- Breed group — Terrier group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 23 inches
- Weight — 45-65 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Short, dense, and wiry
- Coat color — Black and tan, with occasional red mixed into the black. Airedale puppies are born black with small tan markings. Color changes happen within the first two years.
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — Moderate
- Life span — 10-13 years
- Temperament — Affectionate, outgoing, and alert
- Hypoallergenic — Yes
- Origin — England
Airedale terrier fun facts
- An Airedale terrier received the Victoria Cross. Jack, a World War I service dog, was employed to deliver a message to request more reinforcements. Despite suffering severe wounds from shrapnel, he completed his mission and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, one of the highest awards a British soldier can receive.
- Airedale terriers were popular police and service dogs. Airedale terriers were selected for this role in England and Germany because of their high intelligence and strong scenting abilities. They’re thought to be the first breed to serve as police dogs in the UK.
- Many presidents owned Airedale terriers. William Harding, Woodrow Wilson, and Calvin Coolidge all owned Airedale terriers. William Harding’s Airedale, named Laddie Boy, was one of the most famous dogs to ever live in the White House.
Airedale terrier temperament and characteristics
Known as “the king of terriers”, the Airedale terrier is the largest of the terrier breeds. They are high-energy, intelligent, and confident dogs that need plenty of exercise. Airedale terriers have a playful streak, making them good companions for children though you should always supervise pets and small children. These large and boisterous dogs love romping around, tossing toys, and generally creating mischief!
Airedales are best suited to homes with large yards but are not a good fit for homes with small pets due to a strong predatory instinct. While their dominant streak can lead to aggression with unfamiliar dogs, they generally get along well with other dogs they have grown up with. Airedales are known to bark excessively, but owners can seek to mitigate this with consistent training.
Airedale terriers shouldn’t be left alone for long periods. Though they aren’t prone to separation anxiety, they quickly become bored and mischievous without proper physical and mental stimulation. Early socialization can help with any wariness around strangers.
Common Airedale terrier health problems
A balanced diet and plenty of exercise will help keep your Airedale terrier healthy. However, like all breeds, they are prone to developing some health conditions of which owners should be aware.
- Hip dysplasia. This hereditary condition causes the head of the femur (thigh bone) and the hip socket to grow abnormally. This causes a loosening of the hip joint. Symptoms of hip dysplasia include stiffness, pain, and the onset of arthritis.
- Hypothyroidism. A common endocrine disorder that causes bodily functions to slow down, hypothyroidism can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and a dull, thinning coat.
- Elbow dysplasia. Dogs affected by elbow dysplasia, an abnormal development of the three bones that make up the elbow joint, show lameness on one or both front legs, and joint stiffness.
- Heart disease. Airedale terriers are prone to developing heart murmurs. Low-grade heart murmurs generally don’t cause any issues in the short term, but they can lead to heart disease, especially in old age. Heart murmurs should be checked regularly by your veterinarian.
- Gastric dilation volvulus. This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when gas builds up in the stomach, causing the stomach to twist and restrict blood flow. If your dog is retching and has a distended stomach, check immediately for GDV with your vet.
Cost of caring for Airedale terriers
You should expect to pay between $800 and $1,500 for a purebred Airedale puppy. However, you can take a more affordable route if you adopt a dog. Annual care and upkeep for an Airedale will cost around $3,000, including food, toys, grooming, and veterinary bills.
Pet insurance is a great way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Canine health issues can become expensive. Hip dysplasia surgery, for example, runs between $3,500 and $7,000 per hip. Pet insurance providers offer the best benefits when you sign your pet up early. Alternatively, you can look into setting up a pet savings account.
History of the Airedale terrier
The first Airedales were bred in the mid-1800s as versatile working farm dogs, the possible result of a cross between otterhounds and the Olde English black and tan terrier. They hunted rats and other small game in the Aire River Valley in England.
By the early 1920s, Airedale terriers (also known as Bingley terriers) arrived in North America. They became popular with many influential people, including Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding. These hard-working canines served in both world wars as field messengers and guide dogs, mainly for the United States, England, and Germany. It’s estimated that more than 3,000 Airedales lost their lives in the trenches.
Caring for your Airedale terrier
Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. Airedale terriers are lively characters with almost limitless energy, so you should also puppy-proof your home, tidying up any wires and tucking breakables out of reach.
No one likes to think about losing their new dog, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag, so you’re prepared just in case.
Airedale terriers need around two hours of exercise daily, including walks, games like fetch, or swimming. They will also need plenty of mental stimulation through puzzles and games. The more exercise these dogs get, the happier they’ll be!
Airedale terriers have strong hunting instincts, so they will often dash off if they catch the enticing scent of prey — for this reason, keep them on a lead until fully trained. No-pull harnesses are a good idea for this breed.
Airedale terriers cope well in cold weather but struggle in the heat. Keep to shady areas when out on walks during the summer months and keep their dense coats trimmed.
Airedale terriers have a double coat with a harsh, wiry top coat and a soft, dense undercoat. They don’t shed much, which makes them a good option for allergy sufferers.
👉 No breed is truly hypoallergenic . Allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Dogs that are considered “hypoallergenic” simply shed and drool less than others.
Airedale terriers are not known to stand still for long, so start a grooming regimen early and reward them with plenty of healthy treats and fuss. Use a steel pin or bristle brush at least once a week. Get right down into the undercoat and pay particular attention to the long curly hair on their legs. It might take several runs over the coat before you’re able to remove all the dead hair, so be patient.
Airedale terriers also need their coats stripped and trimmed once every three months. Don’t bathe them too often because this can damage the texture of the harsh coat and cause dry skin and other skin and coat issues.
Aside from grooming, trim their nails roughly once a month and clean their ears weekly. Teeth brushing is very important for Airedale terriers because they are prone to dental issues. At least three times a week is sufficient.
Diet and nutrition
Airedale terriers have quite sensitive stomachs. So, they need a healthy, balanced diet of lean meat protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. However, you may need to try a few diets before you find the right food for your dog. You can also speak to your vet for advice on the best diet and portion sizes. Bear in mind that a diet high in protein will make your dog thirsty, so make sure fresh water is always available.
As a general guide, adult Airedale terriers need around 2 cups of food daily, split into two meals. Airedale puppies need around 0.5-1 cup of food per day, split into 3-4 meals. You will also need to watch how many treats you give your dog because they are prone to obesity. Ad-lib feeding is not recommended for Airedale terriers.
👉 Too much “table food” can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies in Airedale terriers. Instead, stick to healthy dog treats to promote overall well-being.
Training your Airedale terrier
Airedale terriers are very intelligent, but also independent. Positive reinforcement generally works well with this breed. They remain puppylike and playful well into adulthood, so keep training sessions short and fun but remain firm and consistent. Obedience classes are a good idea for this breed. Early socialization is also essential because they have strong protective instincts.
These dogs need an assertive owner that’s willing to put in plenty of training hours. Taking the time to correct unwanted behaviors will reward you with a confident and affectionate companion.
Airedale terriers are generally not suitable for first-time owners. If they’re not properly trained, they can be prone to destructive chewing, digging, and excessive barking.
Breeds similar to the Airedale terrier
Not quite sure that an Airedale terrier is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Irish terrier. The Irish terrier is a courageous breed known for its fiery red coat. They are incredibly affectionate towards their human companions. However, they prefer to be the only pet in the home due to their natural dominant streak.
- Welsh terrier. They are similar in appearance and temperament to Airedale terriers but they are half the size. These dogs are also considered by some to be hypoallergenic.
- Poodle. These popular dogs are very similar in personality to Airedale terriers. Yet, poodles are gentler and less stubborn, which makes them more suited to first-time dog owners.
Frequently asked questions
Is an Airedale terrier a good family dog?
Airedale terriers are very playful and loving, but they may be too boisterous for very small children. They make wonderful companions for owners who are willing to put the effort into training and socialization.
Do Airedale terriers bark a lot?
Airedale terriers are sometimes known to bark excessively, especially when bored or excited. Consistent early training will help to control this issue. However, it’s important to remember that terriers naturally bark a lot. So, you probably won’t be able to get rid of this trait entirely.
Are Airedale terriers high maintenance?
Airedale terriers require regular, firm training from puppyhood, so they’re best suited to more experienced dog owners. They also have high grooming needs due to their dense, wiry double coats. Weekly brushing is recommended, as well as coat stripping around four times a year.
Do Airedale terriers shed?
Airedale terriers shed their coats twice a year. However, they shed much less than other breeds as long as you keep on top of grooming. This makes them a good choice for allergy sufferers.