The Airedale is the king of the terriers and the largest of the terrier group. It is a splendid-looking animal with plenty of stamina and combines ideally the roles of family pet and guard.
Prior to World War I, the Airedale worked as a patrol dog with dock and railway police. It served during the war in the Russian Army and the British Army. It also worked for the Red Cross, locating the wounded and carrying messages. Indeed, at that time its abilities as a messenger and guard were considered superior to those of the German Shepherd Dog. The Airedale also took part in World War II but was gradually superseded by the German Shepherd Dog, the Dobermann, the Boxer and others
The frequency with which the Airedale has been judged best of all breeds at major shows worldwide must be attributed to the perfection of type attained in this breed. Yet, to be shown to its full advantage, a potential champion requires long hours of brushing, trimming and shaping of its thick, wiry coat.
Origin and history
The Airedale is named after the valley of Aire in Yorkshire from which its ancestors came. It was originally called the Waterside, or working terrier. The forerunner of the present-day Airedale was kept for vermin control by Yorkshire gamekeepers, and it was probably crossed with the Otterhound.
In the late 1800s the Fox Terrier enjoyed immense popularity, and much thought and care went into the breeding and development of this bigger terrier as an attractive and, at the same time, useful dog. It was soon adopted as a companion, but – when given the chance can still prove itself as an expert ratter and ducker. It can also be trained to the gun. I can recall a family Airedale coming to the rescue when we kept a rather fierce Muscovy Drake; the dog would round it up and carry the bird gently back to the pen in its mouth.
- Attractive, sporty appearance
- Faithful guard
- Loyal to owner
- Good with children
- Sound temperament
- That hard, wiry coat ought to be hand stripped
- Can be overprotective
Height: dogs 24in (61cm) at the shoulde_ bitches slightly less. Weight: approximately 551b (25kg).
One of the useful features about this dog is that although large it will adapt easily to living in a reasonably confined space, provided that it has at least two good 20-minute walks and an offthe-lead run every day. Alternatively, it will be in its element running with horses in the country and squelching, with wagging tail, through muddy fields.
Keen of expression, quick of movement, on the tip-toe of expectation at any moment. Character is denoted and shown by the expression of the eyes and by the carriage of the ears and tail.
The head and ears, with the exception of dark markings on each side of the skull, should be tan, the ears being of a darker shade than the rest. The legs up to the thighs and elbows also should be tan, the body dark grizzle.
Head and skull
The skull should be long and flat, not too broad between the ears, and narrowing slightly to the eyes. The skull should be free from wrinkles with stop hardly visible and cheeks level. Both the jaws should be deep, powerful, strong and muscula_ as strength of foreface is an essential characteristic of the Airedale, but there must be no excess development of the jaws to give a rounded or bulging appearance to the cheeks, as ‘cheekiness’ is not desired. Lips should be tight, and the nose black.
The shoulders are long. The chest is deep but not broad. The depth of the chest is approximately level with the elbows. The body is short, strong and level. The ribs are well sprung. The loins are muscular and of good width. There is little space between the last rib and the hip joint. The hindquarters are strong and muscular with no droop.
The tail should be set on high and carried gaily but not curled over the back. It should be of good strength and substance and of fair length.
These should be small, round and compact with a good depth of pad, well cushioned and the toes moderately arched, not turned either in or out.
Airedale Feeding & Grooming
The Airedale needs frequent grooming with a stiff brush, and if you plan to enter the dog in the show ring, it is essential that its coat is regularly hand stripped. Ask the breeder to show you how this is done and don’t be ashamed if you eventually resort to having the job done by a skilled canine beautician. If you do not plan to show, you need to have your Airedale stripped only in spring and summer for coolness and neatness, but allow it to keep its thick coat for winter protection.
The Airedale needs at least 13-200z (369-587g) cans of a branded, meaty dog food every day, plus a generous supply of biscuit meal. It will also appreciate the occasional large dog biscuit.
They do best on raw food. If you can not give them raw food then you should make sure to feed them a high quality dry food such as Eukanuba, 1st Choice or Royal.
Watch the Airedale’s weight. If it shows signs of becoming too heavy, reduce the supply of biscuit meal. Its girth will depend on how active a life the dog leads.
Incidentally the old adaged ‘give a dog a bone’ can be misleading. Almost all dogs will gnaw a bone with relish, but whereas one may show no after-effects, the fatty content may make another very sick. The owner must be guided by experience.