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Is An Airedale Terrier a Good Guard Dog? Breed Temperament & Facts

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Airedale terrier dog aggressive barking

In some circumstances, these dogs can be good guard dogs. However, that was not their original purpose, and they may not do the job as well as a more purpose-bred guard dog. Generally, these dogs are friendly and affectionate with their families while being wary of strangers. Their natural wariness may make them seem like ready guard dogs.

They’re also highly intelligent and can respond to training. They may be able to respond well to protection dog training for this reason. However, they aren’t the biggest dogs around, so it may be challenging for them to do much in a practical sense. They may not like an intruder, but they may not be able to do anything about them.

Whether or not a particular Airedale Terrier can be a guard dog will depend heavily on their temperament.

Are Airedale Terriers Protective Dogs?

These canines are known for their alertness, and they will often bark to alert their owners.

While Airedale Terriers have the potential to be effective guard dogs, they are not typically as aggressive or protective as some other breeds specifically bred for guard duties, like German Shepherds or Doberman Pinschers. Additionally, their temperament can vary from one individual to another, so not every Airedale will be suitable for guard dog work.

In some cases, these dogs can be naturally protective—they are naturally alert and territorial, so they won’t like strangers coming into their space. They tend to be very vocal when something strange has crossed over into their space.

They’re also known for their loyalty to their families. This loyalty can make them protective if they see someone as a threat. They may take action if they fear for their family and loved ones. Airedales are also quite intelligent, allowing them to assess situations rapidly. This intelligence helps them determine what is a threat and what isn’t, though they still won’t always get this right.

Because of these instincts, these dogs require tons of training and socialization. Otherwise, they may see things as threats that really aren’t. You’ll need to introduce them to a wide range of different animals and people from a young age to teach them that not all strangers are threats.

If you want to utilize these protective instincts, you can train them to become an alert dog. These dogs are very alert, anyway, so they are naturally alert animals and fit right into this role.

Dog handler is walking with his obedient airedale terrier dog on the road in a forest
Image Credit: thka, Shutterstock

Are Airedale Terriers Aggressive?

These dogs are not good fighters, which is exactly why they don’t make great guard dogs, either. Many breeders are focused on keeping them alert but not aggressive. They may be loyal and a bit territorial, but a good Airedale Terrier will allow strangers into their space without aggression.

These dogs were originally bred to hunt and retrieve small game and waterfowl, which has nothing to do with fighting. While any dog can exhibit aggressive behavior if not properly trained, socialized, or treated, Airedales are generally known for their friendly and sociable nature.

Of course, any dog has the potential to be aggressive. Just look at dog breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians. Even small, fluffy dogs can be aggressive if not trained or socialized. Therefore, it’s vital that you train and socialize your Airedale Terrier well and from a young age. If your dog exhibits aggression, consider consulting a professional dog trainer to correct the issue.

Do Airedales Have a Strong Prey Drive?

While this breed isn’t known for their guarding abilities, they do have a very strong prey drive. In other words, they will chase anything that moves, including small animals like cats. They may even catch rodents or other animals outside, though the average terrier isn’t quite fast enough to harm a healthy wild animal. This drive is a result of their history as hunting dogs. They were bred to hunt small game, and many still have the instinct to do this.

They are terriers, even if they look a bit big for a terrier. Chasing things is one of their favorite things to do, though the strength of prey drive can vary from individual to individual. All Airedales will have some prey drive, though.

It’s important for Airedale Terrier owners to be aware of this instinct and to provide appropriate training and supervision to ensure their dogs do not engage in harmful or undesirable behavior, such as chasing and potentially harming smaller pets or wildlife. Training and socialization can go a long way to prevent harmful chasing, but their instincts will always be there.

Airedale Terrier
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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Airedales are not traditional guard dogs for a reason. They were bred as hunting companions, mostly for small game and waterfowl. Therefore, guarding is not a part of their past and not something they were bred for.

That said, these dogs are naturally protective and territorial. They may be aloof towards strangers, though they should not be aggressive with proper training and socialization. This aloofness may make some owners try to use them as guard dogs, but the average Airedale isn’t aggressive or protective enough to pull this off.

Instead, they are more suitable as alert dogs. While they may alert you to danger, they aren’t equipped to actually do something about it.

Featured Image Credit: Three Dogs photography, Shutterstock

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