Airedale Terriers – Everything You Need To Know

Airedale Terriers are purebred canines belonging to the Terrier group of dogs. They are credited to be the largest among the Terriers, earning them the title “King of Terriers.” They are known for their distinct wiry coats. Being high-energy dogs, they are pretty challenging for novice owners and apartment dwellers. The AKC rewards the Airedale Terrier as the third top among popular breeds. The Airedales are also known to be the most versatile dog breeds, which also evolved to be incredibly athletic champions and helpful working dogs. 

Airedale Terriers Pros and Cons 

Companion dogStrong prey drive 
Good watchdogHighly energetic and requires plenty of exercises. 
Low shedding Unsuitable for novice owners and apartment dwellers. 

Airedale Terriers Basic Information 

  • Name: Airedale Terrier
  • Origin: Airedale Valley of Yorkshire  
  • Group: Terrier Dogs
  • Size: Large
  • Height: Male: 22-24 inches (56-61 cm); Female: 22-23 inches (56-58 cm)
  • Weight: Male: 50 to 65 pounds; Female: 40 to 55 pounds.
  • Coat: Short, dense, and wiry
  • Color: Black and tan; grizzle and tan
  • Energy: Medium
  • Activities: Agility, dock diving, hunting, flyball, tracking, scent work, search and rescue, obedience and therapy work.
  • Barking Level: Medium
  • Shedding Level: Low
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Litter Size: 7-9 puppies
  • Other Names: ‘Waterside Terrier’, ‘Bingley Terrier’, Irish Red Terriers
  • Airedale Terriers’ Original Pastimes: Sporting and working dogs
  • Life Span: 11 to 14 years


The Airedales originated in the valley of the river Aire in England. It was raised crossing Otterhound with black and tan Terrier to eliminate vermin and rats on the Aire River. Hence, they emerged as hunter-dogs. Later, they were crossed with the Irish Terrier and Bull Terrier, which made them excel in sports. This way, they emerged as good sports dogs with upgraded abilities matching a pointer, spaniel, retriever, guide dog, and police/military dog. Off late, they are loved for their lively nature and admirable coat, which has earned them their companionability.

Types of the Airedale Terriers

Airedales come in two different combinations: 

  • Black and tan
  • Grizzle and tan 

They are primarily tan in areas like their ears, legs, head, underbelly, and occasionally the shoulders. However, their color differs on their back and upper side. They can also have speckles of red in black with a small white star on their chest. 

Airedale Terriers Highlights 

  • Airedale Terriers are known to hold a grudge against their aggressor who mistreats them. 
  • They comply with the characteristics of the Terrier group and are often fond of digging, chewing, and barking.
  • They love to collect human memorabilia and are known to be good stealers. 
  • They are known to be reliable babysitters.
  • Airedales are excellent guard dogs who are highly protective of their family.
  • Due to their strong prey drive, they chase small animals and are not recommended for homes that pet cats.

Airedale Terriers Personality 

Airedale Terriers are astute canines with jubilant personalities. Their long legs and strong and round bones help them unleash their athletic nature. They are fearless dogs who are less aggressive but are lovable companions to their owners. They are lovable family pets who are protective of their family. They love to play with kids and enjoy being in their company. These canines are slightly aloof with strangers. They are pet-friendly only if they feel other dogs aren’t competing for the head role. The Airedale is known for maintaining human memorabilia. Hence, you can expect them to steal socks or whatever reminds you.

Friendliness Overview  

Affection level Medium to High 
Family-friendly Medium to High 
Kid-friendly Medium to High 
Pet-friendly Medium to High 
Stranger -friendly Medium 

Adaptability Overview  

Good for apartment living Low
Good to new owners Low 
Sensitivity level Medium 
Tolerates being alone Low
Cold-tolerance Medium 
Heat-tolerance Medium 

Airedale Terriers Physical Features 

Head: They have long and flat heads with their skull and muzzle in almost equal lengths. 

Neck: They have a moderate neck with tight skin that naturally widens towards the shoulders.

Topline and Body: The body and topline of Airedales consist of flat shoulder blades, a deep chest that is at the level of the elbows, well-sprung ribs, a short, leveled, and a sturdy back, widened and muscled loins. 

Tail: It is of reasonable length and not curled but begins well over the back. 

Forequarters: The Airedales bear straight, robust forelegs that are adequately muscled. Feet – small, circular and packed that is well cushioned and mediumly arched toes.

Hindquarters: Does not droop but is pretty strong and muscular. 

Coat: Wraps the dog completely over his body and legs. They have two coats, a hard and wiry topcoat, and a short undercoat. 

Color: They are primarily tan in areas like their ears, legs, head, underbelly, and occasionally the shoulders. However, they may be black or grizzled on their back and upper side.

Airedale Terriers Temperament 

Airedales are highly spirited, independent, and sometimes stubborn and headstrong. They expect you to treat them well. If not, you will have to face their grudge. They are mischievous beings who love fun and frolic. Hence, they frequently chew, dig and exhibit destructive behaviors when not assigned a job. Therefore, you must keep them mentally and physically stimulated. 

They symbolize bravery and are good watchdogs who treasure their family. With a do-it-all attitude and a keen intelligence, they learn and become versatile, taking on any role you throw at them. 

Airedale Terriers Training

Training an Airedale is challenging, given his headstrong attitude and agile build. However, you can always take advantage of his intelligence and lovable nature to ease the training process. It is good to offer consistent training for your buddy to harness his full potential.  Additionally, his training sessions must contain a variety to encourage his attention until the end. You can always teach them complicated tricks and reinforce their learning positively with treats, praise, and special playtime. 

As Airedales are pretty rambunctious, enrolling them for obedience training early on when they are still a puppy is good. This way, you can start with basic commands like come, sit and stay. It is good for Airedales to undergo crate training, where they learn to sit comfortably in a place and rest. Further, it also helps with in-house training. Further, you can ensure proper socialization through a puppy preschool. On the contrary, if you’re training an adopted adult dog, take it slow and give her time to adapt to your lifestyle and expectations. 

Trainability Overview

Easy to train Medium to High
Intelligence High 
Mouthiness tendencies High 
Barking and Howling tendencies Medium to High 
Prey drive High 
Wanderlust tendencies Medium to High 

Airedale Terriers Exercise Needs 

Airedales require a lot of space and time to expend their high energy levels. Fortunately, you don’t have to take them for a long walk or jog if you have a backyard where they can run and play. However, without a backyard, you must invest your time in the dog’s park with a leash. You can easily meet their daily dose of physical exercise with moderate playtime coupled with a long walk several times a day. Therefore, it will be strenuous for you while you deal with your pup during his initial years. However, later their exercise needs begin to drop. Although they get along well with most pets, it’s good to be alert if they pick on any other dog that may come their way.

Nevertheless, they are great jogging companions and will make your day. Further, you can harness their ability to enjoy life with their family and spend time playing a ball, swimming, retrieving objects, or running along a bicycle. They even love playing with children, in which case supervision is necessary. 

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy level High
Exercise needs High 
Intensity Medium to High 
Playfulness High 

Airedale Terriers Grooming 

Airedales are blessed with a dense and wiry topcoat while short and soft undercoat, requiring little maintenance. As a result, you can brush them weekly to remove dead hair. However, you must opt for a full professional grooming service thrice or four times a year. Your dog will be completely bathed, brushed, and stripped or clipped. Further, you must also bathe them occasionally to keep them odor-free and neat.  

Nails: Your dog’s nails are subject to breakage if they grow too long. Since broken nails are very painful, trim your pet’s nails regularly.

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Teeth: Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth with a dog-formulated toothpaste can prevent tartar buildup and periodontal diseases in dogs. Additionally, you have to schedule an annual appointment with the veterinarian.

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Ears: Your dog’s ears accumulate wax that must be removed using a cotton ball dipped in pH-balanced ear cleaner. However, ensure not to damage his ear canal and check for signs of ear infection during the annual appointment with the vet. 

Grooming Overview  

Easy to groom Low to medium 
Drooling tendency Low
Amount of shedding Low to medium 

Airedale Terriers Health 

Generally, Airedale Terriers are a healthy breed. A nutritious diet and a good amount of physical exercise will free them from ailments. Nevertheless, like all species, they are prone to develop certain health conditions, they include:

Health Overview

Overall health Medium
Weight gain tendencies Medium to High 
Size Medium

Hip Dysplasia: Hip Dysplasia is a heritable condition that occurs when the thigh bones don’t fit aptly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia:

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia: This condition can exist with or without symptoms, and some notable signs may be present on one or both rear legs. They include:

  • Pain  
  • Lameness

Treatment: X-ray screening for hip dysplasia, medication, and hip replacement through surgeries may also be preferred. This condition, if ignored, can be life-threatening. 

Allergies: Airedale Terriers may be prone to skin allergies, which may occur as: 

  • Food-based allergies: If your pet is allergic to certain food ingredients, you can adopt an elimination diet that involves deliberately removing the suspected ingredients to which your dog may be allergic.  
  • Contact allergies: When your dog’s immune system reacts adversely to certain topical substances such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals, he suffers from contact allergies. However, eliminating the cause of the allergy reduces the symptoms.   
  • Inhalant allergies: If your canine accidentally inhales airborne allergens like pollen, dust, and mildew and suffers from any symptoms, he is said to have inhalant allergies. Treatment for these allergies varies with the severity of the disease. Often, ear infections accompany these allergies.

Hypothyroidism: This disorder occurs in dogs when their thyroid glands don’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This condition slows down your dog’s metabolism leading to epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, lethargy, dark patches on the skin, and other skin conditions. Proper medication and diet will help in alleviating this deficiency. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: The gradual deterioration of the eye’s retina marks the progression of this disease. Affected dogs exhibit night-blindness symptoms, slowly progressing to complete vision loss. Most of the affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision if they continue to reside in the same environment when they had a vision.

Umbilical Hernia: A disorder caused due to a delay in closing the abdominal midline of Airedale Terriers. A minor hernia will affect naturally as the puppy grows into an adult.

Von Willebrand’s Disease: This disease is a genetically transmitted blood disorder characterized by an inability to clot. 

Symptoms of Von Willebrand’s Disease:

  • Excessive bleeding post-surgery or injury  
  • Nosebleeds 
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bleeding in the stomach or intestines.

Unfortunately, treatment is currently unavailable for this illness. Hence dogs with this disorder shouldn’t be bred.  

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis: This condition is generally found in toy dog breeds, also known as Hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome, which occurs when the dog starts vomiting and has blood in diarrhea. It can be treated by Intravenous fluid therapy. The cause for HGE is unknown; hence there is no known cause; the scan cannot diagnose this.    

Cancer: Airedale Terriers are prone to cancer as they grow older. Cancer can be cured by surgical removal of tumors and chemotherapy. It is essential not to ignore the symptoms and diagnose them earlier.

Recommended tests for the Airedale Terriers 

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Renal Disease DNA Test

Airedale Terriers Diet and Nutrition 

It is good to measure food 1.5 to 2.5 cups that is high in quality, dry food to your Airedale Terriers twice a day rather than letting the food on the plate all day long to eat. Since these canines are potential weight gainers, it is better to monitor the amount of food you offer. However, ensure the diet that you feed is measured and tailored to your specific dog’s age, size, activity level, and weight. Additionally, limit the treats you give your dog, especially while training. You can always prefer high-quality dog food, either homemade or commercially manufactured. In the case of a commercial diet, check the label for the statement if it meets the nutritional standards. However, if you suspect your dog is overweight, you can perform the tests below to confirm the same.

  • Eye test: You must be able to see your canine’s waist.
  • Hands-on test: You must be able to feel his ribs while you place your hands on his back and thumbs on his spine and not see it without pressing hard. If not, he is obese. 

If you find your pet overweight or obese, schedule a visit to your vet and get a mealtime and exercise plan to help him lose those extra flaps. 

Airedale Terriers Living Condition 

Airedale Terriers are the most suitable companion dogs who gel well with their human families. They love to play and enjoy the company of children. They are content when they are around their family. On the downside, they suffer separation anxiety when left alone for hours. They are slightly aloof with strangers but get along well with other dogs if socialized at an early age. However, they have a strong prey drive, making them unsuitable for homes owning a cat. 

Airedale Terriers adapt well to homes with a backyard, while apartments and smaller homes pose a challenge. However, if you are an active family who loves to exercise and are outgoing, Airedales are the ones for you. 

Did You Know? 

  • The Airedale Terrier, Jack, proved to be a working dog when he delivered a message to the British headquarters during World War 1. This way, he saved a battalion and the Victoria Cross for “Gallantry in the Field” awarded posthumously for his bravery. 
  • During the Russo-Japanese war, the Airedales were used to locate and take away wounded soldiers from the battlefield. They were also trained in communication and sanitary services. Following this, the Russian army began to use them as demolition canines, guard dogs, casualty dogs, and police tracking dogs.
  • Two Airedale Terriers lost their lives in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
  • President Harding petted an Airedale named Laddie Boy, who became the first celebrity White House pet. The president often accommodated Laddie boy on a special hand-carved chair while attending cabinet meetings.
  •  The Airedale was the most popular breed in the USA in the 1920s. 

Airedale Terriers Club Recognition 

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = America’s Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • CET = Club Español de Terriers (Spanish Terrier Club)
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club

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