The roots of the Hunting Working Airedales, Inc. organization grew from friendships among members of the Airedale Terrier Club of America (ATCA) who used their Airedales for recreational hunting.
Three ATCA member breeders were instrumental in promoting the renewed interest in hunting Airedales: Stephen Gilbert (Ohio); E. Forbes Gordon (Texas); and Simon “Park” Peters (Michigan).
By 1985 the three men had determined that there was significant interest among their fellow Airedale breeders to explore to what extent the Airedale maintained the hunting instincts and abilities of the breed’s founding stock. At the ATCA’s 1985 General Meeting, a motion was approved for the formation of the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee.
Board of Directors:
President: Mary Wright
Vice-President: Susan Hogsette
Secretary: Kimberly Zaborniak
Treasurer: Kate Ostrowski
Directors At Large:
Sherri Glass, Cindy Green, John Noland & Linda Potter
The first official action of the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee was to request that the American Kennel Club admit Airedales to AKC Hunt Tests. Airedale breeders valued AKC recognition of Airedales as hunting dogs because hunting was part of the breed’s heritage. In addition, AKC hunt titles earned by Airedales would appear on AKC pedigrees, and thus take their place with any conformation or performance titles earned.
The American Kennel Club declined to open its Hunt Tests to Airedales, but suggested that the Hunting/Working (H/W) Committee develop its own hunt test using AKC Hunt Tests as models.
In 1986 the H/W Committee held its first national Hunting/Working Weekend. This event brought together Airedales and owners interested in testing the breed’s versatility in hunting upland game, waterfowl, and raccoon.
By 1989 the H/W Committee instituted AKC-approved “Guidelines for Experimental Hunt Tests.” Those guidelines led to the inauguration of AKC-approved offical ATCA Hunt Tests and Hunt Titles in 1993.
In 2000, the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee presented the AKC with a fully-developed "Proposal for Admittance of Airedale Terriers to AKC Hunt Tests." It was denied. Airedalers did not give up.
The Airedale's Heritage
In the 1860's the Airedale Terrier was developed for the farmers in the Valley of Aire (Yorkshire, England) to be "the do-it-all hunter". The region's hearty people needed a dog with a keen hunting instinct and a weather-resistant coat; the character to tenaciously stick to any job; the courage and ability to kill all manner of game; the capability and desire to guard his family and home; and the gentleness and sensitivity to live as part of the family household.
In 2007, the Hunting Working Airedales, Inc. organization was incorporated separately by the then-members of the ATCA Hunting/Working Committee. By 2009, after almost 25 years of continuous effort, the HWA members applauded the achievement of their long-term goals of having Airedales admitted to the AKC’s Spaniel Hunt Test Programs. During this time period, Airedales were also allowed to participate in the UKC's Hunting Retriever Club [HRC] hunt tests. Regrettably, in 2017, the UKC officials decided that Airedales could no longer participate in HRC Hunt Tests.
We invite you to visit the Spotlight KC/HRC Title Holders section of this website to meet some Airedales whose accomplishments are re-establishing our breed as a hunting dog in the eyes of the wider sporting dog world. Check out our website’s listings of Hunt Test Titled Airedales to see a comprehensive listing of Airedales with hunt test titles, many of them also proudly earning a variety of performance titles in obedience or agility venues.
Are you looking for an Airedale hunting companion? Check out the Breeder Referral section of our website. Do you support what Hunting Working Airedales is accomplishing? Please consider becoming a member. Would you like to meet more Airedales and join in Airedale field events? We cordially invite you to participate.
Video courtesy of Chris Halvorson
The inauguration of the Airedale Terrier Club of America's hunting tests in 1994 brought a significant opportunity for the breed.
During the years of development of workshops and prototype tests, the H/W Committee faced the crucial question: Does today's Airedale have the instincts and abilities, the gameness and grit, for which the breed was originally bred?
Now owners who have been training their Airedales can answer that question in three separate tests offered on junior, senior, and master levels.
In the Upland Bird test, Airedales are required to find and flush two planted birds and do one water retrieve. Qualifying dogs receive the Junior Hunter - Flushing (JHF) certificate. Greater proficiency must be demonstrated by Airedales competing for the Senior Hunter - Flushing (SHF) and Master Hunter - Flushing (MHF) titles.
In the Retrieving Test, a dog must retrieve two chukars on land and two ducks on water. Qualifiers receive the Junior Hunter - Retriever (JHR) certificate. Senior Hunter - Retriever (SHR) and Master Hunter - Retriever (MHR) certificates are offered for advanced performances.
In the Fur Test, a dog must follow a pre-laid track of raccoon scent on an indirect route through fields to a tree holding a caged raccoon. The dog must then bark or bay to announce the find. First-time qualifiers receive the Junior Hunter - fur (JHFur) title. More difficult tracks await dogs entered in the Senior Hunter - Fur (SHFur) and Master Hunter - Fur (MHFur) competitions. When ATCA Fur Tests are run at HWA events, ATCA titles are earned, specifically, Junior Fur Tracker (JFT), Senior Fur Tracker (SFT) and Master Fur Tracker (MFT). The owner may register these titles with the AKC in order for them to appear on the dog’s AKC record, as in pedigrees and event catalogs.
A dog who qualifies in all three basic tests receives the title Junior Hunter - Versatile (JHV). SHV and MHV titles are further possibilities.
Dogs successful in this broad performance range have proven that the Airedale can indeed do it all.
Anyone can claim that he has the best hunting dog,and now we have a standard of competition to measure a dog's ability. If your dog qualifies, you know he has performed with a level of ability that's universal.