Airedale Terrier Overview

Dog Breed:
Airedale Terrier
Breed Group:
Terrier group
Intelligent, energetic, athletic, loyal, affectionate
Males=22-24 inches; females=21-23 inches
40-65 pounds
Life Span:
10-12 years
Coat Colors:
Black and tan or grizzle
Area of Origin:
Aire Valley of Yorkshire, England
Best For:
Experienced dog owners
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Airedale Terriers
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Airedale Terriers

Airedale Terrier Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Airedale Terrier

  • Earned the nickname the “king of terriers” as the largest dog breed in its group

  • Originated in Aire Valley, Yorkshire, England

  • Requires experienced owners

The regal Airedale Terrier is often referred to as the “king of terriers” due to its size, making it the largest of any dog in its group. A dog type that traces its roots to the Aire Valley in Yorkshire, England, the Airedale Terrier’s original purpose was hunting rats and otters along the riverbanks of the Aire and Wharfe Rivers.

Highly athletic, the Airedale Terrier is a very active dog, requiring regular daily exercise to remain physically and mentally content. One of the most well-renowned Airedales is a dog named Jack who served alongside soldiers in World War I. This plucky terrier was courageous and brave and found work taking a message from the troops to the main British officials’ head office. During his mission, Jack suffered several injuries including a broken leg and jaw.

Unfortunately, this tenacious soul did not survive to complete his goal. Though Jack died on the battlefield, the message he held was found and brought to the right officials to prevent the deaths of the soldiers in that troop. As a result, the Victoria Cross was bestowed upon Jack for his heroism.

The Airedale Terrier is highly prized for its versatility, making it a dog that excels at many different pursuits. By nature, the breeder is alert, eager, and curious. A dog breed that thrives when given a job to do, the Airedale enjoys an active lifestyle but is also equally at home providing entertainment for its family. A true lover of children as well as other dogs, the Airedale Terrier is an excellent choice for families with kids as well as multi-pet homes.

As with most terrier breeds, the Airedale possesses a high prey drive and takes great pleasure in using its voice, chasing small animals, and digging holes in its backyard. Their penchant for chasing things mean this dog breed requires a yard that is fully fenced to keep it safe from harm. A dog renowned for its lively and independent spirit, the Airedale can be a challenge to train. Positive reinforcement and yummy treats are the best way to encourage this dog type to learn.

Because the Airedale Terrier is highly active, this breed is not predisposed to becoming overweight if properly exercised and fed an appropriate diet. A dog that is not well-suited to apartment living, the ideal home for this active breed is a house with a fully fenced and secure yard in which the dog can roam and play.

A typical terrier, the Airedale does best in the home of a family of experienced dog owners.

Airedale Terrier Breed History

  • Produced through the breeding of a Black and Tan Terrier and an Otterhound

  • Developed in 1853 in Yorkshire, England

  • Employed hunting otters and rats along riverbanks

The biggest dog breed in the terrier group, the Airedale Terrier originated in Aire Valley, Yorkshire, England. The breed was first developed in 1853 when a purposeful mating between a rough coat Black and Tan Terrier and an Otterhound was undertaken to hopefully yield a versatile, athletic dog capable of hunting otters and rats along the riverbanks of its native Yorkshire.

This initial breeding achieved its goal, resulting in a dog that was alert and curious and that also possessed the ability to hunt and swim. The Airedale was originally named the Waterside or Bingley Terrier. Within a 12 year span, the Airedale had gained immensely in popularity and was in high demand for its hunting prowess.

The Waterside/Bingley Terrier was renamed in the late 19th century. Breed experts purport that the name Airedale Terrier was arrived on by the suggestion of Dr. Gordon Stables, a prominent judge of the day. Though some judges and breeders readily adopted the name Airedale Terrier, others stubbornly clung to the breed’s two original names, leading to some measure of confusion at dog shows and sporting events. In 1886, the Kennel Club of England formally declared Airedale Terrier to be the proper name for this dog type.

During World War I, the Airedale Terrier played a prominent role in delivering messages and supplies to and from the battlefield. Its service during wartime bestowed upon the dog a reputation for its courage, loyalty, and steadfastness. Among the most well-known public figures that loved the Airedale and made the breed a part of their families are Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding.

Airedale Terrier Size & Weight

  • Males can reach between 22 and 24 inches

  • Females measure between 21 and 23 inches

  • Weigh between 40 and 65 pounds


The male Airedale Terrier stands at a height that ranges from 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder. By comparison, mature female Airedales measure from 21 to 23 inches. The weight range for the Airedale Terrier spans from 40 to 65 pounds in total.

Airedale Terriers can be challenging to train, possessing an independent streak. In addition to this, the Airedale enjoys eating and can become overweight if allowed to free feed or given too many treats. Owners must be prepared to monitor their daily intake and ensure adequate daily exercise to prevent obesity from occurring.

Airedale Terrier Personality & Temperament

  • Independent and active

  • Loves to dig, chase, and bark

  • Not suited to apartment life


The Airedale Terrier is a dog that loves to have a job to keep it busy. The breed is a free thinker, preferring to make decisions for itself. An athletic dog, the Airedale Terrier excels at many different pursuits and thrives when allowed to be physically active.

A typical terrier, the Airedale Terrier has a few habits its owners sometimes wish it didn’t such as digging, barking, and chasing. A dog breed with an intense prey drive, the Airedale Terrier lives to chase small animals it considers to be game. For this reason, a fully fenced yard is a must for this dog type.

The Airedale Terrier is a natural clown that delights in every opportunity to keep its family entertained. Spirited by nature, the Airedale Terrier is both happy and sociable, enjoying the company of family, friends, strangers, and other animals alike. A social dog, the Airedale Terrier prefers the company of those it loves most and does not do well if left alone for long periods of time.

Highly intelligent, the Airedale picks up new skills with ease. To help the Airedale view training as something fun to engage in, it is important that its owner use creative means to keep the dog’s interest level piqued. Positive reinforcement techniques are best for this smart and sensitive terrier breed.

Loyal to its core, the Airedale Terrier will alert bark and defend its family against threats if necessary. The breed makes an excellent guardian of home and hearth.

The Airedale Terrier has exceptionally high activity requirements and will not be happy in a home that prefers a more laidback lifestyle. If properly exercised each day, the Airedale is a jovial family companion that takes pleasure in time spent relaxing with its family in less active pursuits. Excellent with children, the Airedale is a natural for families with kids. However, for safety reasons, all interactions between children and terriers should be carefully supervised.

Though the Airedale enjoys the company of other dogs, its predatory nature makes it unsuited to life with small animals the dog might mistake as prey. These can include such creatures as hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even small breed dogs and cats. For families with multiple pets, it is best to purchase an Airedale Terrier puppy and to make introductions to established family pets on neutral territory such as a secluded, quiet public park.

The Airedale Terrier is not a breed that does well in small spaces, and thus, is not suited to life in an apartment. The ideal living situation for this breed is a home with a fully fenced yard. The Airedale Terrier is a very social dog and should live indoors with its family. Its double coat is weatherproof and does provide protection against both heat and cold, so time spent outdoors n play is perfectly fine.

If not properly exercised on a daily basis, the Airedale Terrier may become overweight. However, since this breed has very high energy levels that must be expended each day, it is unlikely to occur.

Airedale Terrier Health & Grooming

  • Typically very healthy

  • Sheds minimally

  • Not a heavy drooler


The Airedale Terrier typically enjoys excellent health, but like all dogs can be genetically predisposed to a few health conditions. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, thrombopathia, Von Willebrand’s disease, allergies, progressive retinal atrophy, and cancer.

The Airedale Terrier’s coat is comprised of two layers designed to function together for weatherproofing. The two layers are the coarse and wire-like top coat and a soft and dense undercoat. To maintain the harsh top coat, the Airedale Terrier should be handstripped; however, unless the dog is being shown, clipping the dog for lower maintenance is perfectly acceptable.

The Airedale Terrier sheds only minimally and is not known to be a drooler. Regular maintenance for this dog includes nail trims and tooth brushing.

Airedale Terrier Training

  • Challenging to motivate

  • Responds well to positive reinforcement training

  • Have high prey drive and will roam


Though not particularly interested in learning new skills, the Airedale Terrier is exceptionally intelligent. Because this breed is an independent thinker, creativity and patience are required to help this dog learn appropriate canine manners. Positive reinforcement techniques yield the best results. With practice, the Airedale Terrier puppy can learn all of its basic obedience commands in a matter of only a few weeks.

The Airedale Terrier can be a mouthy dog, particularly during its puppy years. To curb this behavior, experts recommend redirecting the dog’s mouth towards an appropriate toy or bone whenever the dog attempts to nip or bite in play. Over time, the dog will learn to use its mouth in a manner that is socially acceptable and safe.

A dog intended to function as a hunter, the Airedale Terrier has a very high prey drive and must be kept safely contained at all times. If opportunity presents itself, this dog will attempt to escape its property and will chase small animals. A secure containment system is vital to keep this dog alive.

Airedales, like most terriers, like to use their voices. For this reason, owners will need to teach their dog a no bark command to maintain friendly relationships with their neighbors.

Airedale Terrier Exercise Requirements

  • Challenging to motivate

  • Responds well to positive reinforcement training

  • Have high prey drive and will roam


The Airedale Terrier is both athletic and active, requiring vigorous daily exercise to remain healthy and well. This dog type excels at virtually any active pursuit from running, swimming, and hiking to any dog performance sport including agility, scent detection, flyball, and more.

The Airedale Terrier is a very playful dog, enjoying every opportunity to have fun with its family.

Airedale Terrier Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should eat puppy food

  • Adults should eat adult food

  • Adjust amounts according to activity


To ensure the selection of a high-quality diet, it is always a good idea to consult a veterinarian to assist with securing the right diet for an Airedale Terrier. As a general guideline, foods that are nutritionally balanced and age appropriate should be suitable for this breed.

Puppies should eat a puppy formulation to support their developing bodies. Likewise, adults should eat a food that is designed to meet the unique requirements for their age and activity level.

To determine how much to feed the Airedale Terrier, the serving size suggestions on the side of the bag are helpful. Since each dog is a unique individual, these amounts may need to be adjusted to reflect activity level and/or weight.

You may also be interested in:

Airedale Terrier Rescue Groups

Rescue Groups:

If you are looking for Airedale Terriers for adoption near you, we highly recommend the following comprehensive resource:

Airedale Terrier Club of America

Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption