National Airedale Terrier Association



A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.


General Appearance  Largest of the terriers, a muscular, active, fairly cobby dog, without suspicion of legginess or undue length of body.


Characteristics   Keen of expression, quick of movement, on the tip toe of expectation at any movement. Character denoted and shown by expression of eyes, and by carriage of ears and erect tail.


Temperament   Outgoing and confident, friendly, courageous and intelligent. Alert at all times, not aggressive but fearless.


Head and Skull   Skull long and flat, not too broad between ears, and narrowing slightly to eyes. Well balanced, with no apparent difference in length between skull and foreface. Free from wrinkles, with stop hardly visible; cheeks level and free from fullness. Foreface well filled up before eyes, not dishfaced or falling away quickly below eyes, but a delicate chiselling prevents appearance of wedginess or plainness. Upper and lower jaws deep, powerful, strong and muscular, as strength of foreface is greatly desired. No excess development of the jaws to give a rounded or bulging appearance to the cheeks, as "cheekiness" is undesirable. Lips tight, nose black.


Eyes   Dark in colour, relatively small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keenness and intelligence. Light or bold eye highly undesirable.


Ears   "V" shaped with a side carriage small but not out of proportion to size of dog. Top line of folded ear slightly above level of skull. Pendulous ears or ears too high undesirable.


Mouth   Teeth strong. Jaws strong. Scissor bite, i.e., Upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws preferable, but vice-like bite acceptable. An overshot or undershot mouth undesirable.


Neck   Clean, muscular, of moderate length and thickness, gradually widening towards shoulders, and free from throatiness.


Forequarters   Shoulders long, well laid back, sloping obliquely, shoulder blades flat. Forelegs perfectly straight, with good bone. Elbows perpendicular to body, working free of sides.


Body   Back short, strong, straight and level, showing no slackness. Loins muscular. Ribs well sprung. In short-coupled and well ribbed up dogs there is little space between ribs and hips. When dog is long in couplings some slackness will be shown here. Chest deep (i.e. approximately level with elbows), but not broad.


Hindquarters   Thighs long and powerful with muscular second thigh, stifles well bent, turned neither in nor out. Hocks well let down, parallel with each other when viewed from behind.


Feet   Small, round and compact, with a good depth of pad, well cushioned, and toes moderately arched, turning neither in nor out.


Tail  Previously customarily docked.

Docked: Set on high and carried gaily. Good strength and substance.

Undocked: Set on high and carried gaily. Good strength and substance.


Gait/Movement   Legs carried straight forward. Forelegs move freely parallel to the sides. When approaching forelegs should form a continuation of the straight line of the front, feet being same distance apart as elbows. Propulsive power is furnished by hind legs.


Coat   Hard, dense and wiry, not so long as to appear ragged. Lying straight and close, covering body and legs; outer coat hard, wiry and stiff, undercoat shorter and softer. Hardest coats are crinkling or just slightly waved; curly or soft coat highly undesirable.


Colour   Body saddle black or grizzle as top of the neck and top surface of tail. All other parts tan. Ears often a darker tan, and shading may occur round neck and side of skull. A few white hairs, between forelegs acceptable.


Size  Height about 58 - 61 cms. (23 - 24 ins.) for dogs, taken from top of shoulder, and bitches about 56 - 59 cms. (22 - 23 ins.).


Faults   Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


Note - Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.


We are grateful to the Kennel Club for permission to reprint this Standard                                                                                            ©Kennel Club


Revised 1 January 2020