Saturday, May 11, 2013

Andre the Airedale

by Griff Haeger

Nicknamed “The King of Terriers,” Airedales are the largest of all the terrier breeds and in my opinion some of the best companions to have.

Originating in Airedale, an area known today as York, England, they were bred from a black and tan terrier and an Otterhound. The dogs were used to hunt otters around the River Aire but today they are commonly used as police dogs throughout the United Kingdom.

Extremely intelligent and energetic, these dogs can be quite a handful for someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle. 

Standing up to 24 inches and weighing up to 70 pounds these dogs are the hugest around but their lean build allows them to be pretty agile and tenatious when they see something they want.

My friend of over 12 years, Andre, passed away this last winter. Being a lifelong dog lover I am already looking for another companion to join me, my girlfriend, and her Yorkie, Oscar.

Andre was a loveable, care-free dog for most of his life but he did manage to get into trouble a few times. 

There was a time he chased a porcupine when we were camping and we ended up having to take him to the vet to get four of those quills out of his face. At the age of 2 he was one brave but lucky pup.

I’d like to share a few ideas I utilized with him to expend all of that energy. 

While they aren’t greyhounds, Airedales at times can seem like the track stars of dogs as they seem to never get tired. Nevertheless, it is important to exercise them and train them very early on. They don’t respond well to physically aggressive training so I found it is best to tire them out first.

Here are the main activities I used to exercise and condition him when he was very young:

Take them on Runs/Jogs: 6 mornings a week I would take him with me on a 6 mile run. When we would get back he would already be pretty pooped and hungrier than you can imagine. Right when we would get back I would tell him to sit and direct him to his bowl. Of course I’d let him go drink some water before all of this. But I would not give him his food until he practiced obedience, just small things like sitting, laying down, and staying in one place patiently. When he would complete these tasks properly I would give him his food. Over time he became very well-behaved.

Potty Training: Thankfully, potty training him was not that difficult. Early on when he would pee inside I would grab him by the collar and put him outside in the backyard. I knew I couldn’t take him for a run for everything I wanted him to learn so I had to find another way to train him to do his business outside. Once he peed inside I put him out the rest of the day. After I gave him water and fed him and he peed outside I rewarded him with a treat. For the most part I learned to recognize his body language and would usher him outside to do his business. I also hung a bucket of dog treats for him outside. He came to know what was up there and that he got one for using the yard as a bathroom. These dogs are extremely intelligent and I’m glad to have had one that adapted to this relatively quickly (7 weeks or so).

If you have an Airedale terrier and don’t go on many runs I suggest these activities to allow them to expend all of that energy:
  • Throw the ball of Frisbee around for them to fetch for a half hour or so a day.
  • Put them outside to run around for a while even if you’re home.
  • Get them a companion that can hold their own and play at their speed (Wish we had done this, our Yorkie didn’t quite keep pace)

Airedales are extremely loyal, playful, and intelligent dogs that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys being active and wants a dog who loves to please by learning new tricks.


Griff Haeger is dog aficionado. When he is not playing with his canine friends or fixing an air conditioner at work he writes about the benefits of healthy natural dog food.

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