Monday, September 12, 2011

Improving The Airedale Breed (HUNTING)

I often get inquiries by hunters looking into the Airedale breed as hunting dogs wanting to know what their shortcomings are. In my opinion there are two things that hold these dogs back from main stream hunters giving them a serious shot.

It is well known that many early Airedales were used by poachers, silent hunting dogs were the choice as so not to get caught. Well that may have been fine for the old time poachers in the Britain but today in North America a little bit of voice on the hunt would sure make a big difference and an asset.

Lets face the facts, much of the game hunted here in the US will take to climbing trees, over time the popular hunting dogs breeds like Curs and Hounds have been adapted and bred for this type of hunting.

So number one on my list is an elevation percentage wise in the hunting lines of good bred in natural treeing instinct. This would provide a marked improved performance on small game like Bobcat, Possums, Squirrels and Coon, and also on the big game side we have Lion and Bear.

Wayne Hill's "Katie" with treed Bear.


My personal experience has been mixed I have owned a couple of good hard lock down treeing Airedales that located and barked as nice as one could want. Many were what I would call fair tree dogs, they would bark and hold tree long enough I could get in to them in time to see the tree they were on before they quit, I can at least live with that!

The Airedales that are the most frustrating are the ones that are doing everything right but just do not bark. They will get out and strike a track, they have enough nose to move that track out and will locate the correct tree and not utter a bark! You will find them jumping, climbing, and biting on the tree but other than maybe some whining, no barks.

You then will have some that just do not have a clue at the tree, zero tree sense.

The other thing I would like to see more of in the breed is being just a bit vocal on track. No I don't expect an Airedale to run track like a bawl mouth Hound, but I like to hear at least enough noise so I can keep track of a race running a lone dog. It is pretty hard to follow a hunting dog in heavy cover that does not give at least some voice. I believe barking treed and being open on track are somewhat intertwined. I have noticed that my best treeing Airedales also said something when they were tracking.

As the old timers say "You will reap what you sow", if you want a treeing dog you have to breed from dogs that locate and tree, the same goes for open track dogs. As with any other hunting breed it takes hunting and testing on game to expose the Airedales that possess these traits.

As group we have to keep our eyes open for the Airedales that exhibit these good and essential traits for hunting much of the game pursued in this part of the world..

A group of people can get a lot accomplished by working together. I can see no reason why the Airedales of today can not be brought back up on a par with the old Traditional hunting American Airedales that by most accounts seemed to have these traits pretty well entrenched in their makeup.

One more thing, to those within and those looking to join the Airedale community, that stand on the sidelines bickering, bitching and crabbing about the Airedale's short comings and what should be done to improve the Airedale's performance. I say to them get to work and practice what you preach, don't worry about what others do and things you can not control. Lead by example, if you produce good hunting Airedales they will speak for themselves and you!

Lets get them in the woods on game and see what they got!

Al Kranbuhl

Old photo showing some old time Airedale coon dogs owned by Donald Johnson of Staffordsville VA. It was said his Airedales could out coon hunt any hounds in that area. An illustration showing that there was a time when Airedales were pretty fair tree dogs.

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