The Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier is a pure bred dog originating from Ireland and was bred there for over 200 years to be an all-purpose farm dog. His duties included herding, hunting and killing vermin, and watching and guarding livestock. They share a common ancestry with the Kerry Blue Terrier, and the Irish Terrier. However, they were not owned by gentry. In Ireland they were commonly known as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound. Today the breed competes in agility, tracking and obedience activities and are sometimes used in animal-assisted therapy.
The Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier is medium in size and stands between 17-20 inches tall. The average weight for the breed is about 30-45 pounds. He is well built and has a square structure. He is hardy and well balanced. His head is well balanced and is in proportion to its body; rectangular in appearance and moderately long. His eyes are dark in color, reddish brown or brown, medium in size, set fairly wide apart, and are almond shaped. The ears of the Wheaten are small to medium in size, dropping slightly forward, breaking level with the skull, and the inside edge of the ear lying next to the cheek and pointing to the ground. The muzzle is powerful and strong; the nose is black and large for the size of the dog. The coat of the Wheaten is a distinguishing characteristic that sets it apart from all other Terriers. An abundant single coat covers the entire body, legs, and head. The coat on the head falls forward to shade the eyes. Its texture is silky and soft, and has a gentle wave.
This breed is an energetic and playful dog. He does require consistent positive training, as well as patience. The use of harsh training methods often result in fear and/or aggression. Commonly referred to as the “Wheaten greetin”, he is an enthusiastic greeter, and will often jump up to lick a person’s face. This breed is considered less scrappy than the other Terrier breeds, but they are true Terriers and are more active than many other breeds. Because of their high energy, they do best when the get plenty of regular exercise. This breed has a very strong prey-drive and because of this early socialization should be done to help ensure they will be good with cats and other small animals. This is an extremely friendly and loving pet, and are very protective of their families. While they may bark at strangers, they rarely get aggressive. Many Wheaten owners claim they make great watch dogs, but not good guard dogs. The Wheaten makes a good dog for children and are normally friendly towards them.
This is generally a long- lived breed and the average lifespan of the dog is 10.5-12.5 years old. The Wheaten is susceptible to various heritable diseases, but most are known for two protein wasting conditions; protein-losing nephropathy, and protein- losing enteropathy. Other health issues involving the Wheaten include renal dysplasia, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison’s disease, and cancer. Some can suffer from food and environmental allergies, and are prone to the skin disease atopic dermatitis.