Friendly, happy, and deeply devoted to his loved ones, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, also known as the Wheaten, is just stubborn enough to remind you that he is a Terrier. Bred as an Irish farm dog, this merry extrovert got his name from his coat of pale beige and shimmering gold, which is reminiscent of the color of ripening wheat. Described physically as “an iron fist in a velvet glove”, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was a versatile farm dog who guarded the chicken coop and herded the livestock. The Wheaten originated from the same ancestors as the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier.
Characteristics of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Here are some of the defining characteristics that make the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier truly unique.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a square, sturdy fellow with a long head hairdo and adorable goatee. The silky, gently waving coat of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is what sets him apart in appearance from other Terriers. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has two coat types: Irish or Heavy/American. The Heavy/American coat is thicker and fuller than the silky and wavy Irish coat. The soft coat of Wheaten puppies can range in color from dark red, brown, mahogany, or white. As the puppy gets older, their coat matures into the staple wheaten color. The Wheaten males stand between 18 and 19 inches tall, while the females stand between 17 and 18 inches tall. The males typically weigh between 35 and 40 pounds, while the females weigh between 30 and 35 pounds.
Energetic and playful, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier lives up to his Terrier name. Extremely loyal and affectionate towards his family, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier will enthusiastically greet his owners and the door by jumping up high and licking their face. Many Wheaten owners call this adorable greeting the “Wheaten Greetin’”. Wheatens are very protective of their family and may bark excessively in alert at strangers, though they rarely become aggressive. Therefore, this breed makes a good watch dog, but not such a good guard dog. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are great with children and sturdy enough that they will not be harmed by toddlers playing roughly. However, his boundless energy and exuberance may overwhelm young children on occasion.
If socialized with cats and other dogs as a puppy, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier can get along with other household pets just fine. However, much caution should be taken when introducing your Wheaten to unknown animals. As the breed has an extremely strong prey drive due to its vermin-hunting origin, this is not a good breed for households that have rodents as pets. Due to their relatively small size, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers can make great apartment pets, but they will also do well living in large homes. No matter his lifestyle, your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier will be happy: he is extremely adaptable.
You can expect your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier to live between 12 and 14 years of age.
Caring for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
What does the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier need to live a long, happy life? Let’s find out.
Your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier will need to be fed a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for his age- puppy, adult, senior, etc. Treats can be a valuable tool to use during training but avoid feeding your pet too many treats as this can cause obesity, which can lead to many other problems. Table scraps should also be given sparingly and avoid especially those table scraps containing bones and contents rich in fat. Clean, fresh water should always be available for your dog to drink, especially because the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is an active breed. Always consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s diet or weight.
Even more hyper and active than other Terriers, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier does best when exercised regularly. His high energy will seem to never diminish. Your Wheaten will enjoy a couple of brisk daily walks with you for exercise and bonding. However, make sure your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is always on a leash or in an enclosed area when running around, because this breed has a high prey drive and may instinctively chase after small animals (or anything that moves, such as cars) and run off. Wheatens are built for colder weather and can therefore overheat easily in hot weather, so make sure to monitor your dog’s temperature during exercise.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier requires patience and consistent, positive training methods. Harsh training methods can result in a fear or aggression in the Wheaten, who is intelligent and headstrong. Often having his own agenda, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier can prove difficult during training for inexperienced dog owners. It’s very important to have your Wheaten participate in puppy socialization and training classes while young, before bad habits have a chance to become ingrained. The most important aspect of any dog training program is consistency.
The soft, silky coat of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier doesn’t just look great on its own- it requires quite a bit of maintenance by Wheaten owners. During each daily grooming session, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s coat should be brushed with a pin brush or slicker brush. This will remove dirt and loose hair. After that, the coat should be combed with a medium-toothed, and then a fine-toothed, metal comb. This will get rid of mats that can be pulled apart with a combination of a brush, comb, and fingers- but never with scissors. The good news is that Wheatens seldom shed. In addition to coat grooming, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers need their nails trimmed regularly and their teeth cleaned during regular check-ups at the veterinarian using toothpaste specifically designed for dogs.
Wheatens can be prone to certain medical conditions such as protein-losing nephropathy (a kidney condition), several gastrointestinal conditions, Addison’s disease, and renal dysplasia. However, if you have purchased your Wheaten puppy from a responsible breeder, many harmful conditions will have been genetically screened for in your puppy’s parents, so you should have nothing to worry about. As always, though, consult your pet’s veterinarian for regular check-ups and if you have any concerns about his health.