Airedale Terrier – Breed Profile

The Airedale Terrier is a medium / large breed of dog. Often referred to as the ‘King of Terriers’, it is the largest of the terrier breeds. To find out more about the breed, and if it is a good fit for your family, read on below.

Airedale Terrier Harry, a Breed profile example.

Airedale Terrier


As mentioned above, the Airedale Terrier is the largest of the terrier breeds. Males usually weigh between 23 – 29 kg and females between 18 – 20 kg. Their most notable characteristic is their wavy black and tan coat, which is of medium length. The coat has a wiry topcoat, with a softer undercoat. This requires regular hand stripping, as the breed does not shed. Because of this, the breed may be suitable for some allergy sufferers. They are an active and intelligent dog and should appear well muscled. The Airedale tail should be long and erect, though historically was docked. This practice is now illegal in pet dogs unless considered medically necessary.


Airedale Terriers are intelligent and energetic. The breed is very trainable but can be stubborn, so early training and socialisation are particularly important. Trainers advise that they respond well to reinforcement training throughout their lives. Due to their working background, Airedales have a high prey drive, so it is very important to work on a strong recall. They can be an excellent family dog but, due to their size, are better suited to families with older children. While early socialisation with other pets can make them suitable for multi-pet households, their prey instincts are strong. Because of this, we advise careful consideration before you introduce one to your home.


Airedale Terriers have a life expectancy of around 10-11 years. They are a largely healthy breed but can be prone to certain health problems. As a larger breed, hip dysplasia can be a concern. They can also be prone to eye problems, such as entropian. It is important to properly maintain an Airedale coat, as they can suffer from skin problems. Regular stripping of the coat helps to minimise these issues. The breed can also suffer from gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), so it is important to ensure that an Airedale does not eat prior to exercise.


The Airedale Terrier was developed locally to us here at Yorkshire Vets, and our history actually extends further back than it’s 19th-century roots! The working-class people of the Airedale Valley developed the breed by crossing Black and Tan Terriers with Otterhounds and other local breeds. They were first exhibited in 1864, under a number of names, with the Airedale name finalised in 1879. Originally developed as working dogs, the Airedale has found work in the armed forces and law enforcement. Their most prominent use was during the first World War, during which they took on for messaging and locating tasks.

Famous Examples

Three consecutive US Presidents owned Airedale Terriers; Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. A famous Airedale called Paddy the Wanderer became well known for wandering the streets of Wellington, New Zealand during the Great Depression. The public loved Paddy and his dog license always paid for by the workers, cabbies and seamen that he encountered. Two Airedales were also on board the Titanic during its fateful maiden voyage.

The Airedale in the attached photo is Harry, who recently visited our Morley surgery.

Yorkshire Vets Heart