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About Airedales

Excerpt from the

​AKC Meet the Breeds:  Airedale Terrier

The undisputed "King of Terriers," the Airedale Terrier is the largest and hardiest of the terriers, and an all around useful dog.  The breed's coat is hard, dense and wiry, with a softer undercoat, and comes in both tan and black and tan and grizzle.  This breed was one of the first used for police duty in Germany and Great Britain and has also been popular with Presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

A Look Back

The Airedale is thought to have originated in the valley of the Aire in England, descended from the now-extinct black-and-tan type terrier. 

The first Airedales looked completely different from how they appear today, and were known as Working, Waterside and Bingley Terriers.  Eventually, the Airedale became known as a dog that could do it all, and was used for wartime guard, messenger duty, rodent control and hunting birds and game.

Right breed for you?

The Airedale has a sweet disposition, but when challenged, is not afraid to stand up for himself.  Obedience training is important for these quick learners, but make sure to keep it interesting - they can get bored easily!  They also thrive with daily exercise, both mental and physical.  Although relatively easy to maintain, the Airedale coat needs regular brushing and stripping.

AKC Breed Standard


Should be well balanced with little apparent difference between the length of skull and foreface.


Should be long and flat, not too broad between the ears and narrowing very slightly to the eyes.  Scalp should be free from wrinkles, stop hardly visible and cheeks level and free from fullness.


Should be V-shaped with carriage rather to the side of the head, not pointing to the eyes, small but not out of proportion to the size of the dog.  The topline of the folded ear should be above the level of the skull.


Should be deep, powerful, strong and muscular.  Should be well filled up before the eyes.


Should be dark, small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keenness and intelligence.


Should be tight.


Should be black and not too small.


Should be strong and white, free from discoloration or defect.  Bite either level or vise-like.  A slightly overlapping or scissors bite is permissible without preference.


Should be of moderate length and thickness gradually widening towards the shoulders.  Skin tight, not loose.

Shoulders and Chest

Shoulders long and sloping well into the back.  Shoulder blades flat.  From the front, chest deep but not broad.  The depth of chest should be approximately on a level with the elbows.


Back should be short, strong and level.  Ribs well sprung.  Loins muscular and of good width.  There should be but little space between the last rib and the hip joint.


Should be strong and muscular with no droop.


The root of the tail should be set well up on the back.  It should be carried gaily but not curled over the back.  It should be of good strength and substance and of fair length.


Forelegs should be perfectly straight, with plenty of muscle and bone.  Elbows should be perpendicular to the body, working free of sides.  Thighs should be long and powerful with muscular second thigh, stifles well bent, not turned either in or out, hocks well let down parallel with each other when viewed from behind.  Feet should be small, round and compact with a good depth of pad, well cushioned; the toes moderately arched, not turned either in or out.


Should be hard, dense and wiry, lying straight and close, covering the dog well over the body and legs.  Some of the hardest are crinkling or just slightly waved.  At the base of the hard very stiff hair should be a shorter growth of softer hair termed the undercoat.


The head and ears should be tan, the ears being of a darker shade than the rest.  Dark markings on either side of the skull are permissible.  The legs up to the thighs and elbows and the under-part of the body and chest are also tan and the tan frequently runs into the shoulder.  The sides and upper parts of the body should be black or dark grizzle.  A red mixture is often found in the black and is not to be considered objectionable.  A small white blaze on the chest is a characteristic of certain strains of the breed.


Dogs should measure approximately 23 inches in height at the shoulder; bitches slightly less.  Both sexes should be sturdy, well muscled and boned.


Movement or action is the crucial test of conformation.  Movement should be free.  As seen from the front, the forelegs should swing perpendicular from the body, free from the sides, the feet the same distance apart as the elbows.  As seen from the rear, the hind legs should be parallel with each other, neither too close nor too far apart, but so placed as to give a strong, well-balanced stance and movement.  The toes should not be turned either in or out. 


Yellow eyes, hound ears, white feet, soft coat, being much over or under the size limit, being undershot or overshot, having poor movement, are faults which should be severely penalized.

Scale of Points

Head                                                                  10

Neck, shoulders and chest                              10

Body                                                                  10

Hindquarters and tail                                       10

Legs and feet                                                    10

Coat                                                                   10

Color                                                                    5

Size                                                                     10

Movement                                                         10

General characteristics and expression          15

Total                                                                   100

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