The Airedale is too big to qualify as a dog that goes to ground: it cannot slip down into the narrow tunnels of weasels and rabbits. Yet it can hunt larger game-indeed, it is adept at tracking deer, wild boar, even bear. Formidable as a badger hunter, the Airedale makes a specialty of otter, the reason for its 'invention' as a breed. The terrier owes its name, in fact, to a small otter river near Leeds , England . Tracking down this clever little water mammal-whose capacity for fish was the bane of fishermen-required a good swimmer that was also happy charging round the marshes and exploring the otters' open-ended burrows. Hence the origin of the Airedale.
This versatile terrier with its supple and elegant lines is an animal of many talents. It was one of the very first canine recruits for the British and German police forces. During the First World War, it took to the vast mire of battlefields as if they were a giant burrow made to order. Agile and tireless, threading its way through trenches and shell craters, it was used by Germans and Allies alike to carry messages and detect approaching enemies. Upon its 'discharge' it resumed its hunting activities and became a guard and even a guide dog. Its easy, straightforward nature and disarming innocence make it a lively and fun-loving pet. Occasionally gripped by its 'terrier complex,' a natural unruliness, it will take to tracking an imaginary badger lurking under a chair. Like other terriers, the Airedale needs a forceful master who will keep it affectionately but firmly in line from an early age.
Origin of Airedale Terrier
The Airedale was developed around 1850 by cross-breeding the English Black and Tan Terrier (now extinct) with the Otterhound. From the former, it inherited excellent hearing and eyesight. To the latter it owes its keen nose, its strength, and its prowess as a swimmer. First called variously the Waterside, Bingley, Warfedale, or Working Terrier, the breed was officially recognized in 1879 under the name Airedale. After the Second World War, the Airedale's popularity declined no doubt because of its size. In recent years, however, the breed has come back into favor not only in Britain , but in Germany , Canada , and the United States.
Grooming of of Airedale Terrier
The Airedale's grooming is similar to that of the Wire-haired Fox Terrier, with a few exceptions. To emphasize the slender, elongated line of the head, the ears are shaved both inside and outside. The top and sides of the skull, the cheeks, and under the jaw are closely cut. The beard is left on the corners of the mouth and the muzzle and combed forward. The eyebrows are left rather bushy.
The neck is layer-cut so that the dog appears narrow from the front; the back should be very smooth so as to look straight. The rib area is lightly trimmed, also in layers. In order to 'shorten' the dog as much as possible, the back of the thighs and the buttocks are shaved carefully, rounded on the sides. The tail should be trimmed regularly in good proportion to the body.
Characteristics of Airedale Terrier
General appearance: alert expression, rapid movement. Body is well proportioned and symmetrical.
Height: 58.4 to 61 cm (23 to 24 in.) for the adult dog; 56 to 58.4 cm (22 to 23 in.) for the bitch.
Weight: not specified.
Head: long and flat skull, not too broad between the ears, narrowing to the eyes. Elongated muzzle. Barely visible stop. Flat cheeks, tight lips. Powerful, strong, and muscular jaws, vice-like, but not excessivley developed. Strongteeth. Black nose.
Eyes: dark, small, not bulging. Intelligent and alert in expression.
Ears: small, V-shaped, and carried to the side of the head, not pointing to its eyes. Topline of the folded ear extends above the skull. The tip falls forward to the top of the eye.
Neck: lean, muscular, moderately long and thick, widening at the shoulders. No loose skin.
Body: short, strong, staight back. Muscular loin. Prominent ribs, with little space between the ribs and hips. Chest deep but not broad, reaching to the elbows. Shoulders long and sloping to the back; shoulder blades flat.
Tail: set high, carried gaily but not curved over the back, of good substance and fair length.
Forequarters: legs perfectly straight with good bone. Elbows close to the body, working free of sides.
Hindquarters: legs long, strong, with a muscular second thigh. Stifles well bent. Hocks well let down, parallel when viewed from behind.
Feet: small, round, compact. Toes slightly arched, not turned in or out. Thick pads.
Coat: stiff, dense, and wiry, lying close and covering the dog well over the body and legs. Not ragged; sometimes slightly wavy and crinkling. Shorter, softer undercoat, dense and not curly.
Color: tan on the head and ears, except for dark markings on each side of the skull; the ears a little darker in tone. Tan feet, up to the thighs and elbows. The body is black or dark grizzle.
Faults: curly or soft coat. Hound ears. White feet. Poor bite. Light or bold eye.
Practical information about Airedale Terrier
This sturdy terrier adapts to any climate and is rarely ill. Its only weak point: a tendency to gastro-enteritis. Indoors, it could show a tendency to eczema, so inspect its skin regularly. Its rough, thick coat is difficult to groom unless dead hair is regulary removed with the fingers or a comb. Clippers should not be used because they cut too close and ruin the texture and color of the coat. If this is neglected, the dog quickly takes on the appearance of a woolly bear-cub. For dog show competitions, the Airedale requires professional grooming.