The origin of the Airedale Terrier is enveloped in the same veil of theory and conjecture that shrouds the origin of all species in man's attempt to retrace the stages in evolution. Antique art records the existence of English dogs having a distinct resemblance to the terriers of later days and from which undoubtedly sprang the Broken-haired or Old English Terrier.
This extinct black-and-tan type is thought by some authorities to have been the common progenitor of the Irish, Fox, Welsh, and Airedale Terrier. At all events, an admixture of his varying types and sizes from 17 to 30 pounds in weight formed the roots, so to speak, of the genealogical tree of the breed fostered by sporting Yorkshiremen for hunting the fox, badger, weasel, foumart, otter, water rat, and small game in the valleys of the rivers Coke, Calder, Warfe, and Aire. These constant companions and guardians, while excelling in agility, eyesight, hearing, and untiring courage, lacked the keen nose and swimming ability of the rough-coated Otter Hound, with which they competed in the chase, and was the wise reason for crossing the two breeds in the constructive attempt to embody the virtues of both in a better breed of larger and stronger terriers.
From 1864 on, the earlier whelps were called Working, Waterside, and Bingley Terriers. They were shown in increasing numbers at local agricultural shows at the time dog shows were in their early growth.
Champion Master Briar (1897-1906) is conceded to be the patriarch of the breed. He may be likened to the trunk of the family tree whose branches grew in many directions. His great sons, Ch. Clonmel Monarch and Crompton Marvel, carried on his prepotency. The former was exported to Philadelphia, where ardent fanciers molded the breed in this hemisphere.
The degree of perfection of type attained in the breed by those who have carried on the idea of their standard is attested by the frequency with which Airedales have been judged best of all breeds in the most important all-breed shows of England and America. They shine, however, greatest in the minds of their many fond owners who value the faithful attachment, companionship, and protection of their families as a priceless possession.
Airedale Terriers are used on great game in Africa, India, Canada, and our game lands. They were among the first breeds used for police duty in Germany and Great Britain.They have also been used in several wars as dependable dispatch bearers due to their ability to suffer wounds without faltering at the next order for duty. Their sweet disposition, possibly inherited from the hound blood, has endeared them to many of the best breeders and owners of leading kennels, many of whom are women who take a pride in showing their own stock. The correct temperament in puppyhood is one of discretion, and when mature, a certain dignified aloofness both with strangers and their kind. Their disposition can be molded by the patience of their masters in any environment, but when trained for defense and attack they are usually unbeatable for their weight.
Should be well balanced with little apparent difference between the length of skull and foreface.
Should be long and flat, not too broad between the ears and narrowing very slightly to the eyes. Scalp should be free from wrinkles, stop hardly visible and cheeks level and free from fullness.
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.
Should be deep, powerful, strong and muscular. Should be well filled up before the eyes.
Should be dark, small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keenness and intelligence.
Should be tight.
Should be black and not too small.
Should be strong and white, free from discoloration or defect. Bite either level or vise-like. A slightly overlapping or scissors bite is permissible without preference.
Should be of moderate length and thickness gradually widening towards the shoulders. Skin tight, not loose.
Shoulders and Chest
Shoulders long and sloping well into the back. Shoulder blades flat. From the front, chest deep but not broad. The depth of the chest should be approximately on a level with the elbows.
Back should be short, strong and level. Ribs well sprung. Loins muscular and of good width. There should be but little space between the last rib and the hip joint.
Should be strong and muscular with no droop.
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.
Forelegs should be perfectly straight, with plenty of muscle and bone. Elbows should be perpendicular to the body, working free of sides. 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 from 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.
Should be hard, dense and wiry, lying straight and close, covering the dog 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 termed the undercoat.
The head and ears should be tan, the ears being of a darker shade than the rest. Dark markings on either side of the skull 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 shoulder. The sides and upper parts of the body should be black or dark grizzle. 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.
Dogs should measure approximately 23 inches in height at the shoulder; bitches, slightly less. Both sexes should be sturdy, well muscled and boned.
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-balanced stance and movement. The toes should not be turned either in or out.
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.