The Airedale terrier is a neat, upstanding, long-legged terrier, not exaggerated in any way. It has strong round bone and combines strength and agility, enabling it to hunt tough game. Its jaws are strong and punishing. Its gait is free. The coat is hard, dense and wiry; it lies straight and close, with some hair crinkling or waving.
Among the most versatile of terriers, the Airedale is bold, playful and adventurous; it is a lively yet protective companion. It is intelligent, but often stubborn and headstrong. Some can be domineering, but most are biddable, reliable and responsive to their owner's wishes. It makes a good house dog as long as it gets daily mental and physical exercise. It likes to be the head dog and may not do well when another dog challenges that position, although they usually get along well with smaller dogs.
Known as the "king of terriers," the Airedale is the tallest terrier. Like many terriers, it counts the old English, or black and tan, terrier as one of its primary progenitors. These medium-sized dogs were prized by Yorkshire hunters for hunting a variety of game from water rats to fox. Around the mid-1800s, some of these terriers around the River Aire in South Yorkshire were crossed with otterhounds in order to improve their hunting ability around water, as well as their scenting ability. The result was a dog adept at otter hunting, originally called the Bingley or Waterside terrier but recognized as the Airedale terrier in 1878. As it entered the world of the show dog, crosses to the Irish and bull terriers were made in order to breed away from some of the remnants of the otterhound cross that were now considered less than beautiful. By 1900, the patriarch of the breed, Champion Master Briar, was gaining renown, and his offspring carried on his influence in America. The Airedale's size and gameness continued to win it worldwide fame as a hunter, even proving itself as a big game hunter. Its smart looks and manners won it a place as a police dog and family pet, both roles it still enjoys. After World War I, however, its popularity declined, and today its reputation is greater than its numbers.
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