Are Airedale Terriers Good With Cats?

By John Martin - March 8, 2023

Airedale Terrier playing with a cat in the yard

As a pet owner, bringing home a new pet is always an anxious moment, especially if you have another pet at home. There is always some uncertainty involved, especially when you consider the compatibility between two different species.

If you’re planning to bring home an Airedale Terrier and already have a cat at home or vice-versa, you may be wondering if the two animals can coexist peacefully.

Known for their intelligence, loyalty and independence, Airedales have a strong prey drive and a strong-willed temperament. Furthermore, cats are highly independent creatures and can sometimes be nervous or aggressive around dogs.

The different natures of these two furry creatures may make you wary about bringing both of them together in your home. So, are Airedale Terriers good with cats? Let’s find out.

About Airedale Terriers

Bred in the Aire Valley in Yorkshire during the 1800s, Airedale Terriers were developed as hunting dogs to catch rats, otters and other small animals. These sporting dogs were used as working dogs during WWI.

Popularly called the “king of terriers”, Airedale Terriers are among the largest dogs of the breed. These sturdily built dogs grow to around 23 inches in height and have classic black and tan colored coats.

In terms of their temperament, Airedale Terriers are intelligent and strong willed. These friendly dogs are very loyal and can form very strong bonds with their families, kids and other pets. Their loyal nature makes them quite protective of their owners.

Although they have sweet and amiable personalities, Airdales can be quite stubborn. Highly energetic, these dogs are quite playful and to be happy, they need plenty of human interaction.

Being originally hunting dogs, Airedales have a very strong prey drive and are likely to chase other smaller animals such as cats, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and gerbils that they perceive as prey.

Can You Bring Home an Airedale Terrier If You Already Have a Cat?

One of the frequent questions that pet owners ask is whether you can bring home an Airedale Terrier if you already have a cat. Although there are some inherent risks, this is workable.

Bringing home an Airedale puppy to a home with a cat at a very young age will allow the Airedale puppy to adapt and learn from when they are very young.

Dogs are generally the most adaptable and receptive to changes when they are very young and are at their early stages of development. This is particularly important given how headstrong and stubborn Airedales can grow up to be.

When introducing the Airedale puppy to your cat, you must closely monitor the behavior of both pets.

If the Airedale exhibits any aggressive behaviors, you must address it firmly and sternly so that your pet understands that such behaviors are not acceptable.

Although you may introduce your Airedale puppy to your cat at a very young age and socialize your pet properly while discouraging any aggressive behavior, there is a risk of your Airedale becoming aggressive towards your cat in the future.

This is probably because of the deep-rooted natural hunting instinct that is quite difficult to completely eliminate.

Also, it is not possible to monitor your Airedale round-the-clock and so there is always a little bit of a risk of some untoward incident between your Airedale and your cat.

Can You Bring Home a Cat If You Already Have an Airedale Terrier?

On the other hand, is it possible to bring home a cat if you have an Airedale at home? Although it may not be necessarily true, introducing your grown-up Airedale Terrier to a cat can be a risky proposition.

This is because of the Airedales hunting instinct that is hard-wired into the breed, which can be challenging for your pet to suppress.

And, it is very unlikely that your Airedale Terrier will view cats as members of the family if they haven’t been socialized with them at a young age. Instead, they will view the cat as an outsider on their home turf, which will cause their prey drive to become active.

Although in general, your Airedale may be a friendly and playful dog with an amiable disposition, there is always a possibility of your pet displaying a change in their behavior and becoming aggressive towards the cat.

Even if your Airedale is good natured and generally docile, it is always best to exercise caution when bringing a cat into your home.

As a pet owner, you’re the one who truly understands your Airedale’s disposition. But it is quite important to understand that the individual personalities of every dog can vary widely within breeds.

If you’re unsure about how your pooch will behave around a new cat, then it is best to be safe and wait to bring one home.

Why Do Airedale Terriers Dislike Cats?

Not all Airedales hate cats, some get along with them. But in general, Airedales dislike cats because of their inherent hunting tendencies.

Any moving object will pique the interest of the Airedale, be it a mouse, ball or cat who views them as prey and sets off on a chase after them.

And usually, when a cat encounters a dog, including an Airedale, they tend to flee. This triggers Airedale’s strong impulse to chase them.

And, often their instinct to chase is so strong that it can nullify any socialization or training, making it rather difficult for Airedales to form friendly relationships with cats.

Socializing Your Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier in a field socializing with a cat

Socializing is extremely important for dogs in general. It helps to teach them to interact with people, as well as other animals.

The process of socialization helps to expose your Airedale Terrier to different people, animals and situations, ideally when they are very young. The objective is to teach your pet appropriate social behavior and skills via exposure and behavior enforcement.

Allowing your Airedale to interact with other pets such as other dogs, cats, etc. in a supervised setting is known as exposure. This will allow your Airedale to become familiar with other animals and regard them as fellow beings rather than prey meant to be hunted.

Behavior reinforcement is a technique that includes rewarding your Airedale Terrier for exhibiting positive behaviors like being friendly towards cats and punishing negative behaviors such as chasing or aggression.

This approach will help your Airedale to learn appropriate behaviors and develop good habits that will become their natural behaviors eventually.

By reinforcing your pet’s good behaviors and discouraging undesirable behaviors consistently, you can shape your Airedale terrier’s conduct and encourage a harmonious relationship between your pooch and other pets, including cats.

Introducing Your Airedale Terrier to Cats

Without proper socialization, introducing your Airedale Terrier to a cat can be rather risky because your dog may perceive the cat as prey or they may develop an aggressive attitude all of a sudden.

But if you’re planning on getting a cat and would like to know how your Airedale will react, it may be a good idea to first introduce your Airedale to a friend’s cat. Watch how your pet behaves around the cat. But make sure to do this under close supervision.

This will give you a fair idea of how your Airedale will react in the presence of a feline in your home. If your Airedale is friendly towards the cat, then it may mean that you can try to socialize your pooch to be accepting of cats.

But, if your Airedale launches into the attack mode as soon as they see a cat, then this may be an indication that your pet may not be tolerant towards cats and it may not be a great idea to bring home a cat.

Tips to Introduce Your Airedale Terrier to a Cat

Despite the misconception that Airedales and cats cannot coexist peacefully, it is possible. Here are a few tips to follow to introduce your Airedale to a cat.

  • Ensure that you create a safe space for your Airedale and the cat, where no other family pet can enter.
  • For the first few days, keep your Airedale and cat separated.
  • Feed both your dog and cat on either side of a closed door. This will allow one to associate the presence of the other with positive things.
  • Once both animals are calm and accepting of each other’s presence across the closed door, slowly, allow both animals to meet one another in a common space in your home. Keep the meetings very short and ensure that your Airedale is on the leash. Reward both pets for good behavior.
  • Continue these interactions every day. If your cat wants to leave, allow them to and ensure that your Airedale does not chase them. End the interaction before either pet displays any aggression or tension.
  • If both pets get along well, allow them to spend time with each other. But if they show any signs of aggression, then repeat the previous steps.

Wrapping Up

Whether your Airedale Terrier and your pet feline become best pals or sworn enemies completely depends on the personalities of both animals.

While some Airedales may adore the furry feline in your home and are open to snuggling up with them, others may view cats as objects to chase after.

But there is no reason to give up hope. With proper socialization, training, positive reinforcement and loads of patience, you can ensure that these furry creatures learn to coexist harmoniously under one roof and even form strong bonds of friendship.