This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
"It would perhaps be as well to mention here, that when Airedale terriers proper are born they resemble the smooth black and tan terrier in coat and colour, having a black, glossy, smooth coat, and tanned legs, with dark heads; and during their growth from puppyhood to fully-developed adult dogs, their coats and colour undergo as radical a change as their limbs and body, the black colour leaving the heads and giving place to a deep tan, and the hair on back getting stronger, longer, and more dense. I have come across many cases where there have been whole litters destroyed immediately after their birth, under the impression that they were so many mongrels, and worthless, having black heads and smooth coats. Another experience of mine, which may be of use to the amateur, is the explanation of the badger grizzle coat we desire in the Airedale terrier. If you notice, some of the younger Airedale terriers that are now winning prizes at our principal shows are to all appearance black coated, and you, of course, wonder where the badger grizzle comes in; pull out a few of the supposed black hairs you will notice at once that one half of each hair is black and the other half grey, or two distinct colours on each hair; and this is the reason such coats are called badger-grizzled.
"This can easily be verified by the examination of a badger hair shaving-brush, which you will find exactly as I say, each hair having two distinct colours. This peculiarity has misled a lot of amateurs. I remember in particular a rather amusing incident which occurred not long ago. A particular friend of mine sold an Airedale terrier to a gentleman of position. He had the dog on approval, and liked him very much. A few weeks later he wrote saying that he was delighted with the dog, and liked him better every day. Shortly after this my friend received another letter from this gentleman making some very serious imputations against him, saying that he had dyed the dog's coat black, and enclosing some hair black at one end and grey at the other as proof, and threatening to take criminal proceedings against him for fraud. My friend was of course very much upset, but I explained to him that all Airedale terriers were like that. He had never noticed it himself before.
"He wrote at once to the gentleman making a full explanation, and sent hair pulled from Rustic Kitty's back as proof. The gentleman replied to my friend acknowledging his mistake through ignorance, apologised profusely for his haste, and explained that a dog fancier in their town had misled him, and plucked the hair from the dog's back showed him the hairs black at top and grey at the bottom to prove the coat had been dyed black".
I have quoted somewhat freely from what Mr. Bairstow has written because he has had as much experience as any man of the Airedale terrier, and his writing thereon is of the practical character I like. He, with Mr. E. N. Deakin, Mr. J. H. Carr, Mr. W. Tatham, Mr. C. J. Whittaker, Mr. H. M. Bryans, Mr. J. B. Holland, Mr. E. R. Bouch, and Mr. J. C. Keg, of Amsterdam, have at one time or another had the finest specimens in their kennels. Several of them were exhibitors at the autumn show of the Kennel Club in 1893, when for quality the classes of Airedale terriers had never previously been equalled at a south country show. At Otley and Bingley the entry has been exceeded numerically, but most of the promising young dogs make a first appearance at such local shows, and later on attain their championships at the more important gatherings in London, Birmingham, and elsewhere.
Some time ago there was considerable dissatisfaction expressed in some quarters because a considerable amount of unfair trimming was perpetrated upon the Airedale terrier. Of late we have not had much of this, and I hope, what I believe to be the case, that this terrier is now bred so as to require little or no artificial aid to improve his appearance. There is a club to look after his welfare, but this in its present form was only established in 1892, the earlier club being called the "Airedale and Old English Terrier Club".
The following is the standard laid down by the Airedale Terrier Club for the assistance of breeders of these terriers:
Long, with flat skull, not too broad between the ears, and narrowing slightly to the eyes, free from wrinkles.
Hardly visible, and cheeks free from fulness.
Deep and powerful, well filled up before the eyes; lips tight.
V-shaped, with a side carriage; small, but not out of proportion to the size of the dog.
Small, and dark in colour, not prominent, but full of terrier expression.
Strong and level.
Should be of moderate length and thickness, gradually widening towards the shoulders, and free from throatiness.
Long, and sloping well into the back, shoulder blades flat.
Deep, but not broad.
Back short, strong, and straight; ribs well sprung.
Strong and muscular, with no droop.
Well let down.
Set on high, and carried gaily, but not curled over the back.
Perfectly straight, with plenty of bone.
Small and round, with a good depth of pad.
Hard and wiry, and not so long as to appear ragged; it should also lie straight and close, covering the dog well all over the body and legs.
The head and ears (with the exception of dark markings on each side of the skull) should be tan, the ears being of a darker shade than the rest, the legs up to the thighs and elbows being also tan, the body black or dark grizzle.
Dogs 40lb. to 45lb. weight; bitches slightly less.
Head, ears, eyes, mouth
Neck, shoulders, and chest..............
Hindquarters and stern
Legs and feet................
General character and expression............
Grand Total, 100.
White marks or patches on the body, etc., and an uneven mouth, either overshot or undershot, should be absolute disqualifications.