Airedale Terrier: Breed Profile

| Updated: August 10, 2023
Airedale Terrier look inquisitive.

Origin History of the Airedale Terrier:

The history of the Airedale Terrier is a fascinating story. The Airedale is a relatively new breed, dating back to the mid-19th century when a cross between a Rough-Coated Black and Tan Terrier and an Otterhound was first attempted. The goal of this cross was to create a well-rounded sporting dog that could hunt otters in the rivers and rats on land. The result was a dog that possessed the keenness of a terrier and was able to swim and scent game. This dog was called the Waterside or Bingley Terrier and quickly gained popularity in the Aire Valley.

In 1864, the first dog show in the Aire Valley was held and the Waterside Terrier competed under the Broken-Haired Terriers class. In 1879, author Hugh Dalziel described the Bingley Terrier as par excellence… an exceedingly good one. His comments sparked immediate interest in the breed and a group of fanciers joined together to rename the Waterside to the Airedale Terrier. In 1880, Dalziel judged the Airedale Terrier at a show and referred to the dog as such in his report. The name Airedale Terrier was accepted by the Kennel Club in England in 1886.

The Airedale Terrier Club of America was founded in 1900, and in 1910, the club started a perpetual trophy that is offered at parent club shows. This trophy is known as the Airedale Bowl and has the names of the winners engraved on the bowl and pedestal. During World War I, Airedales were used for a variety of roles, including messengers, sentries, carriers of food and ammunition, scouts, ambulance dogs, ratters, Red Cross casualty dogs, sled dogs, and guard dogs. This brought attention to the breed and they quickly rose in popularity, with presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge soon owning and fancying the breed.

Today, the Airedale Terrier is still a beloved breed, though its rank in popularity has dropped since the 1950s. Despite this, their intelligence, energy, and loyalty continue to make them great companions and working dogs.

Airedale Terrier Appearance:

The Airedale Terrier is a large, strong, and powerful dog with a distinctive and unique look. They have long, wiry coats that are usually black and tan, although a few may have red or grizzle coloring. The coat is made up of two layers: an outer coat that is dense and wiry and an undercoat that is soft and short. The ears, legs, head, underbelly, and sometimes the shoulders are tan, while the back and upper sides are generally black or grizzled black mixed with gray and white. The Airedale Terrier also has a white star on their chest and sometimes a speckling of red in the black.

The Airedale Terrier does not require much maintenance when it comes to grooming. Regular brushing helps keep the coat in good condition, and it should be brushed once or twice a week. Over-bathing is not recommended, as this will soften the coarse terrier coat. They do not need to be trimmed, but most owners choose to have them professionally groomed three to four times a year. This helps to keep them looking neat and tidy.

It is also important to take care of the Airedale Terrier’s teeth by brushing them at least two or three times a week to remove tartar and bacteria. Their nails should also be trimmed once or twice a month if they don’t wear them down naturally. It is best to have a professional groomer or vet handle the trimming process, as cutting the nails too short can lead to bleeding. Finally, their ears should be checked weekly for infection and wiped with a pH-balanced ear cleaner.

Diet and Nutrition:

The Airedale Terrier is a medium-to-large breed with high energy levels, so it’s important to provide them with the right nutrition to keep them healthy and fit. An ideal Airedale Terrier diet should be formulated for their size and activity level, with high-quality ingredients that provide the right balance of nutrients. Look for a food that’s specifically formulated for medium-to-large breeds, with at least 18-20% protein and 8-10% fat. Avoid foods with too many fillers and preservatives, as these can be unhealthy for your pup.

For treats, look for healthy options like fresh fruits and veggies, or try homemade recipes for treats like peanut butter cookies. Airedale Terriers are also known for their love of puzzle toys and snuffle mats, so these can be great ways to make mealtime more enjoyable for your pup.

When it comes to your Airedale Terrier’s diet, it’s important to consult your veterinarian to determine the best food for your pup. The breed’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years, so it’s important to adjust their diet accordingly. Your vet can also provide guidance on how much food to feed your Airedale Terrier, as well as tips on keeping them at a healthy weight.

Common Health Issues Affecting Airedale Terriers:

Airedale Terriers are generally a healthy breed, but they can occasionally be prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health issues affecting Airedale Terriers include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and allergies.

Hip Dysplasia is an inherited condition in which the hip joint does not form correctly, leading to pain and movement limitations. This condition can be caused by genetics, lifestyle, or nutrition, and can range from mild to severe. Elbow Dysplasia is a condition that affects the development of the elbow joint and can cause lameness, stiffness, and pain. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, leading to symptoms such as weight gain, hair loss, and skin problems. Allergies in Airedale Terriers can range from mild to severe and can be caused by environmental or dietary triggers.

If you are considering an Airedale Terrier, it is important to source your puppy from a responsible and reputable breeder. A good breeder will be able to provide health clearances for both the puppy’s parents, which can help reduce the risk of your puppy developing any of the above-mentioned health issues. It is also important to ensure that the pup is given a proper diet and exercise regimen to help promote overall health and reduce the chances of developing any health issues.

Interesting Facts about the Airedale Terrier:

Airedale Terriers are often referred to as “the king of terriers” due to their status as the largest of the terrier breeds. They were bred to be an all-purpose working dog and have been used for a variety of tasks throughout their history. Here are some interesting facts about Airedale Terriers that may surprise you!

First, Airedale Terriers were originally bred in the Aire Valley in England, in the mid-1800s. The original breeding program was designed to create a well-rounded sporting dog with the keenness of a terrier that could swim and scent game. After the first show in 1864, their popularity quickly grew and the breed was officially named the Airedale Terrier in 1886.

Second, Airedale Terriers are often used as guard dogs, due to their natural protective instinct. They are highly alert and loyal to their owners and make excellent watchdogs. They are also very intelligent, so they can be trained to perform a variety of tasks such as search and rescue missions.

Third, Airedale Terriers were widely used as military dogs in World War I. They were often used as messengers, sentries, carriers of food and ammunition, scouts, ambulance dogs, ratters, Red Cross casualty dogs, sled dogs, and guard dogs. Their bravery and loyalty made them popular with military personnel and they are still used by the military today.

Finally, Airedale Terriers are very popular with US presidents. Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge all reportedly owned Airedale Terriers. The breed has also been seen in various Hollywood movies, often playing the role of a heroic dog.

Where to Adopt or Buy:

If you’re looking to bring an Airedale Terrier into your home and family, there are a few options you can consider. The most popular choice is to buy an Airedale Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder. If you opt for this route, be sure to do your research. Ask the breeder questions about their background and the lineage of the puppies they are selling. Be sure to ask for health clearances and make sure the breeder is a member of one of the Airedale Terrier breed clubs, organizations, and associations.

Another option is to adopt or rescue an Airedale Terrier. Adopting an Airedale can be a great way to bring a new companion into your home without having to go through the puppy stage. Many rescue organizations specialize in Airedale Terriers and can provide you with an adult dog that’s already been house-trained and has some basic obedience training. You can find rescue organizations and shelters through the Airedale Terrier breed clubs, organizations, and associations.

Finally, if you’re looking for a mix of the Airedale Terrier and another breed, there may be rescues or shelters in your area that have similar mixes available. You can also ask the national breed clubs or local breed clubs for advice on where to find a suitable mix.

No matter which route you decide to take, you’ll be providing a loving home to an Airedale Terrier, and that’s the most important thing.


The Airedale Terrier is a great companion animal for those who can provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation. He is an active, independent, and athletic breed with a lot of energy and drive. His propensity for barking, digging, and chasing must be taken into consideration before bringing an Airedale into the home. The Airedale loves to work, so be prepared to provide plenty of opportunities for him to exercise, train, and socialize. Training should be positive, fun, and flexible, and crate training is highly recommended.


Q: How much do Airedale Terriers shed?

A: The Airedale Terrier is not known for extreme shedding, but they do shed at certain times of the year. Regular brushing keeps the coat in good condition, and periodic bathing as needed will help to minimize shedding.

Q: How often should I brush my Airedale Terrier’s coat?

A: It is recommended to brush your Airedales coat once or twice a week. This will help to keep their coat in good condition and prevent it from becoming too long and unruly.

Q: What is the best way to groom an Airedale Terrier?

A: Most owners have their Airedale Terrier groomed by a professional groomer three to four times a year to give him a neat appearance. The coat is either trimmed with clippers, by stripping or a combination of both. Highly motivated owners can learn how to trim their own dogs, but it’s not easy and is time-consuming

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