Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grit & Airedale Wisdom

I get requests every now and then from young fellers that they are wanting an Airedale with the over the top aggressive traits, essentially a Pitbull that looks like an Airedale. While grit can certainly be a good thing it can also be too much of a good thing. For hunting dogs it needs to be tempered and used smartly in the right dose. I try to explain to them that aggression is something that can be overdone and while one has to admire a dog going at it head on with something like a bear, getting themselves killed or busted up is not practical not to mention all the time and effort that went down the drain put in raising up and training a hunting dog from a pup.

Another consequence of these aggressive high wired dogs is dog on dog aggression which in my opinion is about the worst fault a hunting dog can have.  For most of these young guys preaching will just not work, many times this type of thing will end up having to be a live and learn experience. When the Vet bills start piling up and dogs have to be buried, and your hunting buddies start avoiding you like the plague attitudes about wanting to own the baddest dogs in the land start to change. The fact of the matter is this over the top grit thing is just not necessary to produce a top of the line hunting dog.

Below is some Airedale Wisdom by an early old time Airedale breeder and hunter James Keefe, from my hunter's perspective it is short but sweet as they say. A lot of knowledge and in the woods experience shows in those paragraphs and I strongly agree with his statements.

Al Kranbuhl


"The Airedale has so many good qualities and shows up so differently under varying conditions, that a person who watches closely is always finding new virtues and attractive traits in them. Their gameness is now fully acknowledged universally, their fidelity and love for one master alone is unquestioned. Their keenness of nose, eye and ear is proverbial, and their value for hunting all kinds of game and as watchdogs and companions is becoming better known every day."

"One of the greatest virtues and one that makes them reliable and safe is their aloofness and their certain tact and quality of minding their own business. Most people seem to think that a game-gritty dog is necessarily "scrappy" but this is not at all true, at least not with Airedales. The owner of an Airedale is not in hot water all the time on account of dog fights and on the other hand does not have to worry much if a fight is started for he will find Mr. Airedale very much alive and it is generally the hospital for the other dog usually the aggressor in the beginning."

James Keefe

Old hunting photo of a short coated Airedale and a Bobcat that was bagged.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Henry Johnson's Quadrant System

From the "Traditional Working Airedale Board"

Long time Airedale man Henry Johnson came up with a quadrant system to describe the many different types of coat one can find on Airedale Terriers. Below is a brief description from Henry.

Now you also asked me about this quadrant system I sometimes speak of. That hasn't been used much and may not be very useful. I just laid out a straight line across the page in front of me and put the modern, long-coated show line type Airedale at the left end of the line (left being socially progressive, liberal, and politically correct) and the extreme, shorter-coated "redline" type Airedale at the right end of the line (right being conservative).
I then drew lines from the two end points down to a central point to make an inverted pyramid and put old Airedale Jerry at that point (they all come from him, you know). Then I divided the horizontal line into four equal parts and connected the dividing points to the center point at the bottom. That gave me four quadrants, with the modern, longer coated dog being in the 1st quadrant and the classic "redline" type Airedale being in the 4th quadrant. There are all possible variations between the two extremes. I don't use this classification much and don't really know how practical it is, but my own breeding goal was and is the third quadrant dog.
By the way, I also used to say that the modern show line dog of the 1st quadrant type has been "much improved" over old Airedale Jerry, whereas the 4th quadrant dog is the same conservative, old "unimproved" type that Airedale Jerry was. Some people say that the "redline" type dog has more natural hunting drive than the 1st and 2nd quadrant Airedales do. I can't prove it myself but am inclined to believe that is true more often than not.
Henry Johnson
Liberal left Number I quadrant showing a couple of today's so called improved modern type Airedales with their soft sheep type coats left to grow out in their natural state. From my hunter's point of view I really can not make much of a positive case for a long soft curly coat such as those on these two Airedales pictured, it is just not practical.
Conservative right Number 4 quadrant at the other end of the spectrum, an actual picture of old Airedale Jerry, he is what we call a Redline type today. Airedale Jerry was born in England in 1888 and is said to be the foundation sire of the entire Airedale breed. Airedales with a coat length similar to old Jerry's were fairly common in the early days. Being a relatively young breed it does not take a genetic engineer to figure out why one of these Redline Airedales will occur in a litter from time to time even today.

Here is a bit more to compliment Henry's description I decided to try my best to put some pictures together that would help out explaining the "Quadrant System, you know they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I have owned Airedales whose coats pretty much run the gamut of Henry's quadrants and have a few pictures of them in their natural ungroomed coats to get an idea of what Henry was trying to explain.


One of my old half Mooreland bred dogs, "Mr. T" a real hair bag as you can see, his coat is long everywhere on his body. It got even longer than shown here, lots of clipping and stripping.

QUADRANT 2. Tee Jay Mack

TJ, His coat will fall midway between old Pete and old Mr. T. He is combed out with a stripping comb on a regular basis so in an unclipped state his coat would be longer than shown here especially on his body. The biggest differences between TJ and the other two is the coat length on his head and body. Left to grow TJ's coat will get long enough to require some type stripping or clipping to keep the burrs and stickers to a minimum during hunting season.

QUADRANT 3. Texas Pete

Pete here has my favorite coat type, very hard wiry coat that lays close to the body, what you see here is the way it pretty much stays. Easy to take care of with just a pair of scissors, good old fashioned Airedale look. Nice natural short coat with just enough length that makes him looked like a well groomed Airedale all the time.

QUADRANT 4. Attila The Slick

This is "Slick" and he is a full blown number 4 Redline, as his name reveals he has a very short, very hard coat, similar to the coat of old time "Airedale Jerry".

"Slick" was the only pup in his litter with the Redline look, all his siblings grew up looking like what most consider to be a "typical"  Airedale with the longer wire coat.

This type of coat is pretty rare, I am in my fifth decade with Airedales and in all that time I have had about a half dozen total show up in my litters. They take a little getting used to but they sure are practical and I have to say they grow on you once you have one.

What is amazing is Slick is closely related to all of the above dogs and his mother had a number 2 coat and his dad is Pete pictured above him. And one more comment about old "Slick", in my lifetime I have owned and trained many Airedales and have been around many more owned by other folks. I can say emphatically that "Slick", other than his short coat is all Airedale in every way one would measure an Airedale!!

Now getting back to the coats, of course there will be coats that will fall in between these but one should be getting the idea behind the quadrant system and I hope this helps.

Al Kranbuhl