The Airedale terrier is considered the largest breed in the terrier dog group, earning the name the “King of Terriers”. Originally bred as a sporting and working dog, the Airedale terrier used to hunt otters and rats. Today, the breed competes in agility, obedience, and hunt tests
This medium-sized dog breed is intelligent, confident, and athletic which makes them excel in all kinds of dog sports and activities. The Airedale Terriers are patient with children and protective of their families.
The Airedale terrier’s short wiry coat requires little maintenance. Weekly brushing is sufficient to keep the coat neat and mat-free.
Like most terriers, the Airedale terrier is of British origin. It is believed to have come from the Aire River Valley in Yorkshire, England in the eighteenth century and was Kennel Club registered since 1886. The breed was created as a multipurpose sporting and working dog mainly to hunt rats and otters. It was a cross between an English bull terrier and the now-extinct Old English black and tan terrier. The offspring was then bred with an otter hound. Before taking the name of the British river, it was called the working terrier, Waterside terrier, and Bingley terrier.
Appearance and Grooming
The Airedale is the largest amongst British terriers, which is why it is called 'King of Terriers.' Contributing to its nickname is its robust body structure. It weighs between 45 and 66 pounds and stands 58–61 centimetres at the withers.
The Airedale's distinctive coat is covered with two layers: hard and wiry topcoat, and soft and fluffy undercoat. The standard colours for this breed are black or grizzle on top, and tan on all other parts. Some white hairs between forelegs are acceptable. Its coat is hypoallergenic and shedding is minimal.
The Airedale doesn’t require frequent bathing and only needs weekly brushing to ensure that its coat is neat. This breed’s coat is generally low-maintenance but should be trimmed a few times a year to avoid becoming unruly. However, if you’re planning to have your Airedale compete in dog shows, then you’ll need a great deal of work on that wiry coat. If that is the case, have it groomed by a professional groomer.
The rest is basic grooming routines. Trim the nails every few weeks. Brush the teeth regularly for fresh breath and good oral health. Clean the ears using a cotton ball moistened with a mild pH-balanced cleanser to prevent infections. If you notice signs of inflammation such as redness or a bad odour, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Airedale terrier is a friendly, energetic, independent, confident, and intelligent pooch. Like most terriers, it is prone to digging and chasing small animals. It is not aggressive towards people and other dogs, but with its hunter instincts, it is definitely fearless.
As a working dog, the Airedale enjoys accomplishing tasks. Positive reinforcement works best when training this canine. A fun attitude and a lot of praises will yield great results. It can be a good family pet especially if trained appropriately. However, large ones with high activity level can be too difficult for younger and smaller kids.
Start training your Airedale when it's still young or from the time you bring it home. Regardless of its predisposition owing to its breed, each dog is unique. Early training and socialisation are the most prominent factors that will determine how an Airedale will turn out growing up.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Airedale terrier is 1.5–2.5 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. However, this is only a guide. The amount of food depends on several factors such as age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. A lot of information about breed nutrition can be found online, but remember that your dog’s individuality also matters.
Typical calorie needs of an adult Airedale terrier per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 1,100 calories daily
- Typical adult: up to 1,300 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 1,500 calories daily
Enthusiasts of the breed stress out the importance of feeding high-protein foods. They recommend grain-free dry kibbles containing animal meat such as lamb, chicken, beef, and salmon. As an active dog, it needs carbohydrates for energy, which should come from gluten-free sources. Avoid simple carbohydrates that are used as fillers like wheat, corn, and soy.
Health and Exercise
The average lifespan of an Airedale is between eleven and fourteen years. This breed is generally healthy but prone to some illnesses. It can have allergies, cancer, hip dysplasia, umbilical hernia, hypothyroidism, haemorrhagic gastroenteritis, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and Von Willebrand disease.
As a hunter and working dog, the Airedale has high energy and stamina. It needs at least two walks a day or a single walk combined with free time at a fenced yard. It can be a good jogging companion that never seems to get tired.
Cost of Ownership
An Airedale Terrier costs between £350 and £1000. Expect to pay more for a well-bred pedigree puppy registered with The Kennel Club. Expenses on food, treats, toys, leashes, collars, beds, and other dog supplies are estimated at £200 per month. If you factor in healthcare and veterinary costs, including vaccinations, boosters, expect a yearly expense of more than £1,000.
If you don’t want to incur unexpected costs due to health issues, then it is best to get pet insurance. On average, the basic coverage will cost you £23 a month whilst a lifetime policy will set you back £50 a month.
In total, you will need around £60 - £100 a month to care for an Airedale Terrier. This number does not include major veterinary bills for treatments or procedures that are not covered by insurance.
Airedale Terrier Breed Highlights
- The Airedale is best for experienced dog owners because this breed needs a firm hand.
- He is an extremely intelligent dog and learns quickly with proper training and guidance.
- The Airedale is good around children of all ages as long as they are supervised.
- He has a natural inclination to dig holes and chase small animals, but it can be curbed if trained appropriately, especially with positive reinforcement.
- As the Airedale is a high-energy dog, he needs plenty of exercise.
Are you sure the Airedale Terrier is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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