First, pick the litter. Then, pick from the litter.
It cannot be stressed enough that picking an Airedale Terrier
litter is more important than picking a puppy. Pick a litter
from a ill-tempered female Airedale who had little prenatal
care and chances are that the puppies will develop into ill
tempered and/or sickly dogs. On the other hand, if you pick
a litter from an experienced breeder who has bred a healthy,
well conformed female dog to a amicable well-trained stud
and chances are that all the puppies will develop into happy,
healthy, and trainable dogs. Unfortunately, every
breeder will try to convice a buyer that their litter belongs
to the latter category. Read our section on picking
a breeder to learn how to evaluate more than what the
breeder is saying.
Some breeders will pick a puppy for you or give you
a choice of only a few of the dogs in the litter.
This is a common practice among good breeders who want to
get to know their puppies and then match the puppies with
appropriate families. You should never feel like you're having
a puppy "forced" upon you without reason, but the
breeder should be able to explain why a certain pup would
be the best match for your family.
Although not ready to leave their litter until about 8 weeks,
a puppy's personality begins to develop at 5-6 weeks. The
time your breeder spends with the puppies helps the breeder become
much more familiar with their character and personalities
than you could ever be in the hour or two you'll spend spend with the puppies.
Don't be scared off by a litter that seems "picked over"
with only one or two 12 or 14 week puppies left. Many times
the very first dogs to be released to homes are the dogs who
are obviously show dogs and those who are obviously not show
dogs. The remaining puppies might be marked as "borderline"
show perspectives (so the breeder can watch how their structure
develops) and kept with the mother as they develop a little
more. The advantage of finding yourself taking home one of
these Airedale puppies is that, being borderline show-worthy,
they will have excellent conformation and will have had an
extra few weeks with their mother, learning pack hierarchy
(so they can recognize YOU as alpha) and learning skills like
house-training from their mother.
If the breeder gives you the opportunity to choose,
resist grabbing up the first pup that rushes up to you --
it displays boldness, but it might be the litter "bully"
and prone to dominance or aggression. Neither should you feel
drawn to the quiet puppy in the back. A puppy who shys away
from new people and new things may, without specific training,
develop into a shy fear-biting adult dog.
Instead, you should evaluate your expectations for
an Airedale puppy and choose accordingly: are there
young children or elderly in your home? A quieter puppy who
loves to cuddle might be the right pup for you. If you are
looking for a jogging partner with whom to do obedience work,
the airedale puppy who trots along at your heel and responds
well to gentle correction may be the right pup. If you're
looking for an agility or flyball dog the puppy who dives
after a tossed ball or toy could be the perfect dog.
Remember to choose your Airedale breeder carefully and acknowledge
that they know their puppies' strengths and weaknesses much
better than you. If in doubt, trust their opinion and know
that if you chose your breeder well, you'll enjoy any puppy
that ends up in your home.