The Airedale is a large terrier with a harsh, wiry coat; long flat head; and deep chest. The well-balanced dog stands square, with a level topline and very straight front legs. The V-shaped ears fold forward, offset to the sides of the head rather than pointing at the eyes. The nose is black. The teeth should meet in a level or scissors bite. The tail is usually docked to about half-length; it is carried gaily, but should not curl over the back. The wiry outer coat is lined with a soft undercoat. The coat should be tan with a black (or dark grizzle) saddle. A bit of red in the black and/or a small white star on the chest are permitted. The legs (all the way to the thigh), chest, undersides, head, and ears should be tan. Sometimes tan also extends up to the shoulder.
"The King of Terriers," the Airedale was named for the River Aire in England, where lots of small game flourished. Originally known as the Waterside Terrier and used as a vermin hunter, the breed was later crossed with the Otterhound to make him a better swimmer. In addition to his role as a small-game hunter, the Airedale has been used to hunt big game in Africa, India, and Canada, and as a police dog and army sentry dog in World War II. Today the Airedale Terrier is primarily a companion dog.