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 © 2000-2018
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)
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.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Airedales have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Airedale Terrier to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 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.
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.
- Potential 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 "prey instincts" to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. You need to control this breed around other animals until you find out whether you have an individual with a strong prey instinct.
- 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 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. Airedale Terriers require clipping and trimming every few months. Breed purists may say that terrier coats should never be clipped because it makes the coat softer and more prone to matting. Instead they advocate hand-stripping (each dead hair pulled out so a new one can grow in its place). But in my opinion, stripping is too time-consuming and uncomfortable for the dog. Many groomers won't do it anymore. For pet dogs, I think clipping is just fine.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.