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Many of us consider dogs to be a part of the family. They’re kind, loveable, and always there when you need them. Furthermore, dogs work hard. Whether it’s a cattle dog or a Labrador retriever, these pets can help you accomplish several important tasks around the home or business.
While numerous dog breeds make our lives that much better, today we’ll highlight the Airedale terrier.
Although the Airedale was originally bred as a working dog, they often make great pets to have around the house. They’re intelligent, courageous, and they often get along with children and other dogs. Furthermore, they can excel in the right training program.
This breed has the ability to bond closely with owners and family members. Given their intelligence and energy levels, constant stimulation is important, and this breed can get bored easily. That said, have complex and challenging toys on hand, and consider a varied training program that keeps them engaged.
In this post, we’ll discuss more about Airedale terriers, including their history, physical attributes, behavioral characteristics, and more.
- History & Origin of Airedale Terriers
- Physical Attributes of Airedale Terriers
- Behavioral Characteristics of Airedale Terriers
- Airedale Terrier Health Risks
- Final Notes
History & Origin of Airedale Terriers
The Airedale terrier is believed to have been bred by crossing different terriers with the Otterhound. This resulted in a shaggy-haired hound with a great size and perfect qualities, such as a love for water and a strong nose. These characteristics proved very useful for their purpose, which included hunting rats and otters in the waters of Yorkshire, the historic county in northern England.1
The Airedale terrier was developed by working-class men to be a working dog. These men didn't have enough space to keep several large breeds, which is why they bred the smaller yet hard-working Airedale. While other dogs had one specialty, the Airedale was a generalist.
Their duties included:
- Protecting the family farm
- Retrieving small animals like rabbits and birds
- Tracking and killing larger animals1
Although the Airedale couldn’t reach areas that smaller terriers could, it still had the same energy and lively spirit as its shorter cousins.1
Airedale terriers are named after the Aire River and its valley, or dale, in Yorkshire, which is where the hard-working terrier was born.1
The Airedale remained a lesser-known terrier until the Great War. The breed worked as a messenger, sentry, explosive detector, and search dog for wounded soldiers.1
Before the war, the Airedale worked for the Germans. As the first Airedale was sent to Germany in the 1890s, the breed fit the requirements of the perfect police dog. It would patrol, carry messages, and stay loyal to its owners. By the start of World War I, the Airedale was a valuable military dog for Germany. However, it wasn’t long before the British caught on. As the war progressed, Britain discovered just how valuable this canine could be. The Airedale was a huge asset to Britain for many years to come.1
Physical Attributes of Airedale Terriers
The Airedale Terrier is loved by many. Although it’s a medium-sized dog, the Airedale is the largest of all terrier breeds. It comes in at a height of around 23 inches and a weight of 50-70 pounds. The breed is slender but lean, with narrow heads, full beards, and mustaches. Another common attribute is the dense, wiry coat. The Airedale often has a tan color with black markings.2
Airedale Terriers also feature short backs, strong loins, straight forelegs, and long and powerful thighs. Their feet are small and well-cushioned, helping them while hunting. Airedales have small, narrow, and long faces. They also have round eyes, tight lips, and a black nose. Airedales feature a moderately long neck that gets wider by the shoulders, and they also have a deep chest that isn’t too broad.2
The Airedale Terrier has wiry hair with a short to medium coat. The coat colors can range from black to tan and grizzle. Airedales have a double coat, which includes a rough, wiry top coat and a soft undercoat. You’ll also notice the fur on their ears is slightly darker than the color of their bodies.2
Most Airedale Terriers live for 11 to 14 years on average. However, with proper care, this breed could live well past this mark. Airedales can experience health problems, so ensuring proper health is a great way to promote longevity.2
Behavioral Characteristics of Airedale Terriers
The behavior of Airedale Terriers is loved by many. They’re intelligent, courageous, and kid-friendly. They enjoy playing and typically get along well with other dogs. Airedale Terriers are independent and like to chase animals such as rabbits, rats, and other small creatures. They may dig holes and show other destructive behavior if left alone for too long.
Airedale Terrier Temperament
The Airedale Terrier temperament is another characteristic that many people enjoy. Although designed to be an agile hunter, the breed can also be calm and relaxed in a home setting.3
Airedales are often great with people, including children. As they usually get along with other dogs as well, this makes the Airedale a perfect family pet. However, with their level of intelligence and working mentality, Airedales don’t enjoy being left alone for too long. They can get bored easily, so make sure to incorporate exercise and other forms of mental stimulation.3
We also encourage you to train them with their own sanctuary space, which can promote relaxation. Airedales don’t frequently cause destruction, but it’s possible if they don’t get enough activity or are dealing with other physical or mental health issues.
While these are common temperament features of the Airedale terrier, keep in mind all pets are different. That said, one Airedale may have far different behaviors and temperaments than another.
Airedale Terrier Health Risks
Just like all dogs, Airedale terriers are prone to certain health risks. They’re often considered healthy
On some occasions, Airedales may have a hip joint that grows abnormally. This can lead to a hereditary condition called hip dysplasia. Common symptoms of this condition include limping, weakened joints, and unusual sitting positions. Surgery and medications are some standard treatments for hip dysplasia, but it depends on the severity. Make sure to take your Airedale terrier puppy to the vet for hip dysplasia screenings.
This condition happens when a dog’s thyroid stops working properly. The thyroid may stop making enough hormones, resulting in a slower metabolism and issues with other bodily functions.
Hypothyroidism can cause the following:
- Weight gain
- Sluggish behavior
- Chronic ear and skin infections
- Hair loss
Unfortunately, this condition cannot be cured, but certain medications can help. Frequent vet checkups are also crucial for properly managing and treating the disease.
Caring For an Airedale Terrier
Properly caring for your Airedale terrier can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life for your pet.
Learn about their needs below:
Balanced, high-quality dog food works best for Airedale terriers. Just make sure to choose a diet that’s appropriate for their age and energy expenditure. For example, an Airedale terrier puppy has higher protein and caloric needs, as does a dog that frequently exercises. Just be sure to watch their weight. In addition, make sure fresh, clean drinking water is always available.
If you’re not sure what diet is best for your Airedale, talk to a Dutch veterinarian about diet and nutritional needs for your pet.
Exercising is vital for Airedales. Airedale terriers are very active dogs that can often handle long adventures. We recommend daily play sessions combined with long walks or hikes. Most Airedales would love to explore the outdoors several times a day.
While multiple hours of exercise is recommended, a full hour of activity per day is generally recommended for dogs in good health. Talk to your vet about your dog’s specific exercise needs.
In regards to grooming, Airedales are very low-maintenance. They rarely shed and usually never need to be trimmed. However, brushing them once a week using a slicker brush is encouraged. Grooming is also recommended every few months to avoid thick and problematic hair.
Are Airedale terriers high-maintenance?
Many owners consider their Airedales to be high-maintenance dogs. This is largely due to their intelligence and high energy levels. If they don’t receive adequate exercise or their needs are otherwise unmet, they can be destructive and cause problems around the house. Some Airedales get bored easily and don’t do well on their own, making them a better fit for pet parents who are able to be very attentive and engaged.
Do Airedale terriers ever calm down?
As many dogs have high energy levels, most of them calm down after a certain age. While this list includes Airedale terriers, this breed tends to be energetic for their entire life. It’s common for them to slow down a bit when they’re older, but high energy is still normal. Frequent exercise will certainly help in this regard. The more stimulation your Airedale receives, the calmer and more relaxed they will likely be. If you’re interested in this breed, make sure you understand their high energy levels and exercise needs.
Are Airedale terriers good dogs?
Airedale terriers are considered excellent dogs. However, given their intelligence and high energy levels, they’re not a great fit for everyone. Airedales live their happiest lives when they’re frequently exercised. They also excel in homes with large yards. That said, they aren’t considered ideal apartment dogs. If they don’t get enough physical activity, they might chew things, dig holes, and show other problematic behaviors.
Airedale terriers are often hard-working, energetic dogs that can make the perfect companion. Originally intended to hunt rats and otters, they now protect households, chase animals, and show love to their beloved owners. Airedales are a medium-sized breed that barely sheds.
Given their high-energy levels and top-notch intelligence, frequent exercise and mental stimulation are necessary. If you’re looking for a lively dog to accompany you on your outdoor adventures, an Airedale terrier may be a great fit.
No matter which dog you own, keeping them in good health is essential. This is where Dutch can help! We provide telemedicine for pets that connects pet owners with licensed veterinarians. We can discuss your pet’s healthcare needs, recommend treatments, and even prescribe medication. Sign up for a Dutch membership to get 24/7 access to pet care today.
Flaim, Denise. “Airedale Terrier History: Behind the Breed.” American Kennel Club, 28 Sept. 2020, www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/history-of-the-airedale-terrier-behind-the-breed/.
Alysper Cormanes, DVM. “Airedale Terrier Dog Breed Facts: History, Health Traits, and Characteristics.” Veterinarians.Org, 14 Dec. 2022, www.veterinarians.org/airedale-terrier/.
“Airedale Terrier Facts - Wisdom PanelTM Dog Breeds.” Facts - Wisdom PanelTM Dog Breeds, www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/dog-breeds/airedale-terrier#:~:text=This%20medium%2Dsized%20breed%20is,that%20are%20full%20of%20life. Accessed 27 June 2023.
“Airedale Terrier.” PetMD, www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/airedale-terrier. Accessed 27 June 2023.