The Airedale is also known as the King of Terriers: he is the largest of all the terrier breeds and encompasses all the characteristics of this group of dogs. He is a native of Great Britain, from the county of Yorkshire, and it is reputed that the Airedale Show gave the breed its name. Many ‘Waterside Terriers’ from the valleys of the rivers Wharfe, Calder and Aire were exhibited at this show, making up a large entry.
The Airedale has remarkable scenting powers and has been used in Africa, India and Canada for tracking. He has also aided the Red Cross in times of war and has seen service with police and in the armed forces of both Britain and Russia.
He is an excellent family dog, particularly good with children and always ready to join in their games. Not aggressive by nature but protective of his family, he is a devoted companion, ready for a walk at any time or even a ride in the car. His double coat is waterproof and a daily brush and comb will keep him looking smart. However, he will shed his coat twice a year, and on these occasions it is advisable to have him professionally stripped. Provided he has daily exercise he is suitable for either town or country life.
Breed Group - Terrier
Vulnerable Native Breed - No
Size - Medium
How much exercise? - Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat - Medium
How much grooming? - Every day
Supposedly sheds? - Yes
Town or Country - Either
Type of home - Large House
Minimum Garden Size - Small/Medium
Lifespan - Over 10 Years
The Airedale is the largest of all terriers. This breed's history can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century in Britain, where men started breeding for certain characteristics. They wanted a dog that was smart, able to "out think" its prey. There were hunters who wanted to have a dog that could follow scent well, and be able to swim in the rivers where the object of the hunt sometimes hid. There was a demand from farmers who wanted a dog that could control the vermin that were destroying his crops. They also wanted a strong guard dog to protect their families, its disposition had to be "sweet" towards family, yet aloof with strangers.
There were several crosses in the breeding history of the Airedale, but the most notable was the crossing of the black and tan terrier with the English Bullterrier, the offspring of which was then crossed with the Otterhound. Some British cynologists suggest that the Airedale contains a strain of the Griffon Vendéen or even the Irish Wolfhound. The result of this matching enabled the dog to "swim down" river otters during a hunt, and a dog also capable of controlling vermin.
Called by several names during its early forming into a breed (the Working, the Waterside, and the Bingley Terrier) it took the name by which it is known today after being in 1879 at the Bingley, Yorkshire, Airedale Agricultural Society Show.
The Airedale's popularity peaked during the first world war, during which they were used as Red Cross rescue dogs and as "four legged spies," who would make their way to the front lines and warn of the enemy's approach. They were best known, however, for their role as messenger dogs, dogs that carried messages between command headquarters and the troops in the trenches. Their size, dedication and near imperviousness to injury made them well suited to the job.
Today, the Airedale is considered one of the finest all round breeds of canine developed by man. The Airedale is not only a very strong water dog, they excel as big game dogs. They have been used in Africa, India, Canada and America. In Canada and America, the Airedale has been used to hunt the formidable Grizzly Bear.
The Airedale has been used during war time as guard dogs. The police also have had excellent results from the use of this highly intelligent animal. The Airedale has been used as a guide dog for the blind.
It is a fine history for this breed, developed by man's needs. It must not be forgotten that this animal is not only smart, it is patient, assertive and ingenious. The owner of this dog is going to have to meet the dog on its terms, and have a very good sense of humor, and self-esteem. It is humbling to be outsmarted by a dog.