Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The history of the airedale terrier

THE Airedale is a product of the middle of
the nineteenth century and was manufac-
tured in Yorkshire. The streams that
tumble down the deep vales of that Midland
county are the homes of hundreds of crafty,
hardbitten otters; there are thieving foxes and
very game, but very rascally badgers in snug
dens in the hills; many a swift English hare lives
in the broad game preserves. The hardy York-
shireman of 1850 his sons and grandsons to-day
are real " chips of the old block " loved nothing
so much as a hunt after the vermin, with possibly
a rat killing contest with " a couple o' bob " at
stake of a Saturday night, and sometimes, on
moonless nights, when game keepers were asleep,
a little trip after the filling for a rabbit pie.
Now, you cannot do these things without a dog
that is brainy, game, obedient, and as much at
home in water as on dry land; so they just nat-
urally set to work to make themselves such a dog.
All this we know positively, but when it comes


to saying anything definite about how they made
that dog, which we now call the Airedale, you
begin to deal in traditions as conflicting as theo-
ries on the Martian canals and speculations as
vague as old wives' tales. Taking all the yarns
and guesses and boiling them down to an average,
we find that the Airedale, so most people think,
was originally a cross between a tan-grizzle ter-
rier, now extinct or absorbed in other breeds, but
once common in the Midlands, and the otter-
hound, a big, wire-coated water dog of the blood-
hound type, that comes in all colors of Joseph's
famous coat, but mainly white with black and tan-
nish markings. To this cross were added dashes
of bull terrier, which breed was, at that time,
just coming to the fore with its deserved reputa-
tion for grit, and Bedlington terrier, a light-
weight, top-knotted dog from the North of Eng-

Probably there were sprinkles of the blood of
the collie and of all terriers found at the time
between the Midlands and the Scottish Border-
land. All these (fox, Manchester, Welsh, Old
English, and Dandy Dinmont) were then more or
less indefinite as to type and uncertain as to
breeding, which helps materially in making con-
fusion worse confounded. Just how and why this
strange, indefinite mixture should have resulted


in the Airedale no one can say.

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