BaxterBoo Blog
August 20, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

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Overview:

  • Height: 17"- 20”
  • Weight: 30-45 pounds
  • Historical function: Irish farm dog - herding, hunting vermin, property protection
  • Modern function: Companion
  • AKC classification: Terrier

Physical Characteristics:

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, sometimes spelled Softcoated Wheaten, is a square and medium-sized dog that is prized for their soft, silky coat and friendly nature. Wheatens have a rectangular-appearing head with a large black nose. The ears are V-shaped, level with the skull, and fold forward. The wide-set eyes are almond shaped and reddish brown or brown in color with black rims. The eyes can be difficult to see with the traditional grooming style with the topknot fall of fur over the eyes. For non-show dogs, some opt for a modified styling that keeps the rectangular Wheaten profile while improving vision. The bite is scissors. The lips are black. The muzzle is bearded. The front legs are straight. The paws are compact with black nails. The topline is even. The high-set tail is traditionally docked, though this practice is now illegal in Europe. The coat starts out dark brown in puppies and lightens to the beautiful wheaten-colored coat as they mature. The single coat is wavy and comes in two coat varieties - the American (thicker coat) and the Irish (thinner and more silky.)  

History of the Breed:

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was the working-class dog that was typical on Irish farms as hounds were only allowed for nobleman to own. They were used for hunting, herding sheep, patrolling the property lines, and exterminating vermin. This was the "poor man's" all-purpose dog that's supposed to have a fuss-free look and happy personality. This is probably one of the oldest of the Irish breeds. He is related to both the Kerry Blue and Irish Terriers and was probably involved in the foundation of the short-legged Glen of Imaal Terrier. The dog was only recognized as a breed in Ireland in 1937, followed by England in 1943 and the US in 1973.  

Temperament:

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is an intelligent, cheerful and energetic breed that requires even-handed, consistent training as this dog may be somewhat strong willed. Positive, play-based training will yield the best results. Excellent with children. Good watchdog, but not aggressive. Supervise with cats unless they are raised with them due to their prey drive.  

  • Best suited for: Active families. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog is adaptable to many conditions as long as he gets to be with his people. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: This silky coat doesn't shed much but requires regular grooming to prevent mats. 
  • Exercise needs: Daily long walk and lots of engaging play.
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to protein wasting disease (PLE and PLA) and flea allergies. 

Breed Club Links: Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Jaws Apple Dog Toy

Have any stories about a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

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