Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Key Differences Explained

Written by Kathryn Dueck
Published: August 31, 2022
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If you’re looking for a lively, intelligent dog with incredible courage and exuberance, look no further! Welsh and Airedale Terriers are high-energy dogs with an intense love for their owners and enthusiasm for whatever task is at hand. Bred as working dogs, they nevertheless make great companions in the home with affection to spare. Be warned, though: these breeds can be stubborn at times! Compare the Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier to see which one suits you best.

Comparing a Welsh Terrier and an Airedale Terrier

Welsh Terriers are considered miniature versions of Airedale Terriers.
Welsh TerrierAiredale Terrier
Breed OriginWalesAire Valley, England
AppearanceLong, bearded muzzle; square nose; alert, folded ears; athletic build; upright tailLong, bearded muzzle; square nose; alert, folded ears; athletic build; long, muscular legs; upright tail
SizeMales: 13-15 inches, 17-22 pounds Females: 12-15 inches, 15-20 poundsMales: 23-24 inches, 50-65 pounds
Females: 22-23 inches, 40-55 pounds
Hair Type and ColourDense, wiry double coat of medium length. Tan and blackDense, wiry double coat of medium length. Tan and black
TemperamentAffectionate, intelligent, lively, playful, alert, confident, courageousAffectionate, intelligent, lively, playful, alert, confident, courageous

The Main Differences Between a Welsh Terrier and an Airedale Terrier

Though these two breeds may appear similar, there are notable differences between them. Read on to find out how they compare in terms of breed origin, appearance, size, hair type and color, and temperament.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Breed Origin

Welsh Terrier on a summer meadow

Welsh Terriers originated in Wales while Airedale Terriers originated in England.

©Radomir Rezny/Shutterstock.com

The Welsh Terrier is a purebred dog breed originating in Wales. The exact date of its development as a unique breed is unknown, but experts put its emergence at some time during the 1700s. These dogs may have descended from the English Black and Tan Terrier, one of the earliest terrier breeds.

Welsh Terriers were originally hunting dogs. Their prey included foxes, otters, and badgers, all of which could put up a fierce fight when cornered. Hunters bred these terriers to be fearless and dauntless in the face of their adversaries. Being relatively small in size, they could also easily confront animals in their holes or dens.

The Airedale Terrier is a purebred dog breed originating in the Aire Valley in the north of England. Due to its status as the largest terrier in the world, it has earned the name “King of the Terriers.” Factory workers from this region in the mid-1800s bred this dog from a variety of other breeds including the English Black and Tan Terrier and the Otterhound. They needed a dog capable of hunting ducks and rats. As it turned out, the Airedale was also capable of big-game hunting, herding, and guarding.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Appearance

Types of terrier dogs

Welsh and Airedale Terriers appear very similar in all ways except their size.

©Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com

Welsh Terriers and Airedale Terriers appear very similar in all ways except their size. Both breeds have long muzzles, which can be bearded, and square noses. Their ears are alert and folded over. Tails stand erect, though owners usually dock them shortly after birth. The Airedale’s legs in particular are long and muscular, giving it the advantage of height. Both breeds have a lean, athletic build suitable for long hours of work or play.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Size

Airedale Terrier standing in the park

Airedale Terriers are the largest of the terrier breeds, weighing up to 65 pounds.


Welsh Terriers are the smaller of the two breeds, though they remain a medium-sized breed. Some say that these dogs look like miniature Airedales. Males typically reach 13-15 inches in height and weigh 17-22 pounds. Females are somewhat smaller, standing 12-15 inches tall and weighing 15-20 pounds.

Airedale Terriers stand taller than any other terrier with their signature long legs. Males reach a height of 23-24 inches and weigh 50-65 pounds. Females are slightly smaller with a height of 22-23 inches and an average weight of 40-55 pounds.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Hair Type and Colour

Welsh terrier lying on table

Welsh and Airedale Terriers have dense, wiry double coats.

©Nataliya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock.com

Welsh and Airedale Terriers share a similar hair type and color. Both breeds have dense, wiry double coats, though shedding is minimal. Because of this, some people with allergies will find these breeds tolerable. These dogs boast of the signature black-and-tan pattern that makes them easy to pick out of a crowd. Their coats are of medium length and require a fairly high level of maintenance.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Temperament

Two welsh terrier dogs sitting at the river

Welsh and Airedale Terriers are both outgoing, lively, affectionate dogs.

©Joy Prescott/Shutterstock.com

Welsh Terriers are outgoing, lively dogs with seemingly boundless energy. They love their owners with undying loyalty. They generally enjoy engaging with strangers and other dogs, though they may prove yappy at the first meeting with a new dog. Spirited and alert, they are relentless in their pursuit of both fun and work. As humans bred them to be working dogs, they require lots of mental stimulation to be happy and healthy. Their intelligence is keen but occasionally causes them to be stubborn.

Airedale Terriers share the classic terrier temperament with their Welsh counterparts. They have endless energy and need plenty of stimulation to stave off boredom and destructive behaviors. With an outgoing, lively personality, they may be friendly to strangers, but they will never let their guard down. They make excellent watchdogs and guard dogs with high intelligence, courage, and confidence. As with the Welsh Terrier, Airedales make very affectionate family dogs, but their prey drive is strong and may get them in trouble with other pets in the house.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Life Expectancy

Welsh Terriers typically live between 12-15 years. Though both breeds are medium-sized, Welsh Terriers are smaller than Airedales and therefore have a greater life expectancy. Certain health problems are fairly common in Welsh Terriers like glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve) and lens luxation (distortion of the eye lens). Hip dysplasia (dysfunction of the hip socket) and atopy (hypersensitivity to allergens) may also occur in this breed.

As opposed to Welsh Terriers, Airedales usually don’t live longer than 10-13 years. They may also suffer from hip dysplasia as well as colon disease or hypothyroidism.

Welsh Terrier vs Airedale Terrier: Grooming Needs

Welsh Terriers should be brushed weekly to prevent tangling and matting of the fur. They don’t shed much, but their coats should still be stripped occasionally. Stripping is the process of removing the old, dead coat so that the new one can grow. A bath every 4-6 weeks should keep them clean and smelling good.

Airedale Terriers need to be brushed at least weekly to keep their coats free of tangles and mats. This will also cut down on the shedding. They shed their coats twice a year and should be professionally stripped at these times. Experts recommend professional grooming for Airedales at least four times a year.

Terriers are lively, loving little companions, and Welsh and Airedale Terriers are no exception. If you have the right amount of energy and firmness, you might find one of them makes the perfect pet.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Dora Zett/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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