Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
The Airedale Terrier isn’t called the King of Terriers simply because it is the largest of all terrier breeds. With an unflagging spirit and can-do attitude these dogs excel at hunting, athletics, and companionship as well as search and rescue, police dog work, and therapy dog work. But don’t let their regal appearance and hardworking nature fool you, Airedales have a sense of humor and are known for playing practical jokes on their humans. Those not able to be the butt of many a joke need not apply.
Airedales are loyal and loving companion animals and want to be where their people are. They are also patient a playful with kids, as long as both have been taught to interact respectfully. While they can certainly be trained, their intelligence and free-spiritedness can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness, as the Airdale often has its own ideas about what task should be completed and when.
As with all breeds, it’s important to know what you’re getting in to before making an Airedale part of your pack, but if you find the breed to be a good fit for your family, you are in for a lot of love, work, and laughs.
Also Known As...
Waterside Terrier. Bingley Terrier. Airedale. King of Terriers. "Little known fact: the closest known relative to the dinosaurs is the Airedale Terrier!"
Originating in the Aire Valley of Yorkshire in the 1800s, Airedales were bred to catch otters and rats in the image of their factory hands and mill working humans. Members of the tough working community would try to breed each dog to outfight, outhunt, and outthink their fellow workers’ dog. As a result, Aires have excelled in many areas including big-game hunting, as messenger dogs in WWII, police work, obedience, agility, and as loving companion animals.
By 1949, the Airedale was ranked 20th in popularity by the American Kennel Club, though that ranking has decreased, in part, as German Shepards were increasingly used in roles traditionally belonging to Airedales.
23 inches tall on average.
The average weight range for Airedale Terriers is 50 – 70 pounds.
Free-thinkers. Pranksters. Hard workers. There are so many facets to the King of Terriers, which can account for their popularity. There is never a dull moment with an Airedale. They are master thieves, and love to play games of hide and (you) seek with your belongings. Like all terriers, Airedales can be prone to digging, chasing and barking, behaviors often found to be undesirable, yet they also have a fun-loving, active, and comical attitude that their humans find to be rewarding and irresistible.
They are protectors and guardians of their families and homes, and make loving companions to children when both are trained to interact properly. Airedales can be unforgiving of harsh treatment or aggression from humans or other animals and their history as independent hunters gives them the tough demeanor to back up their free spirits. But they are fiercely loyal to their humans, and are happiest when working and playing alongside them.
Intelligence / Trainability
Airedale’s are extremely intelligent and hardworking, and have the resume to prove it. However, which can account for a lack of obedience. While they are certainly capable of learning commands, they are not interested in repetitive exercises. They like to do something well once and then move on. As many Airedales do excel in obedience, agility, hunting, search and rescue, and other work, training is certainly feasible. The key is figuring out what motivates your particular pup, and then allowing them to work with you rather than trying to get them to work for you. Airedales don’t appreciate being talked down to. They have the smarts and ability to succeed in many tasks, and they know it.
As these are large, energetic dogs, while a yard is not necessity, itis definitely a plus. Airedales should never be allowed off lead or in unsecure outdoor areas, as they are hunters and will happily chase after anything they deem to be prey. They also should not be left alone for long periods of time, as not being included in family activities can lead to boredom and thus unwanted behaviors.
Good For Families And Kids?
Airedales are devoted and loving companions, and in return they expect equal love and devotion. They want to be part of the family and do not respond well to being excluded. They will defend their family with their lives, and
They are famously docile and patient with kids however, they are large dogs who can play roughly and therefore homes with small children may not be the best fit. Supervision, along with teaching both child and dog to respect one another is key to a happy and safe relationship. Training is always a great option to increase socialization and build confidence.
The average life expectancy for Airedale Terriers is 11 –14 years.
Airedales are, for the most part, a hardy and healthy breed. As with all large breeds, they can be prone to hip dysplasia, so a hip evaluation is often an early and necessary requirement. Allergies are also common and can lead to dermatitis, which can be hard to detect at first due to their dense coat. Other conditions to be aware of include hyperthyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, umbilica hernia, Von Willebrand’s Disease, and hamorrhagic gastroenteritis.
High-energy throughout their lives, Airedales require daily playtime, walks and/or yard time. Chances are, you will tire out before they do, so include them in activities whenever possible. A breed that’s capable of as much as the Airedale is (hunting, agility, police dog work) is happiest when doing a job, especially by your side. They love to play with family members, including kids, although their size, strength, and enthusiasm can lead to mishaps with smaller children so supervision is a must.
Friendly With... (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Excellent guard dogs, Airedales will not hesitate to defend their family and home, however they are friendly with invited guests.
It has been said that Airedale Terriers don’t start fights, they finish them, so while this breed can and does get along well with other dogs, they are always ready to defend themselves (and their family) and do not stand for being on the receiving end of aggression.
Great care should also be taken if introducing Airedales to other small pets such as cats, as they are small prey hunters by nature. They tend to do best with smaller animals when raise with them. Again, training and socialization will go a long way to instilling harmony in the home.
Coat & Grooming
Airedales have a dense, wiry topcoat and soft undercoat which require regular grooming. Several brushings each week and a quarterly haircut or stripping should do the trick.
Toys Airedale Terriers Would Like Best
Airedales play hard and think hard, so toys that exercise both body and mind will always be a hit.
The BARK "Lady Liberty Ball" is perfect for rigorous games of fetch. A layer of soft yet durable plush hides the spiky squeaker ball beneath. The medium or large sizes are perfect for Airedales to catch and carry, and the fabric edge is great for thrashing and throwing.
The durable "Shuck N' Chuck Corn Cob" dog toy is a great way to engage your Airedales desire to hunt. Hide treats inside the durable rubber cob which your pup can sniff out, roll, or carry and toss with the ballistic nylon rope and crinkle-filled husk.
Durable Super Chewer Toys are also a great idea for those airedales who love to tear their toys apart. That is, if you don't want to have to keep buying new toys.
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Supplements might be helpful for any joint/hip pain or anxiety your Airedale is experiencing, but as always, consult your vet before administering them.
These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)
BARK's Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Airedale with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
For senior Weims or dogs suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia (or just any dog that enjoys lying down!), a comfortable, supportive dog bed is probably a good idea.
This dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your Weimaraner. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Airedale Terrier Of Your Dreams
- Airedale Terrier Rescue & Adoption (ATRA) is an all-volunteer organization rescuing Airedales in 13 Midwest states and the province of Ontario. They have provided quality care, love, and found forever homes for over 2000 Airedales.
- Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA) Rescue & Adoption Committee fulfills the ATCA’s obligation to protect and advance the interests of the breed by providing services to lost, abandoned, abused, or unwanted purebred Airedales. The committee maintains a network of volunteers across the country to aid in the care and re-homing of Airedales in need.
- Airedale Rescue Group has been rescuing Airedales since 2000 in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. This small group of volunteers works hard to foster, train, and place Airedales into loving, forever homes.
- Adoptable Airedales on Petfinder.
Notable Instagram Airedale Terriers
Franklin Beauregard Gregg is a handsome Airedale living in Alabama!
A couple of Airedale sisters living with their dad in West Virginia!
This adorable pup, just over a year old, is always up to one adventure or another. From puppy kindergarten to tackling stairs, growing up has never looked so good.
This 2-year-old pup (full name: Maximus von Host of Angels) is busy growing up big and strong in Hungary. He sometimes has to teach his human how to do a job right, which it the burden of most Airedales.
Whether he’s stealing pizza or eating rabbit poop, Hudson looks adorable working hard at getting into mischief. Follow his adventures for a heartwarming laugh.
***Looking for a gift to blow your Airedale Terrier's mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)
Featured image via Franklin_the_airedale52/Instagram