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Are Airedales Aggressive? Important Facts for Owners

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team


Are Airedales Aggressive? Important Facts for Owners

Strong and incredibly brave, the Airedale Terrier is a highly capable dog that excels both as a pet and a hunting buddy. More importantly, it’s ready to take down any animal or human trying to hurt its family. So, does that mean this is an aggressive dog? For the most part, Airedales are sweet, yet can be offensive and territorial around strangers.

That’s normal behavior for a pup with a strong prey drive and protective nature. The good news is—you can help this loyal guardian be more trusting through early socialization and obedience training. Join us, and let’s talk about it all in more detail, including the best training techniques and exercises for an Airedale Terrier!

Kings Among Terriers: A Quick Look at Airedales

There are quite a few Terrier breeds out there, but Airedales are by far the largest ones. Adult males easily reach 23 inches in height and 70 pounds in weight, making for rough, tough, and capable dogs. Airedales are characterized by long, sturdy legs, a cute long head, and a thick, wiry coat. And then we have the fancy dog beard giving this pup a distinctive look.

Airedale Terriers were originally bred in River Aire (Yorkshire, England; yes, hence the name). They are incredibly smart and have proven to be equally great athletes, hunters, and, of course, pets/companions. If you’d like to get a four-legged friend who can do tricks, track down game, and perform domestic animal duties, the King of Terriers will be a great choice.

Airedale Terrier
Image Credit: jarobike, Shutterstock

Airedale Terrier Temperament: Friendly or Aggressive?

Alert, obedient, and happy to play around with the owners—that’s Airedale Terriers in a nutshell. They are very patient and tolerant with the people they love and trust (including children), especially when raised as puppies. This is a kind, amiable, and affectionate breed that’s willing to run an extra mile for family and friends. The same can’t be said about strangers, though.

Trained to be hunters, Bingley Terriers can, indeed, be a bit aggressive toward unfamiliar faces. The strong prey instincts haven’t gone anywhere over the years. Add a stubborn, determined temperament, and you’ll see why sometimes, Airedales may not know when to quit. Thankfully, these unwanted behavioral patterns can be altered.

Using Early Socialization to Raise a Friendly Dog

Just like any other dog in the Terrier family, Yorkshire’s own has a big heart and a brave spirit. That’s where all the aggression is coming from, actually; the dog is just trying to keep its loved ones from harm’s way. However, this also means it might start barking at neighbors and other folks it deems dangerous. But with early socialization and obedience training, you can improve its manners.

Socialization isn’t that hard. You need to introduce the dog to as many strangers as possible while it’s still a pup. This includes humans, dogs, cats, and any other creatures you’ve got under the radar. The more interactions the Airedale Terrier has, the better, as that will teach it to be more confident and open around others. So, take it to parks, beaches, and various competitions or shows.

Airedale Terrier on grass
Image Credit: Lumia Studio, Shutterstock

How Do You Obedience Train an Airedale Terrier Puppy?

For a strong-willed, unruly champ like the Airedale, obedience training is a must. Start slow and get the doggo to memorize and follow simple, yet important commands like “sit”, “stay”, and “come”. Thankfully, these dogs are savvy and quick-witted. So, it shouldn’t be that hard for them to figure these commands out. Keep the training sessions short, though.

The high prey drive and obstinate nature make Airedale Terriers lose interest quickly. On average, 10–15 minutes per day is the sweet spot for this breed. The training should include various elements to keep things exciting. Be very firm, establish yourself as a leader, and learn to be patient. Lastly, treat the four-legged family member for good behavior.

The Best Exercises for Airedales

Airedales are not at all picky when it comes to having fun. And, since they’re rather large and strong, you can take them for a walk, jog, or hike for a breath of fresh air. Intelligent games should be a part of the routine as well. Airedales need their fair share of physical and mental stimulation to burn off excess energy. See that the dog gets 1–2 hours of exercise per day (ideally, behind a fenced yard).

This breed enjoys a wide range of games, sports, and activities that involve family. And, again, Bingley Terriers get bored easily and don’t like to be left alone for long. So, if you have to be at work for eight hours or more, make sure the pet has enough challenging toys back home to keep it occupied. Otherwise, it will develop destructive behavior like separation anxiety which won’t be that easy to fix.

Airedale terrier walking in the middle of the forest
Image Credit: samalfr, Shutterstock

Can These Dogs Get Along With Cats?

By default, Airedale Terriers aren’t very friendly toward felines or any other small mammals that look/act like game. As mentioned, they have a high prey drive and will always chase after a cat, rabbit, or birdie unless properly trained and socialized. Now, if the dog has been sharing the house with a cat since puppyhood, it will, most likely, be friendly with the kitty.

But you can never be truly sure. Bingley Terriers are very aggressive and predatory around same-sex dogs and cats and can snap at any moment despite the years spent together. And if you already have a cat in the house and want to adopt an adult Airedale, we recommend against that. It’s almost impossible to make this doggo tolerate another animal that’s a complete stranger. This usually doesn’t apply to humans, though.

Are Airedale Terriers Good With Little Children?

Airedales love nothing more than to play with kids from their human families. That said, you should always be there to provide supervision. Even if the pup is the sweetest thing on the planet, its boisterous, freedom-loving nature can lead to undesired consequences rather quickly. After all, it’s an energetic, mighty beast with lots of energy to burn.

Therefore, don’t ever leave it alone with the kids even if it’s for a minute or two. A well-trained Airedale Terrier will never intentionally hurt children unless they pull its hair, throw things at the dog, or try to ride it. Still, to be safe, only let it interact with the little one(s) under your watchful eyes.

Airedale Terrier puppy outside with plants
Image Credit: PxHere

Caring for an Airedale Terrier: Grooming Tips

These dogs rarely (if ever) drool and require little maintenance when it comes to the coat. It’s short, easy to keep in tip-top shape, and won’t turn the entire house into a hairy mess if groomed properly. Stick to a weekly brushing schedule, and you won’t have to deal with dead hair on the couch or chairs. More good news: Airedales are considered hypoallergenic, meaning you can adopt one if you’re allergic to dogs.

So, get a regular brush, pair it with a comb, and don’t be shy to use your fingers to deal with possible mats. And what about bathing and clipping the coat? It’s recommended to only do that 3–4 times a year (roughly once a season). Lastly, don’t forget to clean the pup’s teeth and ears and trim the nails once or twice a month to keep it comfy and healthy.


Airedale Terriers have always had a special place in the hearts and minds of dog fans. They can perform the toughest tricks, chase after the most elusive prey, and bring joy as pets. However, you will have to put effort into socialization and obedience training. That’s the only way to turn these strong-minded, rebellious canines into well-mannered ladies and gents.

By nature, Airedales are friendly, curious, and easygoing. But they lose control when facing strangers, especially other male dogs or cats. In the heat of the moment, these dogs can be stubborn. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the dog is socialized and follows your lead. When properly trained, Airedale Terriers are sweethearts!

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Featured Image Credit: PROMA1, Shutterstock

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