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AIREDALE TERRIER

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The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to "Airedale") is a terrier dog breed originating from Airedale in Yorkshire, England. It is sometimes called the "King of Terriers" because it is the largest of the terrier breeds, 50 to 100 pounds (23-45 kg). The breed has also been called the Waterside Terrier, because it was bred originally to hunt otters in and around the valleys of the River Aire from whence it gets its name.

History
Airedale, a valley (dale) in the West Riding of Yorkshire, between the Aire and the Wharfe Rivers, was the birthplace of the breed. In the mid-19th Century, working class people created the Airedale Terrier by crossing the old English rough-coated Black and Tan Terrier with the Otterhound. In 1886, the Kennel Club of England formally recognised the Airedale Terrier breed.

In 1864 they were exhibited for the first time at a championship dog show sponsored by the Airedale Agricultural Society. They were classified under different names, including Rough Coated, Bingley and Waterside Terrier. In 1879 breed fanciers decided to call the breed the Airedale Terrier, a name accepted by the Kennel Club (England) in 1886.

Well-to-do hunters of the era were typically accompanied by a pack of hounds and several terriers, often running them both together. The hounds would scent and pursue the quarry and the terriers would "go to ground" or enter into the quarry's burrow and make the kill. Terriers were often the sporting dog of choice for the common man. Early sporting terriers needed to be big enough to tackle the quarry, but not so big as to prevent them from maneuvering through the quarry's underground lair. As a result, these terriers had to have a very high degree of courage and pluck to face the foe in a tight, dark underground den without the help of human handlers.

During the middle of the nineteenth century, regular sporting events took place along the Aire River in which terriers pursued the large river rats that inhabited the area. A terrier was judged on its ability to locate a "live" hole in the riverbank and then, after the rat was driven from its hole by a ferret brought along for that purpose, the terrier would pursue the rat through water until it could make a kill. As these events became more popular, demand arose for a terrier that could excel in this activity. One such terrier was developed through judicious crossings of the Black-and-Tan Terrier and Bull-and-Terrier dog popular at the time with the Otter Hound. The result was a long-legged fellow that would soon develop into the dog we recognize today as the Airedale Terrier. This character was too big to "go to ground" in the manner of the smaller working terriers; however, it was good at everything else expected of a sporting terrier, and it was particularly adept at water work. This big terrier had other talents in addition to its skill as a ratter. Because of an infusion of hound blood it was blessed with the ability to scent game and the size to be able to tackle larger animals. It became more of a multipurpose terrier that could pursue game by powerful scenting ability, be broken to gun, and taught to retrieve. Its size and temperament made it an able guardian of farm and home. One of the colorful, but less-than legal, uses of the early Airedale Terrier was to assist its master in poaching game on the large estates that were off-limits to commoners. Rabbits, hare, and fowl were plentiful, and the Airedale could be taught to retrieve game killed by its master, or to pursue, kill, and bring it back itself.

Characteristics
Keen of expression, quick of movement, on the tip-toe 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.


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Coat
Like many terriers, the breed has a 'broken' coat. The coat is hard, dense and wiry, not so long as to appear ragged, and lies straight and close, covering body and legs. The outer coat is hard, wiry and stiff, while the undercoat shorter and softer. Hardest coats are crinkling or just slightly waved. Curly or soft coats are highly undesirable. Because of this coat, Airedales do not significantly shed. Airedales being shown are generally groomed by stripping: a small serrated edged knife is used to pull out loose hair from the dog's coat.

The correct coat color is a black saddle, with a tan head, ears and legs; or a dark grizzle saddle (black mixed with gray and white).

Eyes
The Airedale's eyes should be dark in colour, small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keeness and intelligence. Light or bold eyes are considered highly  undesirable.

Some Airedales do suffer from eye diseases, such as congenital retina condition.

Mouth
Airedales have a normal 'scissors bite', where the top teeth close over the bottom. Airedales' teeth are the largest among terriers, and can inflict a strong bite.

Size
Dogs: approx. 58-61 cms (23-24 ins) from top of shoulder Bitches approx. 56-59 cms (22-23 ins) from top of shoulder.


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Overview
The Airedale can be used as a working dog and also as a hunter. Airedales exhibit some herding characteristics as well, and have a propensity to chase animals. They have no problem working with cattle and livestock. However, an Airedale that is not well trained will agitate and annoy the animals. Strong-willed, with the tenacity commonly seen in terriers, the Airedale is a formidable opponent.

The Airedale Terrier, like most Terriers, has been bred to hunt independently. As a result, the dog is very intelligent, independent, strong-minded, stoic, and can be stubborn. The Airedale is a dog with a great sense of humour. For those who can laugh along with their Airedale, the dog can provide a unique and entertaining company. For those who don't appreciate being outsmarted by their dog, owning an Airedale can be a trying experience. Patience and consistency in training will be rewarded as the Airedales have been known to reach great heights in competitive obedience, dog agility, and Schutzhund. Airedales can often be difficult to train. Being smart, Airedales pick up what is wanted from them very quickly; being smart, they do not want to keep repeating what they learned and can try to terminate a training session at the point when they "got it". Changing the routine at this point or taking a play-break is much more productive than trying to force the Airedale to continue as they are a stubborn bunch. Airedales require constant reinforcement, or they may decide to start ignoring commands. When training is resumed, they can quickly recover their acceptance of the command. Airedales are a stoic and intrepid breed and as a result, young Airedales exhibit a general lack of common sense and require training. For the same reasons, they need socializing with other dogs early.

Albert Payson Terhune wrote of the Airedale: "Among the mine-pits of the Aire, the various groups of miners each sought to develop a dog which could outfight and outhunt and outthink the other miner's dogs. Tests of the first-named virtues were made in inter-mine dog fights. Bit by bit, thus, an active, strong, heroic, compactly graceful and clever dog was evolved - the earliest true form of the Airedale."

He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum and guard. ....To his master he is an adoring pal. To marauders he is a destructive lightning bolt."

They are also very loving, always in the middle of the family activities. Airedales are also known for expressing exactly what they are thinking, unlike more aloof breeds. The Airedale is also a reliable and protective family pet. Airedales are exceedingly loyal and strong dogs; there is one story of an Airedale taking down a bear to protect its master. They are very energetic, and need plenty of exercise.

The Airedale is also a stoic, able to withstand pain and injury, the Airedale's hurts and illnesses often go unnoticed until they become severe and require veterinary attention.


Further Information
  Books - Airedale Terrier Pet Love




Last Update: 13/02/08 09:53 Views: 4152

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