The Real Working Airedale

General Care for Your Airedale Terrier…

Health care for a Airedale will include proper affection,

nutrition, exercise, sanitized living environment, veterinary care, immunization

against canine diseases, grooming, and ongoing protection against parasites.


Just as responsible parents exercise good judgment in order to provide only the best possible nutrition for their children during all stages of development and beyond, it is important that each pet owner meet the necessary nutritional requirements needed for appropriate development and/or maintenance of a healthy pet.  Because your Airedale can be expected to grow from birth to approximately 70 pounds by one year of age, it is important to provide the breed with a high-quality food needed to encourage proper bone to muscle growth ratios.

It would be very difficult and expensive for a pet owner to match the balanced diet found within a quality commercial dog food. When selecting your dog food, important phrases like, "complete and balanced" and "meet or exceeds the nutritional levels established by the National Research Council" should appear on the label. Other considerations might include:

    • digestibility-lamb and rice can be an excellent choice...
    • protein sources-muscle meat, organic meat, eggs, milk...
    • protein levels-should not exceed 24% adult food at 4-5 months of age...
    • vegetable sources-soybean, corn, and other grains...
    • preservatives-naturally preserved w/vitamin E is a favorite...

Be careful not to supplement unbalanced foods and try not to exceed ten percent by weight of the regular diet. Balanced supplements include:

    • cottage cheese
    • cooked eggs
    • milk

The nutritional/dietary needs of each Airedale can vary according to their age and activity level. An average adult Airedale will eat approximately three to six cups of dry food plus one half to one pound of meat per day. A growing puppy may eat double the amount of an average adult during rapid growth periods.

Average feeding schedule:

    • six to eight week puppy-four small meals per day
    • ten to twelve week puppy-three to four meals per day.
    • after six months-two meals per day (15 minutes per meal)
    • one year-ideally two meals or one giant meal plus a snack each day (15 minutes per meal)

It is important to measure your dog's food each day and to never allow your puppy to get fat. Over feeding and underfeeding are both serious issues. Overfeeding will not allow your puppy grow any larger than his genetic makeup will grow, so feed smart. Excess weight on a dog reduces the life span expectancy, adds strain on tissues and growing bones, and enhances your pet's chances of developing future problems.

Always increase, decrease and switch your dog's foods slowly and use stainless steel feeding/watering dishes that can be sterilized. They are also more durable and will not chip or break.

Never feed cooked bones, or bones that splinter.


As with all animals, exercise is essential for proper skeletal and muscle growth and/or condition. Due to the fact that all large canine breeds are subject to orthopedic problems, special care must be given not to over exercise a young or growing puppy. Puppies, like toddlers, should be allowed to play freely, but should never be over worked and/or over exercised until their skeletal frames have matured.  

Most canines will go through some awkward and/or uneven growth stages of development during the first year. Be patient, as most puppies will mature to a temperament and appearance somewhat similar to that of their parents.

Development states are as follows:

    • First Year-puppy grows height
    • Second Year-acquires muscle, rib, and bone mass
    • Second-Third Year-maturity is reached

It is best to consult with your breeder regarding the best time to begin a proper exercise program for their specific bloodlines. Provide proper terrain for puppy play/exercise and avoid slippery floors/surfaces, including ice, which are dangerous for a puppy or adult at play.


Sanitary & cleanly conditions are essential in preventing the growth of disease-producing bacteria. The following are suggestions to help aid in a healthier living environment...sanitize food and water dishes after each use keep your dog's living areas sanitary at all times, bath & groom your Airedale on a regular basis with special attention during shed seasons, control flea's, ticks, lice and/or mites which can lead to bacterial infections.


Your breeder or regional Airedale club may be able to assist you in locating a reputable vet who is interested in larger breed dogs. Plan on taking your puppy/dog to your vet as soon as possible after getting him for a routine health check. Avoid unnecessary contact with other dogs until your puppy is mature and/or has immunities against common canine diseases such as:

    • Distemper
    • Hepatitis
    • Leptospirosis
    • Parainfluenza
    • Parvo virus
    • Corona virus
    • Rabies

Immunization decisions are a matter of personal and professional judgment choices based on research, statistics, and environmental and immunization risks. As with pediatricians, veterinarians do not always extend, nor understand, necessary information and/or research data that would enable parents/owners to make their own "educated" decisions on vaccination issues.  

Dr. W. Jean Dobbs is a well-known authority on canine health and behavior problems associated with thyroid and autoimmune diseases. She has published extensively on hematology and related subjects, and her contributions to the veterinary profession have earned her numerous awards. Her popular seminars on immunology, nutrition, holistic medicine and related subjects continue to attract veterinary professionals, concerned dog owners, and breeders from all over the United States. If you wish to consider her professional vaccination recommendations for discussion with your own personal veterinarian, I will enclose a copy of her protocol at the end of this page and/or you can contact her office directly at:

Dr. W. Jean Dobbs, DVM

938 Stanford

Santa Monica, CA 90401



It is important to have your dog examined for a regular health check once a year.  In the spring is a good time to do this.  At that time your vet should also check for roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and hookworms as a puppy and then once a year thereafter. Heart worm is also a serious problem in areas where mosquitoes live. Consult your veterinarian regarding testing and prevention of these life threatening diseases.


Grooming is an essential part of the overall health of your Airedale and will help reduce the chances of bacterial skin infections and odor. More grooming results in the need of less baths!

Special attention should be given to bodily areas that may develop mats more easily, which are:

    • behind the ears
    • inside the hind legs
    • chest
    • tail
    • legs
    • muzzle

Most Airedales will look forward to their grooming sessions and the personal one-on-one attention. Grooming tools which can be useful for ease of grooming include:

    • clippers
    • thinning sheers
    • blunt tip scissors
    • long tooth steel comb
    • pin brush
    • slicker brush
    • rake
    • mat/tangle splitter
    • dental scraper
    • nail clippers
    • blood stopper powder (to stop the blood if you cut the nails too short)
    • spray bottles-water, detanglers, or coat dressings
    • big towels!

For more information on grooming your puppy, I highly recommend that you purchase a grooming book that includes or is only about Airedales.


Revised Vaccination Protocol-1999

W. Jean Dodds, DVM


938 Stanford Street

Santa Monica, CA 90403



Note: This schedule is the one that I recommend and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It's a matter of professional judgment and choice. For breeders of families of dogs susceptible to or affected with immune dysfunction, immunemediated disease, immune-reactions associated with vaccinations, or autoimmune endocrine disease (e.g., thyroiditis, Addison's or Cushing's disease, diabetes, etc.) the following protocol is recommended:

Age of Pup

Vaccine Type

6 weeks (range could be 5 1/2-6 1/2 weeks but not earlier)

Distemper + measles (without hepatitis)

7 1/2 weeks and 10 1/2 weeks (same product each time)

Killed or modified-live parvorvirus* given 3-4 weeks apart

8 weeks and 10 weeks for pups not receiving measles earlier

Distemper + parvovirus +- hepatitis

12 weeks

Distemper + hepatitis + parainfluenza (without parvovirus, if possible)*

14 weeks and 18-20 weeks (same product each time)

Distemper + hepatitis + parainfluenza + killed or modified-live parvovirus*

16-24 weeks

Killed rabies vaccine


*During parvovirus epidemics or for highly susceptible breeds such as Rottweilers, newer modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines that provide more complete immunity and override maternal immunity are advisable.

An Annual booster using distemper + hepatitis + parainfluenza + killed or MLV parvovirus is given at one year of age. Thereafter, boosters are given every 3 years until old age. Beyond 10 years of age, booster vaccinations are generally not needed and may be unwise if aging or other diseases are present. For animals at high exposure risk to parvovirus disease, an additional parvovirus vaccination can be given at the 6-month point, if killed parvovirus is used. This extra booster is typically not needed if MLV is used.

I use only killed 3-year rabies vaccine for adults an give it separated from other vaccines by at least 2 and preferably 3-4 weeks. A booster at one year of age is usually required followed by every 3 years thereafter.

I do not use Bordetella, corona virus, leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines unless these diseases are endemic in the local area or specific kennel. Furthermore, the currently licensed leptospira bacterins do not contain the servovars causing the majority of clinical leptospirosis today.

I do not recommend vaccinating bitches during estrus, pregnancy or lactation.

I recommend that distemper-measles vaccine be given without hepatitis between 6-8 weeks, because of the reported suppression of lymphocyte responsiveness induced by polyvalent canine distemper and adenovirus vaccines (Phillips et at., Van J Vet Res 1989; 53: 154-160).

For animals previously experiencing adverse vaccine reactions or breeds at higher risk for such reactions (e.g. Weimaraner, Akita, American Eskimo, Great Dane), alternatives to booster vaccinations should be considered. These include avoiding boosters except rabies vaccine as required by law; annual measuring serum antibody titers against specific canine infectious agents, such as distemper and parvovirus; and homeopathic nosodes. [This last option is considered an unconventional treatments that has not been scientifically proven to be effeicacious. One controlled parvovirus nosode study did not adequately protect puppies under challenge conditions. However, data from Europe and clinical experience in North America support its use. If veterinarians choose to use homeopathic nosodes, their clients should be provided with an appropriate disclaimer and written informed consent should be obtained.]