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Honest FAQ for Airedales

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Airedale Terrier

Warren Miller wrote, in The American Hunting Dog,  "On the borderline between the bird dog and fur dog stands the Airedale... being successfully trained to hunt everything alive."

What kind of temperament and personality does the Airedale Terrier have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Airedale Terrier temperament and behavior are:

athletic, vigorous, confident, determined, headstrong, with a strong prey drive.

I give you my honest opinions about Airedale Terrier temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Airedale Terrier Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

Where did the name Airedale come from?

Known as The King of the Terriers, the Airedale hails from the English river valley of Aire.

What were Airedales used for?

Early Airedales hunted river rats, otters, weasels, badgers – and helped their working-class owners poach game from wealthy estates. Some lines of Airedales were developed to hunt bigger game such as bears, wild boar, even mountain lions.

What traits would help Airedales accomplish their work? That's right... strong instincts to pursue and take down other animals that run, athleticism, courage, toughness, determination, independent thinking, and loyalty to his owner.

How big are Airedales? Height and weight?

About 22-24 inches at the shoulder, and 50-70 pounds, which puts them in the LARGE category.

What colors do Airedales come in?

Just one color pattern. His upper body (saddle) is black or grizzle (greyish black); his head, chest, shoulders, and legs are tan.

Do Airedales come in different "types"?

Yes. Airedales may be bred for exhibition in the dog show ring. These dogs often have an elegant build and meticulously groomed appearance.

Airedales may be bred for working purposes: hunting, or protection dog sports, or Search & Rescue. These dogs may be more rugged and athletic with a "scruffier" coat.

Some breeders produce very large Airedales and call them "Mountain Airedales" or "Oorang Airedales."

How much exercise do Airedales need?

A lot. The athletic Airedale is bred to work and won't sit quietly in the back yard all day. If you don't provide enough exercise and challenging mental stimulation, an Airedale will entertain himself by wreaking havoc. Airedales need vigorous exercise and activities to do: jogging, hiking, obstacle course, advanced obedience, tracking and scent work, protection work.... the capable Airedale Terrier wants to go full speed ahead.

Do Airedales need a fenced yard?

Yes, preferably with a high solid fence. Why? and best and worst fences.

Are Airedales easy to train?

Yes and no. If you are an assertive person who can "read" and respond to a strong-willed working dog and establish a healthy leader-follower relationship, an Airedale can learn almost anything.

If you're more of a mild-mannered, peaceful, live-and-let-live kind of person... don't get an Airedale, else he will run the household. This breed is not for easygoing beginners.

Are Airedales easy to housebreak?

Yes. They're fine.

Are Airedales friendly with people?

Some Airedales are outgoing and friendly with everyone! But most Airedales are loyal to their own family, and standoffish with strangers.

Airedales often have protective instincts, but without actual protection training,  they are not effective protectors. But they can still be excellent deterrents... as long as you stay in charge and immediately stop any unwarranted aggression.

Are Airedales good with children?

Depends on the kids. Airedales seem to have an innate sense of pride and fairness and may not put up with pushy children who step over the line. This vigorous breed can also knock over a toddler. I much prefer to see Airedales in homes with kids who are at least about age 10 and can be relied upon to treat a dog with respect.

Are Airedales good with other dogs?

Some Airedale Terriers are fine with other dogs, especially other dogs with submissive,  personalities. But most Airedales are bold and pushy, especially with other dogs of the same sex – pitched battles may ensue. Also, because of their strong prey drive, it's a risk to keep an Airedale with a small dog who might run.

Are Airedales good with cats?

That's very iffy. Some might be fine with a cat in their own family... or not. But most Airedales will pursue, at warp speed, a strange cat or any other animal running across their yard. And if the Airedale catches that unfortunate creature... No, I don't recommend an Airedale Terrier if you have cats.

How much do Airedales shed?

Airedales are average shedders. Their wiry coat sheds moderately in the spring and fall.

Are Airedales hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. If you're allergic to dog dander... I've known a few people whose (mild) allergies weren't too badly affected by the Airedale's wiry coat. So no, Airedales are not hypoallergenic dogs, but people with very minor allergies to dog dander might be okay.

How much grooming do Airedales need?

Brushing and combing? Focus on the beard every day, as it gets gunked up by food and water. Regularly check for mats under your Airedale's "arms."

The major grooming is clipping the coat short every few months. You can learn to do it yourself or you can use a professional groomer, but it must be done, else it will become a matted mess.

Honestly, I recommend keeping the coat clipped as short as possible so it stays cleaner, neater, and mat-free.

What's a good training schedule for training Airedale Terrier puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Airedales: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Airedales tend to have?

Airedales can be a major handfull between 6-24 months old. Mischievous, rowdy, bouncing around, chewing destructively. Don't make the rookie mistake of leaving them alone and loose in the house, instead of properly crated/penned/safe.

This critical adolescent period is when you must teach calmness, establish the right leader/follower relationship, and respond properly to behavior problems.

Adult behavior issues center around dominance or aggression, where an Airedale might decide he isn't going to tolerate strangers or strange dogs anymore.

What health problems might Airedales have?

Itchy skin conditions/growths occur in 50% of Airedales. One-quarter will develop malignant tumors and cancers. Joint diseases and eye diseases also occur regularly in Airedales.

What breeds are similar to the Airedale Terrier?

Perhaps you like the general look and spunkiness of an Airedale, but would prefer something smaller that doesn't need so much exercise and activity? Check out the Welsh Terrier (who looks just like a miniature Airedale) or the Lakeland Terrier, or the Wire Fox Terrier.

Where can I buy an Airedale Terrier puppy?

Show breeder, performance/working breeder, pet breeder? Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Airedale?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new Airedale Terrier. Which pages should I read first?

  • Airedale Terrier Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Airedale Terrier puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Airedales, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Airedale Terrier puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Airedales have pros and cons, and female Airedales have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Airedale Terrier puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible Airedale Terrier breeder would ever place one of their Airedale Terrier puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Airedale Terrier puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Airedale Terriers?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Airedale Terrier to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Airedale Terrier until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Airedale Terrier, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Airedales that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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