D E TA I L S T H AT MAT T E R — E X P R E S S I ON TERRIER AIREDALE
BY APRIL CLYDE
I t is in the details that breed type is stamped on Terriers, and Airedale Terrier aficionados place great emphasis on expression as an essential breed-specific characteristic. As noted by Gladys Edwards Brown (GEB) in her hallmark book, The Complete Airedale, “Expression is a combination of several factors: size, shape, color and placement of the eyes; size and carriage of the ears; together with the general shape of the head and it is sparked by the glow with- in.” The physical components of expression can be examined individ- ually and then united with the spark from true Terrier temperament. First, examining the eye, it is interesting to note that descriptions of the proper eye are almost unchanged from early written standards of the breed. For example, in All About Airedales (Palmer, 1911), the author quotes an early Airedale Terrier breed standard, which was published in Dogs of All Nations in 1905. The standard specifies, “Eyes – small, dark in color, not prominent but full of terrier expression.” Amazingly, the current AKC Airedale Terrier Standard uses almost the exact same words: “Eyes – should be dark, small, not prominent, full of terrier expression, keenness and intelligence.” Over the years, other authors have added additional words, to paint a more detailed picture. It has been stated that the eyes should be full of fire and have a fierce, keen-eyed gaze known as the “look of eagles.” Others have described the expression as “hard-bitten,” with the dog seeming to look right through you. The Airedale Terrier’s official standard does not include information about the shape of the eye, but experts have noted that the eye should not be round. GEB writes, “Rather they are oval, sometimes giving a somewhat trian- gular appearance, but not so exaggerated as the Bull Terrier.” The Airedale Terrier Club of America’s Illustrated Standard describes the eye as “almond.” While descriptions of shape vary, the elements of “small and dark”—and the nearer to black the better—are consis- tent. It should be noted that perception of the color and shape of the eyes can be altered by the presence of dark pigmentation or “mascara” around the eye, which makes the eye look larger. The look of eagles or the hard-bitten expression that authors mention is not a physical characteristic, but is the intense gaze and alertness of a Terrier with proper temperament. It is best observed when the Airedale is looking at another dog; just one more of the many reasons for judges to spar Airedale Terriers!
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2021 | 299
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