Airedale Terrier

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40-47 lbs
Waterside Terrier, Bingley Terrier, King of Terriers

The Airedale Terrier originated in the Aire of England in the 1800s and was originally bred for hunting otter and badgers. They are the largest of the Terrier breed with males about 23 inches tall and weighing up to 50 pounds. They have a medium-length double coat that is wiry and usually tan with a black or grizzled saddle. They live 11 to 14 years, which is about as long as other breeds of their size. The Airedale Terrier is very social and needs plenty of attention. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), they were officially recognized in 1888 and are the 55th most popular dog breed in America.

badger and otter hunting
Date of Origin
otterhounds, various terrier breeds

Airedale Terrier Health

Average Size
Height: 22-24 inches Weight: 44-50 lbs
Height: 21-23 inches Weight: 40-47 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Entropion
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy
Minor Concerns
  • Thyroid
  • Corneal Opacities
  • Heart Problems
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip X-Rays
  • Heart

Airedale Terrier Breed History

The Airedale Terrier is known as the King of Terriers because of its size as the largest terrier. Originating in the mid-1800s by the Aire River in England (which is where the name came from), this breed was developed from a mix of Otterhounds, Old English Black and Tan Terriers (now extinct), Bull Terriers, and other unknown Terrier breeds. They were originally used by the Yorkshiremen to hunt large rats on the Aire River. They even had rat hunting competitions. The Airedale Terrier was first named the Waterside or Bingley Terrier but was then named Airedale in 1878 for the area where it originated. The Airedale Terrier became a dog show favorite and as breeders became more interested in its appearance, they started breeding it with Bull and Irish Terriers. One famous Airedale Terrier whose name was Master Briar became a star in 1900 after he won many show championships. Other famous dogs include Little Duke, who was owned by the late actor, John (Duke) Wayne; President Woodrow Wilson had an Airedale named Davie; Calvin Coolidge owned Laddie Buck (also called Paul Pry); and Warren Harding owned one named Laddie Boy. This breed was also known for serving with the troops in World War I as a hunter, messenger, and guard. They are also still used in law enforcement sometimes. Although they were more often used as hunters previously, they are now also found in homes as companion pets and make excellent guard dogs. They are loyal and fiercely protective of their family.

Airedale Terrier Breed Appearance

Their head should be well balanced between the skull and foreface with a long flat skull. The ears are small, shaped like a triangle, and point to the sides. They have a black nose and small dark eyes with an intelligent expression. Airedale Terriers should have strong white teeth with a level vice-like bite. A moderately long and thick neck should slope into the back with flat shoulder blades. The chest is deep but not broad with a short, strong back. Legs are straight, muscular, and proportionate with the rest of the body. The feet of the Airedale Terrier should be small and round with deep, cushioned pads. The short, wiry coat should be dense and slightly wavy. There is a softer layer underneath for warmth. The Airedale Terrier should have a tan head and ears and the sides and back should be black or darkly grizzled. Some dogs have a small white blaze on their chest.

Airedale Terrier Breed Maintenance

This breed does not shed much but still needs to be brushed weekly with a slicker brush and groomed at least once every few months to keep them looking great. They do not have to be trimmed but many Airedale Terrier owners have their dog groomed or trim it themselves a few times a year. Otherwise, their hair can be too thick and unruly. Airedale Terriers are energetic and need lots of attention from their humans so be prepared to spend at least one or two hours per day with your dog. They are not great in apartments but if living in that environment would rather have a large area with a big yard to play in. However, if left alone in the yard too long with nothing to do, you may find holes all over the place so be sure to provide your Airedale with plenty of activities and toys outside. As with all dogs, they need the right amount of high-quality food recommended for their weight, age, and breed.

Airedale Terrier Breed Activity Requirements

The Airedale likes to be top dog and because of this, socialization at the dog park or in obedience classes should be part and parcel of this pup's upbringing. This spritely breed likes to to busy and not only that, but bossy too, so in order to curb these tendencies providing plenty of outdoor activity is a must. Your Airedale will thrive on a couple of brisk walks per day; alternate activities can include hiking and exploration in a safe backyard area. Always supervise your pet when outside; digging is a favorite pastime and an unplanned escape may occur if he is left alone.