By Gary Walker
The Airedale Terrier is the largest of the terrier breeds. The ‘King of Terriers’, as it is known, stands up to 24 inches and the shoulder, and can weigh up to 65 pounds.
With its unique ‘square’ profile and wiry black-and-tan coat, the Airedale is an easy breed to recognize. They have a temperament that is typical of all terrier breeds, meaning they are dynamic, alert and ready to take on all-comers.
Like many terrier breeds, the Airedale Terrier originated in England, in an area of between the Aire and Whafe rivers. The early dogs were crosses between Welsh terriers and Otterhounds, and went under a number of names, including, the Rough Coated terrier, Bingly terrier and Waterside terrier.
In 1886, the breed gained recognition from the Kennel Club (UK), and adopted the Airedale name.
By now, the Airedale was already well-known for its tenacity, hard work and reliability. Originally a hunting dog it quickly made the transition to police dog, guardian and military messanger during World War One.
These dogs are independent thinkers with a high level of intelligence. They can be easy to train but are known to be stubborn at times, and to lose focus when they become bored. You should therefore keep your training sessions short, and focussed.
But the Airedale isn’t just all work and no play. These fun-loving dogs have a decided sense of humor and a genuine love of life. They love to play and make excellent pets for the right owner.
Airedales are robust dogs with a lifespan of about 12 years. They do however suffer from some common health problems, including, hip dysplasia, skin problems and eye problems. Hot spots are a common condition with this breed, while bloat may occur if you exercise the dog too soon after a meal.
The rough wiry coat of the Airedale requires a daily brush down to keep it in good condition. The coat will also have to be professionally hand stripped a couple of times a year.
This breed is a good choice for those who are particularly house proud as they shed very little. In fact, they are often suitable for allergy sufferers.
These dynamic terriers are not suited to the sedate life. They do best with an owner or family who are able to meet their considerable exercise needs, and are most definitely not suited to living in an apartment.
These dogs bore easily, and as with most active breeds will look for an outlet for their frustation. In many cases this will manifest in problem behaviors like barklng, digging and chewing.