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Airedale Terrier Dog Breed Information and Characteristics

You want to learn about the Airedale terrier breed. You want to learn about their ancestors, characteristics, and personalities. Let Dogsbreed.org help you learn all about this dog breed!

Airedale Terrier Overview

The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to Airedale), also known as the Bingley Terrier and the Waterside Terrier, is a breed of Terrier originating from the dale of the River Aire, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England.

It is often called the “King of Terriers” because it is the largest Terrier breed. The Airedale was bred from the Old English Black and Tan Terrier (now extinct), Bull Terrier, Otterhound and perhaps other terrier breeds, originally used as a working agricultural dog. In England, the breed has also been used as war dogs, guide dogs and police dogs. In the United States, the breed has been used for upland bird hunting, waterfowl hunting, and more.

The Airedale Terrier proudly holds the title of being the largest of all Terriers. Its origins trace back to 1853 when a Rough-Coated Black and Tan Terrier was crossed with an Otterhound, aiming to create a versatile sporting dog capable of hunting otters in rivers and rats on land. This crossbreeding produced a dog with the agility of a terrier, the ability to swim, and a keen sense of scent.

Initially known as Waterside or Bingley Terriers, they gained popularity within 12 years of the first crossbreeding and were showcased in the Broken-Haired Terriers class at the first dog show in the Aire Valley in 1864. Author Hugh Dalziel, after judging the dog at a show, highly praised the Bingley Terrier, sparking even more interest in the breed. As debates arose about the breed’s birthplace and name, a group of enthusiasts united to rename them the Airedale Terrier, which was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1886.

The Airedale Terrier Club of America was established in 1900, and during World War I, these dogs proved their courage and loyalty as messengers, sentries, carriers of food and ammunition, scouts, ambulance dogs, ratters, Red Cross casualty dogs, sled dogs, and guard dogs. Their heroic actions during the war further popularized the breed, attracting notable figures such as Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge.

In 1949, the Airedale Terrier ranked 20th in popularity according to the American Kennel Club but has since seen a decline in rank, partly due to the increased use of German Shepherds in roles traditionally filled by Airedales. Nonetheless, their rich history of bravery and versatility continues to be celebrated by those who admire this remarkable breed.

Quick Facts

  • Origin: Aire Valley, Yorkshire, England
  • Size: 22-24 inches tall at the shoulder, 45-65 pounds
  • Breed GroupTerrier
  • Lifespan: 10-13 years
  • Coat: Wiry, harsh, and double layer that comes in black, tan, or brindle
  • Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, playful, and fearless
  • Exercise needs: High
  • Training: Firmness and consistency
  • Grooming: Brushed 2-3 times a week and hand-stripped once a month
  • Health: Generally healthy, but can be prone to some health problems, such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia

External characteristics of the Airedale Terrier


Airedale dogs being judged by a panel of judges at a dog show.

The Airedale is the largest hunting dog in the UK. They weigh 19–25kg (42–55 lb) in suitable conditions and have a shoulder height of 58–61 centimeters (23–24 in) for males, with females being slightly smaller. American Kennel Club Standard set a slightly smaller standard for high moves. Larger Airedale dogs, up to 55kg (121 lb) can occasionally occur in North America. They are sometimes called “Oorangs” because this was the name of a canal in Ohio in the early 1900s that created this large Airedale breed.

The Airedale has a medium-length black and brown coat with a rough outer coat and a soft undercoat. They are alert and energetic dogs, “not aggressive but fearless”. Larger “Oorang” Airedales are said to be more eager than smaller standard Airedales, but this is not necessarily the case. The large Airedale has been used for hunting and as a family guardian or pet dog, but usually scores poorly in American Kennel Club dog shows. This larger breed is also more susceptible to hip dislocations than the standard Airedale.


Like many hunting dogs, this breed has a “broken” coat, which is very hard and hairy. This means that the fur of this species is not too long to form tangles, the hair is straight and close together, covering the body and legs. The outer coat is hard and hairy, the inner coat is softer. The stiffest coats will be wrinkled or slightly curly. Soft, curly fur is very undesirable.

This Airedale Terrier dog coat is hypoallergenic to humans.

The Airedale’s undercoat is usually brushed and stripped by hand, using a small serrated knife to pull the hair away from the dog’s undercoat. Most Airedales require regular clipping or stripping (every 6 to 8 weeks) because they do not shed their hair on their own.


The tail of this Airedale terrier is natural (not locked)

Usually the Airedale dog’s tail has long hair and points upward. In most European countries and Australia, it is illegal to hang a dog’s tail unless it benefits the dog (for example, if the tail is broken). This has led to the appearance of hooked tails in some dogs. The process of selective breeding caused this change to be confirmed over time and the slightly curved tail directed up the spine again became common.

In other parts of the world, the Airedale terrier’s tail is often docked within five days of birth, but this is not considered a breed standard. In order to show an Airedale Terrier in the United States, the official AKC standard states that “The base of the tail must be set at the rear. The tail must be pointed up but not bent back. The tail must have power , strong and of acceptable length.”

See more: Rottweiler Dog Breed Information, characteristics and how to care

Airedale Terrier Personality

The Airedale is a hard-working, independent, and athletic dog with a lot of drive, energy, and stamina. Like many terrier breeds, he may exhibit behaviors such as digging, chasing, and barking, which can be challenging for those unfamiliar with the Airedale personality. Before considering bringing an Airedale into your home, it’s essential to assess whether you are willing to cope with these potentially undesirable behaviors and embrace the challenges that come with their independent nature.

If you decide to welcome an Airedale into your life and provide the necessary attention and stimulation, you’ll be delighted by their active, fun-loving, and even comical attitude. This breed thrives on activity, so it’s crucial not to leave them alone for extended periods to avoid boredom, which could lead to destructive behavior.

Training an Airedale requires variety and positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, to keep them engaged. Avoid drill-and-jerk training, as it may not yield the desired results with this breed.

As a reliable watchdog, the Airedale takes pride in protecting their family and can be a fierce guardian. However, they are generally friendly with their family and friends.

Temperament in Airedales is influenced by various factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Choosing a puppy with a nice temperament, curiosity, and playfulness is ideal. Meeting at least one of the parents and observing siblings or other relatives can offer insights into the puppy’s future behavior.

Early socialization is vital for Airedales to grow up as well-rounded dogs. Exposing them to diverse experiences, people, sights, and sounds at a young age helps in developing their social skills. Enrolling in a puppy kindergarten class, inviting visitors regularly, and taking them to busy places can contribute to their overall development and well-being.

Airedale Terrier Health

Airedales are generally healthy, but like all dog breeds, they may be prone to certain health conditions. While not all Airedales will develop these diseases, it’s crucial to be aware of them if you are considering this breed. When buying a puppy, ensure you choose a reputable breeder who can provide health clearances for both the puppy’s parents. These clearances prove that the dogs have been tested and cleared of specific conditions.

Common health issues in Airedales include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: An inherited condition where the thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint, leading to pain and lameness. X-ray screening is the most reliable diagnostic method.
  • Allergies: Airedales are susceptible to food, contact, and inhalant allergies, which can cause various symptoms and require tailored treatments.
  • Hypothyroidism: A disorder of the thyroid gland that can result in a range of issues, including epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, lethargy, and skin conditions. Treatment involves medication and dietary adjustments.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A group of eye diseases that cause gradual deterioration of the retina, leading to night-blindness and eventually loss of daytime vision.
  • Umbilical Hernia: A condition where abdominal fat or internal organs protrude near the umbilicus. Small hernias may close on their own, while larger ones may require surgery.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood disorder affecting the clotting process, leading to symptoms such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and prolonged bleeding.
  • Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis: A disorder causing vomiting and diarrhea with blood, requiring prompt medical treatment to prevent dehydration and further complications.
  • Cancer: Like humans, dogs can develop various types of cancers, with treatment options varying depending on the specific case.

By being aware of these potential health concerns and working with a responsible breeder who tests and screens their dogs, you can provide your Airedale with the best possible care and enjoy a healthy, happy life together. Regular veterinary check-ups and a nutritious diet are also essential to support your Airedale’s overall well-being.

Airedale Terrier Care

The Airedale Terrier is a spirited working dog with plenty of energy and endurance. Regular exercise is vital for this breed, ideally involving at least one daily walk, though two walks are preferable. Additionally, a good romp in the backyard and engaging in activities like retrieving, playing, and swimming are all enjoyed by the Airedale. They make great jogging companions and may even outlast their owners in physical activity.

Training and socialization are essential for Airedales, and it’s best to start early with puppy classes. Incorporate socialization into training by exposing your Airedale to different environments, such as pet supply stores, outdoor events, and busy parks. It’s crucial to introduce them to people of all ages, including children, to ensure they become well-adjusted and friendly adults.

Crate training is highly recommended for the Airedale Terrier. Besides aiding in housetraining, the crate provides a safe and comfortable den for them to relax and settle down. When it comes to training, keep in mind that Airedales have independent minds. While they generally respond well to most training, they may have their preferences, like seeking shade on a hot summer day instead of sitting in full sunlight.

Positive reinforcement is the most effective approach to teach an Airedale. Maintaining a positive and fun attitude during training, coupled with patience and flexibility, is key to successfully training this freethinking breed. With the right approach, you can have a well-trained and lively Airedale Terrier as a loyal companion.

Airedale Terrier Food

This dog is constantly active so it requires regular exercise. The above walking routes or vigorous activities are suitable for them. Because of their active nature, they are not suitable for living in apartments. They should live in spacious places with gardens. Take care of Bingley’s fur, trim it and bathe it regularly to avoid skin diseases. Brush your child’s teeth every 2 weeks to prevent dental diseases.

They are considered easy-going dogs when it comes to eating. They are not too picky eaters and can eat everything. Avoid spoiled and unhygienic food because it will affect their intestines.

Airedale Terrier Pictures


All-around friendliness 

Health And Grooming Needs 


Exercise needs 

Alva Thomas
Alva Thomas
Alva Thomas expert in training and caring for pet dog breeds. Whether he spending quality time with her own furry companions or contributing to websites such as Dogsbreed.org and Animalpet.com, dedicated to our canine.

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