The Airedale Terrier is a neat, upstanding, long-legged terrier, not exaggerated in any way. This breed has strong round bone and combines strength and agility. The Airedale has strong jaws and a free gait. The coat is hard, dense, and wiry; it lies straight and close, with some hair crinkling or waving.
Known as the King of Terriers, the Airedale is the tallest terrier. Like many terriers, this breed counts the old English, or Black and Tan, Terrier as one of its primary progenitors. These medium-sized dogs were prized by Yorkshire hunters (and poachers) for hunting a variety of game from water rat to fox. The dogs could also find and retrieve birds. Around the mid 1800s, some of these terriers around the River Aire in South Yorkshire were crossed with Otterhounds in order to improve their hunting ability around water, as well as their scenting ability. The result was a dog adept at otter hunting, originally called the Bingley or Waterside Terrier but recognized as the Airedale Terrier in 1878. Crosses to the Irish and Bull Terriers were made in order to reduce some of the remnants of the Otterhound cross that were now considered less than beautiful. By 1900, the patriarch of the breed, Champion Master Briar, was gaining renown, and his offspring carried on his influence in America. The Airedale’s size and gameness continued to win worldwide fame. This dog’s smart looks and manners won it a place as a police dog and family pet, both roles it still enjoys. After World War I, however, The Airedale’s popularity declined, and today this dog’s reputation is greater than its numbers.
Among the most versatile of terriers, the Airedale is bold, playful, and adventurous and is a lively yet protective companion. This breed is intelligent, but often stubborn and headstrong. Some can be domineering, but most are biddable, reliable, and responsive to their family’s wishes. Airedales make good family pets as long as they get daily mental and physical exercise. They like to be the head dog and may not do well when another dog challenges that position, although usually get along well with smaller dogs.
This is an active breed that needs a chance to get vigorous exercise every day. The Airedale’s needs can be met with a long walk, a strenuous game, or a chance to hunt and romp in a safe area. The wire coat needs combing twice weekly, plus professional grooming every one to two months to layer the texture and color.