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Welsh Terrier vs. Airedale Terrier: 5 Differences & Similarities

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The main difference between Welsh terriers and Airedale Terriers is their size. Welsh Terriers are considerably smaller. These breeds are also different in terms of intelligence, friendliness, and displaying affection. Still, they have the same color pattern and body type.

Welsh Terriers and Airedale Terriers are similar dogs in appearance. Many people think Welsh Terriers are a sub-breed of Airedale Terriers.

But, while they are similar, they have a lot of differences.

This article explores five differences and five similarities between Welsh and Airedale Terriers. 

You will learn what they have in common in terms of origins and why they are not considered as one breed, despite their similarities.

Airedale Vs. Welsh Terrier: Overview

Welsh Terriers are the ancestors of Airedale terriers. As a result, they are almost identical in appearance, except for their size. As Terrier breeds, Airedale and Welsh terriers share many personality traits.

Welsh Terriers were initially bred in Wales. The earliest mention of the breed was made in 1450 by a poet. Welsh terriers are known as the oldest purebreds in the United Kingdom. 

Airedale Terriers are the result of crossbreeding Welsh Terriers, Otterhounds, and other terrier breeds. They date back to the 19th century and originate from England.

The American Kennel Club recognized Welsh Terriers in 1888, the same year as Airedale Terriers.

Airedale Vs. Welsh Terrier Overview

This table compares the general information about Airedale and Welsh Terriers.

TraitAiredale TerrierWelsh Terrier
Life expectancy11 – 14 years12 – 15 years
OriginEnglandWales
Breed groupHuntingHunting
PurposeCompanionship Companionship
Popularity in the US62nd of 197[1]109th of 197[1]
Price (average)$500 – $2000$1000 – $4000

Welsh Terrier Vs. Airedale Terrier: 5 Differences 

Here are 5 differences between Airedale Terriers and Welsh Terriers:

  1. Size
  2. Intelligence
  3. Affection
  4. Barking instinct
  5. Friendliness

1. Airedale Terriers Are Larger Than Wesh Terriers

Airedale Terriers Are Larger Than Wesh Terriers

Airedales are medium-sized dogs while Welsh Terriers are a small breed. 

Airedales are the largest Terrier breed. They weigh between 50 and 70 pounds (23 and 32 kilograms). This breed measures between 20 and 23 inches (51 and 58 centimeters) at shoulder length.

Welsh Terriers are similar to other Terrier breeds in terms of size. They weigh between 18 and 20 pounds (8 and 9 kilograms). Their height at shoulder length is between 13 and 15 inches (33 and 38 centimeters).

Both Airedale and Welsh Terrier females are smaller than the males.

This table compares the size of Airedale Terriers and Welsh Terriers.

TraitAiredale TerriersWelsh Terriers
Weight50 – 70 lbs (23 – 32 kg)18 – 20 lbs (8 – 9 kg)
Height20 – 23 in (51 – 58 cm)13 – 15 in (33 – 38 cm)

2. Airedale Terriers Are Smarter Than Welsh Terriers

Airedale Terriers Are Smarter Than Welsh Terriers

Airedale Terriers are almost twice as intelligent as Welsh Terriers in terms of working intelligence and obedience.

A canine intelligence study[2] measured the intelligence of 130 breeds. Airedales came 29th while Welsh Terriers came 53rd. 

Airedales understand new commands between 15 and 25 repetitions. Welsh Terriers need almost 50% more reps. 

Welsh Terriers also need more time to obey new commands than Airedales

The intelligence of dogs does not rely solely on working and obedience. Breeds have different purposes. You can’t compare shepherd dogs’ and hunting dogs’ intelligence solely on their ability to find vermin. 

As Welsh Terriers ad Airedales are in the same dog group, this comparison is reliable though.

This table compares the obedience and working intelligence of Airedales and Welsh Terriers.

TraitAiredale TerriersWelsh Terriers
Rank29th of 13053rd of 130
Understands new commands in15 – 25 repetitions25 – 40 repetitions
Obeys the first command in70% of the time50% of the time

3. Welsh Terriers Are More Affectionate Than Airedale Terriers

Welsh Terriers Are More Affectionate Than Airedale Terriers

Welsh Terriers like to express their affection. They love spending time with their owners and are rarely solitary.

Airedales also form strong bonds with their owners but do like to spend time alone. They behave more like adults and cherish personal space. They show their love by protecting their family and their home.

This table illustrates how affectionate  Airedale and Welsh Terriers are.

TraitAiredale TerriersWelsh Terriers
Affectionate3/55/5
ClingyNo No 
Separation anxietyNoNo

4. Welsh Terriers Bark More Than Airedale Terriers

Welsh Terriers Bark More Than Airedale Terriers

Even though many Welsh Terriers are used as companion dogs, they inherit their barking instinct from their ancestors.

Welsh Terriers were initially bred to hunt foxes, badgers, and rodents. As they sometimes had to follow badgers into their tunnels, they had to bark to avoid getting stuck inside. They barked often and loudly to signal their location to their owners, as they could die if they weren’t found.

Airedale Terriers are calmer and don’t always express their emotions through barking. They are moderate barkers.

5. Welsh Terriers Are Friendlier Than Airedale Terriers

Airedale and Welsh Terriers were bred as independent dogs. But, Airedales had multiple jobs, while Welsh Terriers were used only for hunting:

  • Protect the home from intruders and other animals
  • Hunt small prey for food
  • Control vermin
  • Bring cows home
  • As messengers, rescue, and sentry dogs during World War I

Airedales became reluctant when it comes to strangers and other animals. This is why they have a high territorial instinct. They are unfriendly towards cats and other small pets because of their well-developed hunting instinct.

Welsh Terriers didn’t have to be suspicious of strangers or other dogs throughout history, so they are more welcoming towards strangers.

This table illustrates the friendliness of Airedale and Welsh Terriers. 

TraitAiredale TerriersWelsh Terriers
Friendly to strangers3/55/5
Friendly to other dogs3/53/5
Friendly to other pets3/53/5
Good with children3/55/5

Airedales Vs. Welsh Terriers: 5 Similarities

Here are 5 similarities between Welsh Terriers and Airedale Terriers:

  1. Color
  2. Hypoallergenic
  3. Not good for first-time owners
  4. Breed group
  5. Skin Issues

1. Airedales and Welsh Terriers Have The Same Color Pattern

Airedales and Welsh Terriers Have The Same Color Pattern

Airedale Terriers display the same color pattern and have a similar coat type. Their similarity in appearance and color often gets the two breeds confused.

Airedale and Welsh Terriers have one of two color combinations:

  • Black and tan
  • Grizzle and tan

This table illustrates the color of Welsh terriers and Airedale Terriers by body part.[3][4]

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

Airedales sometimes have a white thin line on their chests, which is accepted by the breed standard.

2. Airedales and Welsh Terriers Are Hypoallergenic

Airedales and Welsh Terriers Are Hypoallergenic

Airedales and Welsh Terriers are minimal shedders and droolers, making them hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic dogs have a lower chance of triggering allergic reactions. No breeds is 100% hypoallergenic.

Contrary to popular belief, people are not allergic to dog’s hair[5], but to seven compounds[6] found in dogs:

  • Dander
  • Saliva
  • Urine
  • Other bodily fluids

The dander attaches to the hair and when the hair falls out, dander becomes airborne. 

Saliva also becomes airborne due to air currents. This is why low drooling dogs are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Related: Do Airedale Terriers Shed?

This table compares the traits of Airedale and welsh Terriers as hypoallergenic breeds.

TraitAiredale TerrierWelsh Terrier
HypoallergenicYesYes
Shedding 1/52/5
Drooling1/52/5
Grooming frequency3/53/5

3. Airedale and Welsh Terriers Are Not Suited For First-time Owners

Airedale and Welsh Terriers were developed to work independently, which is why they are bold and have strong personalities. They both need intensive training to be kept under control. This is why these breeds are not suited for first-time owners.

Airedales and Welsh Terriers need at least two hours of daily exercise, a lot of mental stimulation, and a lot of attention from their owners. This can be overwhelming for people who have never had a dog before.

This table lists the main traits that make Airedales and Welsh Terriers not suited for first-time owners.

TraitAiredale TerriersWelsh Terriers
Exercise needs4/54/5
Mental stimulation needs3/54/5
Good for first-time owners3/53/5
Playfulness 3/54/5
Prey drive5/55/5
Territorial/Protective5/54/5
Biting instinct4/53/5
Stubbornness 4/54/5

4. Airedale and Welsh Terriers Are Part of the Hunting Dog Group

Airedale and Welsh Terriers Are Part of the Hunting Dog Group

Airedale Terriers were initially bred for work around the house. This also required them to keep vermin under control and to hunt birds and small prey for food.

Welsh Terriers were also used as hunting dogs to catch foxes, badgers, and rodents. 

Even though they are currently used mostly for companionship, Airedale and Welsh Terriers have a strong prey drive. They are easily distracted by small animals or objects and they don’t get along with small pets.

Airedale and Welsh Terriers have the main traits of hunting dogs:

  • Their smelling and tracking senses are well developed.
  • They are obedient and eager to please.
  • They are athletic and agile.
  • They are great hunters.
  • They have an excellent work ethic.
  • They show their emotions.

5. Airedale and Welsh Terriers Have a Predisposition For Skin Issues

Welsh Terriers and Airedales are prone to dermatitis and atopy. Atopy is also called itchy skin. 

These issues are caused by allergies to food or flea bites. Bacteria or yeast present on dogs’ skin can also cause skin problems.

 Airborne allergens can cause itchy skin in Airedales and Welsh Terriers. Dogs, unlike humans, don’t sneeze when they are allergic to airborne compounds. Their allergy manifests on their skin.

Here are the main symptoms of dermatitis in Airedales and Welsh Terriers:

  • Scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy paws, belly, and ears
  • Greasy or flaky skin
  • Hair loss

Conclusion

Airedale Terriers and Welsh Terriers are relatives, this is why their appearance is so similar. They are both hypoallergenic and belong to the hunting dog group. Neither of them is suited for first-time owners and both are predisposed to skin issues.

Despite their similarities, Airedale Terriers are different from Welsh Terriers. They are larger and smarter. They are less affectionate and friendly and bark less than Welsh Terriers.

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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