Airedale terrier training

About Airedales

* General Health and Special Medical Problems

* Hunting/Working Activities

* Search and Rescue Activities

* Frequently Asked Questions



The Valley of the Aire in West Riding, Yorkshire, was the birthplace

of the Airedale Terrier. The exact date is unknown but indications are

that the breed began to be developed in the middle of the nineteenth

century. They were bred as an answer to the average factory workers

desire to hunt otter. To hunt this game properly required a pack of

Otterhounds and a "Terrier" or two.

The Airedale is believed to be the "Old English Black-and-Tan

Terrier," the "Broken-coated Working Terrier" and the "Rough-coated

Black-and-Tan Terrier" outcrossed to the Otter Hound among others. All

accounts of the "creation" of the point to a possible cross with a

Border Collie or some other sheepdog. Some accounts also point to the

Bull Terrier, while others insist that this outcross never took place.

These dogs were known for their gritty ability to take on any

adversary and give a good account of themselves. They were broken to

guns and trained to retrieve. They were fierce competitors in the

water-rat matches. Albert Payson Terhune sums up the Airedale

concisely: "Among the mine-pits of the Aire, the various groups of

miners each sought to develop a dog which could outfight and outhunt

and OUTTHINK the other miner's dog. Out of the experiments emerged the

modern Airedale. He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an

ideal chum and guard. There is almost nothing he cannot be taught if

his trainer has the slightest gift of teaching. Every inch of him is

in use. No flabby by-products. A PERFECT MACHINE--a machine with a

BRAIN, PLUS." The first Airedale known to come to America was Bruce

dam of Airedale Jerry, root of the family tree.

Airedales have successfully mastered everything from big-game hunting,

coon-hunting, being excellent police dogs to obedience work. Not every

Airedale excels in every area but over time many have done a variety

of duties very well.

Today Airedales are still used as hunting dogs, watch dogs and even

obedience and agility dogs, but they are, first and foremost,

faithful, loyal and entertaining companions.


Just because an Airedale is AKC registered, it is NOT a guarantee of quality. Note the difference between the two pictures above. One has flat feet, poor top-line, short neck, inproper tail set, large eyes, wide set ears, and washed out color.


The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes

the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed

otherwise known as type. Some characteristics, such as size, coat

quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function

for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye

color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.

The Standard describes an ideal representative of the breed. No

individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the

breeder to strive towards.

Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards

at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not

typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the

Airedale Terrier Club of America website for an explanation of the standard.

Due to the requests of the masses, the AKC has placed a condensed

version of the Standard for the Airedale Terrier (as well as the other

breeds eligible for AKC registration) on-line.

For many novice dog fanciers these standards are intimidating,

abstract, and subjective. One good way to begin to understand this

standard is to read books, such as The New Airedale Terrier,

and study the pictures and drawings while reading the standard. Also, take a copy of the standard

to dog shows and watch the breed. Talk to as many breeders as

possible. Over time an "eye" for the breed will develop if you

continue to question and compare the animal in front of you against

the standard. The Airedale Terrier Club of America has a nice

pamphlet, complete with sketches that is helpful in understanding the

breed standard.

Airedale personality, as described in Your Airedale, is "cocky and

brash, as he nonchalantly goes about his business with a swashbuckling

air." He will protect his family to the death if need be. He is very

patient with children, only moving away when he tires of their rough

and boisterous play. He is very strong willed, while being gentle and

affectionate with his family. The Airedale's curiosity is such that he

will investigate any situation until he is satisfied. He is definitely

a thinker. Airedales are people-oriented dog, where his owner is,

there he wants to be.

Choosing to own a Airedale is a wonderful, rewarding decision, but

remember that a sense of humor is an absolutely necessary

qualification for an Airedale owner.



Food: Airedales do well on high quality foods. Some may have slightly

dry "itchy" skin and can be supplemented with certain oils and kelp.

We highly recommend dog food with phyobetics for natural digestion.

One thing worth mentioning here is how long to feed puppy food. Some

research indicates that feeding puppy food for too long can increase

the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs that are susceptible to it. The

theory is that the higher percentage of protein found in puppy

formulas can accelerate growth before the developing skeleton can

support the weight. Some breeders start feeding adult food very early.

Most people tend to gradually switch to adult food at 6 - 9 months.

Again, this is something to discuss with the breeder and your


Grooming: Many pet Airedales are clippered to the characteristic King

of Terriers look. Clipping should be done every 6 - 10 weeks. A good groomer should be able to provide this

service. If not, contact a breeder in your area, many will be willing

to provide grooming assistance on a limited basis. Airedales should be

brushed with a pin brush on a daily basis to remove dead hair, since

they do not "shed." Slickering their furnishings (leg hair and face

hair) will also remove dead hair, allowing new hair to grow in.

Airedales do "blow" their coat if it is allowed to grow out.

Dogs to be shown are stripped and trimmed. This is described in a

booklet available from ATCA at It is a very time

consuming endeavor and somewhat difficult art to master.

Housing: Airedales prefer to be with their families but also love to

romp and play. A fenced area is great for exercise and play, while

after play, they are ready to make great house dogs.

CAUTION: Airedales are lovers of digging. They are definitely

Crate training is a good idea for the young dog. As he gets older he

may tend to use this as his "den" and has a secure area for travelling

or your long days at work.

Exercise: Airedales are very active dogs and need lots of exercise.

They need a fairly large area to romp and play. Daily walks are great

exercise and fun time for both you and your Airedale.


As with other breeds, begin socializing your Airedale at an early age.

Socialization will begin to lay the groundwork for a happy and

Airedales do not respond well to harsh methods of training. They want

to make you happy, but they have to UNDERSTAND what is expected of

Several hints for successful training are:

1) Don't bore your dog. Airedales will not become "robots." He will go

check out an interesting onlooker before repeating the same "silly"

heeling pattern over and over.

2) Remember that Airedales are "thinkers." Don't ask them to do

foolish things. The only time my old girl ever broke a down was

because the "judge person" was foolish enough to set the dogs up in

the sun so that the judge could stand in the shade on a hot July


3) Use positive motivation. It doesn't matter how silly you feel, he

has to feel as though he is making you happy. Be creative. Remember,

Airedales are thinkers, not robots.

4) Approach each "training" session as an opportunity to learn more

about your companion. Try to look at each command from your dog's

point of view. This way of thinking will increase the mutual respect

that should develop while training.

5) Increase your chances for success by working with people who

appreciate and understand terriers. Do NOT allow any obedience

instructor or anyone else to compare your Airedale to those "perfect"

Shelties, Borders and GSDs. I heard a story of a woman working an

Airedale in an obedience class taught by a Border Collie trainer.

During one class, they were working on heeling patterns. The

instructor was busy pointing out the Airedale's inability to follow



Look for a reputable breeder when selecting your Airedale puppy. If

possible, visit the home of your potential puppy. Remember that the

first 8 weeks of any puppy's life are very important. A great

companion/show dog begins at birth.

Make list of questions before talking to or visiting the breeder.

Observe the puppy's environment. How do the puppies react to the

breeders? How do they react to you? Is their area clean? Ask the

breeder if the parents have been checked for dysplasia? Has there been

a family history of allergies? Have the puppies been around children?

Have they been around cats? Will the breeder be available to answer

questions in the future? Does the breeder offer a contract? (It is

virtually impossible for a breeder to guarantee that the health of any

animal, but the breeder should be willing to take the animal back and

replace it! Responsible breeders will often require that the animal be

returned to them, if for any reason, you are unable to keep the

animal. This ensures them that the animal will be cared for in the

future.)What vaccines have

been given? Have the puppies been wormed?

(various areas need various levels of worming, due to climates.)These

are just examples of some of the questions that you should ask.

Remember that you are selecting a companion for many years to come, so

take your time, make sure that your are choosing not only a compatible

breed, but also a compatible animal and breeder. Expect a lot of

questions from your breeder. He/she is also selecting a companion for

an animal into which many hours of love, thought and energy have been

When you pick up your puppy, your breeder can tell you the puppy's

schedule, brand of food and can recommend a future diet. Then you can

gradually change the diet to suit your preferences. Remember that

sudden changes in diet can severely disrupt the puppy's digestive

system and cause gastric distress. The Airedale can eat quite a bit,

especially as a young and rapidly growing puppy.

For additional information on learning to live with your new puppy,

"Your New Puppy" written by Cindy Tittle


NOTE: Remember in many cases, an older dog may suit your particular

situation much better than a young puppy. Many breeders place older

puppies and dogs. These dogs are often "show prospects" that didn't



Remember that Airedales and other terriers are very smart and

personable dogs. They are not dogs that should be left to their own

devices. You could be quite surprised at their ingenuity. A trained

Airedale could become the best friend that you will ever have. Keep

your sense of humor and a consistent set of rules for your dog, and

you will be rewarded with a companion without compare. You must be as

smart, patient and assertive as the friend you are choosing.


Airedales, like many terriers, may have "itchy" skin. This could be a

sign of many things. Sometimes it is nothing more than a dietary

problem, and sometimes it is an symptom of hyperthyroidism or

hypothyroidism. All of the above can normally be treated and

controlled easily. "Itchy" skin may also be a symptom of allergies.

These allergies may be food or other. My experience has been that the

first place to start is with the diet. Some Airedales do better on a

quality lamb and rice food, others do not.

Always take the time to keep your Airedale's ears clean and dry (this

helps prevent infections or irritations.), toe nails trimmed, teeth

cleaned (doing this at home on a regular basis can prevent gum disease

and other dental problems, and it is good practice for trips to the

vet.), and remember to keep the hair trimmed between the pads.

Always consult with your veterinarian and breeder about any health



Hunting/Working Activities

Airedales, as previously mentioned, are used for hunting and working

in many areas. In an effort to promote and maintain the hunting

abilities for which the Airedale was originally bred, a

Hunting/Working committee was formed by the Airedale Terrier Club of

These trials are conducted in accordance with ATCA-approved hunting

tests and titles. These tests are being continually revised and

improved to tap even deeper into the talents of the breed. Currently,

The members of the H/W Committee are working with hunting judges and

instructors from other breeds with AKC recognized Hunting titles to

develop AKC recognized hunting titles for Airedales. Hopefully in the

future, Airedales will be able to obtain AKC Hunting titles.

The Upland Bird tests require the dog to find and flush two birds,

retrieve a shot bird on land, and do a short water retrieve. (JHDF and


The Hunting Dog Retriever test brings contestants to a line from which

the dog is expected to remember or "mark" the fall of a bird shot in

the field. Upon a command from the handler, the dog should retrieve

Karen also provides pictures of working SAR dogs, and explains what

training a SAR dog means. The people that choose to train SAR must be

a dedicated as the dogs that they are training.


Frequently Asked Questions

How should I choose a breeder? What should I expect from my breeder?

Choosing a breeder is equally as important as choosing a breed or a

puppy. You should contact sources such as the ones listed above, go

to dog shows, or talk to vets in the area. Talk to as many

different breeders as possible. You should choose a breeder that is

willing to work with you and help you choose the right animal for

you. Your breeder should ask questions of you. He/she should be

very concerned with the welfare of the puppy that is being placed

in your care. If you can visit the breeder, you should. You should

observe the interaction between the breeder and his/her animals. Do

the animals seem happy, well-cared for, and clean?

A good breeder will present you with health records, a pedigree

and, in most cases, a contract. Most of these contracts will at a

minimum stipulate that: a)the animal is in good health, b)the

animal shall be kept up-to-date on vaccinations (and other health

concerns cared for; i.e. heartworm, intestinal parasites, flea

control, etc.), c)all local leash laws be obeyed, d)the animal

shall be returned to the breeder, if for any reason, you are unable

to keep the dog, e)the animal shall be replaced in the case of

hereditary health issues that are debilitating to the animal, and

f)the animal shall be spayed or neutered (unless there is a special

agreement; i.e. potential show prospect). Many breeders will sell

puppies only on a limited registration with the AKC, unless there

is a special agreement. Your breeder should make himself/herself

available to answer questions and try to help solve problems

(should they arise) in the future. As noted in the 1998 ATCA Roster

and Information Booklet, good breeders accept responsibility for

dogs they produce and take them back if they need help,

re-evaluating and placing them in suitable new homes. Irresponsible

breeders fail to live up to these expectations.

Are Airedales good with children?

As is the case with all dogs, both the children and the dog must be

taught to respect each other. Children must be taught that taking

toys or bothering the dog while he/she is eating are not good

habits. Also, the dog should be taught that jumping on people or

"mouthing" are not acceptable traits. Every household will have a

different set of rules (which should be carefully considered before

getting any dog) which must be clearly and consistently conveyed to

everyone (adults, children, and the dog). With proper training and

patience, Airedales are wonderful with older children. I,

personally, would never leave a young child and any dog together


It is very advisable to seek the advice of an expert in training

when introducing your dog to children. It is very important for the

dog to maintain the position of "dog" within the hierarchy without

discounting the importance and needs of the dog.

Is a fenced yard "required" for owning an Airedale?

Although a fenced yard is not a requirement for owning an Airedale,

it is a very big plus! Before bringing a dog in to your household,

you should consider what you will do on days that you are sick,

running late, or for some other reason unable to walk the dog. Many

areas have some type of leash law and, for the health of the dog,

you should never allow the dog to run freely, without some type of

boundary. Remember that Airedales were bred to hunt and terriers,

in general, will chase "furry creatures" with reckless abandon for

Is it true that Airedales are good for people with allergies?

While it is true that many people that are allergic to some other

breeds seem to have fewer problems living with Airedales, the fact

that you have allergies is not a sufficient reason to get an

Airedale. You are adding a member to your household and should

consider the temperament, size, your schedule and many other things

when selecting a pet. There are other breeds, (for example;

Poodles) which are also "less allergic", which may suit you and

yours better.

Are older Airedales adaptable into new environments? When is a rescue

or older dog a good choice for me?

Airedales are very adaptable into new environments. Like most

animals, they respond very well to loving and structured

situations. Older dogs are sometimes more desirable for a specific

situation than puppies. One example is a family or person that

simply doesn't want to deal with housebreaking a puppy. Maybe you

are a little older and want the companionship of a dog but not the

energy of a puppy. What if you are a jogger and want a companion?

(It is not advisable for a young puppy to jog!) There are lots of

situations where an older animal may be a better fit into your


Older animals may include rescues (for whatever reason) or older

animals that a breeder may desire to place into a good home. Always

get as much background on an animal as possible. Medical

information should be provided. If you think that an older animal

is better for you, then you must also consider the "re-training"

that may be needed. Dependent upon the situation that the animal

comes from this could vary from housebreaking to teaching the

animal that even though it was OK to sleep on the couch at the old

house, the rules here are, on the dog bed in front of the

fireplace. One breeder suggested that a good approach when dealing

with an older animal is to treat it like a puppy, assume that

he/she knows nothing and let him/her earn their freedom.

Cindy Tittle Moore's "Your New Dog" has helpful hints and

considerations if you think and older puppy or dog might be right

for new.

Should I "crate-train" my Airedale?

In my opinion, crate training is a definite plus. It should not be

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