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13 Airedale Terrier Temperament & Personality Traits

Airedale Terriers have a unique personality. It is what makes them one of the most interesting breeds out there. They are skilled and smart, bred as working dogs for multiple jobs around the home. As a result, they are bold, reliable, and loyal.

Airedales are highly energetic and need some training. But when you’ve successfully bonded with it, you’ll experience their incredible loyalty.

This article explores 13 main characteristics of Airedale Terriers:

  1. Suitedness for families
  2. Territorial instinct
  3. Intelligence
  4. Dangerous potential
  5. Aggression
  6. Cat-friendliness
  7. Suitedness for first-time owners
  8. Trainability
  9. Hunting instinct
  10. Protective instinct
  11. Dog-friendliness
  12. Kid-friendliness
  13. Suitedness for apartment living

Airedale Terrier Temperament Overview

The temperament of dogs is measured with a test[1]. This test was created by the American Temperament Test Society. It measures aspects of their personality and temper. In 2017, 78.2% of Airedales passed this test.

The Temperament Test is used to assess the personality traits of dog breeds. The goal is to uncover a dog’s predisposition of six traits:

  • Shiness
  • Friendliness
  • Protectiveness
  • Stability
  • Prey drive
  • Ability to differentiate threatening situations from non-threatening ones

This table lists the main characteristics of Airedale Terriers:

Protective nature5/5
Aggressive 4/5
Good family dogs4/5
Good with kids3/5
Good with other dogs3/5
Friendly to strangers3/5
Easy to train3/5
Affectionate 3/5
Hunting instinct5/5
Barking 3/5
Energetic 5/5
Stubbornness 3/5

1. Are Airedale Terriers Good Family Dogs?

Are Airedale Terriers Good Family Dogs

Yes, Airedales are good family dogs. They are not highly affectionate but are loyal and protective. They love to spend time with their family but also enjoy alone time. 

Airedale Terriers were initially bred as working dogs and spent a lot of time near household members. They were raised as a part of the “pack”. 

They are intelligent and form strong bonds with their entire family. They like to play and spend time together but don’t become clingy.

Airedales are good family dogs as long as you treat them like adults. Even though they are highly energetic, like children, Airedales are reliable and act with sobriety. 

2. Are Airedale Terriers Good Guard Dogs?

Are Airedale Terriers Good Guard Dogs
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Yes, Airedales are excellent guard dogs. This breed is one of the most reliable in the field.

Airedale Terriers were initially bred by people who needed one dog to do several jobs around the house. 

Besides vermin control and hunting, Airedales had the responsibility to protect the property from trespassers. They also had to protect their family members.

During World War I, Airedales were used as guard dogs, among jobs. 

It’s in their genes to be protective. Because of their size, they are also effective at scaring intruders. 

3. Are Airedale Terriers Smart?

Are Airedale Terriers Smart

Yes, Airedale Terriers are intelligent. They are not part of the top 10 smartest breeds, but they have above-average intelligence.

Stanley Coren, a neuropsychological researcher, analyzed the working intelligence and obedience of 130 dog breeds. He concluded that Airedales are the 29th most intelligent dogs among 130 breeds.[2]

Airedale Terriers obey the first command more than 70% of the time, and it takes between 15 and 25 repetitions for them to learn new commands.

That means, they understand what you want from them relatively quickly. This is fast compared to Beagles and Basset Hounds who need between 80 and 100 repetitions.

4. Are Airedale Terriers Dangerous?

Are Airedale Terriers Dangerous
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Yes, Airedales can be dangerous if they are not trained and socialized during puppyhood. They bite if you trespass their territory or if they perceive you as a threat. 

Airedales have a bite force of 269 PSI. This means they can cause significant damage when they bite. 

This table compares the bite force of Airedale Terriers to other breeds.

BreedBite Force
Cane Corso 700 PSI
Dogo Argentino 500 PSI
Rotweiller 328 PSI
American Bulldog305 PSI
Airedale Terrier269 PSI
German Shepherd238 PSI
Pit Bull 235 PSI
Doberman Pinscher228 PSI
Dutch Shepherd224 PSI
Belgian Malinois195 PSI

5. Are Airedale Terriers Aggressive?

Are Airedale Terriers Aggressive
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Yes, Airedales have a predisposition for aggression. They display aggressive behavior toward dogs of the same sex, small animals, and trespassers

The following table details the types of aggression that Airedale Terriers engage in.[3]

Type of AggressionDescription
Defensive aggressionAiredale Terriers are not socialized during puppyhood. As a result, they perceive other animals as dangerous.
Distancing aggressionAiredales fear other animals or dogs. This fear is correlated with social anxiety disorder. 
Territorial aggressionAiredales protect their territory from potential dangers.
Maternity aggressionAiredales keep their puppies safe from perceived threats.[4]
Aggression out of fearThis behavior is usually observed in adopted Airedales who were abused. It is correlated to anxiety disorders.
Displaced aggressionAiredales focus their aggression on small animals or close objects. It is associated with a lack of exercise.
Competitive aggressionAiredales see this as a game. They try to impress their opponent (usually a dog).
Possessive aggressionAiredales use this behavior to check their position in the pack hierarchy.
Hunting aggressionAiredales’ intent is not to kill the victim. They direct this aggression type toward small animals or cyclists. 

6. Are Airedale Terriers Good With Cats?

No, Airedale Terriers don’t like cats. This breed was used for vermin control and hunting small prey. As a result, any small creature triggers their hunting instinct.

Airedales chase cats when they see them. This is a natural behavior, as Airedales have a strong chasing instinct.

Here are some ways to manage chasing behavior in Airedales:

  • Start building their focus and recall in less distracting environments.
  • When working on their recall, keep them in a harness and teach them to focus on you.
  • Use positive reinforcement whenever they don’t get distracted by cats.

7. Are Airedale Terriers Good for First-time Owners?

Are Airedale Terriers Good for First-time Owners

No, Airedale Terriers are not suited for first-time owners as they are sometimes hard to control. This breed needs training early on because they can engage in problematic behavior when they grow up without proper guidance.

Airedales constantly need something to do. When they are bored, they become destructive. As a result, they start biting things, digging, or barking. 

This breed is bold and likes to take control. If you don’t know how to approach this kind of behavior in dogs, it’s easy to lose control over your dog. 

First-time owners will have a tough time in the beginning, but it is possible to develop this skill with enough practice. 

8. Are Airedale Terriers Easy to Train?

Are Airedale Terriers Easy to Train

Yes and no. Airedale Terriers are smart and learn new things quickly. But they are also stubborn and sometimes self-willed. As a result, training depends a lot on their personality. If you start training in early puppyhood, there should be no issues.

Airedales require obedience training because of their strength and size. The basic commands, such as stay, come, and sit are compulsory. 

Positive reinforcement[5] works best. If you are the trainer, make sure to be firm and patient. 

Make the training sessions short to avoid boredom. Airedales are less likely to cooperate if they get bored of the same command.

9. Are Airedale Terriers Good Hunting Dogs?

Are Airedale Terriers Good Hunting Dogs
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Yes, Airedale Terriers are good hunting dogs. They were initially bred to work around the house. Their job included catching rabbits or other small animals that their owners could eat. They were also used for vermin control, which consisted of hunting rats and other pests.

Airedales are good hunters, but not as good as other terriers, such as the Jack Russel Terriers. Hunting was not the Airedale’s main purpose. 

Still, they do an outstanding job and are cooperative.

Here are the specific hunting dogs’ traits of Airedales:

  • Reliable work ethic
  • Eagerness to please
  • Well-developed tracking and smelling ability
  • Great stamina
  • Great running shape
  • Emotion display

10. Are Airedale Terriers Protective?

Are Airedale Terriers Protective

Yes, Airedales are protective. One of their initial roles was to protect their home from intruders. It didn’t matter if they were humans or other animals. Airedales weren’t allowed to let anyone in.

A recent study[6] found a correlation between dogs’ purpose and how their brain has evolved over time. The protectiveness trait has been passed on from Airedales’ ancestors.

This breed is also protective of its family. If they detect danger, they engage in aggressive behavior.

11. Are Airedale Terriers Good With Dogs?

Are Airedale Terriers Good With Dogs

It depends. Airedales are territorial and always alert if a dog trespasses their territory. They don’t show any tolerance. Airedales are reluctant towards other dogs at first but will eventually become friendly.

Airedales were initially bred by working men. They didn’t want to keep more than one dog around the house to do various jobs. As a result, Airedales got used to being the only dog in the family.

If Airedales are socialized with other dogs during puppyhood, they are less likely to be unfriendly during adulthood.

12. Are Airedale Terriers Good Dogs With Children?

Are Airedale Terriers Good Dogs With Children

Yes and no. Airedale Terriers are unsuited for young kids but are great around older children. According to the American Kennel Club[7], Airedales are average in terms of suitedness around children.

The interaction of Airedales with babies as young children should always be supervised by the owner. 

Young children are sometimes unpredictable and like to bother dogs by hitting them or pulling their ears and tail. Airedales are sometimes intolerant of this behavior.

Airedales enjoy being around children, as they are loving dogs but they don’t react well when taken by surprise.

13. Are Airedale Terriers Fine in Apartment Living?

Are Airedale Terriers Fine in Apartment Living
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No, apartment living is not for Airedale Terriers. This breed is highly energetic and likes to be mentally engaged. Apartments are too small for Airedales to fulfill their stimulation needs.

Airedale Terriers need at least two hours of physical activity per day. This includes their daily walks, playdates, running, and also moving around. 

This breed was bred for outdoor living. They always have a job as they are working dogs.

Airedales like to be mentally engaged in various activities. If they smell a new creature in the area, they like to investigate where it is. This seems insignificant, but they need it.


Airedale Terriers are smart but not easy to train. They make great guard dogs and have a high protective instinct. Even though they are good family dogs, Airedale Terriers are not suited for families with babies.

If you are a first-time owner, Airedale terriers are not for you. They are highly energetic and sometimes stubborn. They can engage in problematic behavior and are predisposed to aggression. Still, they are bold and loyal, which makes them great companions.

About Ioana Moldovan

Ioana is a Misfit Animals staff writer and psychology student interested in animal behavior. She likes to dive deep into the newest scientific studies to find out the latest discoveries in the field.

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