Thinking of an Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier (Waffle)History of the Airedale:

The Airedale is a breed that evolved in the mid to late 19th cen­tu­ry in Airedale (a geo­graph­i­cal area in York­shire, in and around the val­leys of the Riv­er Aire, in Eng­land).  Airedales were bred by work­ing men in the York­shire Dales by cross­ing the old black and tan Welsh Ter­ri­er with the Otter­hound and, accord­ing to some, the old Eng­lish White Ter­ri­er (which accounts for the white chest flash and feet of some Airedales) with the idea to breed a ver­sa­tile dog that could do every­thing!

Their ver­sa­til­i­ty and intel­li­gence made them pop­u­lar dur­ing wars, they have been used in police forces in the UK and used for hunt­ing.

General Information:

Airedales are a trimmed breed — tra­di­tion­al­ly called the “King of Ter­ri­ers” because it is the largest of the ter­ri­er breeds. It is a medi­um / large mus­cu­lar, active, fair­ly ‘cob­by’ dog. There should be no sus­pi­cion of leg­gi­ness or undue length of body. For the Offi­cial Breed Stan­dard please refer to the Ken­nel Union of South Africa web site.

Characteristics of Airedale Terriers:

Airedale Terriers with childrenAiredales make good all round fam­i­ly pets – they are strong, alert, quick of move­ment, agile, ‘stand­ing with expec­ta­tion on its tip­toes at any move­ment’. Their char­ac­ter is shown in a keen eye expres­sion, erect tail and ear car­riage. They should not be shy, nor aggres­sive towards oth­er dogs. Airedales are fun lov­ing dogs with lots of ener­gy. They are devot­ed com­pan­ions, are fear­less pro­tec­tors, and do not shed hair if brushed reg­u­lar­ly – a plus for aller­gy suf­fer­ers.


Black and tan – the body / sad­dle is a black or a dark griz­zle (black mixed with grey and white) extend­ing along the back of the neck and top sur­face of the tail. All oth­er parts are tan, with a dark­er shad­ing to ears, skull and neck (par­tic­u­lar­ly when the coat is ‘stripped’). It is accept­able to have a few white hairs between the forelegs.


They weigh 25–30 kilo­grams (55–66 lb) and have a height at the top of the shoul­der of 58–61 cms (23–24 in) for dogs, with females slight­ly small­er (22–23in). Any gross devi­a­tion from these sizes is a major fault, although the Amer­i­can stan­dard spec­i­fies a small­er dog.

Airedale Terriers (waffle and Joub-Joub)The Airedale Temperament:

These dogs are out­go­ing and con­fi­dent, intel­li­gent, friend­ly, coura­geous – fear­less but not aggres­sive. Airedales thrive on human inter­ac­tion — they love chil­dren and demand to be part of the fam­i­ly, and par­tic­i­pate in all activ­i­ties. You can expect your airedale pup­py to dig where you have been dig­ging, eat the weeds you have pulled out, chew the branch­es you have trimmed, attack the broom you are wield­ing, and do any­thing to get your approval and atten­tion! They can­not be ignored, are intel­li­gent and I have found rel­a­tive­ly easy to train with pos­i­tive re-inforce­ment, but can be stub­born at times – even dom­i­nant if allowed!


Airedales have a high pain thresh­old so take note of any changes in char­ac­ter of your pet. They are usu­al­ly a healthy breed although hip dys­pla­sia can be a prob­lem. All breed­ing stock should be hip X‑Rayed and hold an Inter­na­tion­al Hip Dys­pla­sia Cer­tifi­cate. Skin irri­ta­tions (eg. Eczema) can become a prob­lem if the diet is incor­rect or the coat is not reg­u­lar­ly groomed.

The Airedale Coat:

The Airedale is a trimmed breed, so some time needs to be spent on the coat. Like many ter­ri­ers, they have a ‘bro­ken’ coat (this means that they have a harsh, wiry top coat and a soft under­coat). They do not moult, but need reg­u­lar brush­ing and comb­ing. A lit­tle shed­ding may hap­pen when your dog needs a trim.


In South Africa most home pet Airedales are clipped. The cur­rent trend is to give a clip almost like a Schnau­zer cut (I have found that some groom­ing par­lours real­ly have no idea what to do and often a poo­dle cut is pro­duced). Clip­ping leaves the coat very soft – total­ly unsuit­able for show­ing! For show­ing pur­pos­es the coat will need to be hand stripped to bring out the hard, wiry tex­ture and rich colour of the coat. Your breed­er can give guide­lines on hand strip­ping. Go along to shows and chat to exhibitors (after they have shown) and most are friend­ly and pre­pared to help, but there are very few that will strip your dog for you! The old top coat should be hand stripped two or three times a year, depend­ing on the coat, and reg­u­lar brush­ing and coat main­te­nance should keep the coat tidy. Keep the leg hair tidy, and clean out the hairs between the pads (where burrs or clumps of mud can accu­mu­late) and keep the nails short to keep the feet com­pact. The hard­est coats are crin­kling or just slight­ly waved. Curly soft coats are high­ly unde­sir­able. If pos­si­ble give your pup a brush for a few min­utes a day on a groom­ing table to teach it to stand on a table for trim­ming. Your pup will be ready for its first trim at around six months – it takes a lit­tle time to mas­ter the art of hand trim­ming, your breed­er will be able to give advice, and there are tuto­r­i­al DVDs and books avail­able.


Airedale Terrier (Waffle)As with any large breed, some train­ing is essen­tial – with an Airedale ear­ly, con­sis­tant train­ing is rec­om­mend­ed. Remem­ber each dog is dif­fer­ent, and some will be eas­i­er to train than oth­ers. Pup­py social­iz­ing and train­ing should be start­ed as soon as the pup­py inoc­u­la­tions are com­plete.  Remem­ber – an Airedale’s nat­ur­al exu­ber­ance can get out of hand – leav­ing you with a delin­quent at 9 months – so start your basic train­ing from day one. Airedales can be stub­born, but respond well to fun and a reward — praise sys­tem with lav­ish praise and lov­ing. I have found that they learn quick­ly from old­er dogs and each oth­er, and they take to agilli­ty and obe­di­ence train­ing fair­ly well – but can go com­plete­ly deaf and leave you way behind should some small ani­mal cross their path!  They are ter­ri­ers, so will chase / hunt small ani­mals – take care with your cat and social­ize them when young. Ear­ly recall train­ing is a must if you ever ven­ture into pub­lic places off-lead. Please remem­ber to take along some dis­pos­able nap­py pack­ets to ‘pick up’ after your dog – a basic con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers, health risks and in some areas there are fines imposed on own­ers who fail to com­ply.


This is gen­er­al­ly not too dif­fi­cult as your pup nat­u­ral­ly will avoid soil­ing its home area – take it out­side when it awakes and after eat­ing or drink­ing. A piece of news­pa­per by the door helps if you are not around.


Airedale pup­pies grow very rapid­ly – to avoid hip prob­lems they should not be over exer­cised, although may be tak­en on short social­iz­ing walks. Grad­u­al­ly build up activ­i­ty when your pup is near­ly ful­ly grown. Pups should not go up and down stairs or become over­weight as this puts too much strain on their fast grow­ing bones. All dogs need exer­cise for men­tal and phys­i­cal health — an Airedale is hap­py to take as much exer­cise and play as you can give! They enjoy a large prop­er­ty to run on, or a run in an open field. In a small­er prop­er­ty a good dai­ly walk (or two short­er walks), and some play time is need­ed.

What can you expect from your breeder:

A pup­py con­tract / sale agree­ment as rec­om­mend­ed by the Ken­nel Union of South Africa. Your breed­er should be knowl­edge­able — advice and sup­port should be avail­able and giv­en will­ing­ly. A car­ing breed­er will try and find the best pos­si­ble home for her pups – a ques­tion­naire may help the breed­er and prospec­tive own­er iden­ti­fy any pit­falls that need dis­cussing, and deter­mine whether this breed is real­ly want­ed. Your best breed­ers will be involved in shows, as they gen­er­al­ly are keen to pro­duce sounder, bet­ter look­ing dogs – so be pre­pared to wait for your pup! These breed­ers usu­al­ly have their breed­ing stock hip X‑Rayed and scored, and are mem­bers of the Ken­nel Union. The lit­ter is bred as poten­tial show win­ners, not for mon­e­tary gain. Pups will be well social­ized and have a sound start – with dew claws removed, usu­al­ly with the tail docked in South Africa (leg­is­la­tion pre­vents vets doing this, but breed­ers usu­al­ly dock the pups tails due to pop­u­lar demand), inoc­u­la­tions and deworm­ing. Pups will be weaned and will be micro chipped wher­ev­er pos­si­ble. Pups are usu­al­ly released at 8 weeks or lat­er. Breed­ing restric­tions are gen­er­al­ly placed on pups from rep­utable breed­ers – the pur­pose of this is to ensure that pups are bred from proven, hip X‑Rayed stock. Gen­er­al­ly, breed­ers are hap­py to lift restric­tions upon receipt of rel­e­vant hip cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Airedale Terrier PuppiesDiet:

Gen­er­al­ly, feed­ing an adult airedale is not expen­sive – the amount vary­ing with indi­vid­u­als and life style. Dur­ing the first year, while your pup­py is grow­ing, your pup­py will need a good diet of good qual­i­ty food as it grows very rapid­ly – mak­ing this peri­od expen­sive.

Home Environment:

An Airedale enjoys space to run, but if its exer­cise needs are met – can fit into most home envi­ron­ments if not too crowd­ed. A well fenced gar­den is need­ed (with fenc­ing going below ground lev­el as some airedales will dig. Airedales are social dogs – ide­al­ly some­one should be at home dur­ing the day – a lone­ly, bored pup­py can become very mis­chie­vous – per­haps destruc­tive and vocal.