AIREDALE TERRIER APPEARANCE:
Coat: Like many terriers, it has a 'broken' coat, which requires regular hand stripping to maintain the coat and distinctive square terrier shape. A broken coat is a harsh, wiry topcoat with a soft, fur-like undercoat. Broken-coated breeds do not shed their coats as much as smooth coated breeds, and are therefore less likely to cause allergic reactions in people prone to dog allergies.
Stripping is the correct process for grooming an Airedale, using a small serrated edged knife to pull out loose hair from the dog's coat. Airedales who aren't being shown are often clipped with electric clippers. This process, while easier on the dog and the groomer, softens the coat and fades the color, and sometimes causes skin allegies for the dog. This is because the loose hair that would normally moult is cut, so the roots remain within the hair follicles.
The correct coat color is a black saddle, with a tan head, ears and legs; or a dark grizzle saddle (black mixed with gray and white). Both are acceptable in the AKC breed standard.
Tail: The Airedale's tail is usually docked (surgically shortened) within five days of birth, but this is not a requirement of breed standard authorities. However, to show an Airedale in the United States, the tail is expected to be docked.
The Airedale was extensively used in World War One to carry messages to soldiers behind enemy lines and occupying the trenches. They were also used extensively by the Red Cross to find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. Their courage and stalwart character in the face of danger was legendary; there are numerous tales of airedales delivering their messages despite terrible injury. In fact, the German designation for an Airedale is "Kriegshund", which means "War dog". 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 this role.
The Airedale is relatively free of inherited diseases except for hip dysplasia in some lines. Dogs of this breed usually live for around twelve years, but have been know to last until the age of seventeen.
The Airedale can also be used as a working dog and also as a hunter and retriever. However, it is typically an independent (stubborn), strong-minded dog with a great sense of humour. For those who can laugh along with their Airedale, patience will be rewarded as they have been known to reach great heights in competitive obedience, dog agility, and Schutzhund. The Airedale is also a reliable and protective family pet.