The Soft Coated Wheaten terrier is a pure breed terrier originating from Ireland. The Wheaten can have one of two different coats, the Irish coat, which is silky and wavey, or the heavy (American) coat which is thicker and fuller.

The Weaten was bred in Ireland for over two hundred years, to be the all-purpose farm dog, its duties included herding and guarding the flock as well as hunting and killing vermin. In Ireland, they were often referred to as the poor mans wolfhound, although they shared a common ancestry with the Kerry Blue terrier and the Irish terrier they were not owned by gentry.


Despite its long history the Wheaten was not accepted as a breed by the Irish Kennel club until 1937, and 1943 by the British Kennel club. In the 1940s the breed was exported to the U. S by Lydia Vogel, but it took another ten years for any serious interest in the breed to develop, finally being accepted by the American Kennel club in 1973.

Wheaten puppies can have dark coats of red, brown or mahogany although some may be white, their muzzles are black or dark brown, any reddish brown colours gradually fade to nearly white before maturing into a wheaten coloured coat as they get older.

The Soft Coated Wheaten is a medium-sized dog with an average height of 17 to 20 inches, and an average weight between 14 and 20kg. The Wheaton as a square structure and is well-built, unlike most dogs their soft silky coat doesn’t shed, but it does keep growing, so they need trimming, and should be brushed and combed once a day.

They are an intelligent breed of dog, which are easy to train, they love people and they rarely have aggression issues if bred and looked after properly.

The Irish coat which as a devoted following in Britain tends to be thinner and silkier than the American variety, breeders of the pure Irish type believe it to be the original working coat. The Wheatens seen in Ireland today are the same size, shape and coat texture as those seen and documented well over a hundred years ago.


Soft Coated Wheatens are generally a long-lived breed, although they can be susceptible to certain hereditary diseases, these include protein losing nephropathy (PLN), where the dog loses protein via the kidneys and protein losing enteropathy (PLE) where the dog fails to absorb protein in their digestive tracts, causing it to pass in their stool. Both PLN and PLE are potentially fatal, if caught early they can be sometimes manage with strict diet and pharmaceuticals. Potential Wheaten owners should discuss health issues with the breeder before deciding to get a puppy.

Being a playful energetic dog, the Soft Coated Wheaten needs regular exercise, a positive even-handed approach works best with this headstrong and intelligent terrier. If socialised from an early age with cats and other puppies, they can get along well, if not care should be taken as the breed as a very strong prey drive due to its vermin hunting origin. They are a cold weather dog, so care is needed to make sure they don’t overheat in warm weather.

Wheatens are extremely friendly and loving pets, they are very protective of their owners, but although they may bark to alert of danger, they rarely get aggressive, this is why many Wheaten owners say, they are good watchdogs but poor guard dogs.

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michael simpson

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