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Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terriers are the largest of the terrier breed group. Their muscular bodies are covered with a hard, wiry coat that’s hard to miss. They’re intelligent and confident dogs that are easy to love, but their intense nature might be challenging for first-time dog owners.

  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Might not like other dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10-12 years
Weight: 25-28kg for males and 21-23kg for females
Height: Adult males measure 58 to 61cm to the top of shoulder, and females 56 to 59cm
Colours: Black/grizzle (on the saddle) and tan
Size: Large
Kennel Club group: Terrier


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 2/5
Airedale terrier lying down on the floor.


In common with most terrier dog breeds, the Airedale dog is confident, bold and outgoing. They are loyal, friendly, curious, energetic dogs who are fun loving, eager and tireless. They are devoted to their family and will protect them if they feel it is necessary. Airedale Terriers can sometimes be reserved with strangers and may not be entirely friendly to unknown dogs. While mostly kind and docile, they are the kind of plucky, fearless dogs that while they might not start a fight, will always finish one. A typical terrier, they may not be reliable with small furry animals and cats.

Airedale Terrier on the beach with person.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

Known as the ‘king of the terriers’ the hardy Airedale Terrier was created in the 19th century in the Aire, Wharfe and Calder river valleys of Yorkshire by hunters who wanted a terrier to help protect the fishermen’s catches from otters. They were developed from crosses from the now extinct Black and Tan Terrier to give them the rough coat, the Otterhound to give them the nose, and the Bull Terrier to give them tenacity. While they were primarily developed as otter hunters, they quickly found other jobs including as a duck-catcher, a ratter, a gun dog, a guard dog, an army messenger dog and even a transport police patrol dog.

Health and Common Issues

The Airedale dog is generally a hardy breed. As with many breeds, they can suffer from hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.

Exercise Needs

An active dog, the Airedale breed needs a moderate amount of dog exercise (1 to 2 hours daily), including dog games and training, to prevent boredom and to keep him fit and healthy.

Space Requirements

The Airedale Terrier is a large dog who enjoys space and so needs a large-ish house and garden - plus space to exercise so they are best in a rural environment.

Nutrition and Feeding

Airedale Terriers need to have a balanced diet including the main nutrient groups and a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food. The Airedale dog breed is prone to bloating and stomach problems. Smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.

Grooming Airedale Terrier Dogs

The waterproof, double Airedale coat consists of a hard, wiry top coat and a shorter, softer undercoat. When it comes to dog grooming, Airedale Terriers require daily brushing, together with stripping when the coat begins to shed (twice a year).

Training Airedale Terriers

The Airedale is a joy to train and they love working with their owners although they do need to be kept motivated with reward-based dog training and plenty of variety. They can excel at dog sports such as agility and can become experts at scent work and love to have a job to do. They do need early and ongoing socialisation to ensure they stay reliable around other dogs and should be taught a strong recall.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Airedales are generally gentle with children although may be too big for younger ones. They are best suited to active families with older children.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did you know?

  • Airedales have been extremely popular with US Presidents - and in fact three presidents in a row all had Airedales called Davie, Laddie Boy and Paul Pry respectively.

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