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Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

softcoated wheaten terrier

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is not only soft to the touch, but also he is soft in personality. This breed of dogs was originated in the Ireland as a versatile farm dog and today it is a versatile family dog breed, adaptable to life in the city or country as long as it gets the attention and exercise it needs. These dogs are ideal for those owners who want an active, medium-sized “inside” dog. This soft-coated dog is highly intelligent and needs plenty of human interaction. This all-purpose dog breed will enjoy going for hikes or walks and competing in agility or fly ball. In addition to this, he can win titles in herding and tracking, and makes a super therapy dog. Some other useful information about this breed is as follows:

General Information:

Breed Name Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Origin Ireland
Other Names Wheaten, Wheatie, and Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Lifespan 12 – 15 years
Breed group Terrier dog breeds
Height Male: 46–48 cm; Female: 43–46 cm
Weight Male: 15.9–18.1 kg; Female: 13.6–15.9 kg
Temperament Energetic, Spirited, Faithful, Intelligent, Playful, Affectionate
What to Feed Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.
Shedding Minimal
Litter size     4-7 Puppies
Compatibility with other pets This breed is good with other pets if raised together, but it may have issues with other dogs, and have problems with non-canine pets, therefore, it is not recommended for homes with small animals.
Children Friendly Yes
Coat Type Thick
Coat Colors Brown, Red, White
Health Concern
  • Major concerns: protein wasting diseases (PLE and PLN)
  • Minor concerns: renal dysplasia, allergies
  • Occasionally seen: PRA, CHD, vWD, heart problems
Hypoallergenic Breed Yes
Space Requirements House with Yard
Trainability Difficult to Train
Energy Level High Energy
Grooming A Couple Times a Week, Professional Grooming May Be Required
Protective Ability Fairly Laid Back
Tendency to Drool Low
Tendency to Snore Low
Tendency to Bark Moderate
Tendency to Dig Moderate
Social/Attention Needs High
Bred for Vermin hunting, guarding, all-around farm helper



The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred in the Ireland for over 200 years as an all-purpose farm dog whose duties included watching, herding and guarding livestock, as well as vermin hunting and killing. This breed of dogs shares a common ancestry with the Kerry blue terrier dogs and the Irish terrier dogs but this breed was not owned by gentry. Now these days, these dogs compete in agility, obedience, and tracking as well as they are occasionally used in animal-assisted therapy.

In the Ireland, this breed of dogs was commonly referred to as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound” and their tails used to be docked in order to avoid taxes. Despite the long history, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was not recognized as a breed in the Ireland by the Irish Kennel Club (IKC) until 1937. In the year 1943, the British Kennel Club recognized this breed of dogs in the UK. In the year 1973, this breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). In 1970s, the first Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers were imported into the Australia by Anubis Kennels, and since then many more have been imported.


The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a squarely proportioned and compact dog, whose moderately long head is rectangular in appearance and in proportion with his body. The strong muzzle of these dogs is relatively short as compared to their skull and has a defined stop. The black nose of this breed is large for the size of the dog and their teeth meet in the scissors bite. These dogs have wide-set eyes that are almond shaped and come in reddish brown to a medium brown color. Yellow or light eye color can occur but is considered as a breed fault in the written standard.

These dogs have V-shaped ears that are fold forward and are level with the skull. Further, the medium-length neck of this breed gradually widens into the body. Their back is straight, and forms a level top-line. Front legs of these dogs are straight and their paws are compact and round with black toenails. Furthermore, the high-set tail of this breed is either kept natural or docked. Note: the docking of tails is illegal in most parts of Europe. The single, wavy coat of this dog breed comes in shades of wheaten. The puppies of this breed are born dark brown and lighten to the final adult wheaten color by the age of two. These dogs come in two coat varieties, the Irish and the American. The Irish coat of this breed tends to be silkier and thinner.


The Wheatens are agile, strong and well-coordinated. These dogs are playful, happy, spirited and friendly terrier. The alert nature of these dogs makes them a great watchdog. These dogs bark at the arrival of guests. This breed of dogs is usually children friendly and gets along reasonably well with the other dog breeds. Furthermore, an un-socialized dog with a submissive owner, who does not know how to correct negative behaviors of dog, may end up with an aggressive dog. Some dogs of this breed that were not raised with the cats may not get along well with them. Therefore, these dogs need to be corrected right before they take off after the cats.

The Wheatens have a puppy attitude that remains with them throughout their whole lives. These docile, sweet-tempered, and self-confident dogs need to be taught, preferably when they are young, but older dogs can learn what is and is not acceptable behavior. These intelligent dogs will generally grasp training quickly what is required of it. The straightforward nature of these dogs needs to be handled in a straightforward manner by their owners. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers bond closely with their owner and family. In order to have a well-behaved Wheaten dog, you must be firm, but consistent, calm, and confident with the dog.


The Wheatens are generally a long-lived breed. They are susceptible to various heritable diseases, although are most known for following two protein wasting conditions:

  • Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE), where the dogs not succeed to fully absorb the proteins in their digestive tracts, causing it to pass in their stool.
  • Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN), where the dogs lose the proteins via the kidneys

Both PLE and PLN are potentially fatal, but if diagnosed at early stage, can sometimes be managed with strict dietetic changes and pharmaceuticals. There are various laboratory tests that can aid in diagnosing PLE and PLN; therefore, dog owners should check their country’s advised testing protocols. Other Wheaten health issues are inflammatory bowel disease, renal dysplasia, Addison’s disease, and cancer. Some of these dogs can suffer from environmental and food allergies. Potential owners of this dog breed should discuss these health issues with the breeder before getting a puppy. Some of these dogs are prone to developing the skin disease atopic dermatitis.


These dogs can adapt to a variety of homes, including apartments, as long as they get enough exercise. No matter what type of home they have, these people-loving dogs should live inside, with their human family. These dogs should be given at least a half hour of exercise daily. The exercise can be 15-minute walks and a good game of fetch, or practice for whatever dog sports you enjoy.

You should begin training of this breed early, first with puppy kindergarten, and then with basic obedience classes. These dogs have a mind of their own, and to train them successfully, the owners will need to be consistent and firm, but not harsh. This breed of dogs responds well to the positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise, and food rewards.  These dogs enjoy playing with their owners in the yard, but the owner makes sure that the yard is securely fenced because these dogs are hunters and will take off after small animals if they are not confined. Despite the Irish origin of this breed, it is not fond of rain, but it relishes playing in snow. Heat makes this breed of dogs wilt; therefore, keep your dog in the air-conditioned comfort when temperature soars.


The Wheatens’ silky single coat makes them stand out from other terrier family. The abundant coat of this breed covers its entire body in the gentle waves, with a fall of hair over its eyes. The coat color of this breed can be white, red, or black hair, and the ears and muzzle sometimes have blue-gray shading. The puppies of this breed have their own distinctive look. They are born with dark coats that lighten with passage of time. The final color of puppy does not emerge until the pups are two years old, and the coats are not wavy until they reach maturity.

The Wheatens are a single-coated dog breed and they do not have undercoat, therefore, they shed only lightly. They often touted as being hypoallergenic or non-allergenic, but in reality, no dog is non-allergenic, as they all produce allergens in the form of saliva and dander. If you are allergic to the dogs, then you should spend plenty of time around different Wheatens in order to test if they trigger a reaction.

You only need to bathe the Wheaten Terrier when it is really necessary. How much time you spend grooming of this dog breed depends on the look you want. If you want your doggy to look like a classic Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, you will need to groom on daily basis. If you do not mind a somewhat scruffier look of your dog, you can get by with 12 to 15 minutes of combing and brushing 2 to 3 times a week. For grooming of this breed, you will need a stainless steel comb, a pin brush, a dematting comb, a slicker brush, a pair of thinning shears for trimming the fall (the hair over the eyes), and a regular pair of scissors.

Other grooming needs of this dog breed include nail care and dental hygiene. Brush your dog’s teeth at least twice or thrice times a week in order to remove tartar buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Trim nails of your dog once or twice a month, as per the need. If you can hear the clicking of nail on the floor that means they are too long. Keep in mind that short nails of your dog keep the feet in good condition and will not scratch your legs when your dog jumps up to greet you.

You should start grooming your dog at an early stage in order to get him used to it. Handle the paws of your dog frequently, as dogs are touchy about their feet. In addition to this, make grooming a positive experience that is filled with rewards and praise. In this way, you will lay the groundwork for easy vet exams and other handling when your dog is an adult.

Suitability of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier:

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is right for you if you want a dog who:

  • Is sturdy, medium-sized, and athletic
  • Has a tangled coat (in natural earth tone shades) that does not shed too much
  • Is cheerful
  • Plays vigorously, energetic and acts like a blissful puppy throughout the entire life
  • Barks to announce the strangers, and then welcomes them as long-lost friends
  • Is generally sociable with the other family pets or small animals

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is not suitable for you if you Do Not want to deal with:

  • The dynamic terrier temperament
  • Providing sufficient amount of activities and exercise to keep them busy
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping
  • “Separation anxiety” (destructiveness and barking when the dog left alone too much)
  • Potential aggression toward other animals due to their strong chasing instincts
  • Digging holes
  • Stubbornness
  • Regular brushing and clipping
  • “Shaggy dog syndrome,” i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors.


Shikha Sharma believes that Mother Earth is our mutual abode, where all creatures have an equal right to live with dignity. This belief is clearly reflected in her wonderful writing pieces that revolve around animals and their well-being. She is the blog editor of Pets World.

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