Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

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soft coated wheaten terrier portrait
Meet the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier – a breed that boasts a teddy-bear-like coat, an unending zest for life, and a heart bursting with love. These lively, affectionate companions are the perfect blend of playful energy and gentle tenderness that can win over any dog lover's heart!

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

Looking for a lively, affectionate sidekick? Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers might just be your match made in heaven! Perfect for active individuals or families, these furry bundles of joy thrive in environments where they can explore, play, and shower their human companions with love.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMESoft Coated Wheaten Terrier
OTHER NAMESWheaten, Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
ORIGINIreland
BREED GROUPTerrier Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT17-19 inches
WEIGHT30-40 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK66th
soft coated wheaten terrier sitting near a lake
Photo: tripletenphoto/Getty Images

Appearance

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a delightful medium-sized breed that’s as charming as it is unique. These dogs typically stand proud at a height of 17 to 19 inches for males, and slightly shorter for females. Their weight ranges from 30 to 40 pounds, making them sturdy yet perfectly cuddle-sized companions.

One glance at a Wheaten and you’re sure to be captivated by their expressive eyes, which radiate a warmth and intelligence that’s hard to resist. Their eyes are usually a captivating shade of brown that contrasts beautifully with their soft, wavy coat.

Speaking of their coat, it’s one of the most distinctive features of this breed. Imagine running your hands through a blanket of wheat – that’s exactly what petting a Wheaten feels like!

Their coat color can vary from a pale beige to a shimmering gold. If you look closely, you might even spot occasional red, white, or black hairs. This fluffy, wavy coat gives them a teddy bear-like appearance that melts hearts wherever they go.

Their body is well-proportioned and robust, built for both agility and strength. Despite their medium size, these dogs are full of energy, always ready for a game of fetch or a brisk walk. Their tails are usually docked and held high, wagging enthusiastically at the prospect of an adventure or a friendly face.

The Wheaten’s head is rectangular in shape, adorned with ears that hang close to their head. Their ears are usually covered in soft, silky hair that adds to their overall charm. And let’s not forget about their heartwarming expressions – a mix of curiosity, friendliness, and a dash of typical terrier stubbornness.

Whether it’s their sparkling eyes, their wheat-like coat, or their exuberant personalities, there’s no denying the appeal of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. They are indeed a sight to behold and a joy to have around.

soft coated wheaten terrier jumping on snow
Photo: Pfüderi/Pixabay

Temperament

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s temperament is the perfect blend of terrier tenacity and affectionate amiability. If you’re looking for a dog that’s both playful and steady, you’ve found your match in a Wheaten.

One of the first things you’ll notice about Wheatens is their cheerfulness. They are the life of the party, always ready to spread joy and happiness around them. Their enthusiasm is infectious, turning even ordinary moments into extraordinary ones. They greet everyone with a wagging tail and a happy dance, earning them the nickname “the dog with the waving tail”.

Wheatens have a self-confident demeanor, but they’re far from being aloof. They love being the center of attention and thrive when they’re part of family activities. This sociable nature extends to strangers too, making them terrible guard dogs but excellent hosts. Expect your Wheaten to welcome guests with open paws and a flurry of licks.

Beneath their lively exterior lies a soft heart. Wheatens are incredibly affectionate and love nothing more than cuddling up with their favorite humans. They form deep bonds with their families and are known to be particularly gentle and patient with children. This makes them an excellent choice for families, especially those with young kids.

Intelligence is another trademark trait of this breed. Wheatens are smart and quick learners. However, they’re also known for their stubborn streak. They have a mind of their own and aren’t afraid to show it. This charming mix of intelligence and stubbornness gives them a unique character that’s both endearing and exasperating at times.

Despite their vivacious nature, Wheatens also have a calm side. They’re content to lounge around the house when their humans are busy, patiently waiting for the next round of play or cuddles. But don’t be fooled by their relaxed demeanor – they’re always alert and aware of their surroundings.

Wheatens are also known for their ‘puppy-like’ exuberance that lasts well into their adult years. They retain their playful spirit and high energy level throughout their life, proving that age is just a number when it comes to having fun.

Inquisitive and bouncy, your Wheaten will keep you on your toes with their antics. They’re not shy about expressing their feelings, often jumping up to shower you with kisses or running around in excitement. These dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves, making them one of the most expressive breeds out there.

two soft coated wheaten terriers in a park
Photo: RS-photography/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a versatile breed that can adapt to a variety of living conditions, but they do have some preferences. These dogs are social butterflies and thrive in environments where they can be an integral part of family activities. They fit right into active households that can provide them with plenty of interaction and engagement.

Physical Environment

While they’re not overly large, Wheatens do appreciate having some space to romp around. A home with a securely fenced yard is ideal, but they can also adapt well to apartment living, provided they get enough mental and physical stimulation.

Climate Adaptability

Now, let’s talk about weather conditions. Wheatens have a single-layered coat that offers some protection against cold weather, but it’s not enough for extreme cold. They’re definitely not snow dogs and would prefer to snuggle up indoors when the temperature drops too low.

Hot weather is another story. Wheatens can tolerate moderate heat, but they’re prone to overheating in high temperatures. In hot climates, it’s essential to provide them with shade and fresh water, and to avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day.

Ideal Owner

As for pet parents, Wheatens do best with those who can match their energy levels and zest for life. They love being around people and form deep bonds with their human families. So, if you’re the type who enjoys an active lifestyle and doesn’t mind a furry shadow following you around the house, a Wheaten could be your perfect companion.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Wheatens are usually sociable and get along well with other dogs. However, their terrier instincts might kick in when they see smaller animals like cats or rabbits. Early socialization can help them learn to coexist peacefully with other pets.

soft coated wheaten terrier at a dog show
Photo: Ihar Halavach/Ihalavach

Grooming

If you’re considering a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, one of the first things you’ll fall in love with is their fluffy, teddy-bear-like coat. But this beautiful fur doesn’t maintain itself – it requires regular grooming to keep it looking its best.

Coat Care

A Wheaten’s coat is soft and wavy, not unlike a field of, well, wheat! This breed does not have an undercoat, which means less shedding around the house. But don’t celebrate just yet – the lack of undercoat also means their hair can mat and tangle easily.

To prevent this, brushing your Wheaten’s coat at least every other day is a must. A slicker brush or a comb with both wide and narrow teeth will be your best friend for this task. Opt for gentle strokes to avoid damaging their delicate hair. Remember, regular brushing is not just about keeping their coat neat; it’s also a great bonding time between you and your furry friend.

Bathing your Wheaten should ideally happen once a month. Using a dog-friendly shampoo will help keep their skin healthy and their coat shiny. After bathing, make sure to dry their coat thoroughly to prevent any skin issues. A high-velocity dryer can be a useful tool for this, but a regular towel will do just fine too.

Trimming is another important part of a Wheaten’s grooming routine. Their coat grows continuously, much like human hair, so regular trims are necessary to keep them looking tidy. You might want to enlist the help of a professional groomer for this, especially if you prefer the traditional ‘Wheaten’ cut.

Nail Trimming

Don’t forget about their nails! Wheatens are active dogs, but even with regular exercise, their nails can get long. Long nails can cause discomfort and potentially lead to problems with their paws and posture. Therefore, regular nail trims, usually every 2-3 weeks, are essential. If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, a vet or a groomer can help.

Dental Care

Lastly, let’s talk about dental care. Regular teeth brushing (ideally daily) will keep your Wheaten’s teeth sparkling and their breath fresh. Start this habit when they’re young to make it easier as they grow older.

three soft coated wheaten terriers getting professional grooming
Photo: Ihar Halavach/Ihalavach

Exercise

If you’re looking for a canine companion who’s always up for an adventure, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier could be your perfect match. These lively dogs are full of energy and they love to stay active.

Exercise Amount & Types

As a general rule, Wheatens need at least an hour of exercise each day. This can be divided into two or more sessions, depending on your dog’s preferences and your schedule. But remember, these dogs would definitely thank you for more!

A simple walk around the neighborhood is a great start, but Wheatens are versatile pups who enjoy a variety of activities. They love to run, so consider taking them for a jog or letting them loose in a securely fenced area. Play sessions with toys or a game of fetch can also help burn off their energy and keep them mentally stimulated.

If you’re more of a homebody, don’t worry. There are plenty of indoor games that can keep your Wheaten entertained. Hide-and-seek, tug-of-war, or puzzle toys are all great options. Just remember to mix things up to keep your furry friend engaged and excited.

Dog Sports

Wheaten Terriers have a natural agility and they often excel in dog sports such as agility trials, obedience, and rally competitions. Participating in these activities not only provides physical exercise but also challenges their intelligent minds.

soft coated wheaten terrier at an agility trial
Photo: herreid/Getty Images

Training

Training a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier can be an exciting journey. These dogs are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. But don’t let their cute faces fool you – Wheatens also have a stubborn streak that can add a dash of challenge to your training sessions.

The key to training a Wheaten is consistency and positivity. They respond best to positive reinforcement methods. A kind word, a pat on the head, or a tasty treat can work wonders in motivating them. Harsh methods, on the other hand, are likely to backfire and make your Wheaten more stubborn.

Start training your Wheaten as early as possible. Puppies are like sponges, ready to soak up everything you teach them. Basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, and “come” should be part of your initial training. Once they’ve mastered these, you can move on to more advanced commands and tricks.

Socialization is another crucial aspect of training. Wheatens are naturally friendly, but they need to be exposed to different people, pets, and environments to grow into well-rounded dogs. Regular walks, trips to the dog park, or playdates with other dogs can help with this.

Despite their intelligence, Wheatens can sometimes be a bit slow to mature. This means that puppy-like behavior might continue for longer than in some other breeds. So, patience will be your greatest ally during training.

One specific area where Wheatens often need extra training is jumping. They’re known for their “Wheaten greetin'”, which involves jumping up on people. While it’s done out of love and excitement, it’s a habit that can be problematic. Teaching your Wheaten to greet people politely, with all four paws on the ground, will make everyone’s life easier.

soft coated wheaten terrier swimming in the sea
Photo: mariokeeneye/Imágenes de mariokeeneye

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier isn’t just about filling their bowl with dog food. It’s about providing a balanced diet that fuels their energy levels, supports their health, and satisfies their taste buds.

What to Feed & How Much

As a medium-sized breed with a lively disposition, Wheatens need a diet that’s high in quality animal proteins to support their muscle maintenance and growth. Carbohydrates provide them with the energy they need for their active lifestyle, while healthy fats contribute to a shiny coat and overall good health.

Whether you choose dry food, wet food, or raw food, make sure it meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This ensures that your furry friend is getting all the essential nutrients they need.

The amount of food your Wheaten needs will depend on their age, size, and activity level. On average, adult Wheatens require about 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dog food each day, divided into two meals. Puppies have different nutritional needs and require more frequent feedings.

Remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one Wheaten may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to consult your vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Treats

Treats are an important part of training, but remember, they should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories. Opt for healthy options like carrots or apples, or dog-specific treats that are low in fat and sugar.

Water

Don’t forget about hydration. Fresh water should be available to your Wheaten at all times. Regularly clean their water bowl and refill it with clean water to keep them well-hydrated, especially during hot weather.

soft coated wheaten terrier standing on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Health

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are generally healthy dogs with a life expectancy of around 12-14 years. However, like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Being aware of these potential issues can help you take better care of your furry friend. Here are health issues often associated with Wheatens:

Protein Losing Nephropathy (PLN): This is a kidney disorder where the dog loses protein through its kidneys. It can lead to kidney failure if not detected and managed early.

Protein Losing Enteropathy (PLE): Similar to PLN, PLE is a condition where the dog loses protein through the gastrointestinal tract.

Addison’s Disease: This is a hormonal disorder that happens when the body doesn’t produce enough cortisol, a hormone crucial for bodily functions like digestion and stress response.

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit correctly into the hip joint, causing pain and lameness.

Renal Dysplasia: A developmental disorder of the kidneys, it can lead to chronic kidney failure.

While this list might seem daunting, remember that not all Wheatens will get any or all of these diseases. Regular check-ups with your vet can help detect these conditions early and provide timely treatment.

A balanced diet is also key to your Wheaten’s health. Feed them high-quality food that meets their nutritional needs, and keep treats to a minimum to prevent obesity.

Regular vaccinations are crucial in protecting your Wheaten from various diseases. Your vet can guide you about the necessary vaccines and their schedule.

soft coated wheaten terrier playing in the water
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History

Believed to be one of the oldest Irish breeds, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has a lineage that dates back over 200 years. These dogs were the versatile farm companions of the Irish, proving their worth in many roles – from herding sheep, to hunting vermin, to being loyal family pets.

Despite their long history, Wheatens remained Ireland’s little secret until the mid-20th century. It wasn’t until 1937 that they were recognized by the Irish Kennel Club, and it took another three decades for them to make their way across the Atlantic.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first registered the breed in 1973. Since then, Wheatens have steadily climbed the popularity ladder. They currently rank 66th on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds. Their combination of playful spirit, adaptability, and hypoallergenic coat makes them an appealing choice for many families.

In popular culture, Wheatens hold their own with a number of appearances. One notable example is the character of “Snitter” in Richard Adams’ novel “The Plague Dogs”. Snitter is a lovable, yet tragic character who is a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. This book was later adapted into an animated film.

In the world of social media, many Wheatens have quite the following, charming fans with their adorable antics and fluffy coats.

Despite their rise in popularity, Wheatens haven’t lost their humble roots. They’re still the versatile, hard-working, and affectionate dogs that were treasured by the Irish all those years ago. Whether they’re competing in agility trials, working as therapy dogs, or simply being beloved family pets, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers carry their heritage with pride.

Parent Club

The parent club for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier breed in the United States is the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America (SCWTCA). The SCWTCA provides a wealth of information for owners and enthusiasts, including details on the breed’s history, health, grooming, training, and more. You can visit their website for more information.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

soft coated wheaten terrier puppies sitting on the floor
Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

Acquiring

Bringing a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier into your life is an exciting decision! First, ensure your lifestyle aligns with their active and social nature. Prepare your home for this energetic bundle of joy – think dog-proofing and setting up a cozy space for them.

If you decide to buy a Wheaten, choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes health and temperament over appearance. Alternatively, consider rescuing a Wheaten. There are many lovely dogs waiting for their forever homes. The SCWTCA and the AKC have resources to connect you with rescue organizations. Rescuing not only gives a dog a second chance but is also a rewarding experience for you.

Remember, whether you buy or rescue, you’re making a long-term commitment. So, make your decision carefully and welcome your Wheaten with open arms and a prepared heart!

FAQs

Do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers bark a lot?

Wheatens are known for their moderate barking tendencies. While they’re not excessively noisy, they will alert you to anything unusual in their environment. Training can help manage their barking.

Are Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers a rare breed?

While not as common as some other breeds, Wheatens aren’t considered rare. They have gained steady popularity since their introduction to the U.S. in the 1940s.

Is a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier a good family dog?

Absolutely! Wheatens are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They get along well with children and can be a great addition to a family.

Are Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers hyper?

Wheatens are energetic and playful, but wouldn’t usually be classified as hyper. They require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

How big do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers get?

Wheatens are medium-sized dogs. Adult males typically weigh between 35-40 pounds and stand about 18-19 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller.

Are Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers hypoallergenic?

Yes, Wheatens are considered hypoallergenic, as they shed less than many other breeds. However, no dog is completely hypoallergenic, and individual reactions can vary.

How long do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers live?

The typical lifespan of a Wheaten is around 12-14 years. With proper care, including a healthy diet and regular vet check-ups, many live long, healthy lives.

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