Airedale Terrier – The King of The North

Airedale Terrier – The King of The North

Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier

Image: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Fast Facts

A few quick facts about the Airedale terrier - also known as the King of the Terriers probably due to its size!

Name Airedale Terrier
Size Medium / 23 - 29kg
Grooming Moderately easy
Training Not Too Difficult
Exercise Lots - At least 1 walk a day
Origins England

The Airedale Terrier – The Breed With A Victoria Cross

Always fancied a Terrier but put off by their small size? Then have we got a dog for you. The Airedale is not only well into the medium-size category, but also exceptionally friendly for a Terrier. They are also really bright, making them super easy to train.

Airedale Terrier

Not your average terrier - size-wise anyway.
Image: Lumia Studio/Shutterstock.com

They are also quite low maintenance despite their double coats (ok they do shed a bit but no dogs perfect). Airedales do need a lot of exercise, however, they are pretty adaptable and if you can provide them with space to run, preferably in the form of a decent size yard or garden (with a tall fence) they can get by with a walk a day. They can even adapt to life in an apartment or flat (with sufficient walks) and it would be fair to say they are more a house dog than a yard one enjoying being part of the family group.

Overall they may not the best of choices for the first-time dog owner, but for an experienced owner, they should be on the shortlist.

Quick Overview

Name:                                                  Airedale Terrier

Size:                                                      21-23 inches tall

Weight:                                                50-70 pounds for a full-grown adult

Grooming:                                          Double coat which is wiry on top so not too much brushing but you will need semi-frequent trims

Training:                                             Very easy to train, intelligent dog that likes to have a role

Exercise:                                             They were bred as working dogs, so they need lots and ideally tasks.

Temperament:                                   Really friendly and robust enough to be very good with kids

Origins:                                                The Aire Valley in Yorkshire.

Lifespan:                                              10-14 years

Where Does the Airedale Terrier Come From?

The Aire Valley, in Yorkshire, is home to the Aire terrier. Originally, they would have been ratters, also trained to catch nuisance otters from the nearby rivers. Why were otters a nuisance in England? They ate up all the fish and annoyed the hell out of the fishermen. Now you have fewer otters and more fishermen, but you still have more fish. Don’t blame the dog, they did what they could.

History of the Airedale

The Airedale was created by farmers on the Aire River in Yorkshire, sometime in the early 1800s. They did it by crossing the Old English rough black and tan terrier, with an otterhound. They were the perfect mix of hunter, retriever, ratter, and companion, and would often be used for catching dinner/pest control.

By 1886 the breed had made its way into the ranks of the English Kennel Club as a recognised breed of its own. Although rare nowadays, they are not as rare as either of the two breeds the Airedale was derived from. A hunter’s dog of the 19th century, the dog breed was nameless up until the Airedale Agricultural Society ran a trade show exhibiting them. By 1879 they had been nicknamed the Airedale Terrier and it just sort of stuck. A few years later, the breed was entered into the Kennel Club ranks and the rest was history. They made it to America in 1881 in the form of a terrier named ‘Bruce’… father of American Airedales everywhere.

Facts About The Airedale Terrier!

There are some seriously delightful facts about this lovely, loving breed. With such a rich history, this dog has worked on farms from the tip of England to the top of America and also on the battlefields of WWI. Here are our favourite things about the Airedale terrier, that just so happen to be good to know as a prospective owner:

  • An Airdale named Jack saved his regiment in WWI by successfully carrying a message across hostile territory before sadly dying from his efforts. As we said they will defend you to the end.
  • Despite being a predominantly English breed the American based AKC recognised them in 1888 some 26 years before the UK Kennel Club did
  • The AKC has given the Airedale the nickname of ‘king of terriers’ and names them as the most versatile of breeds. They are great working dog, loyal companion, and hunting dog rolled into one.
  • They are the biggest of the terriers. Most terrier breeds are small to medium-sized dogs by the Airedale exceeds them all in size.
  • The Airedale is prone to putting on the pounds… there are a lot of overweight terriers out there. Give them plenty of exercise and don’t pamper your pooch too much.
  • You should brush weekly to remove dead hair, but the dual-coat of the Airedale serves a purpose in nature. The outer coat lets water slide off while the inner keeps them warm dry.
  • They can be cheeky chappies; we recommend obedience training to tame their stubbornness if you are a novice.
  • They have beards. Who doesn’t adore a doggie with a beard? So bohemian!

See? They’re not just cute, bearded wonder dogs. They’re fun, too.

The temperament of the Airedale Breed

Airedale Terriers are fun, friendly, rambunctious dogs that will bowl you over with love and charm. They will defend their loved ones to the death while simultaneously being gentle giants. If the Airedale feels his family is threatened, he is likely to leap to the rescue so be a little careful when introducing one to strangers. They are medium to large-sized dogs so they can be a handful if their hunting instinct gets triggered.

Training or Grooming?

We recommend that you take them to obedience classes when they are young. This not only paves the way for future work and instils them with respect for you as their owner, but also gets them used to other dogs which boosts their canine social skills which can be an issue given their size and strength. It is also the best way to teach them that you can tackle things better together than you can apart… they are working dogs, after all. Once this initial trust has been established the dog will be yours for life providing you return the favour.

As for grooming, we suggest twice a week to keep his/her coat healthy and shiny. If your dog’s coat is lacking in shine, then add an egg or two to their weekly menu. Make sure you brush your Airedale both on the topcoat and the undercoat coat for best grooming. They don’t shed often but beware of the spring/autumn hair loss. You will need to have them trimmed now and then them though, or they will get matted.

Health Conditions Associated with the Airedale Terrier Breed

The Airedale is a hardy breed – but an old one. While they were originally bred to be strong and hearty, multiple generations of breeding have led to a few familiar problems that you ought to keep an eye on. The most common of the diseases associated with the Airedale Terrier is:

  1. Hip Dysplasia – where the hip comes free of the socket.
  2. Hypothyroidism – the same as it is in humans
  3. Umbilical Hernia – a hernia that is with your pup at birth. They may grow out of it alone, but it is not a preferred trait if you are seeking to breed from them going forward.

Where To Buy Your New Airedale Terrier?

Whenever you buy yourself a new puppy the excitement can overtake your sense of judgement. Don’t let this happen to you. Choose your new dog either from a reputable breeder or even better take on a rescue Airedale if you can find one.  You will find a list of registered breeders either on the UK or the American Kennel Club Websites.

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