AIREDALE TERRIER 101
Welcome to DogwoodDales Airedale Terrier 101!
The Airedale Terrier must be fed high quality, high protein type foods. A adult grain-free dry kibble will suffice all their dietary needs. Food and treats containing wheat, rice (white,brown), & corn should be avoided, for growing puppies less than 6 months, foods containing oats and barley help provide calcium to their growing bones. We our feed our dogs Victor® foods, a local Texas Company that may be available wherever you are.
When you first bring your puppy home at 7 weeks old he/she will already be on Victor® Food. We recommend feeding an "All-Stages" formula. Most sources recommend a puppy eat a puppy formula for 1 year - however with Airedales, it can lead to hyper-growth which might cause hip issues later in life. If you chose to use puppy formula feed, do so only until they reach 6 months old at which time it is important to switch to one of the adult lines - The favorite for my adults is the Yukon River and Hero Canine Grain-Free Formulas.
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Never free feed the Airedale, they must be fed at minimum twice per day - Puppies between 2-8 months would benefit from a 3rd daily feeding in between the other meals as they rapidly grow to almost adult size during that time. The amount of calories they need may not always be able to consumed in just 2 meals. Monitor the puppies energy level closely and if the puppy is returning to their food bowl throughout the day it may be wise to add in the 3rd feeding.
I recommend feeding the dogs in their kennel and allow them to digest calmly for at least 20 minutes after they've finished. This is important as Airedale can suffer from bloat and twisted stomach which can be disastrous.
The Airedale Terrier is considered a "hypo-allergenic" breed - Airedales are often included in lists of hypo-allergenic dogs because they don't shed as much as many dogs, but they do shed. Hypo means less and not none, as all breeds of dogs still produce a certain amount of allergens and dander. The Airedale doesn't easily nor readily shed its dead hair follicles. Historically the working Airedale would lose the dead hairs by working in the field (running through thick forests in the Aire Valley and hunting the River Aire) and was commonly used to track the dog when it was hunting out of eye-sight. Most Airedale owners today do not hunt and work the dogs daily in the field, as such, The Airedale Terrier, like any breed, requires maintenance.
The Airedale Terrier coat features a soft undercoat and and harsh wiry outer-coat. The wire-coat is a hallmark of this breed and it is innate to the dogs original purpose. It allows the dogs to move quickly through water and (My favorite) ensures the dog dries quickly. Furthermore the Airedale's skin produces natural oils to further increase these benefits while giving the coat shine and sheen. The coat was designed to protect the dog from predators, the hair would easily come out in claws of the prey the dog was bred to hunt, leaving the dog’s skin unharmed. If the coat is properly cared for the Airedale will barely shed.
Every three days:
Brush the coat through with a slicker brush, metal greyhound comb, or metal round-tipped pin brush, continue brushing until the dogs brushes clean and only few dead hairs are coming out. (about 5 minutes)
Finish with a dense natural bristle brush with grain of the hair. This will ensure the dog's natural oils coat protects the follicles from breaking and give your Airedale the shine it is known for. (about 5 minutes)
Every two weeks
Bath Time! Airedales love water and generally will jump right into the tub or shower if the experience is made pleasant (treats!). Because the Airedale naturally produces its own natural oils, do not use a conditioner - a high quality shampoo is all you need. I use Isle of Dogs No. 33 and Bio-Groom shampoo products as they effectively and deeply clean the dog with only one additional repeat shampoo, all while not drying out the coat nor softening the wiry feel. When bathing your dog use warm water and a strong mini jet setting on a 6ft long shower head/hose combo. Rinse the dog throughly, apply the shampoo according to the manufacturer's instruction - ensure every part of the dog is well shampooed. Rinse and repeat if needed. When rinsing your dog, make sure you get all of the suds out and rinse longer than you think they may need, just to be sure the detergents are off the skin and coat. If not, the dog's coat will dry out and skin issues will be possible. Take special care to ensure the paw pads are well rinsed, clean, and free from foreign materials. After the bath towel dry (2 bath towels) and your done! Airedales generally dry within 20 minutes (including the thick furnishing on the legs) - blow dryers can be used if you wish the hair to look straighter and more polished; I find it isn't really necessary.
Every 3 to 6 months - Clipping & Stripping the Airedale Terrier:
Terriers benefit from a old grooming technique called "Stripping" and the Airedale is no exception. When a particular hair follicle in the Airedale's coat dies, it does not naturally fall out like a Labrador or Golden Retriever, instead as it slowly dies the hair diameter gets thinner, the color will dull (the red/gold color becomes blonde and the black saddle becomes a bluish/gray) , and can develop a poodle like curl. Stripping takes care of that by actually pulling out the individual hair follicles, ensuring a healthy shiny coat. All Airedales in the show ring must sport the stripped coat and clipping is not allowed for dogs in the ring. To entirely strip an Airedale it can take up to 6-8 hours. Most owner that practice stripping find it best to do it 1-2 hour shifts every week or two, starting from the head and neck, then shoulders and back, then chest and sides, then the rear end and tail. Thus at the end of a month the dog will be fully stripped. Stripping should be done at least twice per year.
When the breed was created in the 1800s modern clippers did not exist and quality scissors were very expensive, however the Airedale was and is today an "everyman'" (or woman) breed and mostly they could simply not afford such tools. However, they did have the fingers at the end of their hands, and that being the primary tool of stripping, no additional cost was needed. In modern times with 9-5 jobs and crowded weekend schedules the process of stripping entirely by hand may seem simply too time consuming. There are now affordable tools (under $50) that will increase the speed and quality of the strip. Stripping knives are available through many online pet product stores - most are far too sharp and will only cut the coat instead of stripping (pulling) it out. The only brand I use is MacKnfye stripping knives which come pre-dulled and give consistent results.
Stripping is not painful of the dog if performed correctly. Always strip in the direction of the grain by firmly grasping hairs that you want to remove and smoothly with one motion, pull out - avoid jerking motions. What can be far more painful for the dog would be hot spots. Hot spots generally occur in terriers because most are only clipped with a clipper; the dead hair follicles continue to amass and don't get removed from the skin. Thus the dog will start to itch and the they will respond with either scratching or biting which further irritates the skin and allows bacteria to multiply and can lead to a moist, swollen, hairless infection. Hot spots are not life-threatening and will heal quickly with care and trip to the vet. Clippered Airedales also tend to shed hair far more than a stripped dog.
The best of both worlds: I utilize a two prong approach and you can too!
I first lightly strip the coat and then clip the Airedale with a power clipper. A Furminator® ($40-70) can act in place of a stripping knife and is easy for anyone to use - I would recommend dulling the blade prior to use. Also pumice stones ($3-5) which are commonly sold at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Walmart (in the cleaning section) are great for removing dead coat from your dog - Place the corner of the stone bar and with moderate pressure drag down the dog in the direction the hair. I would do this step prior to taking the dog to their groomer as a dirty coat is much easier to strip than a clean coat.
Airedales are very smart which, for me, is their best trait. They can learn any command and will comprehend multi-step tricks and actions. They are excellent athletes and do very well in agility competitions.
Training the Airedale is generally very pleasant as they can pick up most things very quickly. This is a double-edged sword however, because they will quickly learn things they shouldn't.
When you bring home your puppy the first month will be mainly potty and kennel training. Terriers do not like changes in their home environment and need to have a safe place that they feel is "theirs" this is why a kennel is required for this breed. It will become their den - they will eat and sleep in the kennel for at least the first 2 years of their life.
Consistency is the best policy when attempting to train your Airedale. Set up a consistent language for the dog and what commands you will teach. Write them down! Hand them to everyone in your household and even give it your guests. I would joking call the sheet of commands the dog's instruction manual. The best part is guests are always happy to have a dog do tricks and get excited when they see what they can say to the dog. When training use more than just a word, use a word and a hand signal or motion. Airedale's generally perform better with distinct clear signals. In addition, this allows you to control the dog silently.
Airedales are working breed and our lines exhibit some of the best working bloodlines in the USA. As such, your puppy will be more likely to explore items with their mouth and puppy teeth are very sharp. When Lady Maggie was a puppy she put lots of little puppy teeth holes into my shorts. She thought is was the most fun game ever... To break behavior like this it is best to withhold attention from the puppy as they will quickly bore - if it doesn't illicit a response from you. When the puppy stops and sits, then give the dog praise and love. I find it best to push in the dogs cheeks so they realize the pain their biting can cause.
Airedales tire quickly of the same old trick and being asked to do the same thing over and over again. They will begin to rush and eventually just walk away. To keep the puppy/dog engaged use great treats and keep them varied (Cooked chicken chunks, cheese, dog food kibble, etc) so the dog doesn't know which treat they will get. Also vary the trainings.
How to teach your puppy to "Come" - USE THE RECALL COMMAND ONLY WHEN PRAISING THE DOG - Never punish a dog after telling them to "Come". This is very important because if an Airedale sees a squirrel or something similar they will give it chase. The easiest way to teach an Airedale to come is by playing "the Come game". Requires: Two people, each having lots of treats standing a few yards apart - give the command "Come" the puppy should run back to you to get the treat. After the pup takes the treat (make sure they are tiny morsels) the other person will then give the command "Come" the puppy will then turn back and run to the other person. Continue this game no more than a few minutes at a time gradually increasing the distance and reducing the number of treats.
Working / Hunting Breed - The Puppy Years
The Airedale is the only breed bred to hunt on land, in water, point, flush, and retrieve. The Airedale took the place of 3 dogs when the breed originated as most people could not afford the cost and care of 3 separate hunting dogs. The Airedale was and still is the answer.
The Airedale is a great hunter - they were mainly used to deal with the overpopulation of otters in English rivers - which also earned their owners money from selling the fur - the dog would jump in the river, hunt and find the prey, kill it, and return it to his/her owner. Otters are no easy prey as they have incredibly sharp claws and very fast and nimble swimmers - thus why the Airedale must possess grit. Today they are commonly used for large game hunting (deer, bear, & boar), waterfowl retrieving, quail and pheasant flushing/retrieving; and police/ guide dog work. Our lines are based on 30+ years of hunting ability. This past provides the genius all Airedale owners enjoy today. The Airedale is a prey driven breed - it is very important to socialize your puppy with all types of pets (especially small dogs and cats). I suggest enrolling the puppy in a doggie daycare for at least the first 6-9 months so they learn how to interact well with other pets, use caution at dog parks; I find it is best to keep the dog on its lead for the first few minutes to identify any potential issue and correct any behavior. Airedales are a naturally protective breed and will guard your home and children from intruders and marauders. Because of this The Airedale is generally not recommended for first-time dog owners. They are said to make the best of babysitters with children and I have witnessed this first hand with a friend's 2 year old toddler - still, remember they are a large breed and can get very excited while playing, thus confident children over the age 5-7 would be best.
Albert Payson Terhune, regarding the Airedale - "He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum and guard. ....To his master he is an adoring pal. To marauders he is a destructive lightning bolt."
President Roosevelt claimed that - "An Airedale can do anything any other dog can do and then lick the other dog, if he has to."