For a Fun Loving Member of the family you cannot do better than an Airedale.
For a Loyal Companion you cannot do better than an Airedale
For a Protector of the family without being OTT you cannot do better than an Airedale
For someone who is a Joker in the Pack you cannot do better than an Airedale
For a Fairly Obedient member of the family but with its own mind(!) you cannot do better than an Airedale
For a True Friend you cannot do better than an Airedale
ABFAB IS AN AIREDALE!
Show v. Pet. What is the difference and what do you want.
When we breed a litter our main aim is to, hopefully, have something in that litter that will grow on to be a suitable show dog and possibly a champion, with sound temperament and good health. We think long and hard what stud dog to put to our bitch and it is not always one of our own stud dogs. For the first 2 - 3 weeks of the puppies lives the mother takes care of them and to make sure that she has enough milk she is fed and taken care of the best we can. From the start of weaning to the day they leave us they are all treated the same. Sometimes one or two puppies are slower to adapt to solids and they are given a bit more encouragement and taken at their own pace. By the time the puppies are 5 weeks of age they are all eating well and near to being fully independent.
At 5 weeks of age we take our first look at them to see if any have show potential. Given they are all reared the same they should all be robust and happy and fairly outgoing. We stand (stack) them on the grooming table and weigh up the pros and cons of each puppy e.g. temperament, overall balance, conformation and substance. First I am looking for overall outline which would take in length of head, neck, topline, tailset and rear and front angulations and balance. Then I look at width of head (not too broad) and level planes with very little stop, width of chest and width of rear (not too wide in front but wide enough in rear). Their character is becoming more defined and seeing them on the floor running around gives a good indication of who the alpha male and female are or those who are vying to be, and there will be a few. At this age I grade them as to what I believe will make good show dogs but at this age there are no guarantees.
Between the 5-7 week age I am looking for how they carry themselves and whether the ones that I liked when stacked on the table at 5 weeks look good on the ground and how they move and carry themselves and their attitude to different things. I will probably stack them quite a few times to see how they are progressing and get them used to being handled and brushed.
At 7 - 8 weeks of age its decision time. They are again stacked on the table and the overall picture is assessed together with the finer points. Often I have two or three (or more) that are split by very minor details. It could be the lay of shoulder, length of head, set of tail etc.
I look at those that show promise of making a good show dog and are worth running on to see if their early promise does come to fruition. The bite is checked but this doesnít necessarily mean a perfect adult mouth will follow. Testicles can also be a bit difficult to find as they can, it seems, be retracted at will! Ideally, one would like to run on at least the 2 best puppies from each sex to be absolutely sure but of course this is impractical. I know of some kennels in the USA that do run on the whole litter for some months - this way they are guaranteed that the mouths develop properly, the conformation is good and temperaments are up to the challenge of a show ring, but here you are looking at puppies that are 6+ months of age. Oh what luxury!
To buy a puppy for show that is less than 6 months of age is a gamble. There are no guarantees in breeding, raising and showing dogs. I do not guarantee puppies for the show ring that are less than 6 months of age. We have had dogs that develop beautifully but they just hate showing (although thankfully rarely) so even over 6 months there are still no guarantees.
People buy a dog, be it an 8 week old puppy or youngster under 6 months of age, from a successful established kennel and think they are going to get the perfect show specimen and walk into the ring and win. It just doesnít always happen that way. They donít understand the nurturing, handling and training of the puppy/youngster and how it is handled/exposed to its first few shows before it gains confidence to take on the world and this is all after the development of the mouth and other parts have worked out. Plus the fact that many hours have to be put into the coat preparation and presentation.
The next step after a successful show career is the breeding. Good hipped parents do not necessarily make a good hipped offspring, nor does the fact that the sire is an excellent stud make the offspring an excellent stud, in the same way an excellent brood bitch makes her offspring excellent brood bitches - nothing is guaranteed.
Above is all about what you want in a potential show puppy. Now turning to what you want in a family pet/companion.
As you are thinking of an Airedale then first and foremost temperament and character is a must. Well reared and happy - they have all been reared on the same food and treated the same and encouraged to develop their characters, as at the end of the day until decision time at 7-8 weeks the breeder is not 100% sure which ones will be potential show puppies. Typical of its breed - i.e. as an adult it will look like an Airedale! Generally healthy - but see more about health. We strongly suggest that if you have no intention of showing/breeding then you have both sexes neutered. Although in both cases we do suggest that you wait until the bitch has a season and the testicles are developed before having any neutering carried out. With regards to teeth it would not matter whether the bite was scissor, level, undershot, overshot, or awry. Although the last three are not ideal in a show dog, it would not stop the puppy from living its life to the full and eating and playing to its heartís content or chewing on the best furniture!
First and foremost you cannot be someone who takes him/herself, or life, too seriously. The 'King of Terriers' he may be (and deservedly so) but the Airedale is also the Joker in the pack and if you live a fairly rigid lifestyle you will not be happy with an Airedale and an Airedale will certainly not be happy with you! Airedales have this innate quality for knowing just how to get your attention - by helping you unpack the shopping or bringing in the washing (for those of us who still dry our clothes in the sunshine!). They have more curiosity than can kill a cat. Our first Airedale - Bonny - always wanted to know what was hiding under any type of flooring - I cannot count the number of times she pulled up flooring to see. Even when we moved house and built an extension and had no carpet down for 6 months, the day it was laid she pulled it up - she was 11 years of age! An Airedale is an Airedale for life. On the other hand the fun she gave us far outweighed all her naughtiness. They make good family pets but you must make sure you lay down ground rules from day one - rules for the dog and the family (well rules that the family sticks too - you cannot expect an Airedale to stick to rules can you!). They don't readily start trouble but once slighted it is never forgotten. Can I just mention that although I refer to 'he' this also includes the feminine (Gus would say even more so!). I could use the term 'it' but an Airedale is much much more than an 'it', or a dog even.
Airedales are a medium to large dog - 24" at the shoulder for males and an inch or so less for females. Square in outline with head and tail held high giving them a happy outlook on life with their ears folded and forward and the mischievous glint in eye. I have seen it written elsewhere that they have a mean eye - I totally disagree - an Airedale is far from mean - they are however keen. The description "on the tip-toe of expectation" is quite correct always looking out for something to get their adrenalin running.
The black and tan coat is quite harsh to the touch and needs regular daily grooming with hand trimming or clipping every 3 months. So maintenance regarding the grooming is high in time and cost. If left untrimmed the coat will get as heavy and as full as an Old English Sheepdog's and the dense undercoat will get matted and very very knotted. So, it is very important that he is regularly groomed and trimmed. I cannot emphasise this enough. But the bonus is they do not moult which is good for the home and for asthma sufferers. Some Airedales have a grizzle coat which means that the tan runs through the black. Some coats are also much lighter and more heavier and softer - although this is not acceptable in the show ring it does not make the dog any the worse as a pet (and in many cases makes him far more glamorous). The softer coats tend to be lighter in tan and definitely needs more thorough and conscientious grooming. More information on coat care click here. Basic grooming equipment -
a wide toothed comb;
The feeding of an Airedale is quite easy as they will eat anything and everything. Opportunists and scavengers par excellence. So you have to avoid him getting overweight and also exercising too much making him underweight. They are a firm bodied well toned powerful breed with a good layer of flesh covering their bones - you shouldn't be able to see ribs. They have a tuck-up (waist) so they should not have a tube for a body. You should be given a diet sheet from the breeder detailing what has been fed. A warning here about leaving your food too near the edge of the worktop and tables! Airedales have remarkably long legs and tongue when they want to!! Another warning is that chocolate is dangerous for dogs - so be careful of sweets being left at their level and chocolates on Christmas trees. Also please be aware that gardening poses a serious danger when using chemicals for weeding and fertilisers and some plants. Just as dangerous are the cocoa husk ground coverings, this may look good and smell good but this is as lethal to dogs as chocolate.
Exercise should be controlled in the early months - they are a fast growing breed and to over exercise whilst young is not good. Regular daily short walks and a free run for 20-30 minutes weekly is enough until they are 9 to 12 months of age when they can then go for hourly-plus walks and limited free running. After 12 months they should be able to do as little and as much as you (and he!) wants. Be warned - free running might well be taken more literally by the Airedale than by you, as one of his traits is to keep going and turning totally deaf and blind to his owner's calling, followed by pleading for him to come back. So, early training whilst still in the restricted exercise stage is best and remember there has got to be something in it for the Airedale before he will give up what he wants to do.
DOGS UNDER 12 MONTHS OF AGE CANNOT BE X-RAYED FOR HIP DYSPLASIA UNDER THE BVA/KC SCHEME.
DO NOT OVERFEED - DO NOT OVER EXERCISE
The Airedale is a relatively hardy breed with few health problems. However, there is the presence of hip dysplasia in the breed so you should ensure that you buy a puppy from a breeder who has had both the sire and the dam hip scored under the British Veterinary Association and Kennel Club* Hip Dysplasia scheme. For those overseas readers most countries have their own schemes so enquire from your kennel clubs or vets or breed clubs to find out the guidelines of purchasing a puppy from parents who have been screened under the relevant system. The UK average score for the Airedale is currently 16 in total - so, ideally, you would be looking at parents that are below that figure. The lower the better. Put simply - you will see hip scores shown as 3/3=6 this means the left hip has a total score of 3 and the right hip has a total score of 3, both hips are then added together to give a total e.g. 6. Each hip is scored on 9 points: eight of which are graded 0-6 and one 0-5 - so the most one hip can score is 53. Therefore the lower the score the better, e.g. 0/0=0 is perfect. Buying a puppy from hip scored parents does not guarantee that you will not get a problem as it is not an exact science but at least you know that the breeder has taken the time, trouble and expense to use the scheme so that they can use this in evaluating any breeding programme. A breeder should be willing to show you the official green certificates as issued by the BVA/KC scheme and this will show the dog's name, parentage, the score and details of the Veterinarian who took the x-rays and submitted them to the scheme all on one sheet. Even if the breeder has used a stud dog outside their ownership they should still be able to show you a copy of the sire's certificate. We always supply a copy of our stud dog's certificate to the owner of the bitch.
With the introduction of the Euro passport for Dogs coming into and out of the UK there is now a much wider chance of dogs being used for breeding that have been hip scored under different systems. The USA has two systems - traditional OFA and the relatively new PennHipp. Click here to find out equivalency charts for European countries. More information can be found on the relevant websites.
You can now search on the Kennel Club website for health results for dogs. You search by name. This only gives recent history e.g. dogs that were scored at the beginning of the scheme are not on their. Also dogs that have been exported will not be there.
Eczema can also be a problem - but with correct feeding - regular grooming and trimming - good coat/skin conditioners, this should not be too much of a problem.
Regular ear cleaning is a must. Also keeping the hair short around the ear canal and ear flaps is a must. Once an infection, whether earmites or yeast, gets a hold it is very difficult to get rid of. If your Airedale is unlucky enough to get infected you must be diligent in cleaning daily if not twice daily for at least two weeks and then on a regular weekly to monthly basis. Proprietary cleaning fluids and ear mite treatment can work well if done diligently. However if this does not work you must seek veterinary advice.
Now - what more does the Airedale need from you
Company - he doesn't want to be left on his own all day as this is when his mind goes into overdrive and leads him astray.
A secure garden - if his nose can get through as far as he is concerned his body can too.
A comfortable bed - something that he can move around the house quite readily to his chosen spot.
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