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Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is the largest and toughest of the terrier family. Its coat is dense and wiry, with a softer undercoat, and comes in both tan and black and tan and grizzle. This breed was one of the first used for police duty and has also been popular among U.S. Presidents (e.g., Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding).

Physical Characteristics

The long-legged Airedale Terrier has strong round bones that effectively combine power and agility. This enables the breed to hunt difficult game. The wiry, hard, and thick coat lies close and straight with the body, while a few hairs remain crinkled.

Personality and Temperament

This protective and lively companion is one of the most versatile terriers. The playful, adventurous, and bold Airedale is intelligent, and yet headstrong and stubborn at times. Though some dogs are dominating, most of them are responsive to the wishes of the owner and are reliable.

As long as the Airedale is provided with daily physical and mental exercise, it is a well-behaved house dog. It likes to be a leader and dislikes being challenged by other dogs. Smaller dogs and terriers, however, get along well.


Being an active breed, the Airedale Terrier requires vigorous exercise on a daily basis. Long walks, energetic games, and romping and hunting in safe areas, can meet the dog’s requirements. The wiry coat has to be combed three times a week, in addition to shaping and trimming once or twice a month. Clipping is useful in layering the color and texture of the coat. The ears of puppies need to be "glued" so that they are properly shaped when they become adults. The Airedale can live comfortably outside in cool climates, but should be allowed to sleep indoors.


The Airedale Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years, sometimes suffers from colonic disease. Other serious health issues this breed is prone to include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), gastric torsion, and hypothyroidism. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run thyroid and hip exams on the dog.

History and Background

The Airedale or "King of Terriers" is the tallest of the terriers. Thought to have originated from the Black and Tan Terrier or English Terrier, the medium-sized Airedale was bred by hunters in Yorkshire to hunt small game such as fox and water rat. The dogs were also good at retrieving and finding birds.

In the mid-19th century, some terriers near South Yorkshire’s River Aire were interbred with Otterhounds to enhance their scenting ability and hunting skills around water. This attempt resulted in bred known as the Waterside Terrier or Bingley, which was an expert in otter hunting. It was, however, only in 1878 that the breed was accepted as the Airedale Terrier.

After becoming a show dog, it was crossed with Bull and Irish Terriers, to remove the traits of the Otterhound cross that was not very popular.

By the 20th century, Champion Master Briar, the breed’s patriarch, popularized the dog and his child achieved the same outcome in the U.S. The hunting ability and the size of the Airedale helped the dog earn huge renown as a big game hunter. The dog managed to become a good family pet and a police dog for its manner and smart looks. The period after World War I saw a decline in the dog’s popularity, but today many dog fanciers are fond of the Airedale Terrier.

Comments  3

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  • Disputed comments.
    11/04/2015 11:14pm

    There are many misleading statements in this article. Most about the care of the coat and the texture of the coat which is important to puppy buyers. The temperament of this breed is often called, "stubborn". This is far from the truth. Please get these facts corrected. More information as to how to clarify this article please contact me and I would be glad to help. I have raised, trained and shown Airedale Terriers for 20 years; all earning both AKC and International Championships.This in addition to tracking game with my husband who is a licensed game guide. They are house companions first and show dogs second. All sleeping on various couches and beds in the house. A breed not for everyone ... however once you own an Airedale there is always room for one in your home.

  • 11/09/2015 03:28pm

    I don't really care for the shaggy look on these dogs.
    I prefer a neater look... especially about it's face

    what is the care of the coat
    how often does the coat need to be combed, trimmed and shaped?

    is it manageable?
    feel free to email me at gabrielredic@yahoo.com

  • Great companions!
    08/06/2016 02:46pm

    Every Airedale can be different in their personalities just like any other breed. I have to say, though, I have had 3 Airedales and they have all had sweet personalities. Two were puppies and one was a rescue. They are, however, very active! Not for couch potatoes! My dog is a total clown and makes us laugh all the time. He is such a character! He loves to go in the ATV! He is extremely smart, so I have to be about 3 steps ahead of his thinking! And, some, I've been told, need to know there is a good reason to do something sometimes, but my Airedale loves going out with me so he will do anything I ask of him. He does love his treats!
    They aren't soft coated. They have a hard coat. However, they don't smell that doggy smell. They don't have oily skin and their fur continues to grow, so a good clipping, (or stripping if you are into that, I'm not),in the summer to keep it under control and them looking smart, is all you need to do. Also a quick brushing to get the leaves and sticks, sand and whatever out of the coat is all you need to keep them looking their best. The hard coat is very handy if you are an outdoorsy type because a lot of stuff that gets caught in his fur just falls out of his coat before we even get home.

    I'm in my mid-sixties and can still handle this energetic dog. All have been around kids, one grandson with special needs, and they have been wonderful companions to the kids. I'm not sure there is any other breed I would want after having these characters!


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