Airedale Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

“The King of Terriers,” the Airedale was named for the River Aire in England, where lots of small game flourished. Originally known as the Waterside Terrier and used as a vermin hunter, the breed was later crossed with the Otterhound to make him a better swimmer. In addition to his role as a small-game hunter, the Airedale has been used to hunt big game in Africa, India, and Canada, and as a police dog and army sentry dog in World War II. Today the Airedale Terrier is primarily a companion dog.


The Airedale is a large terrier with a harsh, wiry coat; long flat head; and deep chest. The well-balanced dog stands square, with a level topline and very straight front legs. The V-shaped ears fold forward, offset to the sides of the head rather than pointing at the eyes. The nose is black. The teeth should meet in a level or scissors bite. The tail is usually docked to about half-length; it is carried gaily, but should not curl over the back. The wiry outer coat is lined with a soft undercoat. The coat should be tan with a black (or dark grizzle) saddle. A bit of red in the black and/or a small white star on the chest are permitted. The legs (all the way to the thigh), chest, undersides, head, and ears should be tan. Sometimes tan also extends up to the shoulder.

Key Facts

  • Height: Averages 23 in. (male); 21 in. (female)
  • Size: Medium
  • Weight: 50 to 60 lbs. (male); 45 to 55 (female)
  • Availability: Might take some effort to find
  • Talents: Hunting, tracking, guarding, watchdog, police work, and military work


The coat needs lots of care. The Airedale can be very rowdy until he is properly trained.


The Airedale is a fun-loving and playful handful, but also is patient and gentle with children. Airedales are courageous, protective, and spirited, with a strong desire to please. They are sensitive and responsive. Can be obedience trained to a high level.


  • Children: Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness: Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability: Fairly easy to train
  • Independence: Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance: Moderate
  • Other Pets: Might not be trustworthy with small rodent pets
  • Combativeness: Very dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Average barker
  • Indoors: Very active indoors
  • Owner: Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming: Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: Professional trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Wiry coat
  • Shedding: Very light
  • Exercise: Vigorous daily exercise needed
  • Jogging: An excellent jogging companion.
  • Apartments: Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate: Does well in most climates
  • Longevity: Average 10 to 12 years

Useful Links

AKC® Airedale Terrier Breed Standard

Airedale Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier Gifts