Like most, you are probably familiar with the concept of designer dogs. Since the rise of the purebred dog in the Victorian era, purity in pets has seen periods of popularity and decline.
Around 1980 the designer dog craze began as a way to introduce highly desirable traits from one breed to another. One of the most coveted characters was the hypoallergenic nonshedding coat of the Poodle.
You may wonder what Airedales add to a mix. Perhaps you have seen multiple Airedale mixes like with Poodles and Labradors as well as German Shepherds.
So there must be something promising about the Airedale infusion. And those of you who own or love German Shepherds know Shepherd mutts and designer dogs are common. What is special about the Airedale Terrier German Shepherd mix?
The reason you might consider the Airedale Shepherd hybrid a potentially good dog is that she is one of the more common Airedale mixes.
An Airedale Terrier German Shepherd also called an Airedale Shepherd, will be a black and tan medium to large dog with an easy-going and friendly personality.
She is lively and intelligent with plenty of energy to keep older children entertained, gets along with other dogs, and shows a willing attitude to learn. Airedale Shepherds are healthy dogs with moderate grooming requirements. Read this article about 7 Best Grooming Tools For A German Shepherd.
What is the general appearance?
Airedales belong to two size classes. Those that fit the breed standard are 22 to 25 inches tall and 40 to 65 pounds. Others, once known as Roosevelt or Oorang Airedale Terriers, can be 30 inches tall and weigh over 115 pounds. The GSD is 22 to 26 inches tall and weighs 60 to 90 pounds.
The Airedale is fearless with the persistent prey drive of any terrier. He has a compact and muscular build similar to a Shepherd. However, where the German Shepherd is long and sloping, the Airedale is short- and straight-backed.
Additionally, where the Shepherd has a slight dome shape to her head, the Airedale has a barely visible stop. An Airedale’s ears are rather small and fold over rather than hang. They should orient slightly to the side, according to the AKC breed standard.
The German Shepherd is courageous with laser-sharp focus. She has large and open forward-facing upright ears. Her eyes are dark and slightly almond in shape.
Your Airedale Shepherd will be about the height of a German Shepherd at 24 to 26 inches tall but only weighing 50 to 70 pounds. You can usually see both parent breeds clearly in the mix.
Most Airedale Shepherd hybrids are black and tan. Some have markings like shepherds, and others have the solid tan head of an Airedale.
Commonly, puppies from the Airedale GSD combination will have semi-prick or rose ears, brown intelligent almond-shaped eyes, and a terrier-like muzzle and face with a scruffy or smooth appearance. Some dogs show a little elongation in the face and muzzle from the Shepherd.
Adult Airedale mixes are squarer than a purebred Shepherd with a more level back. The Airedale hybrid is also not generally as deep in the chest as a German Shepherd, although you will still observe they are broad across the shoulders.
The Airedale Shepherd mix may carry his tail in a sickle-shaped curl above his back.
As hybrids do, Airedale Shepherd mixes can vary in appearance from the common type. A few have erect ears that are smaller and more triangular than a Shepherd’s while others have drop ears against the side of their heads or folded ears that face forward more than the Airedale’s. Occasionally, one will be solid red or wheaten.
If you wonder about what a “typical” Airedale Shepherd looks like, this video is a great illustration. These littermates, presumably, are still puppies.
One looks like he will be the size and color of a Shepherd and the other more medium in build and more wheaten.
Note one has fur more like a GSD and the other the wiry hairs of the Airedale coat. Both pups show the solid head color typical of the Airedale with the black and tan saddle coloration over the body. You can also spot the semi-prick ears so common in this hybrid and the semi-curled tail.
Where did the Airedale Shepherd originate?
The German Shepherd originated as a type of live fence system, keeping sheep bunched and preventing them from wandering onto forbidden land or into hazardous situations.
The dogs would trot for long hours, patrolling the perimeters of the herd and utilizing vocalization and intimidation to keep the animals in line without nipping them. At times, the GSD would need to exhibit high bursts of speed rounding up stragglers and would-be escapees.
Thanks to Max von Stephanitz and his development of the breed from show dog Hektor, the German Shepherd developed into an indispensable working dog who served well in the military and on the police force and even as a guide dog.
Later, the GSD would prove valuable as the landscape of the military changed and lend their courage, intelligence and a keen sense of smell to bomb and narcotics detection, combat, and guarding.
Airedale Terriers came from Great Britain. In the early 1900s, desiring a dog larger than the existing ratters, factory workers around Yorkshire and the Aire Valley bred dogs for size and water proficiency. They would outcross their Black and Tan Terriers with Otterhounds and possibly retrievers.
Originally useful to hunt ducks and water rats, Airedales became about as versatile as German Shepherds. Airedales were able to pursue prey through the water, especially otters, which most terriers could not do proficiently.
The Airedale also adapted to retrieve waterfowl and hunt martens and foxes. She later found use by police officers and the armed forces. The military still uses Airedales today.
When Airedales hit the show scene, breeders would add Irish Terrier and likely Bedlington Terrier to refine their dogs’ features.
No one knows exactly when formal crossing of the Airedale Terrier and German Shepherd began, but the likely goal was a companion dog.
Founders may have sought to level the back of the Shepherd and add longevity and improve trainability in the Airedale.
The mix probably became prevalent well after the first designer dog in 1950 but never as common as popular hybrids like Labradoodles and Cockapoos.
How should you groom your Airedale Shepherd?
Your Airedale Shepherd will probably have a double coat consisting of a wiry outer coat and softer underfur. Many Airedale owners strip their dogs, a process that involves removing dead hairs of the outer coat. The result is glossier and shorter hair.
Your mix may not have a coat where stripping is desirable, but you will need to brush your dog at least two or three times a week.
Brushing decreases shedding and removes dead hairs and skin plus dirt. If your dog has fur more like an Airedale, he may be more susceptible to tangling or matting of different hair textures. Read more about 5 Best Dog Brushes For German Shepherds.
You should only need to bathe your mix every few months depending upon how much she likes dirt. Use a mild shampoo with low detergent.
Check your dog’s ears every time you trim her nails six- or eight-week intervals. Dogs with allergies are especially vulnerable to ear infections.
Will you have a good guard dog?
Airedale Terriers are generally friendly towards strangers with possibly a little coolness at the first introduction. Historically, they served in some guard capacity, but mainly potential owners seek oversized Airedales for security.
Airedales are usually not aggressive towards people.
German Shepherds have varying degrees of suspicion against strangers, but most will settle for aloof politeness with familiar guests.
A Shepherd’s socialization is crucial for him to exercise appropriate behavior in public settings. Developing social skills also helps Shepherds hone their guarding instinct, so they only attack when warranted.
With your Airedale Shepherd, you will probably see watchfulness towards unfamiliar people with barking. Therefore, your hybrid will be an excellent watchdog and should eventually become comfortable with any of your friends.
Make sure your Airedale Shepherd gets sufficient exercise
If you have ever been around a Jack Russell, you are familiar with the boundless energy of a terrier.
The Airedale was not necessarily bred for stamina, but she was a powerful swimmer and active hunter and can play all day.
Airedales need 60 to 120 minutes of exercise every day, of which a third to half that time they should spend on strenuous activity.
German Shepherds also have high energy levels and a strong work drive, requiring two or more hours of exercise. The GSD should also spend a good portion of time in a full-out run or comparative exertion and requires substantial mental stimulation.
You should plan on an hour and a half to two hours of exercise for your Airedale Shepherd, although you can split it into two or three sessions throughout the day.
Interactive exercises like Frisbee tossing, fetch, and jogging can count as strenuous, and the remaining allotment you should work on socialization, training, and medium-intensity or leisurely walking.
Airedale Shepherds are not suited for apartment living.
To the uneducated eye, your dog may not look much like a German Shepherd, but he will be relatively large and extremely active. He will not be happy to lounge around a confined space, nor will he tolerate hanging out in a yard or garden by himself.
Both Shepherds and Airedales require nearness to their people or at least a job to do. Bored dogs will resort to digging, chewing, or obnoxious barking.
What are a few health concerns of the Airedale Terrier German Shepherd mix?
Airedale Shepherds are relatively healthy, according to Doggiedesigner.com. Health issues most commonly seen in the mix are hip dysplasia, footpad disorders, and bloat. Other disorders your pup has a lower chance of inheriting are elbow dysplasia and allergies.
You should also consider urinary bladder stones, low thyroid, and immune-based disease as both parents can pass on these specific conditions.
The Airedale Terrier lives about 11 or 12 years, and the GSD can live 9 to 13 years. You can expect your hybrid to live 11 to 14 years, possibly.
Although not common enough to know for certain, the mix seems to improve on Shepherd’s problems with the nervous and muscular systems such as degenerative myelopathy and slipped disc.
How will your dog act with children and other pets?
Airedale Shepherds appear to inherit the Airedale Terrier’s humor and good nature around children. You should always supervise them, especially around younger kids, because they can exhibit a bullying personality from their terrier roots and sensitivity to perceived mishandling.
If you acquire your Airedale mix at a young age, expose her to children as early as possible.
Your Airedale Shepherd is also likely to be good around other dogs. Socializing your pet helps her to communicate appropriately with unfamiliar but friendly dogs.
Airedale mixes can thrive at dog parks and in canine competitive games or informal races. Although some German Shepherds have a problem with dog aggression, especially with the same gender, neutering your pet may decrease some of those tendencies.
Your GSD mix will not be trustworthy around small pets. Airedales hunted small animals as vermin and retained high prey drives. German Shepherds with their herding backgrounds also have a highly-developed tendency to chase small animals.
Is the Airedale Terrier GSD trainable?
Both the Airedale and German Shepherd are intelligent dogs.
The German Shepherd, commonly ranked among the top three most intelligent dogs, is highly trainable as well.
German Shepherds can show dominance around uncertain people, so confidence and firmness are paramount in the handler during training.
Airedales may be a little more difficult to train than Shepherds as they were bred to act independently. They can be stubborn or lack focus like many other terriers.
According to Petrix.com, Airedale Terriers rank similarly to Giant Schnauzers in the above-average working dog group at No. 29 of over 125 breeds.
Your Airedale Shepherd will be bright and eager to please but will demand a forceful personality to train her to be consistently obedient.