Affectionate, Independent, Intelligent, Stubborn
This breed was developed in the river valley of the River Aire in Yorkshire, northern England in the mid-19th century for the purpose of tackling quarry, particularly the large river rats that inhabited the River Aire.
The ancestors of the modern-day Airedale Terriers comes from the lineage of the Black and Tan Terrier (now known as the Welsh Terrier). However, these early Airedales don't look anywhere near from today's modern breed. The early Airedales were known as Waterside Terriers and Bingley Terriers and were mainly used as small to medium game hunters but performed poorly in water. In the mid-19th century, the locals crossed the breed with the Otterhound to make them better swimmers and able to quickly pick up the scent of larger game not suitable for smaller terriers such as rabbits, hare and fowl.
They were first introduced at a dog show in 1864, albeit under different names (Rough Coated, Bingley and Waterside Terrier). It was not until 1879 that breeders decided to use the name "Airedale Terrier" in honor of their birthplace and officially recognized in 1886 by The Kennel Club of England.
The Airedale Terrier is highly intelligent, highly energetic and stubborn which makes it a reliable watchdog - a ferocious guardian but very friendly with his family. A strong hunting instinct runs in the blood so they don't usually get along quite well with other dogs particularly of the same gender. Most Airedales are not big barkers but they tend to dig a lot, chew on objects, and chase small animals owing to their terrier lineage.
If not properly socialized and trained at a young age, the Airedale Terrier may apply their strong hunting instinct on smaller animals. They can get somewhat aloof particularly with strangers but early socialization and training from a firm and gentle hand can correct this attitude. Combine training and exercise on a daily basis to stimulate mental and physical requirements. Airedales are highly adaptable and versatile. Properly trained, they are protective of their families, especially with younger children.
Intense grooming is required to keep the Airedale's hard, wiry coat in excellent condition. Hand stripping the undercoat every couple of months with a small serrated edged knife to pull out loose hair is the technique advised by grooming experts to help maintain the Terrier outline. However, a properly trimmed coat just needs a quick brushing twice a week to maintain a healthy dog. They typically shed their hypoallergenic coat twice a year.
The Airedale Terrier has a lifespan of 11 to 13 years and generally speaking, it is a strong, resilient breed. However, like most breeds, it is without a disease. The most prevalent disease among Airedales are various forms of cancer, urologic ailments and heart-related disease such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) also affects this breed as well as dermatitis, bloating or gastric torsion, and hypothyroidism. Skin problems are also prevalent which can be caused by lick granuloma and hot spots. Von Willebrand's disease - a congenital blood clotting disorder also affects the Airedale Terrier.
Airedale Terriers were originally bred to chase after game, hence they have a very active life and require plenty of exercise as pets. Long daily walks is a recommended exercise as well as running along a bike on a leash. Airedales love to swim and play fetch. It is not recommended for an apartment life. A suitable home would be a large house with a big fenced lawn where the dog can play and run. Lack of regular exercise can make the Airedale destructive and chew on things that he can get his teeth on.
The Airedale Terrier does not always posses a well-behaved attitude particularly around other breed of dogs or animals. It's strong prey drive makes it unsuitable to live with other small animals and has a tendency to chase them especially when running away. Airedales are better off with people rather than with other dogs. However, like any other breed of dogs, early socialization and proper training is the key to having a dog that will be cherished by the whole family.