By far the most popular big terrier, in this country at least, is the Airedale, and for an all-around dog he would be very hard to beat. He is afraid of nothing that walks or crawls on land, and his great fondness for the water betrays the otterhound blood which is in him.
While not necessarily quarrelsome, this dog knows his strength, and as a rule will not walk far out of his way to avoid a scrap. Airedales are usually intelligent, and hundreds of them have been used for Red Cross work on the battlefields of Europe.
So well established and in such favor is this breed today, it is hard to believe that sixty years ago it was practically unknown outside of Yorkshire, England, where it existed as an unkempt, shaggy-coated, long-eared mongrel, in which the blood of the otterhound and the old black-and-tan wire-haired terrier were easiest to recognize. But after about thirty years of careful breeding most of the hound blood was bred out of him, and there was left something very much like the stylish, well-built, well-marked Airedale, now to be seen everywhere.
To be a "good" one, he should weigh from 35 to 45 pounds, and be about 22 inches high, and of the color and type shown in the plate. The distribution of the tan or sandy color is rigorously dictated by standard; the saddle and neck may be either black, which is preferable, or grizzled gray. The head, set at an exact right-angle to the straight, strong neck, should be long, and a straight line from occiput to nose, or very slightly "roman." This effect is frequently heightened by the hair on the face between the eyes, being a little longer than that on the nose and crown. There is quite a marked tendency for the hair on the lips and chin to be long, forming a sort of beard.
The back must be straight and strong, the legs also must be very straight and well boned and muscled, the feet short and round.
This is one of the best of terriers, and of his thousands of owners hardly one could be found to say an unfavorable word for him. Being a terrier, he is playful and rather destructive in his youth, but in a season he grows up, and becomes a remarkably thoughtful, companionable, and dependable dog. He can be trained to hunt, but is rather impetuous for this work.
The hair should be fairly long, hard, and nearly straight. It would be hard to win a ribbon with a curly Airedale, however good otherwise. Cow-hocks, a marked stop, sprung pasterns, and white markings are all defects.
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