Airedales are one of the largest of the Terrier breeds, often referred to as the King of Terriers. They generally stand just under two feet tall and weigh in at between forty and sixty pounds. They were originally employed as farm dogs, to eliminate pests on the farm and to protect the land and the landowners. They are known to be intelligent, protective, quick thinking, and stubborn, and they can excel in many different activities and sports developed with dogs in mind.
Many people will conjure up images of retrievers or water spaniels when they think of canine water sports; however, this terrier type dog is also well-designed for swimming and tends to enjoy the activity a great deal. Although they are not considered to be in the retriever category, they are listed as a gun dog by the AKC and have a strong instinct to locate and retrieve game. Airedale Terriers, like many of the larger retrieving breeds, are prone to joint problems, particularly hip dysplasia, and the activity of swimming can help to strengthen the muscles that support the hip joints without adding as much stress to the joints as walking or running, due to the cushioning effect of the water.
Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test) is another new dog sport that has recently increased in popularity. It is similar to Lure Coursing in that a lure, usually a white plastic bag, is pulled along very quickly by a pulley, encouraging the dog to give chase. In most lure coursing competitions, however, the lure switches directions several times throughout the trial, and the course is either three or six hundred yards, but in Fast CAT the lure is pulled in a single, straight 100-yard dash in order to test the dog’s top speed. This sport is often better for dogs who are reluctant to make to quick twists and turns that are inherent in longer lure courses and for dogs with shorter attention spans.
Hide and seek is a great game for any thinking dog that enjoys interacting with their chosen people. While Airedales were not developed specifically for their tracking ability, being able to locate small rodents when they were trying not to be located was a key component of being a ratter, and they have an effective and methodical manner of searching. Their ability to track was also useful for finding game when they were employed as gun dogs and for finding criminals when they worked as police and security animals. You can put this ability to use by teaching your dog to play hide and seek with you, a fun game that strengthens your bond and improves your canine companion’s problem solving skills.
Airedale Terriers are quick moving and flexible making them excellent candidates for the sport of Agility training. It is important to remember that consistency is key when training this breed as they tend to exploit any loophole that they can find.
As you can see, the Airedale Terrier is a very versatile canine, and to celebrate their diversity, the Airedale Terrier Club of America offers recognition to Airedales that excel in multiple sports and programs, including many of the activities that are listed here.
Airedale Terriers are strong, versatile dogs that are able to think quickly yet methodically. This breed, often referred to as the King of Terriers, is able to excel in many different disciplines including tracking, swimming, hunting, and pest control, but also has a very independent mind, which can lead to some difficulty during training if training is not handled consistently.