Information about the Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to “Airedale”) is a terrier dog breed originating from Airedale in Yorkshire, England. It is sometimes called the “King of Terriers” because it is the largest of the terrier breeds, 50 to 70 pounds (23-32 kg). The breed has also been called the Waterside Terrier, because it was bred originally to hunt otters.
Like many terriers, the breed has a ‘broken’ coat: a harsh, wiry topcoat with a soft, fur-like undercoat. Because of this coat, Airedales do not significantly shed. Airedales being shown are generally groomed by stripping: a small serrated edged knife to is used pull out loose hair from the dog’s coat.
This Airedale’s tail is natural (undocked).The correct coat color is a black saddle, with a tan head, ears and legs; or a dark grizzle saddle (black mixed with gray and white). Both are acceptable in the AKC breed standard.
The Airedale’s tail is usually docked (surgically shortened) within five days of birth, but this is not a requirement of breed standard authorities. To show an Airedale in the United States, the tail is expected to be docked, while in the UK it is illegal to dock dogs’ tails unless it’s for the dog’s benefit (e.g., the tail is broken).
Airedales have a normal ‘scissors bite’, where the top teeth close over the bottom. Airedales’ teeth are the largest among terriers.
The Airedale can be used as a working dog and also as a hunter and retriever. Airedales exhibit some herding characteristics as well, and have a propensity to chase animals.
The Airedale is relatively free of inherited diseases except for hip dysplasia in some lines. Airedales, like most terriers, have a propensity towards dermatitis. Allergies, dietary imbalances, and under/over-productive thyroid glands are main causes for skin conditions. Airedales usually live for around twelve years, but have been known to last until the age of seventeen.
Airedale, a valley (dale) in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was the birthplace of the breed. In the mid-19th Century, working class people created the Airedale Terrier by crossing the old English rough-coated Black and Tan Terrier with the Otterhound. In 1886, the Kennel Club of England formally recognised the Airedale Terrier breed.
The Airedale was extensively used in World War I to carry messages to soldiers behind enemy lines and transport mail. They were also used by the Red Cross to find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. There are numerous tales of Airedales delivering their messages despite terrible injury.
Before the adoption of the German Shepherd as the dog of choice for law enforcement and search and rescue work, the Airedale terrier often filled this role.
After the First World War, the Airedales’ popularity rapidly increased thanks to stories of their bravery on the battlefield and also because Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding owned Airedales. 1949 marked the peak of the Airedales’ popularity in the USA, ranked 20th out of 110 breeds by the American Kennel Club. The breed has since slipped to 50th out of 146.