Information on this page has been excerpted from the book " The New Airedale Terrier "
The Airedale Terrier, also known as the " King of Terriers " originated between the Aire & Wharfe valleys in West Riding, Yorkshire, less than a hundred miles south of the Scottish Border. The exact date is unknown, although historical data indicate that it was about the middle of the nineteenth century that the Airedale was evolved to fit the sporting needs of the residents of the Aire Valley.
Terriers In Early Writings, although Airedales earliest documentation goes back to the nineteenth century Terriers date back as far as the sixteenth century. Indications such as engravings and paintings as well as earlier writings indicate a specific type. Although later writing gave the Terrier a rather indefinite description, Daniel in Field Sports ( 1760 ), "There are two sorts of terriers, the one rough, short-legged, long-backed, very strong, and most commonly of a black or yellowish colour, mixed with white; the other is smooth-haired and beautifully formed having a shorter body and more sprightly appearance, and is generally of a reddish- brown color, or black with tanned legs. Both these sorts are the determined foe of all vermin kind and in their encounters with the badger very frequently meet with severe treatment which they sustain with great courage and well-bred, well-trained terrier often proves more than a match for his opponent."
Sydenham Edwards gives a most enlightening description of the Terrier and his work in the Cynographia Britannica published in 1800: "....The Terrier is high spirited and alert when brought into action; if he has not the unsubdued perseverance like the Bulldog, he has rapidity of attack, managed with art and sustained with spirit; it is not what he will bear, it is what he will inflict. His action protects himself, and his bite carries death to his opponents; he dashes into the hole of the fox, drives him from the recesses or tears him to pieces in his stronghold; he forces the reluctant, stubborn badger into light. As his courage is great, so is his genius extensive; he will trace with the foxhounds, hunt with the beagle, find with the greyhound, or beat with the spaniel. Of wildcats, martens, polecats, weasels and rats, he is the vigilant and determined enemy; he drives the otter from the rocky clefts on the banks of the rivers, nor declines combat of a new element. "
Size: The Airedale should measure approximately 23 inches ( 58 cm ) in height at the shoulder; the bitches slightly less. Both the Dog and Bitch should be sturdy, well muscled and well boned.
Coat & Colour: The Airedale coat should be hard, dense and wiry, lying straight and close to the body, covering well over the body and legs. Some of the hardest are crinkling or just slightly waved. At the base of the hard, very stiff hair should be a shorter growth of softer hair called the undercoat. The Airedales head and ears should be tan the ears being of a darker shade than the rest. Some Airedales have dark markings on either side of the skull and are permissible. The legs up to the thighs and elbows and the under part of the body and chest are also tan and the tan frequently runs into the shoulders. The sides and upper parts of the body should be black or dark grizzled. A red mixture is often found in the black and is not to be considered objectionable. A small white blaze on the chest is a characteristic of certain strains of the breed.
The Airedale head should be well balanced with little
apparent difference between the length of skull and foreface.
Skull: The skull should be long and flat, not too broad between the ears, and narrowing slightly to the eyes. Scalp should be free from wrinkles, stop hardly visible, and cheeks level and free from fullness.
Muzzle: The muzzle should be deep, powerful, strong, and muscular. Should be well filled up before the eyes.
Nose: The nose should be black and not too small.
Mouth: The lips should be tight. Teeth should be strong and white, free from discoloration of defect. Bite either level or vise-like. A slightly overlapping or scissors bite is permissible without preference.
Eyes: The eyes should be dark, small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keenness and intelligence.
Ears: The ears should be V-shaped with carriage rather to the side of the head, not pointing to the eyes, small, but not out of proportion to the size of the dog. The topline of the folded ear should be above the level of the skull.
Neck: The Airedale neck should be of moderate length and thickness, gradually widening towards the shoulder. Skin should be tight, not loose.
Forequarters: Shoulders long and sloping well into the back. Shoulder blades flat. Forelegs should be perfectly straight, with plenty of muscle and bone. Elbows should be perpendicular to the body, working free of sides.
Body: The back should be short, strong and level. From the front, chest deep but not broad. The depth of the chest should be approximately on a level with the elbows. ribs well sprung. Loins muscular and of good width. There should be but little space between the last rib and the hip joint.
Hindquarters: The hindquarters should be strong and muscular with no droop. Thighs should be long and powerful with muscular second thigh, stifles well bent, not turned either in or out, hocks well let down, parallel with each other when viewed form behind. Feet should be small, round, and compact with a good depth of pad, well cushioned; the toes moderately arched, not turned either in or out.
Tail: The root of the tail should be set well up on the back. It should be carried gaily but not curled over the back. It should be of good strength and substance and of fair length.
Gait: The Airedale movement or action is the crucial test of conformation. Movement should be free. As seen from the front the forelegs should swing perpendicular from the body free from the sides, the feet the same distance apart as the elbows. As seen from the rear the hind legs should be parallel with each other, neither too close nor too far apart, but so placed as to give a strong, well-balenced stance and movement. The toes should not be turned either in or out.
Faults: The faults of the Airedale Terriers are: Yellow eyes, hound ears, white feet, soft coat, being much over or under the size limit, being undershot or overshot, having poor movement, are faults which should be severely penalized. The use of any and all foreign objects used to improve the dogs in the show ring, such as colouring, dilating the pupil, and stiffening the coat, is forbidden. Such acts are unsportsman like and unfair to those exhibitors who live up to the rules of dog showing.