The origin of the Airedale Terrier is enveloped in the same veil of theory and conjecture that shrouds the origin of all species in man's attempt to retrace the stages in evolution. Antique art records the existence of English dogs having a distinct resemblance to the terriers of later days and from which undoubtedly sprang the Broken-haired or Old English Terrier.
This extinct black-and-tan type is thought by some authorities to have been the common progenitor of the Irish, Fox, Welsh, and Airedale Terrier. At all events, an admixture of his varying types and sizes from 17 to 30 pounds in weight formed the roots, so to speak, of the genealogical tree of the breed fostered by sporting Yorkshiremen for hunting the fox, badger, weasel, foumart, otter, water rat, and small game in the valleys of the rivers Coke, Calder, Warfe, and Aire. These constant companions and guardians, while excelling in agility, eyesight, hearing, and untiring courage, lacked the keen nose and swimming ability of the rough-coated Otter Hound, with which they competed in the chase, and was the wise reason for crossing the two breeds in the constructive attempt to embody the virtues of both in a better breed of larger and stronger terriers.
From 1864 on, the earlier whelps were called Working, Waterside, and Bingley Terriers. They were shown in increasing numbers at local agricultural shows at the time dog shows were in their early growth.
Champion Master Briar (1897-1906) is conceded to be the patriarch of the breed. He may be likened to the trunk of the family tree whose branches grew in many directions. His great sons, Ch. Clonmel Monarch and Crompton Marvel, carried on his prepotency. The former was exported to Philadelphia, where ardent fanciers molded the breed in this hemisphere.
The degree of perfection of type attained in the breed by those who have carried on the idea of their standard is attested by the frequency with which Airedales have been judged best of all breeds in the most important all-breed shows of England and America. They shine, however, greatest in the minds of their many fond owners who value the faithful attachment, companionship, and protection of their families as a priceless possession.
Airedale Terriers are used on great game in Africa, India, Canada, and our game lands. They were among the first breeds used for police duty in Germany and Great Britain. They have also been used in several wars as dependable dispatch bearers due to their ability to suffer wounds without faltering at the next order for duty. Their sweet disposition, possibly inherited from the hound blood, has endeared them to many of the best breeders and owners of leading kennels, many of whom are women who take a pride in showing their own stock. The correct temperament in puppyhood is one of discretion, and when mature, a certain dignified aloofness both with strangers and their kind. Their disposition can be molded by the patience of their masters in any environment, but when trained for defense and attack they are usually unbeatable for their weight.