Are Airedale Terriers Hunting Dogs? Prey Drive Unveiled

Are Airedale Terriers Hunting Dogs? Prey Drive Unveiled

Dogs naturally have hunting instincts. If you plan to adopt an Airedale Terrier, you might think, ‘Are Airedale Terriers hunting dogs? Or Do they still carry their hunting instincts?’. Let’s find answers to all your questions about Airedales’ hunting behavior.

Do you have any plans to get a dog? Dogs have varying looks as well as personalities. Although they all descend from the same ancestry, you will see significant changes according to the breed.

So, what sort of dog would you anticipate having? When someone decides to get a dog, they pay attention to the character of the dog. Dogs generally are friendly and loyal animals, yet they inherit several temperaments. For instance, dogs can be active, energetic, feisty, aggressive, assertive, calm, collected, intelligent, mischievous, and the list goes on.

Read – Miniature Airedale Terrier Or Dogs Similar To Airedale Terriers

Some people like dogs with calm characters, yet others like strong-willed dogs. Hunting dogs will be a good choice if you wish to have a strong-willed and spirited dog. There are many hunting dog breeds around the world. Are Airedale Terriers one of them? Let’s find out. 

Are Airedale Terriers hunting dogs? The most straightforward answer to this question would be yes. Airedale Terriers own a reputation as hunting dogs for ages. Although their characters came across specific changes with time, their hunting instincts did not completely fade away.

Airedale Terriers naturally inherit hunting skills. In fact, Airedale Terriers have phenomenal skills in hunting rats, rodents, and even birds. Furthermore, Airedale Terriers are intelligent and determined dogs, so if you train them from a young age, their hunting skills will get polished. 

Hunting is an ability that many dogs naturally own. However, certain breeds have stronger hunting instincts and capabilities compared to others. If we look into the history of Airedale Terriers, this breed was initially developed for hunting purposes.

Read – Airedale Terrier Vs. Welsh Terrier

Therefore it is not surprising that they have strong hunting skills. However, as mentioned, their temperaments changed to some extent as they became domestic dogs, so how powerful is the hunting instinct of Airedale Terriers, and do they still make good hunting dogs? This article will help you to find answers. 

Are Airedale Terriers good hunters?

What makes a dog a good hunter? Prey drive, endurance, intelligence, athleticism, determination, and curiosity are characteristics that create ideal hunting dogs. Airedale Terriers are usually a combination of these characteristics, which is why they are often identified as versatile dogs.

Read – Airedale Terrier Grooming Guide and Diet Plan & Feeding Tips

Certain dog breeds have been developed primarily for hunting purposes. In earlier years, hunting was a key activity followed by humans, and they needed companions to do it.

Dogs tend to be the perfect hunting companions. The history of hunting dogs draws back thousands of years, and their abilities and skills evolved over time. 

Are Airedale Terriers good hunters?

As existing information shows, Airedale Terriers were first developed in the 1800s in Aire River Valley, Yorkshire, England, and this is one of the breeds particularly bred for hunting.

Airedale Terrier is a member of the Terrier dog family, and Terriers, in general, are well known for their skills to hunt vermin. What is unique about Airedale Terriers is that compared to other Terrier breeds, Airedale Terriers are bigger in size.

While most other Terriers make small dogs, Airedale Terrier is a medium to large-sized dog with an average weight of 50 to 70 pounds and a height of 20 to 25 inches. For your information, Airedale Terrier is the largest Terrier breed.

Read – How Much Do Airedale Terriers Cost?

They were bigger than other Terriers because they were bred to hunt larger animals, including giant rats, rabbits, and waterfowl. Back in the day, Airedale Terriers were ideal companions to hunters. Their physiques and skills were strong, so Airedale Terriers have been used for both feather and fur hunting. 

Airedale Terriers are fast and active dogs. They are relatively larger in size; therefore, the physique, strength, and endurance all put together, they were experts in fur hunting. As brilliant as they are in fur hunting, Airedale Terriers are also good at feather hunting, especially water birds.

There are certain dogs that are not big fans of water; however, Airedale Terriers are fond of water. On top of it, they can swim well and bare with cold temperatures to a reasonable extent.

Read – Airedale Terriers’ Average Lifespan

So, around the mid-1800s, Airedale Terrier was a reputed hunting dog among Terrier breeds. Airedale Terriers soon became farmers’ best friends as they helped chase and hunt vermins that destroyed the farms and hunted birds and rabbits for meals.

Airedale Terriers were imported to the United States around the late 1880s, and this gave the breed more hunting opportunities which helped to polish their reputation as hunting dogs.

Early accounts of Airedale Terriers often describe them as a breed with a strong hunting instinct; moreover, several tests were conducted to prove this breed’s hunting abilities. 

Will an Airedale Terrier protect you?

Who wouldn’t like to have a dog that protects you? We consider pet dogs as our companions, and we also expect them to protect us. Dogs are loyal animals; hence they do not deny protecting their human family.

Nevertheless, you must understand that the skills and abilities of dogs differ significantly according to the breed they belong to. Therefore some dogs can be generally protective, whereas others are highly protective.

How about Airedale Terriers? In previous sections, we discussed the hunting skills of this breed, and it is evident that Airedale Terriers inherit hunting skills. Do they also make good guard dogs protecting the family?

Thanks to their diverse characteristics, Airedale Terriers are not only hunting dogs but also excellent guard dogs. As mentioned, Airedale Terrier is a breed developed for hunting purposes.

However, their abilities do not limit to that. Airedale Terriers are attentive and intelligent, so during the first world war, they were a part of the battlefield to carry messages and help find the wounded soldiers; eventually, they were also used by police as watchdogs.

So as much as the hunting instinct, Airedale Terriers also have a protective instinct.

Read – Do Airedale Terriers Shed A Lot? and Are Airedale Terriers Hypoallergenic?

Dogs are typically protective animals, yet their characters are not the same. Some dogs tend to be very cuddly and affectionate; contrary to that, others tend to be resilient and protective.

Airedale Terriers undoubtedly love their owners, but they are not expressing it often through gestures like cuddling. Instead, they express it by protecting the owners.

Airedale Terriers are strong-willed dogs and usually very attentive to things happening around them. Suppose your Airedale Terrier sense something suspicious or dangerous they will not waste a minute to protect you from it.

This is why many people believe that Airedale Terriers are aggressive dogs. They can be aggressive at certain points, especially around strangers and other animals.

However, the aggression is caused as a result of their will to protect. In the case of danger, Airedale Terriers can demonstrate aggressive behavior to protect their families. 

Dogs consider their owners as their Alpha, simply put, the leader. Airedale Terrier, as a breed that descends from a hunting background, naturally tends to be extremely close and loyal to their owners.

Overall the size, temperament, and personality traits of Airedale Terriers make them excellent guard dogs. Furthermore, you can train your Airedale Terrier from a young age, which will help them strengthen its protective instincts. 

Do Airedale Terriers have a high prey drive?

If you own an Airedale Terrier, it is not unusual to see them silently stalking and chasing after small animals in your yard or when they are out for a walk. This behavior is a result of their prey drive.

Dogs naturally inherit prey instinct, so you have to expect it, at least to some extent. So the question is, to what extent do Airedale Terriers have prey instinct? 

First, let’s try to understand what prey drive is. Prey drive or prey instinct refers to the eagerness and desire of carnivores to hunt for their meals. Prey drive can be seen in several animals, especially dogs.

According to their genetic formation, some dogs can have a higher prey drive compared to others. As comprehensively discussed in earlier sections, Airedale Terrier is a breed that comes from a hunting background.

Therefore undoubtedly, they have a prey drive. According to recent rankings, Airedale Terriers are positioned in the 14th place of breeds with the highest prey drive. 

In general, we consider Airedale Terrier a breed with a high prey drive. However, you can still raise one at home. Naturally, Airedale Terriers own high prey instinct, occasionally indicating it by chasing after small animals.

However, this is something you can mitigate through proper and consistent training. Having prey drive doesn’t necessarily label Airedale Terriers as aggressive dogs.

Prey drive can lead them towards aggression. Still, if you train an Airedale Terrier from a young age, it will dilute the prey drive so do aggression. 

Final thoughts about Airedale Terriers hunting instincts

Through this article, we attempted to find out whether Airedale Terriers are hunting dogs. Are they good hunting dogs? They certainly are. Airedale Terriers own a long reputation as a hunting breed.

Airedale Terriers are generally energetic, strong-willed, and intelligent. Therefore they sure make perfect hunting dogs. Nowadays, we usually consider Airedale Terriers as family dogs rather than hunting dogs; nonetheless, this breed naturally possesses hunting skills.

Stay with us to find answers to your burning questions about four-legged furry friends.


  • Lisa Watson

    Lisa W. is a practicing certified veterinarian (BVetMed Hons in Veterinary Medicine) who graduated from Royal Veterinary College, UK. One of her research fields is mixed-dog breeds and their temperament, behavioral issues, and genetic health concerns. Also, she gathers data about purebred dog breeds and their origin, lifespan, and genetic conditions. Lisa is a loving dog parent who is keen to share her expertise with other fellow dog parents.

    [email protected]

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