Often called 'The King of Terriers', the Airedale is the largest terrier breeds and originates from the Aire Valley area in Yorkshire.
Like most modern Terrier type dogs, the Airedale has its roots in England. The Airedale is no exception, and was bred in a beautiful part of Yorkshire called the Aire River Valley. This breed originated from the 19th century and came into existence by the mill workers crossing the Black and Tan Terrier with the English Bull Terrier and Otterhound. The idea behind the breed was to produce a dog with the stamina to handle a full days hunting, even with horses on occasion, with the tough terrier nature to attack and kill vermin, foxes and ferrets, the size to still be able to cope with them going to ground and even have an ability to cope with water to pursue their quarry into it should the occasion call for it. Thus this multi talented dog was bred.
As a larger dog, it took many years for people to accept their Terrier status, and to this day, there are strict standards the physical appearance must adhere to with regards to their size.
During the First World War the popularity of the Airedale Terrier increased rapidly due to its brave nature and size. It was often used as a Military Police dogs and messenger dogs whose job it was to carry messages to soldiers fighting on the front lines.
Average height to withers: Both males and females are between 23-24 inches in height with males being slightly larger than females.
Average weight: Both males and females 55-65 kg.
The largest of all the terrier group, Airedales have a distinctive appearance with a black and tan coat which is described in terriers as 'broken'. The coat is hard, dense and wiry but not untidily so, and lies straight and close to the body and legs. The outer coat is tough and stiff, while the undercoat much softer. The coats are usually slightly waved.
They have a compact, neat head with dark and expressive ears and triangular ears which flop forwards. The shoulders lead into strong and straight front legs which help extend the proud stance of this dog as the hind legs are slightly stretched behind the quarters. These long, strong legs help this dog move swiftly across varied terrain.
As a working and hunting breed, this dog displays all the characteristics you would expect from a terrier of courage, independence, loyalty and intelligence. It also displays the somewhat curveball trait of herding type behaviours and this can sometime be problematic if the dog does not have training which instructs it how to behave around animals it encounters. As a strong willed type dog, it is imperative that the owner gives it a firm training routine and introduces it from an early age to both children and other animals. If this is done, the Airedale can be a good family pet being both tolerant to young children and fun to be around. It is generally a quiet and dignified dog and it is easy to see why it was the perfect choice to help the war effort in WW1 and will be extremely loyal to its family with a warm and friendly nature and a protective instinct when required.
This is also a high energy and high stamina breed meaning it is more suited to a family with the time and lifestyle that provides a routine of at least two walks per day and as much play and stimulation as you can give it!
On average, Airedale Terriers live for between 11-12 years when healthy. Airedale do encounter some issues within their lifespan and like many terrier breeds, they can develop skin allergies which can usually be controlled with medicine used under your vets direction. In addition, this breed is prone to a condition known as bloat. Bloat is a medical emergency that can cause horrible pain and proves fatal in an estimated 40% of all cases. It is a gastric dilation of the stomach caused by an unusual accumulation of gas/liquid. This can be dangerous enough in its own right, but sometimes it leads to a second stage called volvulus, which is a stomach twisting or torsion. This shuts the stomach off from the rest of the body and prevents any of the accumulated gas or fluid within to escape. The stomach continues to expand, setting off a catastrophic series of events that in most cases can only be averted with emergency surgery.
This dogs coat will benefit from regular grooming and occasional stripping from a professional groomer. This is when a small, serrated knife is used to pull out loose hairs from the coat giving it a much neater appearance. The owner of this breed must also take in account the amount of exercise needs to keep it in good condition, both physically and mentally.