Airedale Terrier vs Fox Terrier

By John Martin - October 8, 2022

Airedale Terrier side by side Fox Terrier

These are two thoroughly impressive dogs even though they have different origins and work in different ways. Here’s all you need to know about their history, appearance, temperament, health conditions and more.


Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is the largest of all the terriers and it was first created almost by accident in 1853. The attempt was to create a sporting dog that could help hunt rats on land and otters in the water.

The resultant dog was a sporting terrier that had a good scent and swim game. In 1900, the Airedale Terrier Club of America was formed. These dogs were used extensively in World War I to carry ammunition, food and more. They were sentries, messengers and ambulance dogs, guard dogs and sled dogs as well.

After that, many presidents like Calvin Coolidge, Warren Harding and Theodore Roosevelt increased their fame by getting one. However, the dog’s popularity declined as German Shepherds have been used over the years to fill these jobs.

Fox Terrier

The Fox Terrier, on the other hand, has a vastly different history. It was popular in 18th century England when hunters first felt the need to develop the Smooth Fox Terrier because they wanted a dog that could drive foxes out of their hiding spots.

There were a few varieties of this dog, but by the end of the 19th century, a standard was established. In 1876, the Fox Terrier Club was formed in England and the standard was accepted and kept in place for decades.

In 1879, Smooth Fox Terriers were brought to the US, and a few years later, the American Fox Terrier Club was formed. It was the first specialty club that joined the American Kennel Club as a member.


A male Airedale Terrier is a large dog that grows up to 23 inches in height and weighs 50 to 65 pounds. The female dogs of this breed are a bit shorter, possibly 21 inches, and weigh 40 to 55 pounds.

The Fox Terriers, on the other hand, are shorter and grow to be only 12 to 15 inches and they weigh 15 to 19 pounds.


This, of course, depends on the amount of care a dog gets. But the breed is also an important factor.

Airedale Terriers have a lifespan of 10 to 13 years, while Fox Terriers can live for 10 to 15 years.


Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier outside wanting to play

Airedale Terriers are healthy dogs, but they are prone to some health conditions. So, you should check health clearances from Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or OFA.

This will help assess the risk of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease and hypothyroidism.

  • Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the thighbone isn’t in alignment with the hip joint. In some dogs, a little limp gives it away, while others don’t show any signs.
  • Allergies are also a common problem in Airedales and they usually have problems with certain foods and contact allergies from beddings, shampoos, flea powders and chemicals. They also have problems with airborne allergens like mildew, dust and pollen.
  • And finally, you should watch out for hypothyroidism in Airedales because it can lead to epilepsy, obesity, alopecia, lethargy and other skin conditions, like hyperpigmentation.

Changes in diet and medication can help solve the problem, but you must diagnose them first.

Fox Terrier

Fox Terrier

Fox Terriers have a different set of problems. These are also healthy dogs that don’t come with a lot of health problems, but there are some conditions that you must know about.

Those who are getting a pup from a breeder should ask for health clearances in this case as well to make sure that a puppy with these conditions isn’t bred. Ideally, you should see a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation for their eyes, which is a problem area.

Now, some clearances don’t come through if the dog is less than two years old because some conditions don’t show up till the dog matures fully. So, make sure your breeder isn’t breeding from dogs that are too young.

  • Now, white Fox Terriers are prone to deafness, which means you will need to have a lot of patience and spend a lot of time with them. There are a few hearing aids and vibrating collars that can make things easy, but this is something to watch out for. And it’s hereditary, which means you should inform the breeder so that they don’t breed more dogs from the same genetic pool.
  • As mentioned earlier, eyes are a problem area as well, and more often than not, cataract is an issue with Fox Terriers. It makes your dog’s vision cloudy, and the problem usually shows up in old age.
  • Then there is the Legg-Perthes disease which is usually seen in small dogs. It’s a deformity in the ball of your dog’s hip joint. A lot of people confuse it with hip dysplasia, but they are not the same. This condition causes your dog to wear down a lot and might also lead to arthritis eventually.

Rehabilitation therapy can help, and a lot of the time, the prognosis for this condition is good.


One of the things you need to think about is the dog’s ability to adapt to your living conditions. For instance, not all dogs can adjust to living in apartments.

That doesn’t make the dog a bad breed, but there are factors to be considered before you get a dog that can cause problems in terms of noise levels, shedding, smell, energy levels and size.

Airedale Terriers don’t fare so well in this area, especially when compared to Fox Terriers. The latter do better in an apartment and can be left alone for a few hours as well.

Physical Activity Requirements

Airedale Terrier

It’s important to give your pup the amount of exercise they need so that they are both healthy and happy. Sometimes, exercise plays a key role in keeping the dog calm as well, which will reduce the possibility of destructive behavior.

Now, both these breeds of dogs need a lot of exercise. A lot in this context means 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity, preferably every day.

So, you will have to think beyond just taking them out for a walk because the dog needs to be tired. Now let’s get into specifics.

Airedales were bred to be sporting dogs, which means even today, they are working dogs. They have a lot of stamina and energy, which needs to be spent.

So, they need to be taken on a walk at least once a day. Two walks are preferred.

Apart from that, they should have a lot of play in the backyard if you have one or a park. These dogs love to goof around, swim and retrieve objects since that’s why they were originally bred.

Airedales are also great jogging companions. So, if you take them along, you might get tired, but they will still be ready to go.

Fox Terrier

On the other hand, Fox Terriers might be small in size, but that doesn’t mean they will do well in an apartment. These dogs need to be kept in a fenced area that is secure.

They have a lot of energy and tend to run away if and when they can. An electronic fence will not do you a lot of good because there isn’t much that can stop them from chasing a rabbit, cat or a car.

These dogs have very strong instincts when it comes to hunting, so they will chase any object that moves without a moment’s notice.

This is also why you should keep them on a leash when you take them out. These dogs are not great even in dog parks because they are always looking to pick a fight.

Basically, these dogs need vigorous exercise on a daily basis for 30 to 45 minutes. That will get them tired and will control the possibility of destructive behavior.

Hot Weather Tolerance

You need to make sure that your dog can tolerate the climate where you live.

When it comes to these two dogs, both these breeds have the ability to handle some hot weather, but you should take that with a pinch of salt.

When it gets really hot, you must be cautious and make sure that they are nourished well.

When the weather outside is hot, you should keep an eye out and make sure that they have enough water and shade at all times. You must also make sure that you give them the exercise they need in the mornings or late evenings when it’s not smoldering outside.

Keep them away from pavements if you think that the ground is very hot when you touch it with your hand. That means it is really hot for their paws as well.

Cold Weather Tolerance

Cold weather is usually not a problem as long as the temperature doesn’t fall under 45 degrees F. When the mercury drops under that, some dogs start showing signs of visible discomfort.

And if the temperature falls under 32 degrees F, parents of small dogs should take extra care so that they don’t fall sick. When the temperature falls even further and goes under 20 degrees F, there is a risk of frostbite and hypothermia for all dogs.

Both these dog breeds actually do fairly well when it gets really cold outside. So, it’s best to follow the generic rules that are applicable to all dogs of their size.


A lot of this depends on the immediate environment of the dog. You should also take into account whether they have been trained and socialized well enough.

But if everything is done as per requirements, you can expect both of these breeds of dogs to be excellent companions.

Both of them have friendly personalities and they are outgoing in nature. So, these dogs are a good pick for families.

They are prone to showing a lot of affection and get along really well with everyone in the family.

Both breeds also react well to children and tend to dote on the little ones. They are likely to be gentle and friendly but the temperament of the dog depends on its immediate environment, as mentioned earlier.

Guarding Behavior

Both these dogs make for good watchdogs because they are suspicious in nature. While they love their family, Airedales and Fox Terriers are not too kind when it comes to dealing with strangers.

They can be very protective, which is why you need to train them with that in mind.

Ease of Training

All dogs need some amount of obedience training and these two breeds are no exception. These are highly intelligent dogs, which means it is not too hard to train them.

Luckily for you, they are not very stubborn either, but training them needs some patience and as always, consistency.


Both these dogs have quite a few similarities as well as differences. They are excellent watchdogs and love their families.

They are sporting breeds and are very intelligent. Fox Terriers love to chase anything that moves while Airedales can reign themselves in.

And both of them need a lot of exercise, so get your running shoes out.