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Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

A compact, upstanding terrier, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is named for their distinctive soft coat. Gently waved or curled, the soft silky coat should be profuse on the head and legs with a natural look, although some tidying for the show ring is permitted. 

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Medium dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Weight:  14 – 18kg
Height:  43 – 51cm
Colours:  Any shade of warm ripening wheat, but never red, nor white. The ears may be dark too
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Terrier

Ratings

Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 2/5
Terrier laying on the carpet

Personality

This is a strong terrier, muscular, compact, and with a sense of fun. A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier will want to be included in everything you do, and can prove a trustworthy companion in the right home. As with all terriers, there is the sparkle of mischief in their eyes and this is a breed that will keep you on your toes even with frequent training!  

Intelligent and quick to learn, the Wheaten is also independent and will require motivation in the form of positive reinforcement training using food, toys and the opportunity to perform enjoyable activities. 

two terriers sitting on the pavement

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Ireland

Although the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has been around for over 200 years, their roots are in farm work, eradicating vermin, probably providing some sport for their owners, and guarding/watchdog activities. Some could even turn their hand to driving cattle and herding sheep. As such, owners were not particularly bothered about breeding to a standard, instead rather breeding for function, and so the breed was very variable in appearance and not recognised by the Irish Kennel Club until 1937. The Kennel Club finally recognised the breed in 1975, but the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has never been one of the more popular terriers.

Enthusiasts of the breed say that they are the ‘original Irish Terrier’ that all others were developed from (although most Irish terrier breeds claim this!) but given their versatility that makes them such a great all-rounder, it is entirely possible.

Health and Common Issues

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is generally a healthy breed but there are a number of inherited conditions they can suffer from. The main ones are a particular type of inherited kidney disease and gastrointestinal disease. They are also prone to allergic skin disease.  

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Exercise Needs

A minimum of an hour per day of walking, ideally more and with a variety of walking routes, free running and engaging activities such as scent work, chasing lures or thrown toys. This is an active dog with a quick mind, if you don’t engage their brain in something constructive it’s likely to become engaged in something destructive!

Space Requirements

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier does not need lavish housing, but a securely fenced garden is a must. This is an agile hunter who can dig well and jump surprisingly high. Better suited to a quieter rural or suburban home, as the Wheaten will feel the need to alert you to anything seen or heard and this rarely goes down well with the neighbours. Access to a variety of interesting walks and a secure place to run off lead is ideal.

Nutrition and Feeding

Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed them at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of their particular food.

Grooming Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

The non-shedding silky, gently curling coat will need to be groomed several times a week to keep it clean, shiny and tangle-free. Grooming needs will be greater between the ages of 7 to 24 months when the adult coat comes in. Early preparation for visiting a groomer is sensible as this coat can take a long time to wash, brush through and dry fully. Check between the pads and in the ears after each walk as these areas easily gather debris and foreign bodies. 

Training Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

A quick learner with an independent mind, Wheaten’s are often described as stubborn but in reality, they need strong motivation to want to work with their person rather than do their own thing. Understand their desire to chase, rag, kill and bite and provide for those needs with suitable toys, games and activities, and the Wheaten will be a fun and engaging companion.  

Pay particular attention to socialisation with other dogs, cats and livestock, and work hard on teaching a strong recall and a reliable retrieve and drop. 

Best Family Dog Breeds

An excellent family dog with older children in a family that do a lot of dog related activities, long country walks, and enjoy dog training as a hobby. Not ideal with young babies or toddlers as the terrier nature is not forgiving or tolerant, and the time requirements for training, exercise and grooming are quite demanding. 

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them. 

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • A Wheaten named ‘Caidantes Time After Time’, pet name Danny, won the Guinness World Record for Most Performances by A Dog in A Theatrical Production, with 1365 appearances as ‘Sandy’ in the stage show ‘Annie’. 
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers were once known as a ‘poor man’s dog’ as the Irish peasants weren’t allowed to own hounds or spaniels by law. They were also referred to as the ‘poor man’s wolfhound’.
  • Poorer farmers would use Wheaten’s for every farm job imaginable including livestock herding, vermin hunting, protection and gun dogs.
  • A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier called Krista was very successful in the 2016 National Diving Dog Championship. Krista jumped an impressive 10 feet and 2 inches into the water, nearly placing her in the top 10 against larger breeds such as Retrievers.
  • The breed is often depicted in Victorian art and you can spot one in Frederic William Burton’s 1843 piece, ‘The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child’.

 

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