The Airedale Terrier
Airedale, a valley (dale) in the West Riding of Yorkshire, between the
Aire and the Wharfe Rivers, was the birthplace of the breed. In the mid-19th
Century, working class people created the Airedale Terrier by crossing
the old English rough-coated Black and Tan Terrier with the Otterhound.
In 1886, the Kennel Club of England formally recognised the Airedale Terrier
In 1864 they were exhibited for the first time at a championship dog show
sponsored by the Airedale Agricultural Society. They were classified under
different names, including Rough Coated, Bingley and Waterside Terrier.
In 1879 breed fanciers decided to call the breed the Airedale Terrier,
a name accepted by the Kennel Club (England) in 1886.
Well-to-do hunters of the era were typically accompanied by a pack of
hounds and several terriers, often running them both together. The hounds
would scent and pursue the quarry and the terriers would "go to ground"
or enter into the quarry's burrow and make the kill. Terriers were often
the sporting dog of choice for the common man. Early sporting terriers
needed to be big enough to tackle the quarry, but not so big as to prevent
them from maneuvering through the quarry's underground lair. As a result,
these terriers had to have a very high degree of courage and pluck to
face the foe in a tight, dark underground den without the help of human
During the middle of the nineteenth century, regular sporting events took
place along the Aire River in which
terriers pursued the large river rats that inhabited the area. A terrier
was judged on its ability to locate a "live" hole in the riverbank
and then, after the rat was driven from its hole by a ferret brought along
for that purpose, the terrier would pursue the rat through water until
it could make a kill. As these events became more popular, demand arose
for a terrier that could excel in this activity. One such terrier was
developed through judicious crossings of the Black-and-Tan Terrier and
Bull-and-Terrier dog popular at the time with the Otter Hound. The result
was a long-legged fellow that would soon develop into the dog we recognize
today as the Airedale Terrier. This character was too big to "go
to ground" in the manner of the smaller working terriers; however,
it was good at everything else expected of a sporting terrier, and it
was particularly adept at water work. This big terrier had other
talents in addition to its skill as a ratter. Because of an infusion of
hound blood it was blessed with the ability to scent game and the size
to be able to tackle larger animals. It became more of a multipurpose
terrier that could pursue game by powerful scenting ability, be broken
to gun, and taught to retrieve. Its size and temperament made it an able
guardian of farm and home. One of the colorful, but less-than legal, uses
of the early Airedale Terrier was to assist its master in poaching game
on the large estates that were off-limits to commoners. Rabbits, hare,
and fowl were plentiful, and the Airedale could be taught to retrieve
game killed by its master, or to pursue, kill, and bring it back itself.
The first imports of Airedale Terriers to North America were in 1880s.
The first Airedale to come to American shores was named Bruce. After his
1881 arrival, Bruce won the terrier class in a New York dog show.
The patriarch of the breed is considered to be CH Master Briar (1897-1906).
Two of his sons, Crompton Marvel and Monarch, also made important contributions
to the breed.
First Canadian registrations are recorded in the Stud Book of 1888-1889.
In 1910, the ATCA (Airedale Terrier Club of America) offered the Airedale
Bowl as a perpetual trophy, and continues to this day. It is now mounted
on hardwood pedestal bases, holding the engraved plates with the names
of hundreds of dogs that have been awarded Best of Breed at the National
The Airedale was extensively used in World War I to carry messages to
soldiers behind enemy lines and transport mail. They were also used by
the Red Cross to find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. There are numerous
tales of Airedales delivering their messages despite terrible injury.
An Airedale named 'Jack' ran through half a mile of enemy fire, with a
message attached within his collar. He arrived at headquarters with his
jaw broken and one leg badly splintered, and right after he delivered
the message, he dropped dead in front of its recipient.
Lt.-Colonel Edwin Hautenville Richardson was responsible for the development
of messenger and guard dogs in the British Army. He, along with his wife,
established a War Dog Training School at Shoeburyness in Essex, England.
In 1916, they provided two Airedales ( Wolf & Prince )for use as message
carriers. After both dogs proved themselves in battle, Airedales were
given more duties, such as locating injured soldiers on the battlefield,
an idea taken from the Red Cross.
Before the adoption of the German Shepherd as the dog of choice for law
enforcement and search and rescue work, the Airedale terrier often filled
In 1906, a dog trainer named "Lt. Colonel Edwin Hautenville Richardson"
tried to interest the British Police in using dogs to accompany officers,
for protection on patrol at night. When Mr.Geddes, Chief Goods Manager
for Hull Docks in Yorkshire, was convinced after he went saw the impressive
work of police dogs in Belgium. Geddes convince Superintendent Dobie,
of the North Eastern Railway Police, arrange a plan for policing the docks.
Airedale Terriers were selected for duty as police dogs because of intelligence,
good scenting abilities and their hard, wiry coats that were easy to maintain
from mud and grime.
At the beginning of the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, the Russian embassy
in London contacted Lt. Colonel Richardson for help acquiring dogs for
the Russian Army, trained to take the wounded away from the battlefields.
He sent terriers, mostly Airedale Terriers, for communication and sanitary
services. Although these original imports perished, Airedale Terriers
were reintroduced in Russia in the early 1920s for use by the Red Army.
Special service dog units were created in 1923, and Airedale Terriers
were used as demolition dogs, guard dogs, police tracking dogs and casualty
Two Airedales were among the dogs lost with the sinking of the Titanic.
The Airedale, Kitty, belonged to Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, the real-estate
The second Airedale belonged to William E. Carter of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Carter was the owner of the Renault automobile in which Jack and Rose
trysted in the movie "Titanic". Carter, his wife and two children
survived the sinking.
During the 1930s, when airedales were farmed like livestock, American
breeders developed the Oorang airedale.
Capt. Walter Lingo, of LaRue, Ohio, developed the Oorang Airedale strain.
The name came from a line of bench champions, headed by King Oorang 11,
a dog which was said to have been the finest utility dog. King could retrieve
waterfowl and upland game, tree raccoons, drive cattle and sheep, and
bay mountain lions, bears, and wolves. King even fought one of the best
fighting bull terriers, and killed his opponent. He also trained in Red
Cross work, and served the American Expeditionary Force at the front in
Lingo simply wasn't satisfied with the average strain of Airedale, and
after an incredible series of breedings, for which he brought in great
Airedales from all over the world, he created the "King Oorang."
At the time, Field and Stream magazine called it, "the greatest utility
dog in the history of the world." The Oorang Kennel Company continued
until Walter Lingo’s death in 1969. Jerry Siebert, an Airedale breeder
in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, followed in Lingo's footsteps, and bred "Jerang
Airedales." There is a kennel in Tennessee that claims to have original
Dogs of close to 100 pounds and upwards, carry the medical and behavioral
problems associated with the 1930's airedale.
After the First World War, the Airedales' popularity rapidly increased
thanks to stories of their bravery on the battlefield and also because
Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding owned
Airedales. President Harding's Airedale was named Laddie Boy.
President Roosevelt claimed that "An Airedale can do anything any
other dog can do and then lick the other dog, if he has to."
1949 marked the peak of the Airedales' popularity in the USA, ranked 20th
out of 110 breeds by the American Kennel Club. The breed has since slipped
to 50th out of 146.
Marion Robert Morrison, otherwise known as John Wayne, grew up in Glendale,
California. His neighbors called him "Big Duke," because he
never went anywhere without his Airedale Terrier, "Little Duke".
He preferred "Duke" to "Marion," and the name stuck
for the rest of his life.
The Airedale Terrier was recognized by United Kennel Club in 1914.
The Airedale Terrier, because of its joyful disposition and energy, was
one of the first breeds, along with the Giant Schnauzer and the Rottweiler,
used to create the Black Russian Terrier
The Airedale can be used as a working dog and also as a hunter. Airedales
exhibit some herding characteristics as well, and have a propensity to
chase animals. They have no problem working with cattle and livestock.
However, an Airedale that is not well trained will agitate and annoy the
animals. Strong-willed, with the tenacity commonly seen in terriers, the
Airedale is a formidable opponent.
The Airedale Terrier, like most Terriers, has been bred to hunt independently.
As a result, the dog is very intelligent, independent, strong-minded,
stoic, and can be stubborn. The Airedale is a dog with a great sense of
humour. For those who can laugh along with their Airedale, the dog can
provide a unique and entertaining company. For those who don't appreciate
being outsmarted by their dog, owning an Airedale can be a trying experience.
Patience and consistency in training will be rewarded as the Airedales
have been known to reach great heights in competitive obedience, dog agility,
and Schutzhund. Airedales can often be difficult to train. Being smart,
Airedales pick up what is wanted from them very quickly; being smart,
they do not want to keep repeating what they learned and can try to terminate
a training session at the point when they "got it". Changing
the routine at this point or taking a play-break is much more productive
than trying to force the Airedale to continue as they are a stubborn bunch.
Airedales require constant reinforcement, or they may decide to start
ignoring commands. When training is resumed, they can quickly recover
their acceptance of the command. Airedales are a stoic and intrepid breed
and as a result, young Airedales exhibit a general lack of common sense
and require training. For the same reasons, they need socializing with
other dogs early.
Albert Payson Terhune wrote of the Airedale: Among the mine-pits of the
Aire, the various groups of miners each sought to develop a dog which
could outfight and outhunt and outthink the other miner's dogs. Tests
of the first-named virtues were made in inter-mine dog fights. Bit by
bit, thus, an active, strong, heroic, compactly graceful and clever dog
was evolved the earliest true form of the Airedale."
He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum and guard.
....To his master he is an adoring pal. To marauders he is a destructive
They are also very loving, always in the middle of the family activities.
Airedales are also known for expressing exactly what they are thinking,
unlike more aloof breeds. The Airedale is also a reliable and protective
family pet. Airedales are exceedingly loyal and strong dogs; there is
one story of an Airedale taking down a bear to protect its master. They
are very energetic, and need plenty of exercise.
The Airedale is also a stoic, able to withstand pain and injury, the Airedale's
hurts and illnesses often go unnoticed until they become severe and require
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