The Valley of the Aire in West Riding, Yorkshire, was the birthplace of the Airedale Terrier. The exact date is unknown but indications are that the breed began to be developed in the middle of the nineteenth century. They were bred as an answer to the average factory workers’ desire to hunt otter. To hunt this game properly required a pack of Otterhounds and a “Terrier” or two.
The Airedale is believed to be the “Old English Black-and-Tan Terrier,” the ”Broken-coated Working Terrier” and the “Rough-coated Black-and-Tan Terrier” outcrossed to the Otter Hound among others. All accounts of the “creation” point to a possible cross with a Border Collie or some other sheepdog. Some accounts also point to the Bull Terrier, while others insist that this outcross never took place.
These dogs were known for their gritty ability to take on any adversary and give a good account of themselves. They were broken to guns and trained to retrieve. They were fierce competitors in the water-rat matches. Albert Payson Terhune sums up the Airedale concisely: “Among the mine-pits of the Aire, the various groups of miners each sought to develop a dog which could outfight and out hunt and OUTTHINK the other miner’s dog. Out of the experiments emerged the modern Airedale. He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum, and guard. There is almost nothing he cannot be taught if his trainer has the slightest gift of teaching. Every inch of him is in use. No flabby byproducts. A PERFECT MACHINE–a machine with a BRAIN, PLUS.” The first Airedale known to come to America was Bruce brought over by C. H. Mason. Bruce was the sire of Bess, who was the dam of Airedale Jerry, the root of the family tree.
Airedales have successfully mastered everything from big-game hunting, coon-hunting, water-retrieving, working as messenger dogs during WWI, working as police dogs, mastering obedience work to being a loyal pet. Not every Airedale excels in every area but over time many have performed a variety of duties very well.
Today Airedales are still used as hunting dogs, watchdogs and even obedience and agility dogs, but they are, first and foremost, faithful, loyal and entertaining companions.
Airedales do well on high-quality foods. Some may have slightly dry “itchy” skin and can be supplemented with certain oils and kelp. Also, many Airedales respond well to lamb and rice foods. They are often allergic to wheat, beef, and chicken.
One thing worth mentioning here is how long to feed puppy food. Some research indicates that feeding puppy food for too long can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs that are susceptible to it.
The theory is that the higher percentage of protein found in puppy formulas can accelerate growth before the developing skeleton can support the weight. Some breeders start feeding adult food very early. Most people tend to gradually switch to adult food at 8-10 months. Again, this is something to discuss with the breeder and your veterinarian.
Many pet Airedales are clipped to the characteristic King of Terriers look. A good groomer should be able to provide this service. If not, contact a breeder in your area, many will be willing to provide grooming assistance on a limited basis.
Airedales should be brushed with a pin brush on a daily basis to remove dead hair since they do not “shed.” Slickering their furnishings (leg hair and facial hair) will also remove dead hair, allowing new hair to grow in. Airedales do “blow” their coat if it is allowed to grow out.
Dogs to be shown are stripped and trimmed. It is a very time-consuming endeavor and a somewhat difficult art to master.
Airedales prefer to be with their families but also love to romp and play. A fenced area is great for exercise and play, while after play, they are ready to make great house dogs. Note: we only adopt to families who plan to keep the dog as an inside dog.
Airedales are lovers of digging. They are definitely “terre-iers.” Always keep that in mind when preparing an exercise area.
Crate training is a good idea for a young dog. As he gets older he may tend to use this as his “den” and has a secure area for traveling or your long days at work.
Airedales are very active dogs and need lots of exercise. They need a fairly large area to romp and play. Daily walks are great exercise and fun time for both you and your Airedale.