The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to “Airedale”) is a breed of the terrier type that originated in Airedale, a geographic area in Yorkshire, England. It is traditionally called the “King of Terriers” because it is the largest of the terrier breeds. Bred from a Black and Tan Terrier and an Otterhound, 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 which runs through Airedale. In the United Kingdom this breed has also been used as a police dog.
The Airedale can be used as a working dog and also as a hunting dog. 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.
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 sometimes be stubborn. If children and Airedale are both trained correctly, Airedales can be an excellent choice for a family dog. Airedales can do well with cats and other small animals, especially when they are raised with them.
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.”
The Airdale can become aggressive, especially if he is systematically trained for that. Even so, it is not generally easy to instill aggression. Airdales usually relate to the world around them “without a stone in the bosom”, they are too honest and dignified. This is a real beauty of the Airdale Terrier – strong, brave, full of curiosity and with a positive attitude.