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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Airedale Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Airedale Terrier
Breed Specific Buying Advice
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.
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.
Today, the Airedale Terrier is still among one of the more popular breeds not only in the home, but also in the showring where they have consistently been crowd and judge pleasers.
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. The only accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
When an Airedale Terrier moves, they do so with great purpose carrying their legs in a straight forward motion. Their forelegs move parallel to each other and always freely and showing a good amount of propulsion from behind.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is given as a guideline only.
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 must 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.
Airedale Terriers are a good choice for first time dog owners providing they have the time to dedicated to such an energetic and intelligent canine companion that needs a ton of mental stimulation and daily physical exercise to be truly well-rounded dogs.
Airedales are very social by nature and even though they have working and hunting dogs in their lineage, they do not have a very high prey drive. However, this is not to say that a dog would not give chase to a smaller animal when the mood takes them and this includes squirrels and the cat from next door. It is also worth noting that they are notorious "diggers" which means that flowerbeds and lawns tend to be frequently dug up just for the fun of it.
Airedale Terriers have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, an Airedale quickly learns what pleases an owner and how much they can get away with, bearing in mind that Airedales love to test the limits and boundaries just for the sake of it.
Airedale Terriers are better suited to people who have secure back gardens that dogs can safely roam around in whenever possible. This allows them the chance to express themselves as they should, bearing in mind that there is nothing these "terriers" enjoy more than to police their boundaries.
Although Airedales form strong ties with their families providing they are taught that being left on their own is not a stressful situation, they don't mind being left to their own devices providing it is never for too long.
Some Airedales like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them, bearing in mind that puppies can be quite sensitive and hate it when they are shouted at. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings which means they are great watchdogs.
Most Airedales love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking an Airedale Terrier off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own. It is very important to dry a dog's coat off thoroughly once they have got wet because if moisture remains in their coat, it could lead to a nasty allergy flaring up.
Airedales are natural watchdogs and the need to "protect" is deeply embedded in a dog's psyche. They go about their business seriously and are quick to let an owner know when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on around them.
The Airedale Terrier is an extremely intelligent dog and in the right hands with the correct amount of training and guidance, these dogs learn quickly and are therefore easy to train. Being terriers, they boast having a strong prey drive which means early socialisation is essential for these dogs to accept being around other animals. Their training must include a strong "recall" command right from the start.
Airedales respond well to positive reinforcement training, but they need to be handled firmly and fairly so they understand who is alpha dog in a household. When they know their place in the "pack", Airedales are great family pets as well as very able working dogs. It is important to remind them who is alpha dog from time to time, thanks to the more dominant side to their natures.
Airedale Terrier puppies are very cute and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in a new home. They are also clever which means they learn new things quickly which includes the bad along with the good. As such, puppies must be taught what is acceptable behaviour and what is not which means laying down rules and boundaries right from the word go. Playtime can be boisterous so it's also a good idea to teach a puppy to play nicely to avoid breakages around the home.
All dogs should be taught their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog in a household. They also need to be taught to respect children and not to be too boisterous around them, bearing in mind that an Airedale puppy grows into a strong dog. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
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 must 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.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
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:
Airedale puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Some Airedale Terriers gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal, bearing in mind that Airedales are prone to suffering from heart issues anyway.
Airedales are very prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Airedale Terrier breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Airedale Terrier.
It is mandatory for all Kennel Club Assured Breeders to use the following schemes and the Kennel Club strongly recommends that all other breeders follow suit:
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.
Airedale puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Airedale puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned, Airedale Terrier puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Airedales need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with an Airedale Terrier in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Airedale Terriers need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Airedales don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
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. Their coats need to be raked or brushed at least 3 to 4 times a week and dogs benefit from being professionally groomed 2 or 3 times annually.
Being high-energy dogs, Airedale Terriers need to be given the correct amount of daily exercise and ideally this should be 2 hours a day. 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.
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 must 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.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, an Airedale puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 12 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Airedale Terrier must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Airedale can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy an 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 male 3-year-old Airedale Terrier in northern England would be £24.92 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £50.65 a month (quote as of December 2017). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK, whether a dog is spayed or neutered as well as 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 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 healthy, well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Airedale Terrier puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Airedale Terriers are some of the more popular dogs both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Airedale Terriers there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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