Airedale Terrier – Your In-Depth Guide a Beautiful Breed

airedale terrier

The Airedale Terrier is a strong but loving breed.

These athletic yet elegant dogs are very energetic and have a lot of personality to match.

They’re excellent watchdogs and are highly independent.

But, they are also fun, loving, and playful, especially with their family.

What’s In This Guide

Airedale Terrier FAQs

Take a look at our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Airedale Terrier.

Let’s start by looking at some quick stats about this Terrier breed.

Breed At A Glance

  • Popularity: 60 out of 195 breeds on AKC
  • Purpose: Terrier group
  • Weight: 50 – 70 pounds
  • Temperament: Energetic, intelligent, idependent.

For a more detailed summary, just keep reading!

Airedale Terrier Breed Review: Contents

Let’s get started by looking at where the Airedale breed came from.

History and Original Purpose

This breed originated from Airedale, based in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England.

It was created in the mid-19th century by crossing the English Terrier with the Otterhound.

The Kennel Club of England recognized the Airedale Terrier as a breed in 1886. And the American Kennel Club recognized it in 1888.

They were used around this time in sporting competitions. These competitions involved hunting otters and other small animals. Airedales were very good at it!

Nowadays, these dogs are used as family companions more than sporting competitions. But, they can still make great watchdogs and working dogs!

Fun Facts About Airedale Terriers

We’ve looked briefly at the history of this breed.

But, the breed was also used during World War I to find wounded soldiers and deliver messages to the backlines.

There’s a tale of an Airedale named Jack who delivered a message through enemy fire! So they really are an impressive breed.

Airedale Terrier Appearance

Of all the Terriers, the Airedale is the largest and is known as the King of Terriers.

They’re often 23 inches tall, although the females are sometimes a bit smaller. These dogs weigh between 50 and 70 pounds on average.

While this is the average, larger Airedales up to 121 pounds can be found.

They’re a big dog, so they aren’t recommended for apartment living in most situations.

Defining Characteristics

The Airedale has a long skull that’s flat but not overly broad.

This feature gives him a distinct look that separates him from other breeds of Terriers.

Because he’s a hunter, his back legs are quite strong and muscular. In fact, his overall appearance should be square and muscular.

Coat Type and Colors

With a medium-length black and tan coat, Airedale Terriers are quite unique looking.

According to the AKC, Airedales are mostly tan, with black or grizzle on the back and upper sides.

They have two coats. The topcoat is rough, being dense and wiry, while the undercoat is softer.

When kept short, the coat will be straight.

Airedale Terrier Temperament

Having been used as a hunter and working dog back in the day, they continue to be very athletic.

And like other Terriers, the Airedale can act as a herding dog.

They are very independent dogs, and they often think and act for themselves.

Like any terrier, they love to dig, chase, and are known to be quite vocal. It’s recommended to give them the opportunity to exercise a lot.

Can They Be Aggressive?

This breed is often quite stubborn. When they’re trained well, they can get along well with other dogs, small children, and even cats.

But, they aren’t the type to let themselves be poked at. Which is why small children need to know how to interact with them.

Make sure to socialize them from a young age, especially with children and other animals. A well socialized Airedale will be happy in new situations, with any new people.

The last thing you need to know is that the Airedale Terrier may chew anything that they can get their hands on. Give them lots of toys to chew.

Training and Exercising your Airedale

Airedale Terriers, because of their athletic hunting nature, require a lot of exercise.

They aren’t the best dogs for small-apartment living, and they need to be walked multiple times a day to get out their pent-up energy.

They’re prone to digging and chewing to get out their energy.

So if you aren’t able to let them be active multiple times a day, they may not be the best breed for you.

Training Tips

The breed is very loyal and loving, but they can be tough to train at first.

This is because of their tendency to be independent and strong-willed, as well as their hunting instincts.

To make training easier, the Terrier needs to be given opportunities to use up his energy.

And of course, it depends on the personality of your individual dog as well as your ability as a trainer.

Use positive reinforcement methods, and train consistently for best results.

Airedale Terrier Health and Care

As with any breed, the Airedale is prone to certain health problems. Learning about these can help your Terrier live a longer, happier life.

Let’s take a look at the main problems this breed experiences.

Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is a condition commonly found in large dogs, and unfortunately, the Airedale Terrier is known to be affected by it.

In these cases, the hip joint rubs and grinds on the socket rather than smoothly gliding over it.

Some of the most common symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decreased activity, stiffness
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass.

Can it be Fixed?

While it can be inherited, there are other factors that come into play.

Environmental factors, like a dog’s diet and exercise habits, can increase their risk of developing hip dysplasia.

In fact, one study found that free-feeding led to more instances of hip dysplasia diagnoses.

Skin Conditions

Like other Terrier breeds, the Airedale is prone to skin conditions, namely atopic dermatitis.

However, due to their wiry coats, this will often go unnoticed unless it’s very severe.

Dermatitis can make an appearance in the form of acral lick dermatitis, which is when the skin becomes inflamed due to excessive licking.

Hand stripping the coat could also contribute to some forms of dermatitis, albeit rare.

Other Problems

Those are the two most common issues. But there are others to watch out for:

  • Bloat
  • Eye problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Colonic disease

Noticing Problems

Because the Airedale Terrier is a tough breed, noticing injuries can be difficult.

It’s important to know your dog’s behaviors, and when something seems off, do a full inspection just to be safe.

A healthy Airedale Terrier can live from 10 – 13 years. But looking after your dog can help to extend this even further.

General Care and Grooming

This breed aren’t known to shed a lot. But you may see some very minimal shedding at certain times of the year.

To keep their coats clean and fresh, frequent brushing is required. The undercoats are often hand stripped, seeing as Airedale Terrier shedding is very minimal.

Stripping them removes dead hair and is required a couple of times a year, as it improves the quality of their coat.

Most people use a professional to do this, because it can be hard to perform yourself for the first time.

If you frequently brush your Airedale Terrier, you won’t need to give them many baths. Brushing in combination with a wet towel wipe-down is enough to remove dirt and oils.

With that said, when you are washing your Terrier, it’s important to do so in the direction their fur grows.

Do Airedale Terriers Make Good Family Pets?

The Airedale Terrier’s size is perfect for most families. He’s small enough to fit into smaller homes while being big enough to fight off intruders.

He’s a natural watchdog, so families looking for a sense of security would be wise to get an Airedale. They can be vocal, they aren’t known to bark too much compared to other Terriers.

Airedales are natural hunters, so introducing a full-grown Airedale to a small animal or cat is unwise. They’re also known to sometimes be aggressive toward same-sex dogs. That’s why it can be difficult to introduce an adult Airedale into a home with pets.

However, Airedale Terrier puppies can be trained to get along with small animals and cats.

The perfect home is also one where the Airedale gets the chance to exercise often. A backyard is recommended but not needed if you’re available to give him plenty of walks throughout the day.

When it comes to small children, Airedales are great. They are loyal and full of energy. As long as they aren’t being poked and prodded at, there will be no problems.

Rescuing an Airedale Terrier

If you aren’t fussed about getting a puppy, you might want to look at rescuing an Airedale Terrier.

This can be a great way to give an older job a second chance at a loving home. Plus, it is often cheaper than buying a puppy.

Sometimes, rescues also know a little bit more about the dog’s personality. So, you can know exactly what you’re buying.

Click here to find a list of Airedale Terrier rescue centers.

Finding an Airedale Puppy

Like other dogs, the most important thing to consider when choosing your Airedale Terrier puppy is whether they were raised in a loving home.

Puppies raised in healthy environments turn into well-adjusted, healthy adult dogs.

If at all possible, visit the breeder yourself to check out the premises. Ask them any questions you might have about taking care of Airedales.

A good breeder will ask you questions as well, as they likely want to make sure you’re a good fit for their puppy.

More Tips

If the puppy’s parents are available, meet them. Check to see if they are well-adjusted and healthy, and ask whether they’ve recently seen a vet.

It’s important to find out whether the parents have any health issues that could be passed down to the litter.

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With that said, you should also take a look at the rest of the litter.

Lastly, make sure that your Airedale Terrier puppy has been examined and is up to date with all of the treatments necessary when you pick him up.

Raising an Airedale Puppy

Caring for a vulnerable Airedale Terrier puppy is a big responsibility.

Training should start from a young age. You can also find out about our training courses here.

Popular Airedale Terrier Breed Mixes

Perhaps the purebred Airedale isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Luckily, mixes are getting more and more popular these days.

If you’re interested to see what happens when you combine an Airedale Terrier with another breed, take a look at some of the following articles:

Pros And Cons of Getting an Airedale

Let’s recap some of the pros and cons of this breed, so you can make sure it fits your lifestyle.


  • Needs a lot of exercise
  • Can be quite vocal dogs
  • Prone to some serious health problems
  • Not the best with small animals due to hunting instincts
  • Can be stubborn during training


  • Great for active families
  • Low maintenance coat with little shedding
  • Can make a great watchdog and companion
  • Very intelligent breed

Airedale Terrier Breed Rescues

Here are some rescue centers that would take in an Airedale Terrier.

If you know of any others we should add to this list, let us know in the comments.



References And Resources

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website