The Airedale is a medium-sized, well-boned, squarely-built dog, and at all times a terrier in appearance and attitude. He should stand alert with head and tail held high, be interested and inquisitive, and show an intelligent, steady quality. Airedale Terriers are an elegant but sturdy dog, well-balanced and square, with height at the withers being about the same as the length from the front of the shoulder to the buttock. None of the dog’s features should be exaggerated.
The male has a definitely masculine appearance without being “common or cloddy”. The female has a feminine appearance without being fine-boned or looking the least bit fragile. The ears should be alert and the expression eager and intelligent. The tail is carried up and adult Airedales should be self-confident, unafraid of people or other dogs. Intelligent puppies may display a more cautious attitude. Airedales are more reserved in temperament than many of the other terrier breeds, but should not act in a shy or spooky manner when approached by strangers.
In North America there is a divergence of opinions on these matters, particularly with regard to size. We wish to emphasize that there is only one type or standard size of Airedale Terrier. According to the AKC standard, “Dogs should measure approximately 23 inches in height at the shoulder; bitches slightly less. Both sexes should be sturdy, well muscled and boned … An Airedale much over or under the correct size should be severely penalized [In the show ring]”. The source of the diversity of opinion seems to be rooted in history. Airedales were first brought to this country from England in the early 1880’s. Their exploits as determined messengers in World War I, made the Airedale a hero. Their reputation combined with their personable temperament produced a meteoric rise in popularity, and by the early 1920’s, the Airedale was the most popular breed of dog in America. As a consequence, breeders more interested in money than in preservation of proper breed characteristics and standards flooded the continent with dogs of diminishing quality, widely varying sizes and notably inferior temperaments. Lovers of the breed have stood by their favorite, steadily improving breed quality over the years. Today’s properly bred and cared for Airedales have all the intelligence and ability originally found in the breed, but in a more stylish, yet majestic look. He is today, more worthy than ever of his title; “King of the Terriers.”