Airedale terrier club

airedale terrier club

The Breed > About the Breed

The following is a general description about the appearance and temperament of the properly bred Airedale Terrier.

The Airedale Terrier is the largest of the terrier breeds. The Airedale is a medium-sized, well-boned, squarely built dog, and at all times a terrier in appearance and attitude. He should stand alert with head and tail held high, be interested and inquisitive, and show an intelligent, steady quality. Airedales are an elegant but sturdy dog, well balanced and square, with height at the withers being about the same as the length from the front of the shoulder to the buttock. None of the dog's features should be exaggerated. The Airedale's coat is tan with black markings on the sides and upper parts of the body. The coat is dense and wiry; it requires a great deal of grooming and may need professional help to maintain. The male has a definitely masculine appearance without being "common or cloddy". The female has a feminine appearance without being fine-boned or looking the least bit fragile. The ears should be alert and the expression eager and intelligent. The tail is carried up and adult Airedales should be self-confident, unafraid of people or other dogs. Intelligent puppies may display a more cautious attitude. Airedales are more reserved in temperament than many of the other terrier breeds, but should not act in a shy or spooky manner when approached by strangers. Airedales are a good natured and fun-loving breed. They have an excellent reputation with children, but should always be supervised during play.

In North America there is a divergence of opinions on these matters, particularly with regard to size. We wish to emphasize that there is only one type or standard size of Airedale Terrier. According to the AKC standard, "Dogs should measure approximately 23 inches in height at the shoulder; bitches slightly less. Both sexes should be sturdy, well muscled and boned. An Airedale much over or under the correct size should be severely penalized in the show ring.


The source of the diversity of opinion seems to be rooted in history.

The Airedale originated in an area of Yorkshire, England, between the Aire and the Wharfe Rivers as the working man's sporting dog. Otters fished the rivers and rats were an ever-present problem. Under such circumstances the ideal sporting dog combination would be a few water dogs to hunt the otter, and a couple of terriers to take care of the rats-a

combination beyond the means of the average working man. The next best thing was to combine the bloods of both types of dog in the hope that the progeny would inherit all the desired working abilities. Such a cross was made in 1853. A Rough-Coated Black and Tan Terrier was mated to an Otterhound and the result was a dog that could swim and scent game, and was possessed of the keenness of the terrier.

More such crosses followed, and within twelve years the Waterside Terrier, as these cross-breeds were known, became a popular local sporting terrier. Working ability counted for more than appearance and it is said that these early dogs were a mixed lot. In 1864 these terriers were exhibited for the first time at a championship dog show sponsored by the Airedale Agricultural Society classified under various names including Rough-Coated, Bingley, and Waterside Terrier. This situation prevailed for the next few years. Then in 1879 fanciers decided to call their breed the Airedale Terrier, a name that was accepted by The Kennel Club (England) in 1886.

Airedales were first brought to this country from England in the early 1880's. Their exploits as determined messengers in World War I, made the Airedale a hero. Their reputation combined with their personable temperament produced a meteoric rise in popularity, and by the early 1920's, the Airedale was the most popular breed of dog in America. As a consequence, breeders more interested in money than in preservation of proper breed characteristics and standards flooded the continent with dogs of diminishing quality, widely varying sizes and notably inferior temperaments. Lovers of the breed have stood by their favorite, steadily improving breed quality over the years.

Thus the present-day Airedale has come a long way from its rough-looking progenitor. Today's properly bred and cared for Airedales have all the intelligence and ability originally found in the breed, but in a more stylish, yet majestic look. Airedales are probably the most versatile of terriers, having been bred to hunt fur and feather, retrieve over land and water, and used as a pit fighter, ratter, herder, wartime guard and messenger, police dog, and as a guide dog for the blind. Needless to say that a dog of such a multitalented heritage have also excelled in obedience. He is today, more worthy than ever of his title; "King of the Terriers." For the breed standard, please visit the Airedale Terrier Club of America website.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about the club and the breed.

Category: Airedale

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