Airedale Terrier

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Introduction


Known to be the "King of Terriers", the Airedale boasts being the largest of the terrier breeds. Native to the UK and originally bred in Yorkshire, this elegant dog is thought to have been given their name when they attended the Airedale Show, an event where many "waterside dogs" were exhibited back in the day.



The Airedale Terrier is a very distinguished and unique looking dog that boasts tremendous scenting abilities. Over time they have been used in many countries of the world for this very reason helping the armed forces and police in their line of work. As a family pet, these dogs are renowned for being especially good with children of all ages and in general, they very rarely show any aggressive behaviour towards other dogs and family pets, quickly becoming a valued, loyal and devoted member of the family.


History


The Airedale was first bred in the Aire River Valley, Yorkshire in the 19th Century when mill workers of the day crossed Black and Tan Terriers with the English Bull Terriers and Otterhounds. They wanted to breed a dog that boasted enough stamina to handle a full days' hunting with horses when the occasion called for it, and a dog with a tough terrier nature needed to kill vermin, foxes and ferrets. These terriers also needed to be the right size to cope with going to ground while at the same time have an ability to cope with water should they need to chase their quarry through it. The result of their endeavours produced the Airedale Terrier.



During the First World War the popularity of the Airedale Terrier increased rapidly due to their excellent scenting abilities, their brave natures and their larger size. As previously mentioned they were often used as Military Police dogs and messengers carrying important messages to soldiers who were fighting on the front lines.



As a larger size terrier, it took many years for people to accept their Terrier status, and to this day, there are strict breed standards in place with regards to an Airedale Terrier's size. The breed was first officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1886 and has continued to be a popular choice of family pet and companion dog not only here in the UK but elsewhere in the world too.


Appearance


Height at the withers: Males 58 - 61 cm, Females 56 - 59 cm



Average Weight: Males 23 - 29 kg, Females 18 - 20 kg



Airedales boast being the largest of the terrier group and they have a very distinct and unique look with their proud stance and black and tan coats. These are known as being "broken" when describing terrier breeds. They are powerful and muscular dogs that lean to the cobby side. They hold their long, flat heads proudly which adds to their overall proud look.



Airedale Terriers boast smallish, dark eyes with a distinct intelligent and keen look about them. Their ears have a distinct V-shape in the fold and are set neatly on the side of a dog's head. Their lower and upper jaws are strong looking and muscular with a precise scissor bite to suit the job they were originally bred to do.



Their necks are moderate in length and muscular, widening very gradually down to a dog's shoulders which are strong and neatly laid back. Front legs are long and powerful looking and their feet are compact, neat and round. As previously mentioned, the Airedale Terrier has a "cobby" appearance which sees their bodies compact with a short back that's level over a well-sprung ribcage and well-proportioned deep, but not broad chest.



An Airedale's hindquarters boast being powerful with a well-muscled second thigh that goes down to compact, small feet that boast well-cushioned slightly arched pads. Their tails are set high and dogs carry them gaily showing eagerness whether at play or when being put through their paces.



When it comes to an Airedale's coat, their outer coat is dense and wiry with a slight kink in it and it lies close to a dog's body while their undercoat is much softer and shorter in length. They boast a striking black and tan colour with the "saddle" on their backs being black or grizzle while the rest of their body is a tan colour. Their ears are a slightly darker tan and dogs may have a little bit of shading around their necks and on the side of their heads too which is perfectly acceptable. Occasionally, an Airedale may have some white hairs between their front legs which again is acceptable as a breed standard.


Temperament


Airedale Terriers are high energy dogs and they are extremely intelligent which means they are easy to train. However, they can be quite independent minded which borders on being stubborn at times. As such, they are not the best choice of pets for first-time owners because these dogs need to be handled and trained with a gentle, but firm hand from a young age. Airedale puppies really do benefit from being taken to puppy classes so they can be well socialised early on in their lives and this helps them grow up to be well-rounded, confident dogs.



Airedales need to be introduced to as many new people, other animals and situations as early as possible when they are young to be truly happy and obedient mature dogs. They also respond extremely well to positive reinforcement training throughout their lives and need to be reminded who is Alpha Dog from time to time.



Airedales were originally bred as working and hunting dogs and as such they still retain a very strong prey drive, much like many of their other terrier cousins which is another reason why their training and socialising has to start as early in their lives as possible. They are very loyal characters and they form strong bonds with members of the family which they instinctively protect when needed.



Because Airedales are so intelligent and high energy characters, they need to be kept as busy as possible which means lots of walks, interactive games and other forms of mental stimulation to keep their minds occupied. If left to their own devices for long periods of time, boredom soon sets in and this can result in an Airedale developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home.


Children and Other Pets


Airedale Terriers are known to be very good around children of all ages and thrive being in a family environment. As with any other large breed, an Airedale may just knock a smaller child over albeit by accident which is just one of the reasons why any interaction between children and a dog has to be well supervised by an adult.



As previously mentioned, the Airedale Terrier is true to their type and as such these dogs have retained a very strong prey drive which means they might see a small pet or cat as "fair game". This is why it's so important to socialise these dogs from a young age and to introduce them to any small pets and other dogs they have not met before very carefully. With this said, Airedale Terriers rarely show aggressive behaviour towards other dogs, but it is always best to err on the side of caution.


Health


The average life expectancy of an Airedale Terrier is between 11 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.



As with many other pedigree dogs, the Airedale Terrier is known to suffer from certain hereditary and acquired health issues which are worth knowing about if you are thinking about sharing your home with one of these proud dogs. The disorders the breed is prone to suffer from includes the following:




  • Hip Dysplasia - tests available

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy

  • Von Willebrand's Disease

  • Certain Cancers

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Entropian

  • Chronic Superficial Keratitis (pannus)

  • Panosteitis

  • Spondylosis Deformans

  • Atopy - allergy

  • Bloat/Gastric Torsion


Caring for a Airedale Terrier


As with any other breed, Airedale Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also benefit from being professionally groomed at least 3 times a year. These high energy dogs need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, Airedales need to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet throughout their lives to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.


Grooming


Airedale Terriers are what is known as a "trimmed breed" as such they need regular grooming to ensure both their coats and skin stay in good condition. Puppies need to be taught to stand still on a table to make life easier when they need to be trimmed which will need to be done at least three times a year, although this does depend on a dog's coat.



A puppy would need their first "trim" when they are around 6 months old and ideally, this should be done by a professional dog groomer who would be happy to let you watch them groom your dog so you get to see how it is done. Older Airedales need to he "hand stripped", not clipped and again, it's best to leave this task up to a professional dog groomer unless you know exactly what it entails and how to do it yourself.



Airedales do shed quite a bit and like other breeds, this tends to be more in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing may be necessary to keep on top of things.


Exercise


Being high-energy dogs, Airedale Terriers need to be given the correct amount of exercise on a daily basis and ideally this should be 2 hours. The more exercise an Airedale gets, the happier they are and it needs to include lots of mental stimulation. With this said, puppies should not be taken out for long walks to begin with because they are still growing and developing so too much physical exercise would put a little too much strain on their joints and bones.



Once they've had all their shots, puppies can be taken on short walks so they get to meet new people, other dogs and it's important for them to be introduced to new situations which all goes a long way when it comes to a dog growing into a well-balanced and confident character that is a pleasure to be around and take anywhere.


Feeding


Airedale Terriers need to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet throughout their lives making sure it meets all their nutritional needs when they puppies, mature dogs and then when they reach their golden years.



If you've decided on getting an Airedale puppy from a breeder, they will have provided you with a feeding schedule for them. It's important to keep to their feeding routine and to feed the same type of food to avoid them developing a tummy upset. You can change the food, but this needs to be done gradually over a period of a few weeks and it has to be good quality puppy food because Airedales do a lot of growing and developing in the first 12 months of their lives.



A mature Airedale expends a lot of energy during the day which means they need to be fed a good quality diet to meet their nutritional needs. They are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can opt to feed an Airedale a lower quality diet.



Because the breed is known to suffer from bloat/gastric torsion, it's essential not to feed an Airedale Terrier just before they are due to go out for a walk and you should not feed them straight away on their return home from a walk either. It's best to wait for a dog to cool down before offering them any food to avoid them developing bloat. It's also a good idea to feed an adult dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening for the same reason.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Airedale Terrier


If you are looking to buy a Airedale Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £350 to well over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Airedale Terrier in northern England would be £22.01 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £48.93 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and breed.



When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality dog food whether wet or dry to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives too. This would set you back between £30-£50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an Airedale which includes their initial vaccinations, their boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £1000 a year.



As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an Airedale would be £60 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Airedale Terrier puppy.


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