Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Fun loving and playful, the Soft coated Wheaten Terrier is friendly to everyone! Pretty easygoing for a terrier, with moderate needs for exercise. This cute family dog is easy to take care of, except when it comes to grooming. Grooming and care will take a bit of your free time, but that’s the price to pay for a loving and committed companion.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Terrier Dogs
Height:1 foot, 5 inches to 1 foot, 7 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:30 to 40 pounds
Life Span:10 to 15 years
Main Highlights
  • Adaptable! Apartment, house, city center or countryside, this breed is fit for everywhere.
  • Not for neat freaks! The coat easily attracts debris, dirt, snow and that will be spread around your home.
  • Not aggressive and gets along with other dogs and pets. However, they might chase after small animals outside your home.
  • Protective! They are not particularly yappy, but their barks will warn you of anything suspicious.
  • Better keep your dog indoors in the cool during hot days, because they don’t really do well in heat.
  • Their hobby is digging in the dirt! If you have a yard, be prepared to have few holes in it.
  • Not fans of being left alone! Leaving them alone for a longer period of time will result in barking and destructive behavior.
  • Moderate exercise needs! 30 minutes a day of exercise will keep the Wheaten happy.
  • Good with children!
  • Low shedders, however their coat needs brushing and bathing.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier breed is able to conform to any kind of surroundings such as apartments, suburban houses, countryside or cities. In case you are obsessed with neatness, then the Soft coated Wheaten Terrier might be a bit too much for you. The dirt, the snow and all kinds of debris attached to their coat, will be deposited throughout your home.

As a breed, the Soft coated Wheaten Terriers will be friendly and positive when interacting with other dogs and pets and won’t cause trouble. The same goes for children. Generally, roaming cats will be their desired chasing material, and other smaller and furry creatures found outdoors as well. Even though the breed isn’t known for boring and unnecessary barking, in cases when something suspicious is seen or heard, the Soft coated Wheaten Terrier can become yappy.

On hot days you might need to keep the dog indoors, as the heat reflects badly on their health. One of their favorite hobbies is digging, like most terriers of course, and they will make a hole or two in your yard.

For maintaining good health, the dog needs to perform at least 30 minutes of active exercise daily. It’s not advisable to leave a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier alone for longer periods of time as the lack of human company can induce their destructive behavior.

When training them as an owner you need to show consistent and firm attitude because Soft Coated Wheatens can get stubborn and make the training a hustle. Rewarding them with praise or food and playing along during the training process will contribute to better results.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers require frequent brushing, as well as combing. Generally they shed really little. The dog should always be bought from a serious breeder that has been taking good care of them prior to buying.

Breed History

Going back in Ireland, terriers were commonly found in the yards and farms of poor people. Mostly they were used for keeping the houses safe from intruders, a little bit of hunting and taking care of yard vermin as well. The real origins of the Soft coated Wheaten Terriers aren’t exactly known, but it is considered that the Irish Terrier and the Kerry Blue Terrier share a mutual ancestor with them. Their docked tail is a sign confirming their past owners’ intention to keep them as working dogs and avoid paying the tax on dogs. The first time this Terrier was recognized as a breed was back in 1937 in Ireland by the Kennel Club. It was St. Patrick’s Day.

1946 was the year when seven Soft coated Wheaten Terries reached the shores of Boston and landed in The United States for the first time. Lydia Vogel, a lady from Springfield took two of them. The reproducing went on and a year later, at the Westminster Kennel Club show, she presented the new 17 puppies the original two produced.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was founded in 1962 and held its first meeting on St. Patrick’s Day. At the meeting 3 breed canine pioneers attended: Holmenocks Hallmark, Gads Hill, and Holmenocks Gramachree. Gramachree was the first individual of the breed to be registered in the history of the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1973. The breed holds the 62nd place in popularity on the list of 155 recognized breeds by the American Kennel Club.


The average height for male Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers ranges between 18-19 inches with a weight range of 35-40 pounds. On the other hand, females are an inch shorter and their weight range is 30-35 pounds.

Personality and Character

Even though they might not seem like watchdogs, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers alert when something is suspicious. However, the alert can be soon enough washed away by their overly friendly approach. Other domains of their character are self-confidence, happiness and steady behavior.

Like we mentioned before, children and other pets will find comfort and serenity while around them. The level of friendship increases when they grow up together, both other animals and children. Their hunting gene will appear from time to time in the form of chasing vermin around the backyard. Early socialization with other dogs and surroundings is very important in contributing to their well-being later on in life. The dog needs to adapt to all types of sounds, sights, people and animals.

Health and Potential Problems

There are some diseases typical for Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, usually appearing when the dog reaches full maturity and later on in life. That rounds up to the second year of age. It’s not a written rule that every individual of the breed will suffer from some of the diseases, but when considering it as a pet, as an owner you should be aware of them.

  • PLN–Protein Losing Nephropathy: the disease is characterized by excessive amounts of plasma and proteins being wasted through the kidneys. Some of the common symptoms are kidney failure, heavy breathing, thirst and excessive urination, limb and abdomen swelling, weight loss and diarrhea. Blood examinations will show anemia, increased levels of phosphorus, cholesterol, urea nitrogen, and serum creatinine. Even though there isn’t a cure, proper medications and diet contribute to healthier living.
  • PLE – Protein Losing Enteropathy
  • Just like in PLN, there is a loss of proteins and plasma, but this time the excretion is through the gastrointestinal system. The symptoms are generally the same like in PLN, and the blood analysis show decreased levels of globulins, albumins and blood cholesterol. Like before, there isn’t a cure, but medications and diet help in managing PLE.
  • Hypoadrenocorticism is also known as Addison’s Disease. The condition is very serious but diagnosing it can be hard mostly because of the common symptoms in the early stages which include lack of energy, lack of appetite and vomiting, just like in many other diseases. Later on when potassium levels drop the damaged heart function can lead to death as a result of shock. Be prepared for intensive analysis in order for the vet to confirm the Addison’s Disease to be the major problem.

Considering inherited diseases, the Renal Dysplasia is to be expected in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers if they come from a breeder that does not proper health clearances for the parents of the puppy. The disease is characterized by renal failure because of abnormal growth of the organ, and symptoms such as constant infections of the urinary tract, vomiting, lack of appetite, excessive urination and water consumption as a result. Choosing a puppy from a secure breeder is the best advice in this case.

Care Features

The breed should get enough daily exercise so it could adapt to any indoor living places like houses or apartments. Because the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is prone to connecting significantly with its owners it’s advisable that it should live indoors with his family. The preferred exercises are a couple of 10-15 minute walks, a game of Frisbee, fetch or any other suitable dog sport that is fun, enjoyable and healthy both for the dog and the owner.

The training for the dog should start early and as long as the owner has an understanding for the occasional mind-of-his-own associated situations with the breed’s representatives, the process should run smoothly. It’s never a good idea to be harsh or negative on the dog, but positive, praising and rewarding.

The dog is expected to enjoy every single minute of play with the owner, as long as the area is fenced and secured, because small animals might distract the dog and activate the hunting gene. Don’t consider placing an underground electric fence because it won’t stop a Soft coated Wheaten Terrier from running towards the furry prey.

They don’t like rain, but enjoy the snow. Heat has a bad effect on them so in summer they require constant mild temperatures to keep them vivid.

Feeding Schedule

The feeding schedule for a grown Wheaten Terrier is about 1.5-2 cups of food daily. The food should be high-quality dry dog food and divided into two separate meals.

The individual aspect plays a role in choosing the right food and amount. Such aspects are the level of activity, constitution, size, age and sex. More active dogs require more food and the couch ones less. To secure a proper nutrition consult with your dog’s vet for getting the properly balanced nutrition.

In order to conclude if your dog is in a good or a bad shape perform the simple hands-on test or the eye tests. Observe him and touch him, the ribs should be palpable but not visible. Leaving food in the bowl whole day is a bad idea because the food can be contaminated with dirt or insect residues. Give the dog food twice daily and throw away the leftovers. If you think the dog is overweight blend in a bit more exercise in his biorhythm.

Coat, Color and Grooming

What makes the Soft coated Wheaten Terrier different from the rest of the family is his silky like coat in a single layer. The coat spreads over the whole body gently in the form of waves. A little fall of hair covers the eyes of the dog.

There are many variations of the wheaten color, like gold or pale and anything in between. Here and there an incidental black, red, white hair on the coat. It’s usual that the ears and mouth have gray shadings.

With puppies, the coat is darker and it lightens up as the dog gets older. Until the dog reaches two years of age the final color can’t be known. Also, the wave-like form comes only after sexual maturity.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier sheds lightly because of the single layer of coat on the dog. It is considered to be a hypoallergenic breed, because a non-allergenic can’t exist (mostly because of the saliva and the dander allergens). Before getting such dog, try your luck around other individuals of the breed and spend time with them to see if you have an allergic reaction.

It’s not necessary to bathe your Wheaten too often, only in situations when you cannot stand the smell and dirt anymore. Considering grooming and brushing, it’s all based on taste. If you want your dog to look thinner, use the brush more often, and if not, two or three times a week will suffice. In any case, consider purchasing the proper equipment for doing the job (scissors, greyhound comb, pin brush etc.).

Dental hygiene, as well as nail care conclude the esthetic and health care your dog needs to receive. Brushing the teeth can be done two or three times per week as long as your dog allows it. Keep in mind that daily brushing is the best option though. If you hear clicking on the floor when the dog walks it means it’s time to cut the nails, of course using the proper equipment. Usually, the nail care should be done once or two times in a month. If you don’t feel competent enough to the cutting yourself then you should take your dog to a professional.

Getting your puppy used to frequent grooming, teeth brushing, nail cutting and ear cleaning with the habit of rewarding him afterward will ease your life doing those things when the dog is an adult.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Children of all ages will do just fine with a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier as they have steel nerves and can take any kind of irritation while staying calm. In any case, it still is an animal so your children need to know the risks of doing certain things to the dog, and learn to treat it with respect and nurture positive approach to it.

Unlike other terriers, the Wheaten won’t show territory-defending behavior and are pretty friendly towards other dogs. Any other small and furry animals better make a run for it if they ever encounter a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.

If you are not a neat freak and want a terrier that doesn’t need a lot of exercise, this is the breed for you! This loving, friendly breed will be your best companion. If you can find the time to take care of him and his coat, don’t hesitate, fill your home with fun and happiness! The Wheaten will be best friends with your kids and will protect them as if they are his own. Make sure you give him all the love he deserves!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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