How to Choose a Puppy
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. You can tell very little about the dog a puppy will become by simply observing the puppy. On the other hand, parents, breeder, and early environment speak volumes about the dog a puppy will grow to be. If you pick a litter from an experienced breeder who has bred a healthy, well conformed female dog to a social and well-trained stud then the chances are that all the puppies will develop into happy, healthy, and trainable dogs. Unfortunately, every breeder will try to convince 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 you or your family.
Although not ready to leave their litter until about 8-12 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 few minutes you’ll spend spend with the litter when you visit.
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 (picked by buyers who want to show) and those who are obviously not show dogs (the first to be culled and sold to waiting buyers not looking for 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 shies away from new people and new things may, without specific training, develop into a shy (and potentially fear-aggressive) 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 bounds after a tossed ball or toy could be the best fit.
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.