The Airedale Terrier is named for its birthplace, the valley (dale) between the Aire and the Wharfe rivers in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. In the mid-19th century, working-class people there created the Airedale by crossing the rough-coated Black-and-Tan Terrier (now known as the Welsh Terrier) with the Otterhound. The Kennel Club of England formally recognized the Airedale Terrier breed in 1886.

The first Airedale exported to the United States was named Bruce. In 1881, shortly after his arrival, he won the terrier class in a New York dog show.

Two Airedales were among the dogs lost with the sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, including Kitty, who belonged to John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest passenger aboard the ship. (One story has it that Astor was the one who released all the dogs in Titanic’s kennels, some of which survived.)

During World War I, Airedale Terriers were extensively used to carry messages to soldiers behind enemy lines, transport mail, and help the Red Cross find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. There are numerous stories of Airedales delivering their messages despite terrible injuries. Before the German Shepherd Dog became the breed of choice for law enforcement work, Airedale Terriers often filled this role.

After the war, the popularity of Airedales increased dramatically, thanks to stories of their bravery on the battlefield and also because Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding all owned Airedales. “An Airedale,” Teddy Roosevelt once said, “can do anything any other dog can do and then lick the other dog, if he has to.”