From the pages of the Traditional Working Airedale message board.
This is a little piece I wrote a few years ago for Full Cry as a tribute Gordon Moore and his famous Mooreland Airedales. It never made the Full Cry and actually it is the second time this article was assembled as I had the hard drive crap out on my computer where it was stored and lost the works. I have recovered bits and pieces and have slowly put the thing back together. Many of the pictures are not the best, they were from old brochures and captured frames from a VHS video that I took while on a visit to the Mooreland kennel. I could not recover it all but I got a good part of it. I hope it gives just a bit of credit and insight to one of the best hunting strains of American Airedales Terriers ever in my opinion. :)
There are quite a few pictures in this piece so if you have an old fashioned dial up IP like me the whole thing will take a little time to unfurl. ;) You might also have to hit the refresh button a time or two to get them all to unload.
Mooreland "GUS", this fine Airedale was owned by Richard Augusta, California, Gus is out of the famous Mooreland stud "Fire Boss" who is also pictured down below. October 1979
When a man and a couple of his Airedales change your life forever I think some words about this fellow are in order. The man I am talking about is Gordon Moore who for many years ran the Mooreland Kennel out of Sparta Tennessee. Mr. Moore does not have a clue on how he has affected my life, to him I am probably just one of many customers that obtained a couple of Airedales from him. I can say with certainty that a single Airedale from that kennel taught me more about the ins and outs of hunting dogs than anything else in my life. This dog had such an profound effect on me that in the end it virtually determined my lifestyle, where I live, my job, vehicles and even this message board and much more as my life went to the dogs LOL. And it was not only me, anybody that had the opportunity to see this special dog in action never forgot him. I still have my buddies bring up old Rex when the subject of great hunting dogs arises. 1967 was the year, the Mooreland Airedale was Rex and he introduced me to the to the Airedale breed as hunting dogs, I have been obsessed with Airedale Terriers ever since. ;D
Moreland Kennel, Sparta Tennessee, 1992, Two of the last pure Mooreland Airedales. The picture quality stinks and does not do these two dogs justice. Two big heavy eared bruisers, I would have liked to brought home either one.
For those who are not familiar with Gordon Moore and his Airedales he ran his operation from the fifties up to the early nineties. Moore's Airedales were not show dogs, his Airedales were of the large, hunting type and promoted as such. Advertising ran in the classified sections of all the major outdoor magazines such as Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, and Sports Afield. The Mooreland strain and the Ouachita strain were the two best known hunting lines in the US during this period and both were of the large type. Although Mr. Moore bred and advertised large sized Airedales he told Henry and myself that he did not necessarily favor the large type exclusively. He came right out and said the public for what ever the reason associated large Airedales as ones that could hunt and that is what they wanted. Being a business man he bred what his customers wanted but acknowledged and rightly so that good hunting Airedales came in every size.
In their day the reputation of the Mooreland Airedales as hunting dogs was legendary. I have had conversations with so many former owners of this strain and the stories are consistent. The praises sound like a record playing over and over again. Time after time I heard tales about about individuals from a strain of Airedales that were the real deal and actually did duplicate all of the types of hunting we read about in old books and magazines and did it the right way. This information has all jived with my own experience with these Mooreland Airedales. I can assure you that all Airedales are not created equal when it comes to hunting ability, my Mooreland Airedales were in a league of their own.
A picture of a Mooreland pup, notice the heavy-houndy ears which seem to have been typical of many Mooreland Airedales I have seen. This young Airedale could almost pass for an Otterhound.
One of my present Airedales, He has a good percentage of Mooreland breeding, Again notice the heavy-houndy ears. I believe those ears are showing these dogs have a strong Otterhound influence and probably one of the reasons they have such good noses. I would rate the Mooreland Airedale's nose and their ability as track dogs right up there and on par with medium nosed hound.
Another picture of the same Airedale illustrating what I call a Mooreland head.
Another quality that many Mooreland Airedales seem to have is they will open some on the track. Not like a hound but enough so you know where they are and can keep track of them. It makes things much easier when hunting them alone. A high percentage of them also make tree dogs as they seem to have this trait bred into them fairly strong. Remember the biggest weakness of the Airedale breed as a hunting dog is treeing ability, (after all they are Terriers) it is a inherited bred in trait so when you find a line of dogs that possess it you have something special indeed.
One of the best traits of this strain is their temperament which was just absolutely perfect for a hunting dog. My Moorelands had not a mean bone in their body, they got along well with all my hounds and loved people. But Mr. on game they they were something, they turned things on big time when the time came and it counted if you know what I mean.
This temperament thing is huge, one of the first things you will hear from a hunter that uses dogs and the subject is about Airedales is dog aggression. This is especially true with houndsmen that would like to add an Airedale to their pack for an increase in octane in the grit department. Because of the ruff-tuff Airedale reputation they think they are problem dogs and many will not take a chance on trying them for fear of fights and ruining their dogs. As a recent poll I did on hunting dog faults shows, with several thousand responses submitted from HUNTERS, "DOG AGGRESSION" is the "NUMBER ONE" concern with hunters that use dogs by far and rightly so. Anyone that has actually seen and dealt with the devestating results an ill tempered dog can have on other dogs while out hunting will promote it to the top of their list of faults in a hurry. When these Airedales are bred right there should be no problems hunting them with other dogs. Tough with grit and guts to spare yes, dog aggression absolutely not.
An Airedale that is bred for hunting should not go around jumping other dogs starting fights for no reason. When it comes to other trouble making dogs they should have confidence and an attitude to try and stay away from trouble, "but not be a coward". In other words if they could talk they would be saying " look friend leave me alone because I do not want to fight", "but if you keep pushing your luck I can and will kick your ass and kick it good".
Mr. Moore looking over a couple of young Mooreland Airedales
I can't say I know Gordon Moore well but I have had quite a bit of correspondence through mail and phone conversations along with a visit to his Kennel along with my good friend Henry Johnson. When you talk to anyone that ever dealt with Mr. Moore he could come across as Henry would say a bit "crusty." I actually can understand this as there is not many days that go by that I am not called or get emails about Airedales. With the long lived operation of his kennel I am sure Mr. Moore had to get his fair share of Airedale talk-questions. We have to remember most of the time that he was in business there was no email and most correspondence was hand written snail-mail, he licked a lot of stamps in his day I bet. I do not care how much you love the breed but sometimes the constant load plus time involved and just repeating yourself over and over gets to be a bit much. So much so that as Henry said it will make you a bit crusty in the temperament department. In fact with some of the baloney and foolishness floating around out there in the Airedale world I do not have much tolerance or sense of humor and can become a bit crusty myself. ;) So I am sure we all would feel there are days it would be nice to have a break from the same old, same old. ;)
Henry telling a tall tale!
I got along quite well with the man once conversation got rolling I found him interesting and easy to talk to. We had several things in common such as our farms and the types of animals we raised. Gordon was also an avid varmint hunter (chucks) and we had some of the same taste in rifles and in the calibers they were chambered in. I remember well the target he showed me shot from his Ruger 77 which was his and one of my favorite rifle models. Besides his farm and kennel Mr. Moore also owned and operated a local AM radio station. He also seemed to like mechanical tinkering and making things, he had a real nice shop for the projects he indulged in. He was proud to show off his improved version of an electric fence charger he developed and produced in limited numbers that was a local favorite among area farmers. I found his bream and catfish ponds interesting, a handful of fish feed would bring the fish to the top where we could get a good look at them and they were beauties. These fish could not be caught with much success with a rod and reel. Another invention was developed to catch them. They would be lured into a small area that could be charged with electricity, the fish would be stunned and come to the top of the water. A fresh fish dinner was a landing net away. I would say Mr. Moore lived a quite diverse and interesting lifestyle.
Some of the buildings and runs at Mooreland Kennel
The visit to the Mooreland Kennel was one heck of a big deal to me. As corny as it sounds this was almost hallowed ground to me. Here was THE breeder and kennel responsible for producing the best hunting dog I ever owned and made me an Airedale man for life. There it all was as in the pictures burnt in my memory from those brochures I got from Mr. Moore. I wore the pages out looking at them over and over when I was just a kid in the mid sixties. I spent a lot of hours dreaming of the day I would get to have one of his great Airedales for my own.
The kennel was actually split and located on two separate properties. One facility was next to his Radio Station in Sparta. This I believe is what would be called the breeding facility, all breeding stock was housed there. Matings were made and pups were whelped and raised here. The other location was on Mr. Moore's farm and that was where the young dogs were located. Big fenced yards and plenty of room to run and get some exercise back away from the road. A real nice well thought out setup.
At the Sparta facility a big Mooreland female getting ready to whelp, it was pretty hot on this day and she was just trying to stay cool.
My visit took place in the early nineties and I could see then that the handwriting was on the wall. Mr. Moore was in his seventies running things by himself, the buildings were starting to need a lot of repair and upkeep. At that time I do not think he had a dozen Airedales total, far fewer than in the kennel's heyday. Sadly it was plain to see that things at Mooreland kennel were winding down.
Henry Johnson and Gordon Moore looking over some of the last of the Mooreland Airedales
The Mooreland Airedales
Gordon Moore, Henry Johnson and Tim Findlay looking over some Airedales at the Sparta facility.
Here is a bit of information and quotes Mr. Moore gave out in brochures about his philosophy on the Mooreland Airedale strain.
Like many Airedale people Mr. Moore's introduction to the breed was from his dad who owned them in the 20s and 30s. He grew up around Airedales, fell in love with the breed and just kept the ball rolling.
The official startup of the Mooreland kennel breeding program started in 1957.
"The strain was of quality necessary, not only to possess superb hunting and working qualities and abilities but also an Airedale pleasing to the eye."
"Our Standard varies considerably from the standard of the AKC and Airedale Terrier Club of America. Their standard has proven inadequacies as to gait, speed guts and endurance."
Young Mack pictured below my last pure Mooreland, I raised just one litter out of him and he produced some great dogs. Mr T just below was one of them.
This is Mr T he is out of Mack and was half Mooreland, this guy was a good one. Again notice the ear set which is what I call heavy-houndy, it was fairly typical on the Moorelands. Another thing is they had big wide heads with some space between their ears. Not the elongated narrow headed type Airedales that seem to becoming popular with the show crowd these days.
"We want markings pleasing to the eye. deep rich black and tan color. Well developed bone that shows refinement."
"We want them larger than the AKC standard, as large as possible with males not less than 75 lbs and larger if possible. But not at the sacrifice of good conformation and agility. Females would be of course would be around 10 lbs lighter in most cases. Only the very best individuals can be used for breeding".
As you can see looking at the pedigree of the "Fire Boss" dog below Moore used quite a bit of Oorang breeding in his Airedales. I noticed that my Mooreland Airedales also had quite a few Oorang dogs showing in their pedigrees.
"Another spot in which the Airedale fits very well is an all-around dog for the city dweller, who loves a bit of outdoor sport in the woods and fields, but who can not keep more than one dog. here again the Airedale is a "jack of all trades".
"On the farm he makes a splendid sheep and cattle dog. When not in use for these chores he will answer for a sporting dog whether it is for hunting rabbits, squirrels, possums coons, or as a waterfowl retriever or hunting upland birds."
Michelle Schwenneker's Mooreland bred Airedale "Daisy" who has a job of keeping the farm free of vermin
This is one of my Airedales his name is Rex and he is out of Michelle's Daisy pictured above.
"The Airedale is an ambitious dog to a much greater extent than most breeds. Leave him to follow his master to the pastures a few times and he will soon learn how to drive stock."
"With effortless training there is no limit to his capacity. You will pay attention to his bark for he will seldom bark without cause, if ever a dog slept with one eye open it is an Airedale."
The Airedale as a companion
"His natural Terrier playfulness and eagerness to please comes about through devotion for his owner and not through viciousness The Airedale is a sensitive, responsive dog and will return many times over the care and affection invested in him. There is nothing better than an Airedale who has grown along with you in wisdom and understanding."
The Mooreland kennel was a very large operation in it's heyday. Moore gave me a number of pups he shipped during one of his best years and while I do not remember the exact number it was huge. In the early days he said he would bring a truck load of pups in crates to the train station in Nashville. They were sent all around the country by train. Of course later on everything was shipped by air.
In today's politically correct climate he would surely be branded as a puppy mill operator.
Although he hunted his dogs personally I believe he also relied a lot on his hired help, friends that hunted his dogs, and feedback from customers for performance information and evaluation. Mr. Moore would use that feedback for his decision making when it came to breeding. When handling that large of a number of hunting dogs it would be the only way. In truth he had a operation that followed a formula that was very similar to the old Oorang Kennel except on a smaller scale.
This is a reproduction of a newspaper article from one Mr. Don Kimsey, credit is to be given to the Albany Journal.
This article is a typical one in that the stories I have heard are very similar from many many Mooreland Airedale owners, minus the murder part of course.
By Don Kimsey, Georgia,
This is the story of a dog, not just an ordinary dog but a life saving thoroughbred Airedale out of the hills of Tennessee who disappeared in a sensational murder case in Albany and has not been heard or seen since.
The Airedale pup was shipped to me via air express, from the Mooreland Kennels in Tennessee. The owner and I both desired to see how an Airedale, essentially a cold weather type, could live and compete with other good dogs in this section. He outdid them all.
That is the story and here are the details.
I bought the Airedale as a companion, but soon I was to learn he was more than that. Before half grown we were walking through a pecan grove and he froze and pointed at a clump of grass. "You silly dog", I thought "what do you think you are?" I was amazed when I flushed a covey of quail under his point. I was to be more amazed later.
Full grown, this great hunting Airedale and this writer experienced the most hair raising episode in all my years of hunting and fishing.
The foreman of a big plantation near Albany gave me permission to hunt the big wild boar hogs that were plaguing his good swine stock, tearing down fences and pens to get the sows and otherwise creating havoc.
Late one chilly autumn day, I set out into the dense wetlands of the plantation with the dog to try my luck with one of the big boars. I knew they were rough and tough and could kill or cripple a hunter in less time it takes to tell about it.
I hunted for several hours and did not sight a boar, but as it turned out one ran across me. In the fading light I was walking back to my car. taking the route in a shallow leaf filled ditch to avoid the underbrush, My Airedale was taking a different route, out of the ditch but near me. Suddenly I heard a snort and a noise ahead of me in the ditch. Hardly before I could realize it a huge boar hog was coming at me at full speed.
I will not dramatize, just tell what happened. I had three buckshot shells in my magnum 12 ga Browning automatic shotgun and unloaded them into the charging boar as fast as I could hoping for head shots.
Needless to say, I was startled, frightened and nervous but at the same time felt sure that those three magnum loads would stop that big beast, even though lighting in the setting sun in the woods made shooting difficult.
The boar did not hesitate, he kept coming at my best estimate about forty feet away. In a panic I turned to scramble out of the ditch. My right boot slipped on the ground and I went to my knees, but was up instantly hoping to reach a tree or climb something.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw my Airedale, like a hurtling bundle of fury hit the boar sideways. And quicker than I could imagine even now, had clamped his big jaws and teeth into the boar's neck spine and was tearing twisting with indescribable strength.
However, my dog's efforts probably were not needed as the boar was dying in his charge as the Airedale hit him. The big tusker had no fight left. The buckshot had torn the big brute's head to pieces. He was no more than twenty feet from me and I still remember those long knife like tucks and those red eyes.
After hugging and patting up my Airedale looking over the big pig and composing myself somewhat, I drove back to the plantation foreman's home and told him what happened. He said I was lucky and if I hunted in that section again, near the creek, always be extra cautious and if possible bring a hunting partner with me. He said he would take care of the boars carcass as I wanted no part of it. Sometime later he advised me that the tusker weighed around 250 lbs. Why the boar charged I'll never know, unless the ditch I was walking in was a regular escape route for him, or he scented or saw my dog and did not see me at first.
Incidentally my big Airedale was out of thoroughbred linage of boar hunting Airedales in Tennessee. He was one of the best duck and quail retrievers I have ever seen. He would point and back up points with the best dogs in this region. When needed he would circle and drive deer in our direction, not just chase them. An unusual thing was that he always gave the other dogs the "breaks", seeming smiling and then moving in to do his job.
Despite his direct descendency from aristocracy in the Airedale breed, with a name as long as your arm, my youngest son insisted that he be named "Butchie" and that was that.
When Butchie saved an elderly lady's life, it was quite an occasion in Leesburg, Ga. We were at a friend's home and Butchie was chained outside to a comfortable dog house. When a fire broke out in the woman's house, across the street, Butchie broke his chain and and dashed to the front porch of the burning home. His frantic barking aroused neighbors, who with the help from firemen, got the woman out and revived her.
The story of this remarkable, intelligent dog, at last is one that haunts me constantly.
A well know local politician, running for office, persuaded me to loan him Butchie for two weeks to keep him company and to travel with him in his car. The politician was murdered (shot) and Butchie has not been seen or heard of since.
Many searches and investigations have been made but no sign or trace of this great dog. There was no indication Butchie was with the man when he was murdered. The murderer was caught tried and convicted, but he said he knew nothing of the dog. All this is a matter of public record in the Dougherty and Worth counties.
I always will remember Butchie close at heart. I remember the time when I blew a rattlesnake's head off in Lee county and bent down to pick up the reptile to count it's rattles. Butchie grabbed me gently by the arm and would not let me touch it until he himself was assured it was dead.
I remember the times near our home when Butchie made it a regular chore to look after the school children. He would gently nudge them back on to the sidewalk out of the street and always stand between the children and cars.
No dog could whip him, as it says in the dog book. A pit Bull, a vicious animal attacked him once and Butchie killed him almost instantly. Also a huge and mean German Shepherd attacked Butchie and the Airedale merely knocked him off his feet and held him down with his feet until the Shepherd cooled off. From then on they were good friends.
But enough about my dog, Airedales come in different sizes, b ut if you want to get a real dog get one of the great hunting types. In a final tribute to Butchie-my goodness I could even talk to him.
(I would like to make one more comment on Mr Kimsey's article and it is his very last sentence that rang so true for me. My Mooreland Airedale Rex I could talk to and I swear he knew what I was saying.) He was by far the most intelligent animal I ever knew.
Mack pictured here is my last pure Mooreland Airedale, he was getting a tour of the farm not long after I picked him up at the Airport. Neither of my pure Mooreland Airedales were exceptionally big, both Rex and Mack ended up around 75lbs to maybe 80lbs. Most of the dogs I saw at the kennel were around 80 to 85 lbs, I know some Moorelands did get up in the 100lb range.
Another comment I would like to make was that my first Mooreland Airedale Rex had what would be today considered a Redline type coat much like my Texas Pete dog. Very short and hard with minimal furnishings. I did ask Mr. Moore about the short coats and he referred to them as "old fashioned Airedale coats". That so called "old fashioned coat" was the terminolgy used by most Airedale folks years ago until Henry gave the look and type a definitve name "Redline". As you can see on little Mack his coat was not very fuzzy and ended up as a medium length coat as an adult.
Well it is all over but the crying now, the kennel is now closed for more than ten years and no more. The last time I talked to Gordon Moore he had just a couple of Airedales left. Believe me I tried in every way I could to pry one of those dogs away from him but it was no go. Mr. Moore has since had open heart surgery and the last I knew he was still alive but every time I called I could never get hold of him. Probably about as sick of me pestering him as a body could be, and he would have to be in his eighties as I write this.
In closing this little piece I have to say one thing. Back on that visit to his kennel that one of the biggest blunders I have ever made was not bringing back a couple of the last of those pure Mooreland Airedales. I am still kicking myself over that. As the old saying goes "You Snooze You Lose"!
While I still have Mooreland blood in most of my Airedales it has become more and more diluted as time goes by and I am still always on the lookout for Mooreland blood in high percentage.
While I still have Mooreland blood in most of my Airedales it has become more and more diluted as time goes by and I am still always on the lookout for Mooreland blood in high percentage.