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Airedale Terrier Breed Guide and Pet Insurance Plan

By Stacy Painter and medically reviewed by Cathy Barnette, DVM
published: July 11, 2023 • 5 min. read
airedale terrier on a trail outside

Introduction to Airedale Terriers

Airedale terriers are friendly and clever dogs and a versatile dog breed. They are medium-sized dogs and the largest of all terriers. People love these dogs because of their abilities as athletes, hunters, and household companions. They love being involved in family lifestyles and have high levels of energy. Therefore, you’ll need to devote enough time and energy to your Airedale terrier’s daily exercise.

If you’ve been looking for an all-around friendly and active dog to be your next adventure buddy, read on to learn more about the Airedale terrier breed and how to take the best care of these dogs.

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Size of Airedale Terriers

When fully grown, an Airedale terrier will weigh between 50 and 70 pounds while standing about 23 inches tall. This breed is typically done growing by the age of eight months to 12 months, which is slightly earlier than many other breeds.

Here’s how big you can expect your Airedale terrier to get as the dog grows from puppyhood to adulthood. Female weights are typically at the low end of these ranges, while male weights are often at the high end.

Weight Chart3 months6 months10 months12 months
Female and male Airedale terriers18 to 20 lbs.34 to 39 lbs.39 to 48 lbs.40 to 55 lbs.

Characteristics of Airedale Terriers

The Airedale terrier is sometimes referred to as the “king of terriers” and is known for its V-shaped and floppy ears, erect tail, and sturdy frame. This is an energetic breed that can be a bit too much to handle for some first-time pet parents. This is because Airedale terriers have bold personalities and are intelligent, confident, outgoing, and independent. They aren’t necessarily calm lapdogs, but they are loyal and affectionate towards the people they love.

This breed’s personality lends itself well to having multiple dogs in a household, as long as the Airedale terrier is socialized early to reduce the likelihood of aggression. However, terrier-type dogs do have strong prey drives and love to chase small animals, such as cats, rabbits, and hamsters.

As you get to know an Airedale terrier’s personality, here’s what you can expect based on his or her breed characteristics:

Breed CharacteristicLevel (High, Medium, Low)
Affectionate with PeopleMedium
Good with KidsMedium
Good with PetsMedium
Need for ExerciseHigh
Energy LevelHigh
Intelligence LevelHigh
Able to Be TrainedMedium
Amount of BarkingHigh
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of Airedale Terriers

The origin of the Airedale terrier is from turn-of-the-20th-century Britain in the Aire Valley, which is in the northern part of the country and less than 100 miles from Scotland. The dogs emerged after the peak of the Industrial Revolution and were bred to be hard workers and fearless hunters. The dogs that were bred to create the Airedale terrier include the Otterhound and the now-extinct English Black and Tan Terrier. Other herding dogs, retrievers, and setters may be part of this breed’s development too.

The Airedale terrier had a role in World War I because the dogs were used for guarding and as messengers. They have been used for hunting waterfowl, gamebirds, and furry mammals. Before German shepherds were the standard for canine police work, Airedale terriers helped the police do their jobs.

The typical portrait of Airedale Terrier in the spring garden

Airedale Terrier Standard Information

Parent breed clubs specify breed characteristics for various kinds of dogs so that they can be judged at shows and competitions. The Airedale Terrier Club of America dates back to 1900 and is the parent club of this particular breed.

Here is an overview of the breed standard information for Airedale terriers:


  • Little difference between the length of the skull and foreface
  • Long and flat skull
  • V-shaped ears
  • Small and dark eyes
  • Tight lips
  • Black nose that is not too small
  • Level or vice-like bite, slightly overlapping or scissors

Neck, Topline, Body:

  • Moderate-length neck with tight skin
  • Long shoulders sloping well into the back
  • Short, strong, and level body


  • Strong and muscular with no droop


  • Hard, dense, and wiry coat
  • Lies straight and close to the body
  • Crinkling and slightly waved in hardest areas


  • Tan head and ears
  • Ears darker than other areas
  • Dark markings on sides of skull are permissible
  • Red mixture with black coloration is permissible
  • White blaze on chest is permissible


  • Free movement with hind legs parallel
  • Toes neither turned in nor out
woman and airedale terrier in the snow

Caring for Airedale Terriers

One of the most important things to know about caring for an Airedale terrier is that these dogs have a lot of energy and stamina. They require regular exercise and love to run. You can incorporate exercising your Airedale terrier with your own exercise routine or provide ample play time outside to run out that energy.

With regard to grooming, these are not high-shedding dogs, but they do shed more at certain times of the year. They are not high-maintenance dogs in this regard, but you can have the coat groomed by a professional groomer if your dog’s hair becomes unruly.

Here are some general tips for taking the best care of an Airedale terrier:

Best Living Environments:

  • Homes with a fenced backyard
  • Convenient access to outdoor recreation
  • Families with no kids or older kids rather than younger ones

Type of Exercise:

  • At least one substantial walk per day, two is preferable
  • Backyard playtime
  • Jogging alongside a family member

Mental Enrichment:

  • Playtime in a yard with family members
  • Sports courses and agility training

Training Strategies:

  • Crate training is recommended to help the dogs relax and settle down
  • Use positive reinforcement and a fun attitude with training
  • Make sure you have patience and flexibility in your training schedule

Grooming Tips:

  • Brush once or twice per week
  • Bathe periodically but not too often to keep the coat dense and wiry
  • Brush teeth daily to prevent dental disease
  • Trim nails monthly if not worn down naturally outdoors

Common Health Problems of Airedale Terriers

Airedale terriers are a hardy breed of dog that is less likely to have health issues than many other breeds. However, they are still not immune to certain genetic conditions, such as eye issues, hip pain, and skin infections.

These are some of the most common health issues that arise with Airedale terriers:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Wobbler’s syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Allergies
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Cancer

Diet and Nutrition for Airedale Terriers

A fully grown Airedale terrier requires about 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food per day, depending on the caloric density of the diet. This total amount should be split into two daily meals. Feeding a diet that is specifically developed for large-breed dogs can help ensure that your dog receives an optimal nutrient profile. Since many Airedale terriers suffer from dry skin, you may want to add an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your dog’s diet. Discuss specific brands and ingredients with your vet before stocking up on a large bag of new food.

Airedale terrier dog lying on the road in the green grass sunny summer evening.

Where to Adopt or Purchase Airedale Terriers

If you are interested in bringing a purebred Airedale terrier puppy into your life, you might look at the American Kennel Club Marketplace as an initial resource to ensure that your puppy is cared for and raised according to established standards and rules.

There are also rescue groups that you can find to adopt an Airedale terrier in need of a loving home. Airedale Terrier Rescue & Adoption is a rescue organization that specializes in this breed, while other regional options include Southwest Airedale Terrier Rescue, Northwest Airedale Terrier Rescue, and Starting Over Airedale Rescue.

Related Breeds

If you aren’t quite sure if an Airedale terrier is the right dog for you but you still want a versatile, medium-sized dog in your life, there are other kinds of pups that you may consider too. Here are some similar breeds of dogs that may interest you:

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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cathy barnette
By Cathy Barnette, DVM

Cathy Barnette, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), is a veterinarian and freelance writer based in Punta Gorda, FL. She graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, then headed to North Carolina, where she spent fifteen years working in small animal general practice. Cathy recently returned to her home state of Florida and now dedicates her working hours to creating educational content for pet owners and veterinary team members for Healthy Paws Pet Insurance LLC & the Healthy Paws Foundation. Cathy is passionate about making complex medical information accessible to pet owners, allowing them to partner with their veterinarians to make informed decisions about their pets' health. Cathy is a member of both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Medical Writers Association. In addition to her human family members, she shares her home with one dog, two cats, and a dove. Cathy Barnette on LinkedIn

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