The Airedale terrier hails from the Yorkshire region of England, specifically the area of Airedale. As the largest of the terrier types of dog, the Airedale has been referred to as the “King of Terriers.” Bred to hunt otters and other small game, the Airedale has even been employed as a police dog in parts of the UK. Weighing as much as sixty-five pounds, the Airedale terrier is a great working or hunting dog, and it also makes an excellent family pet when properly socialized.
Airedale terriers were first bred during the mid-nineteenth century by crossing Otterhounds with Welsh terriers. Airedales have historically been known for their bravery as they were often used by hunters to chase quarry into its den, where the Airedale could quickly kill it and retrieve it for the hunter. As a skilled ratter, the Airedale can hunt various small animals successfully. During World War I, Airedales were used to carry mail to soldiers behind enemy lines. They were also used as guard dogs by the British Army. Because of their bravery during the war, the Airedale became a celebrated breed in the U.S. and other parts of Europe.
Airedales are distinguished by their medium-length black and tan coats. The dogs have a soft undercoat and courser top coat. Although these dogs are famed for their fearlessness, they are also well known for their non-aggressiveness, which has made them great as pets. Intelligent and strong willed, Airedales are ideally trained as puppies for optimum obedience. Though they make fine hunters, they can get along with small household pets (even cats), particularly when raised with small animals as puppies.
Airedales do prefer life to be interesting as they can become easily bored. They are excellent diggers and can be quite playful. In addition, Airedales have been known to be good guard dogs and can be trained to perform this duty for their owners. Independent and open to facing new challenges, this breed enjoys activity and mental stimulation. Airedales are not ideal for apartment dwellers as they prefer their space and to have plenty of exercise. Though prone to hip dysplasia and skin infections, Airedales may live, on average, about eleven years.
Though the Airedale terrier originated in England, this small game hunter is, today, popularly owned in many parts of the world. Airedales can be dominant, so owners may need to be firm. Also, Airedales are apt to show dominance over other dogs in the home. When its needs are met, Airedales make excellent companions for people of all ages.