Complete Guide To The Airedale Terrier: Care, Health, Exercise and More

The largest of all the Terriers, the Airedale Terrier can be an athletic, all-terrain dog that is intelligent, active, and protective. This dog can hunt vermin, chase after the large game through the forest, or plunge into the water to retrieve prey. Although the Airedale Terrier can be all business in working, he can also be silly, loving, and affectionate. Those that know the sweeter and comical side of this dog are happy to have the Airedale as a devoted family member.

  I’m a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience and my time spent with this largest of the Terrier breeds has always been one of compromise. The best Airedales, exercised and trained well, are a snap to work with. The Airedales that don’t receive those things can be quite difficult for both families and veterinarians. This is not a breed for the casual dog owner who doesn’t plan on working with them.

How Big Do Airedale Terriers Get?

Males23″ at the shoulder50-60 lbs
Females23″ at the shoulder55 – 75 lbs


What Do Airedale Terriers Look Like?

This dog is known for its long legs, athletic build, and muscular body. The dog has exceptionally dense fur that is tan and black. The Airedale has a long-shaped head and a trademark beard and mustache. The eyes are dark, and the ears are small and folded and sit high atop the head.  

What Is The Personality Of An Airedale Terrier?

While the Airedale is happy to work for long hours, hunting and retrieving, this dog can also be happy sitting with his family. The dog can be incredibly loving and affectionate, and some owners report their dog being downright silly at times. The Airedale Terrier certainly has a knack for comedy but also can be extremely independent. Much of this independence was bred into the dog so that it may excel at hunting.

However, independence can be challenging when it comes to training your Terrier. Because of their independence and borderline stubbornness, training can be difficult. This breed needs constant reinforcement, consistent training, and a strong owner. Always keep training sessions short yet positive. This breed of dog is not ideal for first-time dog owners, proving too much to handle at times.  

The Airedale always has a “can-do” attitude and is happy to participate in just about anything. This dog is happy to explore the outdoors with you or happily sit at home patiently with family. The dog is incredibly protective and loyal and won’t back down from a stranger or fight when it comes to protecting his family and home. This dog does well with children but may be too much for tiny toddlers. Always supervise the Airedale Terrier with small children, so they don’t become injured.  

This dog is brilliant and thrives on human interaction and exercise. If left alone for long periods, this dog can turn to destructive and nuisance behaviors. Always be sure to keep this dog entertained and exercised both physically and mentally. The Airedale responds well to puzzle toys that keep his brain active while rewarding inquisitive behavior with tasty treats. Because of its high energy, this dog is not well suited to apartment life.  

How Much Grooming Do Airedale Terriers Need?

Although his coat is part of the Airedale’s trademark look, the coat needs very little maintenance to keep it looking great. The Airedale’s coat is a “wash and wear” style that only needs minimal brushing. About once per week, brush the coat to remove any debris and keep it tangle-free. If you feel any knots or matting, simply work the tangles free with your fingers. The dog should only be groomed and bathed about three or four times per year to keep him looking great. Keep the ears clean and the nails trimmed short so that your Airedale can be in optimal health.  

How Much Exercise Does An Airedale Terrier Need?

Like many other Terriers, the Airedale is a high-energy dog. This dog loves to stay active and must receive a significant amount of exercise every day. The dog will like to take a long walk, in addition to multiple play sessions every day. Make sure that you keep exercise routines different and exciting. This dog can quickly become bored with the same exercise routines.

The breed is designed to be an all-terrain dog, so the Airedale is up for swimming, hiking, running, fetch, and just about any activity that involves being close to his family. Keep this dog in a fenced yard or on a tight leash when exercising outdoors. Because of their prey drive and natural hunting instincts, the Airedale will be quick to bolt in the direction of any small animal that catches his eye.  

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Airedale Terriers?

For Airedale Terrier puppies, you will need to make sure you don’t feed them too much too fast. It’s easy because they are usually chow hounds, but you want to control their growth. Growing too fast can cause some early bone and joint problems that are easily avoided.

Best Puppy Food For Airedale Terriers:

Best Adult Food For Airedale Terriers:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Do Airedale Terriers Generally Live?

11-14 years based on info from the AKC

What Health Conditions Do Airedale Terriers Commonly Have?

The most common health conditions that I tend to see in my Airedale Terrier patients, along with what they are known to develop, include:

  • Arthritis (Knees, Elbows)
  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism

Where Can I Find an Airedale Terrier?

Breeder Referral List from the National Club

AKC Puppy Page

Finding an Airedale Terrier from a breeder is easy with the popularity of this dog. Make sure you do your homework before selecting a breeder. You will want to make sure your breeder knows the breed and has kept the puppies in good health. Make sure you verify any accompanying health certifications to ensure your puppy grows into a healthy adult. If possible, meet the entire litter of puppies so that you can choose the puppy that best matches your personality. You will want a lively and confident Airedale, but never one that is overly aggressive, withdrawn, or shy.  

Adopting an Airedale Terrier is another option that helps to give a dog his forever home. There are plenty of Airedale rescues available because several people adopt this puppy without realizing the high-energy levels this dog possesses. The Airedale Club of America Rescue and Adoption Committee and the Airedale Terrier Rescue and Adoption group are wonderful resources to start your search for a local Airedale rescue.  

Where Can I Find Out More About The Airedale Terrier?

Airedale Terrier Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Fun Facts About the Airedale Terrier

This dog was originally bred to catch both rats and otters in the Aire Valley in Yorkshire, England. The dog was an athletic and able sporting dog that quickly found its use in other areas including help during the First World War. 

As a pet, the Airedale Terrier has been known to collect and hoard human belongings, collecting its gems from around the home. The Airedale has been caught stealing socks, toys, underwear, and blankets and hiding them in a secret and private location around the house. 

In WWI, a famous and brave Airedale named Jack helped to deliver messages for the British. This dog braved the battlefields running through swamps while enemies fired at the dog. While he managed to complete his mission and deliver the message, he passed away shortly after that from injuries sustained during his mission. Jack was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroics during the war.

Following WWII, the Airedale Terrier was the 20th most popular dog in the United States. Since then, this dog has dropped in popularity, ranking just 60th most popular dog breed. Their drop-in popularity is probably connected with the rise in popularity for German Shepherds, who have primarily replaced the Airedale Terrier inactive, working roles.