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The Airedale Terrier or "King of Terriers" as they are known, (from Latin terra or earth) is a unique and internationally recognized breed of terrier with a rich ancestral history. Airedales are named after the Arie River Valley region, a district in West Riding, Yorkshire, England. Bred in Yorkshire, the Airedale was first established in the mid 1800s through a combination of Otter Hound, also known as Waterside Terrier, and Welsh Breed Terrier. The Welsh Breed is also synonymous with the Broken Coated Terrier, Old English Terrier or the Black and Tan Terrier. By 1879, the Airedale was a well-known and distinguished breed of terrier. In 1886, they were recognized by the Kennel Club and in 1888 by the American Kennel Club. Champion Master Briar (1897-1906) is reported to be the patriarch of the present day breed. There is an additional type of Airedale known as the Oorang which was bred for size around the 1930s, but they are not considered good pets due to their frequent behavioral and medical issues.

Originally, terriers were used to hunt rats in sporting competitions. A terrier that discovered a rat hiding in a burrow signaled hunters who proceeded to unleash a ferret into the hole forcing it out, usually into a river. Scoring for the competition was based on points; two for finding the hole, and one for a kill. With the ability to navigate water, the Airedale was quite proficient in taking on a wide array of aquatic activities. The competitions using Airedales lasted until the mid 20th century. Today Airedales are owned and loved for a variety of reasons aside from hunting, although that is still a viable use for them.

The classical Airedale has a unique look and style that follows a standard pedigree. The coat of the Airedale is considered wiry and hard, but its undercoat is much softer. The color of the coat is generally a combination of black and tan and grizzle and tan. Airedales’ weight, based on individual dogs, varies between 36-67 pounds, and between 40-65 pounds for show dogs. The average height is usually around 23 inches tall at the shoulder and an inch less for females. The Airedale is not without health issues, which are common among specially bred dogs. Usually the owner will be required to take their Airedale to a vet within the first year due to any number of problems that are common to dogs this size which include Hip Dysplasia (abnormal development of hip joints), Gastric Torsion (life-endangering distension of the stomach with gas) and skin allergies. However, this should not discourage the true dog lover from owning one. The average life span of an Airedale is between 12-14 years and puppies are considered adults after the first year. The Airedale is an active breed of terrier so it is highly recommended that owners not keep them in confined spaces.

The modern Airedale Terrier is generally a well-mannered dog and known to be quite good around kids, but owners are encouraged to be very careful with their dogs around small children. As puppies they are playful, excitable, and generally lots of fun. As adults, they make excellent guard dogs ; however, they can also be quite friendly with strangers. The Airedale has a variety of traits that include bravery, loyalty, intelligence, playfulness, sensitivity, and an eagerness to please an even-tempered owner.

They do not respond well to harsh orders or overbearing training procedures; therefore, owners should be conscious of this when working with a high-caliber dog such as an Airedale. In addition, owners and potential owners must be aware that Airedales are hunters by nature and they will pursue rodents if the opportunity presents itself. Some Airedales can show a degree of dominance over other dogs and are known to not deal well with cats unless raised with them. If you decide that an Airedale is a dog you would like to own, there are some very specific issues you should adhere to when taking one into your home and heart.

The Airedale is an animal that needs a lot of exercise, especially within the first two years, and requires a bit less thereafter. This can come in the form of long daily walks or any outdoor exercise that requires a high level of activity – by jogging, playing with a ball, swimming, retrieving objects, or some other thoughtful activity created by the owner. If proper attention is not paid to the Airedale’s physical and mental wellbeing, an owner is simply asking for behavioral problems and perhaps the enhanced possibility of health-related issues.

Grooming is an additional aspect of care that is essential to an Airedale’s state of well-being. Due to Airedales’ short hair and double coat, they need to be plucked on average twice yearly; however, if you plan to show an Airedale, then the owner must groom much more diligently. Airedales shed very little hair as adults, but they are known to shed as puppies, so they can be categorized as very light shedders. Daily brushing with a pin brush is recommended. Trimming abundant hair between the pads of the paws is necessary and the more you maintain a well-groomed coat, the amount of shedding will be greatly reduced.

Diet is also an important aspect of an Airedale’s health and well being. It is suggested that owners prepare a diet by hand using food that has potato starch and beef. The Airedale diet should be high in fiber from wheat and oats, but it is suggested that you not feed them beet pulp, soy, or rice; however, other breeders may suggest otherwise. Due to the Airedale’s tendency to incur problems with skin allergies, it is suggested that they be fed “a diet with higher amounts of fatty acids,” especially if taken to a desert climate. Other breeders state that they feed weaned puppies and adults a raw food diet that can consist of all fresh foods including fish oil, chicken necks and certain vegetables. However, it is highly recommended that owners seek professional advice before deciding upon the right diet for each individual dog.

One of the challenges of dog ownership is deciding which animal is right for you and your family. If you are looking for an Airedale, there are some guidelines you can follow to help make your decision. First, as mentioned before, the Airedale is in need of plenty of exercise, which must be considered before acquiring one as a pet. Being physically active is paramount to this relationship. Moreover, there are several questions one can ask before taking on this endeavor. Are you flexible, have a good sense of humor, and firm in your ability to set realistic boundaries? Will you or other family members leave the pet alone for more than six hours? Can you handle messy beards, muddy paws, and an abundance of dog-type messes? And probably the most important, do you have a plan to provide the training necessary to maximize the pleasure of ownership of this type of dog? If you can answer these questions affirmatively, then you should consult a licensed breeder to select the Airedale that is right for you.