airedale has a very keen nose, is a powerful swimmer.

He will hunt on land or water, has a fair turn of speed and is a very useful dog for the countryman.

He has few equals as a guard and discriminates between friend and foe much better than most of the large watch dogs.

Foxes and similar pests have no chance of living in the same area as an Airedale, and burglars give places where one is kept a wide berth.

Police and War Dogs

Before the advent of the Alsatian in Britain, Airedales were used exclusively by the police force there for police work.

They served with distinction in the First World War and are still used widely by both police and armed services in Britain today.

Their broken coat is their main drawback, compared with the Alsatian. Like all wire-haired terriers, they have to be stripped out twice yearly to look neat and tidy, while the Alsatian does not require this attention.

Their reputation for rescuing people in distress in rivers and the like is second only to the curly Retriever and is equally good as companions and protectors of young children.

The Airedale is not quarrelsome by nature but can hold his own against other dogs, and will do so with very little provocation.

One case was reported in the United States where a “professional” Staffordshire Bull Terrier fighter picked a fight with an eight-year-old Airedale and came off second best.

Airedales have been strong in Australia, particularly in N.S.W. and Victoria, for many years.

Some of Britain’s best winners have been brought here and many of these dogs have won the highest honors at our most important shows.

Breeders have made the best possible use of this blood and, as a result, the quality of Australian-bred stock leaves little to be desired.

For all that, demand for good class pups is keen, and most breeders are happy to continue with their favorite dogs.

Although standard requirements are that the dog shall weigh about 45 pounds, most of the good ones throughout the years have weighed about 60 pounds.

The Airedale is a long-headed dog, with strong punishing jaws, with a “bite like bad whisky.”

The large teeth are well spaced and close like a vice on their prey.

The skull is flat, reasonably lean, with ears set at the corner. Low placed houndy ears are not desirable, but carriage in the Airedale is somewhat lower than in the case of other “button eared” terriers.

The eye is small, dark, deep-set, and has a bright, game, intelligent expression.

The long, well-arched neck is set into deep, sloping shoulders and the front is fairly narrow.

Forelegs are straight and bone is round right down to the feet. The pasterns are short and straight and the feet deep, well-cushioned, with strong black toenails.

The body is short overall, with a short, straight back, nicely arched loin, and the tail should be set high and carried gaily. It is a docked tail and should have plenty of substance about it.

An English authority mentioned once that an Airedale’s tail was much more important than most people gave it credit for.

It existed, he said, to assist the dog in his good and restrain him in his evil moments.

Again, many a terrier unable to “draw” a large fox or badger from his underground lair has been assisted by his owner giving added power per medium of the terrier’s tail.

The deep, well-sprung ribs must allow ample space for heart and lung room and the hindquarters must possess lots of propelling power. The hocks are let down and these should be parallel with one another when the dog is in motion.

His coat is usually black over the body (although grizzle is permitted) with rich, deep tan head, neck, front and legs.

All Airedales have a dark shading along their cheeks, which is quite characteristic of the breed.

Puppies are born all black, excepting for a tan spot over each eye.

As the weeks pass, the true color gradually develops and is usually right by the time the dog is six months old.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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