The Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to "Airedale“), being the largest of all terriers, is known as the „King of Terriers“. The breed originates from the valley of the River Aire, West Ridin, Yorkshire, and was created to catch otters and rats in the region between the Aire and Wharfe Rivers. The Airedale was bred from the Old English Black and Tan Terrier (now known as the Welsh terrier), the Bull Terrier, the Otterhound and probably some other Terrier breeds. This dog was bred for hunting purposes and to be an all-around working farm dog.
FUN FACT: Before the German Shepherd became the dog of choice for law enforcement, search and rescue work, the Airedale Terrier often filled this role.
The Airedale has proven his worth during the World War I, when these dogs were used as messengers, sentries, carriers of food and ammunition, scouts, ratters, ambulance dogs, Red Cross casualty dogs, and guard dogs.
FUN FACT: During WWI, the Airedale Terrier named Jack braved the battlefields to deliver a message to British headquarters. The dog was running through swamp while soldiers were trying to shoot him. Jack completed his mission but suffered a shattered leg and a broken jaw. He passed away shortly after, but because the message he delivered saved his battalion, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for "Gallantry in the Field."
Male Airedale Terriers weighs 50-70 pounds (23-32 kg) and is about 23 inches (58 cm) tall. Females are slightly shorter and weigh 40-55 pounds (18-25 kg).
Airedale’s coat has two layers: a dense, wiry topcoat and short, soft undercoat. Most of these dogs are tan and black or tan and grizzled (black mixed with gray and white). Ears, head, legs, underbelly and sometimes the shoulders are tan parts. The Airedale’s coat does not shed a lot, but grooming is necessary, so plan on paying a professional groomer or learn to groom your Airedale yourself. Keep in mind that grooming an Airedale is a delicate process that takes at least 3 or 4 hours to do. Grooming does not have only aesthetic purposes. If not properly taken care of, the coat can get clogged and thus the skin will not be able to breathe, which advances the appearance of dermatitis. Grooming is not cheap, so make sure to take that into consideration when selecting this breed.
FUN FACT: People allergic to dogs seem to have fewer problems (meaning: not suffering from any symptoms) sharing a living space with a well-brushed Airedale.
Like all terriers, the Airedale has a lot of energy. This dog needs daily exercise and makes excellent jogging partner. This dog is very adaptable, but not recommended for apartment living. The Airedale needs a yard, secured with fence, where he can goof around without restrictions. The Airedale loves to play with family members, romping, running, swimming, tossing toys, goofing around, etc. Also, there is another one of the “terrier features” – this dog loves to dig, chase small animals and bark. They are very loyal and protective of their family. Airdales are great with children and they make a good family pet. If trained properly, they go along with other dogs. Some smaller animals this hunter may see as prey and chase them.
The Airedale is very intelligent, independent, strong-minded, and can sometimes be stubborn. They mature slowly and is often puppyish well into old age. As with other breeds, you should take time and train your Airedale properly. The training needs to start at an early age. Airedales do not respond well to harsh methods, so use positive reinforcement. When living with this independent and sometimes stubborn breed, you need to establish your leadership from the beginning. It is a smart idea to set your Airedale the rules to live by. Socialization is a must, considering that these dogs can be aggressive towards other dogs (when not socialized and trained properly). Take your Airedale to different places and expose the dog to different sounds, sights, and people, so your puppy can grow into a well-rounded dog.
Airedales have a life expectancy of 11-14 years and, in general, are very healthy and hardy animals, but are prone to some health problems. Like other large breeds, they are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia (you can read about hip dysplasia here). Some of them suffer from skin issues, often caused by a poor diet or allergies. Sometimes these skin issues are a symptom of hyperthyroidism (a disorder of the thyroid gland). Some can develop Progressive Retinal Atrophy (eye disease where there is gradual deterioration of the retina), bloat (you can read more about bloat here), hernia, etc.
FUN FACT: American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge were among the many people who owned and fancied the breed.
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