Breed Spotlight: Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier has been nicknamed "The King of the Terriers", and it's not too difficult to understand why: this is one of the world's most versatile dog breeds, and is the largest of the terriers. They love to exercise and are powerful athletes, adept hunters and make wonderful companions. Airedales, like their smaller cousins in the terrier family, can be bold, determined, and stubborn. Airedales make great family dogs - they are docile and patient with kids but won't back down when they are protecting their people.
Airedales are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders will test for health concerns such as hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint. An Airedale's ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax, and their teeth should be brushed regularly.
The Airedale has a short, wiry coat that needs relatively little maintenance. To help removed dead hair that would otherwise be shed around the house, and keep the coat looking good, a weekly brushing is recommended. (Some people with dog allergies have found that they can share a living space with a well-brushed Airedale without suffering any symptoms.) If the weekly session turns up any mats, they should be broken up with the fingers and then teased apart with a comb. Full grooms should be done three or four times a year, either by the owner or a professional groomer.
Terriers are generally known for their high energy levels. Given that the Airedale is the largest of all terriers, that energy must be channeled into safe outlets. Fortunately, Airedales love to play with other family members. A daily play session in addition to walks (or backyard time) several times a day should be enough to satisfy the Airedale's exercise requirements. Airedales play well with children, but interactions with toddlers and smaller children should be closely supervised. Airedales are rangy but strong; that strength, combined with a boisterous personality, can lead to mishaps.
Because of the Airedale's size (he is a medium-sized dog, but the largest of the terrier breeds), strength, and rambunctiousness, obedience training is highly recommended. At a minimum, an Airedale should learn basic obedience commands such as come, sit, and stay. The breed's intelligence and the fact that they bond closely with family members can make training easy. Owners and trainers should keep in mind that an intelligent dog is an easily bored dog, so varied training sessions will be more successful than repetitive ones. Also, an easily bored dog who is often left alone for long periods of time will tend to develop undesirable behaviors. It often helps to provide the dog with challenging toys that will keep him happily occupied.