The Airedale Terrier, aka “King of Terriers,” is the largest of all terriers and this may not really come as a surprise. The most interesting fact about the Airedale is its penchant for vigorous activity and personal attention, minus which he tends to keep himself occupied by simply going on a rampage.
Believed to be a native breed of the Aire Valley in England and a descendant of the erstwhile black-and-tan, old English terrier way back in the 1800s, the Airedale terrier is a physically tough and versatile breed that stands tall among the other terrier breeds. Originally bred as a hunting dog, Airedales were then cross-bred with Otterhounds to enhance their sense of smell to hunt in the waters, and later with other terrier breeds to improve their looks! Airedales, over time, have evolved from hunting companions to messenger, wartime and police dogs; but, their instincts, physique and rough looks still tag along.
The temperament of Airedales switches from being playful and friendly, yet occasionally shy and obedient to aggressive and stubborn, depending on the situation. They make good guard dogs and are quite vigilant, ready to plunge into action at the slightest excuse – though they can stay calm and poised when trained to do so. Known to be swift learners, there’s no task that they cannot learn to accomplish. Intelligent, strong, always in a commanding position, Airedales cannot be left unattended for long. Regular physical and mental challenges are their comfort zones.
The male Airedale is taller than its female counterpart – both weighing roughly the same (about 30 kg). Tough and agile, rounded limbs, strong jaws, a thick coat and high tail are certain characteristics of this breed. The hair, however, is not coarse and the undercoat is quite soft.
Health and Care
Regular trimming of the wild coat is a must at least once in a fortnight, and the mane demands combing a couple of times each week. Airedales can survive outdoors, but only in mild climates. Regular tests for hip dyslexia, colonic ailments are advisable as the breed is believed to be prone to such conditions.
Airedales love to be trained and respond well to all types and levels of training with ease. Training the Airedale to interact with other pets at home, however, can prove to be a challenge as they do not easily get along with cats, rabbits, rodents, or birds. Hunting instincts are expected to rule high and need tempering right from the early years to co-exist with other pets. They are known to get along amicably with smaller dogs that are in no way a threat to their dominance.
Training this breed may not be that demanding – for simply taking them on long walks or jogs, engaging them in high-energy sporting or gaming activities, or allowing them to play around in a secluded safe spot tend to satisfy their need to stay active. No repetitions please, for the Airedale can quickly lose interest and get bored.
Training Airedales seriously for hunting, tracking or policing may need a structure training plan to meet specific objectives. Airedales, when sensitised to humans and pets, can make excellent companions for singles, elders and families as well. They are quite friendly with visitors, respond to the trainer or master’s bidding, and obey orders unless bored.
The hairy, muscular, intelligent and alert Airedale can easily be trained and petted to don multiple roles, provided he has sufficient space to stay active.