Airedale Terriers: The Largest of All Terriers

Justly known as the "King of Terriers", the Airedale Terrier is big, square, and strong. Originating in the valley of the Aire River in Yorkshire

Airedale Terriers

Justly known as the “King of Terriers”, the Airedale Terrier is big, square, and strong. Originating in the valley of the Aire River in Yorkshire, this breed was first developed around a century ago by local hunters who wanted a robust terrier for catching vermin and larger game such as otters. The breed’s subsequent uses have included guarding and military work, but it is also a popular companion. Friendly, intelligent, and full of character, this dog, like many terriers, loves the thrill of the chase and can get up to mischief when bored.

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Tough, fearless, self-confident, energetic—a terrier can claim all of these descriptions, and more. The terrier group takes its name from the Latin word terra (earth), referring to the original use of various types of small dog as hunters of underground-dwelling vermin, such as rats. However, some modern terriers are large dogs, bred for different purposes.

Breed History

As with many breeds of dogs, the origins of the Airedale are somewhat obscure. A now-extinct Black and Tan Terrier sometimes called Old English terrier or Broken-haired terrier may have been a progenitor of not only the Airedale, but perhaps also the Fox, Welsh, and Irish terriers.

In the latter part of the 1800s, the first show classes for this breed took place. About the same time, a known outcross with the Otterhound breed was carried out to improve the Airedale’s capacity for water work and to improve scenting ability.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

Female 22” (56 cm), male 23” (58.5 cm).


Females 40-48 lb (18-22 kg), males 45-70 lb (20.5-32 kg).


The dense double coat may have some crimping; the outer layer is wiry while the undercoat is soft. Colors are black and tan with specifically distributed markings. A small white mark on the chest is not penalized.


10-12 years.

Points of Conformation

The head is long with a minor stop, the ears are V-shaped and carried folded. Eyes are dark and small with keen expression, and nose is medium and black. Other points include moderate length neck, chest deep but not broad, topline level and back is short.

Legs are straight, tail is carried high, and feet are compact and small. Overall, they are characterized by good bone and athletic appearance, with a solid straight way of going, including good stride length and freedom of movement.

Breed Behavior and Traits