Meet the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier: An Irish Treasure

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soft coated wheaten terrier puppies in fieldAre you looking for a kind-natured dog that still has enough energy to keep up with an active young family? The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier may be the pet for you! Read on to learn about the breed’s history, tips for care and training, and where to get them!

Fluffy, Cute, and Loving: Who is the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium dog breed, who was originally used as a general farm dog. Nowadays, they are better known to be lovable pets, all thanks to their sweet temperament and easygoing natures.

Apart from their fun-loving personality, these doggos are gaining much popularity for their amazingly soft and silky coats.

An Irish Treasure: History of the Wheaten Dog

The Wheaten Terrier breed hails from Ireland, where it is still a very popular dog. These dogs were bred as all-round farm dogs, where their roles included guarding, killing vermin, bird-dogging, herding, and of course, companionship.

This breed was sometimes known as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound”, as these dogs were owned by working people, rather than the gentry.

The Wheaten dog breed is believed to be over 200 years old, and it shares ancestry with two other popular Irish breeds—the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier. The breed was first recognized by the Irish Kennel Club in 1937, and by the British Kennel Club in 1943.

Wheatens came to America in the same decade, brought by Lydia Vogel, but the breed was not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1973.

It’s A Wheaten, not Wheaton Terrier!

The name “wheaten” comes from wheat, and describes the unique and distinctive color of these dogs coats.

Appearance and Personality of the Sweet Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium-sized dog, famed for its silky soft single coat. In fact, there are two coat types present for the breed, the Irish coat, which is softer and gently waved, and the American coat, which is coarser and more wooly.

The Irish coat is the breed standard, including in America. All of these dogs are the same unique, wheaten shade.

Wheaten Terrier puppies are born with darker coats of reddish-brown or mahogany. This dark coat grows out to almost white in adolescent dogs, before maturing to the eponymous wheaten color.

If a dog loses fur for any reason once it is mature, the fur will grow back in the same puppy mahogany, turning wheaten once it has reached full length.

These dogs have the square stance that is typical of many Terriers, and a strong, sporty build. Their dark eyes are wide set and slightly almond-shaped, with an alert expression.

The tail is usually docked in the US, and is carried straight up at 90 degrees to the back.

How Big Do They Get?

These dogs are medium-sized, with an average height of 18 to 19 in (46 to 48 cm) for males and 17 to 18 in (43 to 46 cm) for females. The average weight for this breed is 35 to 40 lb (16 to 18 kg) for males and 30 to 35 pounds (14 to 16 kg) for females.

Do These Puppers Have A Good Temperament?

This breed is known for a good-natured, playful temperament, though they can be very energetic. This energy is present in all ages of Wheaten Terriers, not just puppies and young dogs, so make sure you’re committed to a rigorous exercise routine for at least the next 10 years!

Wheaten Terriers typically get on well with children and other dogs, though they should be supervised around young children or very small dogs, due to their high energy levels and prey drive.

wheaton terrier prancing

4 Facts You Need to Know About Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Puppies

  1. According to the AKC, the  Wheaten Terrier is the 49th most popular breed in the US, right behind the Bloodhound.
  2. A Wheaten Terrier stars in a famous piece of Victorian art, “The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child” by Frederic William Burton.
  3. Why not consider a traditional Irish Gaelic name for your Wheaten pup? Great Gaelic Wheaten Terrier names include Keeva (“gentle, beautiful, precious”), Maeve (“the cause of great joy”) and Ava (“beautiful, radiant, joyful”) for females, or Glendon (“one from the settlement or fortress in the glen”), Lorcan (“silent, brave”) and Niall (“passionate, vehement”) for males.
  4. Because Wheatens don’t shed, they are less likely to cause allergies than other dogs. They do still produce dander, however.

From Grooming to Training! Caring for your Wheaten Terrier Puppy

All puppies require lots of care and hard work, and Wheaten Terrier puppies are no different! These dogs need a good quality dog food that can give them the energy they need without causing obesity, which can happen with these dogs if they don’t have a healthy diet.

Grooming and Maintenance Requirements!

Like Poodles, the Wheaten Terrier dog does not shed its fur, and as such needs frequent trimming. They also need daily brushing to keep their coats free of tangles and debris.


Dogs of this breed are intelligent, and can be trained, but may have a stubborn, headstrong streak.

With consistent training though, these dogs can even compete in obedience and agility trials, as well as working as animal-assisted therapy dogs, all of which stand testament to the breed’s trainability.

Wheaten Terriers respond best to positive reinforcement, as harsher methods can result in aggression or nervousness. Start training from a young age, before any bad habits have a chance to develop.

Are Wheaten Terrier Puppies A Healthy Breed?

This breed is generally strong and healthy, especially dogs that come from responsible breeders. However, as with all breeds, there are certain conditions that these dogs are more prone to.

Wheaten Terriers are at an increased risk of Von Willebrand’s Disease (a blood clotting disease), hip dysplasia, renal dysplasia (which affects the kidneys), Addison’s Disease (a hormone disorder) and degenerative myelopathy (a neurological disorder that can lead to weakness and paralysis in the hind legs).

These dogs are also prone to inheriting protein-wasting conditions, including protein-losing nephropathy (PLN) and protein-losing enteropathy (PLE). In PLN, dogs lose protein in the kidneys, while in PLE, they lose protein in the digestive tracts.

As many of these conditions are hereditary, all responsible breeders will carry out genetic testing before breeding dogs together, to minimize the likelihood of these diseases being passed on.

Always discuss genetic testing with a breeder before purchasing a puppy.

These Puppers Can Live A Long and Happy Life!

These dogs are one of the more long-lived breeds, given their modest size and hardy origins. The average lifespan for a Wheaten Terrier is 10 to 13 years.

soft-coated wheaten terrier rescue looking out window

5 Tips for First Time Owners with Wheaten Terriers

  1. As with all Terrier breeds, these dogs have a strong prey drive. Though they tend to get on well with other dogs, if you want them to live with cats or other pets, they will need careful socialization from a young age.
  2. These dogs are suited to the cool Irish climate, and can easily overheat in warm weather.
  3. Given their guarding origins, these dogs are likely to bark at strangers or perceived intruders. Careful training and socialization from a young age can help to minimize this behavior.
  4. These dogs need lots of exercise: ideally at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. They love having a garden to race around in. That being said, they can adapt to living in an apartment, as long as they get frequent walks.
  5. Wheatens are people-oriented dogs, and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. These dogs can get separation anxiety if left, which can result in barking and destructive behavior.

Ready to Get A Wheaten Spaniel Puppy?

All puppies are adorable, but also hard work! Wheaten puppies are no different, so be prepared to commit lots of time, effort, money and love to your new furry friend!

Reputable Wheaten Breeders!

Always buy puppies from reputable breeders—we can’t say it enough! Not only will you get a happier, healthier puppy with all its vaccinations, and which has been tested for hereditary diseases, but you will also be supporting ethical, cruelty-free businesses.

The AKC keeps a directory of active, vetted breeders with puppies for sale, as does the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America (SCWTCA).

Wheaten Terrier Rescue!

If a puppy isn’t for you, why not consider adopting an adult Wheaten Terrier? The SCWTCA also lists Wheaten Terrier rescue organizations on their website.

The Price of a Pup!

Expect to pay around $1,000 for a Wheaten Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder.

A Softie Who’ll Never Leave You!

These beautiful, happy dogs make great family pets. They’ll be content to follow you around, go for runs, and curl up in front of the TV with you at the end of the day. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?

Common Questions

Where does the name “Wheaten” come from?

What is the difference between an Irish Wheaten and an American Wheaten?

How much exercise do these dogs need?

Can Wheaten Terriers live in apartments?

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