Not Just a Dog: Why Airedale Terriers Are Special

Do you think you want to adopt an Airedale puppy? Wait a minute! Have you owned an Airedale before? If so, you know that any other breed is just a dog! This is because, as a group, we are known to be deeply intelligent, playfully exuberant, and mischievous.

OK, I know I’m biased, but it’s not just me. President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “An Airedale can do anything any other dog can do and then lick the other dog, if necessary.” Also Laddie Boy, the Airedale who occupied the White House with Warren G. Harding, had his own chair so he could attend Cabinet meetings. So if I tell you that Airedales are smart, I’m not just saying!

Who couldn’t fall in love with our expressive bearded faces, stoic perseverance, and antics? However, if you’re expecting a dog that lays at your feet like a bearskin rug, we’re probably not the breed for you. You see, we were originally bred by working-class people from Yorkshire who didn’t want to have one dog to track on land, one to dig up prey, and one to retrieve in the water. Airedales were the original “3-in-1 dogs”: fearless hunters, steadfast guardians, and loyal companions.

During World War I, my ancestors were used extensively to carry messages to soldiers behind enemy lines, transport mail, and help the Red Cross find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. There are many accounts of Airedales heroically completing their duties despite horrific injuries. This stoicism makes us tireless workers and great heroes, but it also often makes our illnesses and injuries go unnoticed until they become quite serious.

Demand for Airedales in the United States peaked during the 1920s, leading to indiscriminate breeding. This is when a larger variation was bred at 70-100 lbs. instead of the standard 50-65 lbs. Although the larger variation still exists today, it is not recognized by the AKC and most breeders are returning to the medium-sized standard of our origin. I think we are better off with the standard size because the larger size makes us more prone to medical problems like hip dysplasia.

Airedales make great family pets. People say that we have a sparkle in our eyes and it is true that we smile and laugh. We love to play; we throw very little; and we are very protective of our people. Even with our athleticism and determined nature, we can also be dainty and graceful. Our families always share stories that highlight our unique abilities, like the time the Airedale family grabbed their baby by her diaper to keep her from falling down the stairs.

It is also true that we like to be the boss. If you are not willing to exercise with us regularly and provide the proper training, then you will have a very powerful and unruly housemate. Plus, we like to be in the middle of things, so if you leave us in the backyard, we’ll dig our way to freedom or make a mess in your garden.

However, if you know all of these things and are willing to accept the responsibilities, an Airedale won’t let you down. There is no dog that is more affectionate or adorable; willing or willful; more fun or fun. Trust me, Max, you can bark my word. After all, how many dogs do you know that can write?

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