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How Aggressive Are Airedale Terriers? Care Facts & Tips

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Airedale terrier puppy sits in a field on a haystack

The Airedale Terrier is the largest terrier breed and, as a terrier breed, it is lively, feisty, and very intelligent. They need regular training and socialization from a young age as they can become aggressive with other dogs if they don’t get this. They can also be quite protective of their owners, which means they may become aggressive if they sense a threat to their humans.

However, with good socialization and training, Airedale Terrier is unlikely to be aggressive and can make an excellent family pet that will get along with most people and other animals.

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About Airedale Terriers

The Airedale Terrier was bred in England in the 19th Century. It was bred to hunt badgers and otters. It is known as the largest terrier breed with males growing to 23 inches tall and weighing as much as 50 pounds. The breed has a wiry double coat that protects it from harsh weather and protects it when in water. In the US, the breed was first officially recognized by the AKC in 1888.

The breed has a distinctive look with a brown body and legs and a black saddle. Its curly hair protects it from cold and wet, and the Airedale has a distinctive beard. Owners will need to brush Airedales at least every week, but ideally a few times a week, and many owners choose to have their Airedales professionally groomed every 2–3 months to keep the coat in check.

Airedale terrier
Image Credit: jarobike, Shutterstock

How Aggressive Are Airedales?

Generally, most Airedales are not aggressive. However, they were bred to hunt, and they have a high prey drive. This means that they can become aggressive with dogs they don’t know, and they may chase smaller animals including cats. They also form very strong bonds with their owners which means that they can be protective if they sense that their humans are under threat.

The 5 Tips for Preventing Aggression

Although genetics can play a part in whether a dog will grow up to be aggressive, there are steps you can take to help minimize the risk.

1. Socialize Airedale Puppies

All dogs need socialization. This means introducing them to new people, new types of people, new animals, and new situations. They will learn that new situations do not need to be greeted with aggression and they will learn to at least tolerate people and other animals. Start socializing your dog when it is young and continue with socialization throughout its life. Join puppy classes to introduce your puppy to other dogs and people in an understanding environment. Walk them regularly and take different routes at different times of the day.

Airedale terrier dog on a beige background
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

2. Exercise Regularly

Airedale Terriers have a lot of energy, and pent-up energy can manifest as aggression. Walk your dog twice a day and look for other ways to provide more intense exercise, such as taking part in canine sports, or letting your dog run around a secure field or your backyard. Make playtime as tiring as possible, especially if you know your dog will be put in a situation where it might feel threatened or where aggression is more likely.

3. Make Gradual Introductions

Throwing your dog into a new situation too quickly and with no warning or preparation can lead to anxiety which can lead to aggression. When introducing your dog to new people or new animals, make introductions slowly. Consider taking your dog out for a walk with another dog before letting them in the house together and do the same when bringing new people into the home.

Airedale Terrier dog runs free with owner at the back
Image Credit: PROMA1, Shutterstock

4. Use Positive Reinforcement

Airedales are very intelligent dogs which means they can be trained. Positive reinforcement means praising and rewarding your dog for positive actions. When your dog is being calm around other animals or near people, give it lots of praise and rewards. Your dog will associate meeting new people with being praised and it will act positively in the future in the hope of getting more treats.Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- New

The 5 Non-Aggressive Dog Breeds

Although genetics only play a small part in whether a dog will be aggressive or not, they are important. Some breeds are known to be less aggressive than others, with the following five breeds generally considered to be soft and gentle.

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog outdoors
Image Credit: Courtney Mihaka, Unsplash

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small dog breed that is playful, affectionate, and usually really good around children. They enjoy cuddles with their owners and are usually sociable with other people and animals.

2. Bernese Mountain Dog

bernese mountain dog standing in the meadow
Image Credit: SubertT, Shutterstock

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a giant breed that was first bred by crossing a Mastiff and hound dogs. They initially worked on farms and are intelligent dogs that are known to be good with strangers. They do require plenty of outdoor exercise, but they are especially tolerant of children.

3. Pug

fawn pug puppy
Image Credit: kikkian, Shutterstock

The Pug is a very popular breed thanks to its unusual appearance and its friendly nature. They are very easy-going dogs, but they don’t do well being reprimanded, so you will have to use positive reinforcement to train a Pug. Unfortunately, they are prone to certain illnesses and conditions as a result of their brachycephalic face shape, and they are also prone to obesity.

4. Newfoundland

brown Newfoundland dog
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The Newfoundland is a very large dog breed and is another that will generally tolerate children, even when they grab and climb all over the breed. Newfies are also easy to train but they are another breed that can easily become overweight, so you will need to monitor food and treat levels.

5. Labrador Retriever

Image Credit: Angel Luciano, Unsplash

The Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are two of the most popular dog breeds in the world, not only as companion pets but also as service dogs. They are easy to train, get along very well with people, and they are considered excellent dogs for first-time owners.

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Airedale Terriers are the largest of the terriers and they were bred to hunt badgers and otters. They are intelligent, need a lot of exercise, and require regular socializing from a young age to help avoid potential aggression towards other dogs and even people. With socialization and training, though, they can make excellent family pets that enjoy playing and spending time cuddling up on the sofa.

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Featured Image Credit: Aleks Silchenko, Shutterstock

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