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The Airedale Terrier
Information from Purina Pet Care

Kingsacre High Society (Gracie)
Photo Courtesy Karl & Susannah MacWilliam

The Airedale Terrier is a descendant of the now extinct Black and Tan Terrier. He was developed in the 19th century in the Airedale and Wharfedale areas of Yorkshire by local otter hunters who wanted a terrier to work with otter and vermin and to double as a guard dog. Large working strains of terrier were crossed with the Otterhound to produce a dog large enough to tackle adult badgers and otters. Later crosses with the Irish Terrier and possibly the Welsh Terrier, led to the setting of size and type. Apart from his uses as a terrier the Airedale has been trained as a gundog where he is particularly valuable working large ducks because of his agile and powerful swimming ability. Airedales have also been used to pull carts, as guard dogs, police dogs and as military assistants.

General Physical Description: The Airedale is a well-built, muscular dog with a dense coat which lies straight and close to the body. The outer coat is hard, wiry and stiff while the undercoat is shorter and softer. There should be no suspicion of legginess or undue length of body. He has a keen, intelligent expression.

Names: Airedale, King of Terriers.

Colour: Airedales are black or grizzle and tan in colour. Some may have a little white between the front legs.

Size Category: Medium

Coat Length: Short/Medium

Lifespan: Airedales can be expected to live up to between 12 and 15 years.

Average Litter Size: 8

Weight Height Range: Measured at the withers dogs will be between 58 and 61cms and bitches between 56 and 59cms. Both dogs and bitches should weigh around 22kg.

Height: MIN MAX
Bitch 56 59
Dog 58 61
Weight MIN MAX
Bitch 22 22
Dog 22 22

Ailments: The Airedale is normally a fit healthy dog who rarely requires to visit the vet other than for annual health checks and vaccinations. There are a few breed-specific problems and choosing a pup from healthy stock will reduce the possibility of these arising. Skin irritations, particularly when the dog is not adequately groomed, can be a problem and older dogs may develop tumours.

Common Ailments: Eye - Entropion, Brain (Congenital) - Cerebellar hypoplasia, Haemolymphatic - Bleeding disorders - Von Williebrands disease, Bones (Developmental) - Hip dysplasia, Endocrine - Pancreatic tumour (insulinoma), Haemolymphatic - Lymphadenopathy - Tumour (Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma), Mouth - Malocclusion (Overshot or undershot jaw), Nose - Nasal tumours, Ruptures/Hernias - Umbilical hernia, Skin - Dermatitis - Acute moist ("wet eczema" or "hot spot"), Urogenital (Acquired) - Bladder tumour/polyp

Feeding Requirements: Airedales are not a particularly greedy or fussy eaters and are therefore easy to feed. They are however well-built and very active dogs who require reasonable amounts of good quality food to fuel their energy levels.

Other Expenses: Apart from feeding and general health checks at the vets, the main expense is stripping. Airedales shed their coats twice a year and on these occasions it is advisable to have them professionally stripped. Owners can learn to do this themselves but it requires time and effort and it can be expensive to buy the necessary equipment.

General Character & Temperament: The Airedale is a friendly, adaptable and courageous dog showing all the terrier characteristics. They need firm handling as they are naturally dominant and can be stubborn, but normally they love to please and are obedient. They are not very aggressive towards other dogs but will stand their ground if challenged. They are fun-loving dogs and good with people. They make excellent family dogs, particularly good with children and always ready to join in their games. They are devoted companions, ready for a walk or a ride in the car at any time. They are protective towards their families and homes and make good guard dogs.

Intelligence: Airedales are very intelligent and are amenable to training. They are adaptable and versatile and in addition to their terrier activities can be trained as gundogs. They also make excellent family dogs.

Energy Levels: Medium
Tendency To Bark: Medium

Overall Exercise Requirement: 100-120 minutes
The Airedale is an active dog who needs a reasonable amount of exercise daily, preferably with some time spent playing games which require him to use his considerable intelligence. He is a swift agile swimmer and generally enjoys this form of exercise although care should always be taken to ensure he does not endanger himself in water. Hip dysplasia does occur in this breed and it is therefore important that exercise is restricted until the dog is one year old.

Suitability For Personal Protection: Medium
Suitability As A Guard Dog: Medium
Suitability For Children: High

Risk Of Sheep Worrying: Low
Ease Of Transportation: High
Level Of Distress Caused If Left Alone: Low
Level Of Aggression: Medium
Level Of Compatibility With Other Animals: Medium

Grooming: The Airedale should have a daily brush and comb to keep him looking smart. Regular grooming will also lessen the occurrence of skin irritations. The coat is shed twice yearly and professional stripping is advised at this time. As part of the daily routine his feet should be checked for lumps of mud or matted hair and his ears, eyes and teeth checked. It may be necessary to occasionally trim hair from in and around the ears and teeth will benefit from regular cleaning.

Grooming Requirement: Every Day

Trimming Required: Occassional

Tendency To Shed Hair: Little

Show Characteristics: The Airedale should have a head that is long, not too broad with level cheeks and little stop. It should be free from wrinkles. The upper and lower jaws should be deep, powerful, strong and muscular. They should have a good scissor bite but a vice-like bite is acceptable. Eyes should be small and dark with a lively, intelligent expression. Light or bold eyes are undesirable. The ears are dropped and V-shaped, with a side carriage, the top line of the ear fold set slightly above the level of the skull. Ears should not be set too high or be pendulous. The neck should be clean and of moderate length and thickness with no excessive loose skin. The body should be short, muscular and strong with a deep but not broad chest. Legs are long and well-boned and the feet small and round. The tail is set on high and carried gaily. The coat is harsh and should lie close to the body, undercoat is shorter and smoother. The harshest coats may crinkle or be slightly waved. Curly or soft coats are undesirable. The Airedale Terrier should have a black or grizzle coloured saddle, back, neck and top side of tail. All the rest of the body should be covered in tan coloured hair. Some white between the front legs is allowed.

Breed Classification: The Airedale is the tallest member of the Terrier group. Terriers are keen, intelligent and adaptable dogs and the Airedale is valued for these characteristics. They are suitable as working dogs, when their waterproof double coat ensures they perform well, both on land and in water, and as companion dogs.

Dog Group Kennel Club: Terrier

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