Airedale Terrier Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Airedale Terrier Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014
A rowdy handful as a puppy, the Airedale Terrier matures into a dignified, self-assured, courageous adult.
This athletic dog romps and plays hard. Without vigorous exercise and lots of personal interaction, he is easily bored and may become destructive as he seeks to entertain himself.
Young Airedale Terriers are especially rambunctious and can turn your garden into a moonscape of excavated moles and tulip bulbs.
Mental stimulation (hunting, obedience, agility, playing games) is essential for this thinking breed. You can't just leave him alone all day or stick him outside and hope that he'll lie down quietly and be happy.
An Airedale's attitude toward strangers varies from enthusiastically friendly to sensibly polite, but even the friendly ones tend to be vigilant watchdogs. Some individuals are more protective than others.
With other dogs, most Airedale Terriers are bold and aggressive, and with their strong hunting instincts they must be exposed early to cats, else they may not be safe with cats. Rabbits and rodents are not a wise addition to the household.
This breed is very smart, but also independent. Unless you establish yourself as the alpha (number one), he can be headstrong. Yet assertive owners who know how to lead will find him eminently trainable.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium to large, sturdy and athletic
- Is energetic, yet when well-trained and well-exercised, can also be calm and dignified
- Is exceptionally versatile -- can learn and do almost anything
- Makes a sensible guardian (some individuals)
- Sheds -- but less than many other breeds
An Airedale Terrier may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness and barking when bored or not exercised enough
- Providing enough socialization so his natural protectiveness doesn't become aggression
- Aggression toward other animals -- chasing instincts
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Frequent trimming and clipping of the wiry coat
An Airedale Terrier may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Airedale Terrier
If I was considering an Airedale Terrier, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Airedale Terriers MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Airedales can destroy your home or yard in a single day.
If you simply want a casual pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or hiking or biking or swimming, or to get involved in agility (obstacle course), or tracking, or dogsledding, or schutzhund (protection), or a similar canine activity, I do not recommend this breed.
Airedale Terriers were never intended to be simply household pets. Their working behaviors (following scents, searching for prey animals, chasing things that run, digging, exploring) can be a nuisance in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their high energy level, can be difficult.
- Bounciness. Young Airedales (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people. If you have small children, or if you or anyone who lives with you is elderly or infirm, I do not recommend Airedale puppies. The temptation to play roughly is too strong in many young Airedales.
- Providing enough socialization. Many Airedale Terriers love everybody, but many others have protective instincts toward strangers. Thus, Airedales need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally.
- Animal aggression. Airedale Terriers were developed to hunt other animals. Many Airedales are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- The strong temperament. The best Airedales are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and some are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Airedale to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Airedale Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Grooming. To keep their wiry coat free of mats, Airedales require regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months. The coat care requirements are one reason casual owners give up Airedales to rescue groups.
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