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Airedale Terrier: Appearance, Temperament, Issues, & More

The Airedale Terrier is the largest Terrier breed. They are smart and bold but need supervision in hectic environments. This breed is fun to be around and suited for active owners who don’t lie on the couch all day. 

If you are fond of Airedale Terriers, you should probably know they are not easy to live with. 

That said, once you know their temperament traits and their lifestyle needs, you can decide if this breed is for you.

This article explores the main aspects of Airedale Terriers:

  • History
  • Appearance 
  • Temperament
  • Health issues
  • Lifespan
  • Food requirements
  • Price

You will also learn how life with Airedale Terriers is and how your life is going to change after you buy an Airedale puppy.

Airedale Terrier Characteristics Overview

Airedale Terriers are an independent breed. They are intelligent but challenging when it comes to training. This breed is medium-sized and comes in two colors, black or drizzle, and tan. Initially bred as working dogs, Airedales need a lot of mental stimulation. If this is not provided, they engage in destructive behavior.

Airedale Terriers were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888. 

As working dogs, Airedales love to be responsible for performing tasks. Throughout their history, they have been used in the military and police force. 

Airedales have an athletic appearance and need large amounts of physical activity on a daily basis.

They make great watchdogs but can engage in problematic behavior if their needs are not met.

Airedale Terrier Characteristics Overview

This table illustrates the main characteristics of Airedale Terriers.



21 – 23 inches


50 – 70 pounds


11 – 14 years

Dog Breed Group

Pure Breed


Working dog

Coat Type

Double, wiry

Coat length


Coat color

Black & Tan, Grizzle & Tan


Dark, small, not prominent




Floppy, V-shaped, not pointing to the eyes




1 star

Grooming Difficulty

3 stars


Apartment living

3 stars

Good for beginners

3 stars

Can be alone

3 stars

Cold weather tolerance

4 stars

Hot weather tolerance

4 stars

Friendliness & Temper


4 stars


3 stars


3 stars


3 stars

Friendly to Strangers

3 stars


3 stars

Trainability & Needs

Easy to train

3 stars


4 stars

Hunting Instinct

5 stars


4 stars

Energy Level

4 stars

3 Reasons To Get an Airedale Terrier

Airedales are suited for people who suffer from dog allergies because they are hypoallergenic. They are minimal shedders and exhibit above-average intelligence.

1. Airedales are Hypoallergenic

Airedales are Hypoallergenic

Airedales are listed as hypoallergenic because they don’t shed much.

The idea that people are allergic to dogs’ hair is false. They are actually allergic to components in dogs’ saliva, dander, and bodily fluids[1]. These components are released into the environment through hair shedding, as dander attaches to dead hair. 

No dog is 100% hypoallergenic but some have a lower potential of causing allergies than others. Airedales are a part of this category, which is why they are called hypoallergenic.

2. Airedales Are Minimal Shedders

Airedales don’t shed a lot. Their shedding is seasonal, which means they shed more during the spring and autumn. 

Because their hair is curly, it is best to strip their coat twice a year. Otherwise, it will tangle and lead to inefficient grooming. 

3. Airedales Are Smart

The largest study[2] on dog intelligence conducted by Stanley Coren places Airedales 29th among 130 breeds. The study analyzed the obedience and working intelligence of dogs. 

Airedale Terriers understand new commands relatively fast, after 15 to 25 repetitions. They obey the first command 70% of the time. 

3 Reasons Not To Get an Airedale Terrier

Airedales are difficult to train. They don’t behave well around young children and do not adapt well to apartment living.

1. Airedales Are Not Easy To Train

Airedales Are Not Easy To Train

Airedales are sometimes stubborn and self-willed. This makes training problematic, especially for beginner owners. 

This breed is also distractible, as they were initially used for vermin control. During their training sessions, it is essential to keep them focused. 

Short sessions will keep them engaged.

2. Airedales Are Not Suited Around Young Children

Airedales are not the best family dogs. They are impatient with young children. 

Airedales hate surprises. They are also not fond of being touched when they are not in the mood. This behavior can trigger aggressive behavior which can be fatal to babies.

3. Airedales Are Not Suited for Apartment Living

Airedale Terriers are highly energetic and need high amounts of mental stimulation. 

They love to have a job and have a large space to use their energy. When they don’t, Airedale Terriers engage in destructive behavior. 

If you need to raise an Airedale into an apartment, make sure to provide at least two hours of physical activity per day to fulfill their needs.

Airedale Terrier History

The Airedale Terrier was initially bred in the valley of River Aire, England in the middle of the 19th century. They are a crossbreed of Otterhounds, Welsh Terriers, and other Terrier breeds. Airedales were used as working dogs, police dogs, war dogs, and hunting dogs. 

Airedales were developed as a working breed by men who needed help around the house. 

This breed didn’t have a specific purpose and was good at multiple tasks. This eliminated the need of having multiple dogs.

Airedales were used for vermin control to protect the home by fighting larger animals. They could easily catch birds and rabbits which were used for feeding the family. 

Occasionally, Airedales brought the cows home from the pastures.

Airdelades also had different roles in the army during World War I:

  • Explosive detectors
  • Messengers
  • Rescue dogs (to find injured soldiers)
  • Sentry dogs
Airedale Terrier History

Airedale Terrier Appearance

Airedale Terriers are the largest Terrier breed. They are athletic and their forelegs are perfectly straight. This breed comes in two color variations: black and tan, or grizzle and tan. The particularity of Airedale Terriers is their strong muscular faces.

Airedale Terrier Size

Airedales grow 23 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. Females are shorter than males but the difference is insignificant. 

Both Airedale males and females have a muscular appearance. They are sturdy and well-balanced. 

When you look at them, the last thing that pops into your mind is fragility.

Related: Airedale Terrier Size

Airedale Terrier Coat Type

Airedale Terrier Coat Type

Airedales are double-coated. Their hair is wiry and straight or a bit wavy. Some Airedales have hard and crinkly hair.

Airedales’ undercoats are soft and short, in opposition to their outer coats, which have a hard and stiff texture. 

Both coat layers are dense to protect their body. 

Airedale Terrier Color

Airedale Terriers are either black and tan or drizzle and tan. 

This table illustrates the color of Airedale Terriers by body part.

Body PartColor
Head Tan 
Ears Tan, a darker shade than the rest
Legs Tan 
ChestTan, can have a small white line
ShouldersTan or darker
The sides of the bodyBlack or drizzle
Upper bodyBlack or drizzle
Skull sidesCan have dark markings

Airedale Terrier Temperament

Airedales are independent and skillful. Most people think of dogs as children but Ardales seem more like adults. They are not highly affectionate and make you respect their personal space. This breed is predisposed to problematic behavior. This includes barking, digging, and chasing.

This table illustrates the main personality traits of Airedale Terriers.

TraitsAiredale Terriers
Protective InstinctHigh
Excessive BarkingModerate
Hunting InstinctHigh
Biting InstinctModerate
Digging InstinctHigh

Airedales are bold and have strong personalities. This can be a lot to handle for first-time owners. 

Airedale Terrier Temperament

They have a well-developed prey drive but display stability in behavior. 

Airedales are reserved and are unfriendly to strangers or other dogs. They need to establish trust before they turn become friendly. 

This breed is not clingy and sometimes has the need to spend time alone. This can seem like a rejection, but it’s not. This is a show of their independence.

The temperament of Airedales is highly influenced by their genes, along with other factors:

  • Socialization
  • Training
  • Environment

The way you raise Airedales is crucial. Even though they have a predisposition for problematic behavior, this can be controlled through early socialization and training. 

Are Airedale Terriers Barkers?

Airedale Terriers bark when they feel threatened, but don’t engage in excessive barking. If they are trained during puppyhood, they bark only to let you know someone is trespassing your property. 

The barking behavior of Airedales is not influenced solely by genetics and breed characteristics. Their environment, lifestyle, and early experiences can cause an Airedale to bark more than others.

Airedales without early socialization perceive situations as more dangerous. This can trigger barking as a defense mechanism.

Are Airedale Terriers Barkers

Other reasons for Airedales barking:

  • Pain
  • Cognitive decline
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Need for attention
  • Boredom

Are Airedale Terriers Aggressive?

Yes, Airedale Terriers engage in aggressive behavior directed towards small animals and trespassers. 

As they were initially bred for performing several tasks around the house, they learned to catch vermin, fight large animals that threaten the family, and become aggressive when someone wants to enter their territory.

Airedales are unfriendly to strangers or other dogs. If you decide to bring some friends over, make sure to introduce them to your dog and wait until they get familiar with them. 

When they realize they don’t represent a threat and you are friendly to them, Airedales become friendly as well.

Do Airedales Make Good Watchdogs?

Yes, Airedales make great watchdogs. They are loyal and protective of their territory and family members. 

A recent study[3] correlates the purpose of a breed to its brain evolution. Airedales were bred for different chores around the house, which included protecting the property from intruders. 

As a result, they are really good at it.

Airedale Terrier Health Issues

Airedales are generally healthy dogs. They aren’t affected by a wide variety of health issues compared to other breeds.

Here are the main health issues of Airedale Terriers:

  1. Dermatitis
  2. Eye problems
  3. Heart disease
  4. Bloat
  5. Hypothyroidism 

1. Dermatitis

Airedale Terriers Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a highly common skin condition in Terriers. Airedales make no exception. 

Airedales with dermatitis display[4]:

  • Hair loss
  • Itching 
  • Scratching
  • Paw chewing
  • Flaky or greasy skin

Canine dermatitis can be allergic and is caused by:

  • Food allergy
  • Flea allergy
  • Bacteria or yeast on the skin
  • Airborne allergens
  • Contact allergy

2. Eye Problems

Airedale Terriers Eye Problems

Airedales have a predisposition for several eye diseases:

  • Entropion
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Distichiasis
  • Cataracts

Deteriorated eyesight is an issue with a high impact on the well-being of Airedales.

Some eye conditions can lead to blindness even if they are diagnosed at an early stage. These issues include PRA. This is an inherited eye condition with no treatment. Not even surgery can cure it. 

It is important to have your Airedale checked periodically. This will help you adjust the care according to the evolution of the illness.

3. Heart Disease

Airedale terriers have a predisposition to various heart conditions. To make sure your dog is healthy, schedule a cardiologist check-up once a year. The doctor will check for heart murmurs and abnormal heart rates. 

Here 3 are ways to prevent heart disease in Airedales:

  1. Brush their teeth regularly.
  2. Engage them in regular physical exercise.
  3. Don’t overfeed them to prevent weight gain.

4. Bloat 

Airedale Terriers Bloat
Image Source

Bloat is also called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). This condition is specific to dogs with narrow deep chests, such as Airedales. 

When Airedales bloat, their stomach fills with gas and twists itself.  This results in cutting off the blood supply to the stomach.

This disease can be fatal if you don’t take your dog to the vet immediately. It can be prevented with surgery.

5. Hypothyroidism 

Airedales with hypothyroidism don’t make enough thyroid hormones. As a result, they have dry skin and coats and experience hair loss. They can gain weight and experience behavioral changes. Other symptoms include aggression and fearfulness. 

Hypothyroidism is usually treated with medication consisting of replacement hormones.

Airedale Terrier Lifespan

Airedale Terriers live between 11 and 14 years. 

Here are 4 factors that influence the lifespan of Airedale Terriers:

  1. Health issues: Some genetic health conditions cause premature death.
  2. Stress: Increased stress levels lead to a shorter lifespan in dogs[5][6].
  3. Diet: A poor diet results in health conditions that reduce life expectancy.
  4. Lack of exercise: A lack of exercise leads to obesity and heart disease, lowering life expectancy.

This table lists the life expectancy of Airedale Terriers compared to other breeds.

Airedale Terriers11 – 14 years
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 9 – 14 years
Boston Terrier11 – 13 years
Beagle 12 – 15 years
Jack Russel Terrier13 – 16 years
Dachshund 13 – 15 years

Airedale Terrier Food Requirements

Adult Airedale Terriers need between 1.5 and 3.5 cups of kibble per day. If you decide to feed them wet dog food, keep in mind that 1 cup of kibble is the equivalent of two cans of wet dog food.

There is a trend that suggests a raw diet is healthier for dogs. But, the scientific evidence is not conclusive. Some studies suggest this type of diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies.[7] 

The best food for Airedales is made predominantly of meat. 

Wet food is less processed than dry food but is more expensive. Still, it is healthier for Airedales because it is low in preservatives. This reduces the chances of allergic reactions.

Airedale Terrier Food Requirements
Image Source

To avoid stomach problems avoid the following ingredients:

  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Diary
  • Beef 

To avoid bloating (which can lead to severe health issues in Airedales) avoid:

  • Having your dogs eat from raised bowls.
  • Feeding them large meals.
  • Allowing them to eat quickly.
  • Allowing them to play or run immediately after meals.

Airedale Terrier Grooming

Airedales need grooming at least once every three months. Professional groomers are familiar with stripping. This procedure is needed to remove their dead hair and skin.

To keep your Airedale healthy, brush them at least once a week. This evenly spreads their skin oils which keeps their coat and skin hydrated. 

As Airedale Terriers have a predisposition for dermatitis, you need to be careful about shampoos. Some ingredients cause skin irritation and are not suited for his breed. 

Hypoallergenic products are best, especially if your Airedale is struggling with skin problems. 

Avoid shampoos and conditioners that have:

  • Perfume
  • Sulfates: SLES, SLS, ALES, and ALS.
  • Parabens: propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben.[8]
  • Formaldehyde: Diazolidinyl urea, DMDN Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol, and sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate.[9] 
Airedale Terrier Grooming

Living With an Airedale Terrier

Living with an Airedale Terrier is fun but comes with some responsibilities. Airedales are not easy to live with as they can be stubborn and independent. Use daily routines to keep them happy, healthy, and engaged.

Here are some tips to live with an Airedale Terrier:

  • Add a daily exercise routine of at least two hours.
  • Keep a consistent nutrient-rich diet appropriate for their age.
  • Have a grooming routine.
  • Keep an eye on your Airedale like you would with a child. 
  • Close the doors to the rooms you don’t want them in. 
  • Keep the mentally engaged every day.

Are Airedale Terriers Energetic?

Yes, Airedale Terriers are energetic throughout their entire life. The breed was initially used as a working dog. They were used to constantly doing something around the house. As a result, they don’t like to be couch potatoes. 

The optimal physical activity for Airedales is around 2 hours per day.

When outdoors, Airedales like to be constantly engaged. If they are bored, they start digging or chewing. 

It is best to have tall fences to prevent Airedales from escaping while chasing small animals or birds.

Do Airedale Terriers Need a Lot of Mental Stimulation? 

Yes, Airedale Terriers need a lot of mental stimulation. They need something to do to be happy. 

If you can’t offer your dog a job or task, try engaging them in activities that challenge their mental capacities:

  • Have them work for their food.
  • Teach them new tricks.
  • Play sniffing games.
  • Engage them in obstacle courses.
  • Play puzzle games.
  • Walk them on different paths.

Airedale Terrier Puppy Price

Airedale Terrier puppies cost between $800 and $2000. 

The price of Airedale Terriers depends on several factors:

  • Their age (puppies are more expensive than adults).
  • The breeder’s reputation.
  • The quality of the parents (if their ancestors are champions).
  • Their appearance (if they raise to the breed standard[10]).
  • Their previous medical care.
  • Their popularity in the area.

Airedale Terrier Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Airedale Terriers:

  • They are the largest Terrier breed.
  • They were preferred by many presidents at the White House, including President Harding.
  • Jack, a military Airedale, was decorated with the Victoria Cross for saving an entire battalion by delivering an important message.
  • They were used as police dogs in Germany and Britain.


Airedale Terriers are a hypoallergenic breed suited for experienced owners. They are bold and independent. Airedales are athletic, agile, and active. They become frustrated if they don’t release their energy. 

This breed is the perfect guard dog and is loyal to its family members. Overall, Airedales are perfect for people who are active and have time for their dogs.

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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