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Although he has been kept in some localities (Yorkshire chiefly) for fifty years or so, it was not until quite recently he was acknowledged as a distinct variety. Sundry newspaper correspondence had taken place about this dog, when some of his admirers called him the Bingley terrier, others the Waterside terrier, but a consensus of opinion decided that he be called the Airedale terrier, because he was most commonly found in the valley of the Aire, which is now one of the most important industrial districts in Yorkshire. Birmingham provided him with a class at the National Dog Show in 1883, where he was called the Airedale or Waterside terrier. This dual cognomen continued for two years, when the second name was dropped, and he became the Airedale terrier, as he remains at present. In 1886 he was given a place in the Stud Book, and, unlike some later additions thereto, commenced well with an entry of twenty-four, and with about three exceptions all had pedigrees-a fact which certainly proved that they were worthy of the position in which they had been placed. 1 have said, some of these earlier dogs had more than a leaning to the hound type, but by careful selection this has been entirely obliterated, and a high-class Airedale is as perfect a terrier as man need desire. He has a hard, close coat, long, well-shaped expressive head, bright dark eyes, good shoulders, and I am
sure no dog exists that can boast of better legs and feet than a good specimen of this variety, and their uniformity of type is now thoroughly established. That the latter is the case was in strong evidence at the Crystal Palace show in October, 1891, when Mr. H. M. Bryan's entry of Airedale terriers divided the special honours awarded to the best team of terriers in the show with Mr. Leatham's mustard Dandie Dinmonts. There were eleven batches competing, including fox, Scotch, Skye, Irish, and Bedlington terriers, and the divided victory of Newbold Test, Cholmondeley Briar, and Cholmondeley Bridesmaid was well received, pleasing the admirers of the variety immensely.
As to their gameness, opinions appear to be somewhat divided, and “Stonehenge," in his “
Dogs of the British Isles,” gave them a very bad character indeed, so far as courage was concerned, but I never knew that their admirers claimed for them this
commodity” to any extraordinary degree. One correspondent wrote: “ Airedale terriers are a failure. The result of my experiences of them is that I find them to have good noses, they will beat a hedgerow, will find and kill rats and rabbits, and work well with ferrets. They are good water dogs and companions, possessing a fair amount of intelligence. This is the sum total of their excellence. They came to
me with a great reputation for gameness, but out of fourteen that I have personally tried at badger and fighting with a bull terrier of 241b., I have never found one game—at least, to my idea of the word.”
But any terrier that would do the above work better than another would be worth keeping. Were a dog like he of 45lb. weight or more to be used at a badger he should kill the
brute instead of merely “drawing” him. I think that those individuals who at Wolverhampton show about 1883 made a semi-public exhibition of him against a badger, an animal the like of which the poor dog had never seen before, were extremely badly advised. As for fighting, any terrier fond of it is a nuisance to his owner and to the owner of any other dog. For the Airedale terrier was claimed superiority as a worker of the riverside after rats, and as an assistant to the gun in working hedgerows and thick coppices, which, it was said, he could do better than a spaniel and take up less room than a retriever
However, perhaps what Mr. E. Bairstow, of Bradford, has written about the Airedale terrier in “The Dog Owner's Annual," and which has been revised for publication here, will be of interest, he being one of the oldest breeders of this dog, of which I
need scarcely say he is a most enthusiastic admirer.
“This very popular terrier is now taking the front rank amongst our national terriers, which it deserves, because of its adaptability to almost every kind of sport. If you want to go out with your gun, the Airedale terrier can be trained to do the work of the pointer, setter, spaniel, and retriever, or if you like coursing he is all there ; as a guard and companion or watchdog he has no equal—in fact, he is, without a doubt, the most useful dog living. He is rough, hardy, and strong; if indoors, there is no strong smell from his coat or skin, as he has no dense undercoat. If left outside in the most severe winter weather, he is not affected by the cold; no trouble in washing, brushing, and combing, only a walk to the waterside and into the water he goes, diving like a duck, or breasting and swimming against the stream with the strength and power of a dog double his size ; never tired, working as long and as fresh as any dog living. No wonder, then, that this dog should become the more popular the more he gets known.
“In all my experience, I never came across any person who ever had an Airedale terrier over twelve months who would utter one word of disparagement against him.
“This breed owes its origin to the working or middle class inhabitants of Airedale and surrounding districts; take Bradford as the centre, and say about a 15 miles radius. About fourteen years ago, or perhaps more, the local dog societies commenced making classes for them, as 'waterside terriers,' at their annual shows, until they at last gained the highest number of classes, and the largest number of entries, on some occasions upwards of 200 entries of Airedales at one exhibition ; in fact, the large number entered at Bingley show caused the surprise of a very popular dog judge, who said to the committee :-'These waterside terriers are very good, and seem to be constantly increasing in numbers and popularity, why not give them a proper name? They are worthy of it, I am sure.'
Everyone present acquiesced, and after much discussion the name of Airedale terrier was agreed upon, seeing this was the Airedale Show, and that the variety was always well represented there. When the new name was fixed, fresh interest was excited. Other shows made classes for them, fresh competitors entered the lists, and strong competition for premier honours has now become general, and the excitement and interest to be seen by the crowds round the judging rings at Otley and Bingley gatherings when the judges are adjudicating upon