Airedale Terrier



Breed history

Helpers during the 1st World War

   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 canine experts 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.

Year 1864 - 1949


First Airedale Champion

English KC Breed Standard

Origin: Great Britain
Use: Terrier
Date of current standard publication: December 2011

General Appearance: Largest of the Terriers, a muscular, active, fairly cobby dog, without suspicion of legginess or undue length of body.

Characteristics: Keen of expression, quick of movement, on the tiptoe of expectation at any movement. Character denoted and shown by expression of eyes, and by carriage of ears and erect tail.

Temperament: Outgoing and confident, friendly, courageous and intelligent. Alert at all times, not aggressive but fearless.

Head and Skull: Skull long and flat, not too broad between ears, and narrowing slightly to eyes. Well balanced, with no apparent difference in length between skull and foreface. Free from wrinkles, with stop hardly visible; cheeks level and free from fullness. Foreface well filled up before eyes, not dish-faced or falling away quickly below eyes, but a delicate chiselling prevents appearance of wedginess or plainness. Upper and lower jaws deep, powerful, strong and muscular, as strength of foreface is greatly desired. No excess development of the jaws to give a rounded or bulging appearance to the cheeks, as ‘cheekiness’ is undesirable. Lips tight, nose black.

Eyes: Dark in colour, relatively small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keeness and intelligence. Light or bold eye highly undesirable.

V-shaped with a side carriage, small but not out of proportion to size of dog. Top line of folded ear slightly above level of skull. Pendulous ears or ears set too high undesirable.

Teeth strong. Jaws strong. Scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws preferable, but vice-like bite acceptable. An overshot or undershot mouth undesirable.

Clean, muscular, of moderate length and thickness, gradually widening towards shoulders, and free from throatiness.

Shoulders long, well laid back, sloping obliquely, shoulder blades flat. Forelegs perfectly straight, with good bone. Elbows perpendicular to body, working free of sides.

Back short, strong, straight and level, showing no slackness. Loins muscular. Ribs well sprung. In short-coupled and well ribbed-up dogs there is little space between ribs and hips. When dog is long in couplings some slackness will be shown here. Chest deep (i.e. approximately level with elbows) but not broad.

Hindquarters: Thighs long and powerful with muscular second thigh, stifles well bent, turned neither in nor out. Hocks well let down, parallel with each other when viewed from behind.

Feet: Small, round and compact, with a good depth of pad, well cushioned, and toes moderately arched, turning neither in nor out.

Tail: Previously customarily docked.
Docked: Set on high and carried gaily, not curled over back. Good strength and substance. Tip approximately at the same height as top of skull.
Undocked: Set on high and carried gaily. Good strength and substance.

Gait/Movement: Legs carried straight forward. Forelegs move freely, parallel to the sides. When approaching, forelegs should form a continuation of the straight line of the front, feet being same distance apart as elbows. Propulsive power is furnished by hindlegs.

Coat: Hard, dense and wiry, not so long as to appear ragged. Lying straight and close, covering body and legs; outer coat hard, wiry and stiff, undercoat shorter and softer. Hardest coats are crinkling or just slightly waved; curly or soft coat highly undesirable.

Colour: Body saddle black or grizzle as is top of the neck and top surface of tail. All other parts tan. Ears often a darker tan, and shading may occur round neck and side of skull. A few white hairs between forelegs acceptable.

Hight taken from top of shoulder: Dogs - Height about 58-61cm (23-24 ins) Bitches about 56-59 cms (22-23 ins).

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

*Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.