Showsight Presents The Airedale Terrier

AIREDALE TERRIER “KING OF TERRIERS” A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON SIZE AND ATTITUDE by APRIL CYLDE

O ften, the Airedale Terrier is referred to as the “King of Terriers”. What does this expression mean? Is it about size or is it about other traits? Many peo- ple think that the word “king” refers to size—specifically that the Airedale is the tallest and/or bulkiest of the breeds in the Terrier Group. Others insist that the expression “King of Terriers” refers to the attitude or self–confidence of the Airedale Terrier. Actually, the answer is that both the standard specified height of the Airedale and his typical confident attitude combine to elevate him to his royal position. From the earliest references to height in English and American breed standards, the Airedale is noted to be about 23 inches tall. While many early breed standards reference weight, the book, Our Friend the Airedale (1933) quoted the Midland Counties [Eng- land] Airedale Terrier Club standard:

“Height about 23 in. to 24 in. for dogs… bitches 22 in. to 23 in.” At this height, the Midland County Standard further specified that “45 lbs is considered the weight of the dog, bitches slightly less—dogs weighting a pound or two over this weight to have preference to those weighing under 45 lb.” In Ameri- ca, the Airedale Terrier breed standard published in 1941 indicates the desired height to be “approximately 23 inches at the shoulder; bitches slightly less.” The American standard was updated in 1959 and remains in place today. It continues to specify height as “approxi- mately 23 inches at the shoulder; bitch- es slightly less.” At the breed standard specified size, the Airedale is the tallest terrier, the “King” of dogs in the Terrier Group. The Terrier breeds closest in height would be the Kerry Blue Terrier (18–19 ½ for a dog and 17 ½ –19 inches for a bitch) or the American Staffordshire

Terrier at “18–19 inches at the shoul- ders for the male and 17–18 inches for the female.” Clearly, if the breeds in the group ring are at their specified heights, the Airedale Terrier will be 3–4 inches taller than any other terrier in the ring. So, if a 23 inch tall Airedale is a King, is a 25 or 26–inch dog more royal? It is very important for the judge to note that the Airedale Terrier breed standard does not give “bonus points” for extra height and in fact, the standard speci- fies that “being much over or under the size limit…is a fault that should be severely penalized.” Variation in height has always existed and there have been periods of favor for smaller or larger Airedales in conformation judging but the standard has remained unchanged on the proper size for the breed. From the earliest books about the breed, it has also been noted that as size increased, the type was often sacrificed. Hol- land Buckley author of The Airedale

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ANUARY 2018 • 245

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