Ever since I was a little kid, I have always had a fascination with the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. One of my best friends owned a Wheaten named Maggien and she was the sweetest, most loving and affectionate little dog I had, up until that point in my life, ever met.
It was then, upon meeting Maggie and discovering her breed, that my obsession with Wheatens grew. I couldn’t help it. I was hooked.
To this day I haven’t gotten my hands on a Wheaton Terrier to call my own, though I’ve vowed to one day eventually do just that.
My boyfriend’s first dog was a Wheaten. When we met and he found out what I do for a living, he excitedly told me all about his sweet Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier whom he had gotten as a puppy from a breeder.
“He was the best dog!” He said passionately about his beloved pup. Of course, don’t we all say that about our own personal dogs?
But there has to be something pretty spectacular about this shaggy coated, sweet-faced dog breed that keeps people coming back time and again. The reality is that Wheatens have built themselves a large and loyal fanbase over the years, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my overt adoration for the Wheaten Terrier breed as a whole.
In fact, the more people I talk to, the more I come to realize that I’m not even close to being alone with my Wheaten wonderment. It would appear that other dog lovers love Wheaten Terriers with as much passion as my boyfriend and I do. Start up a conversation with a Wheaten owner, and they will go on and on just raving about their dog’s unique intelligence, devoted personality, and famously hypoallergenic coat.
Still, I want to know more about this breed and, if you’re here, chances are you do too.
It’s easy to fall in love at first sight with an adorable Wheaten Terrier, but just because a Wheaten Terrier looks like the right dog for you doesn’t mean he is.
So, with that in mind, let’s go over everything a potential owner should know about a Wheaten Terrier in the hopes of helping you (and me) figure out what kind of home and owner this shaggy pup would do best with!
What Is A Wheaten Terrier?
The Soft Coated Wheaten is a purebred terrier dog known for his affectionate personality and relentless work ethic.
Just what is the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, you ask? Is he a purebred dog? A mix? A hybrid of some kind?
The Wheaten can easily be confused for some of today’s most popular Poodle mixes due to his soft, shaggy coat and endearing expression, but the truth is that the Wheaten Terrier is a purebred dog who has been around for centuries.
A dog belonging to the Terrier group, the Wheaten is a humble, family-oriented, hard working pup who loves to play and will behave in a puppy-like manner throughout his lifetime.
And while the Wheaten has a number of wonderful qualities that make him an ideal family dog, he sits at a moderate number 53 out of 191 on the American Kennel Club’s list of America’s Most Popular Dog Breeds.
The Wheaten may not be as popular as he could be in the United States, but that has nothing to do with his wonderful traits, amazing personality, and insanely cute look.
But what is it about the Wheaten’s personality that has gained such a loyal fan base over the years? Furthermore, where did he come from and what was this canine cutie originally bred for?
To find out, we’ll need to dive into a bit of rich Irish history. Keep reading!
Where Does The Wheaten Terrier Come From?
The Wheaten Terrier originally hails from Ireland, where he earned his keep as a humble working dog.
Shaggy, intelligent, outgoing and naturally charming, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was built for a life of socializing and putting his clever mind to work.
Hailing from the rolling green hills of Ireland, Wheaten Terriers were meticulously and continuously bred for over two centuries for several different working purposes, but it is widely agreed that the Wheaten is an ancient farming dog with ties to both the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier.
Hard working, devoted, friendly, and fun, the Wheaten Terrier of today is a modern marvel. He combines all the best traits of a terrier mixed with other traits of other dogs we know and love.
He is friendly and family oriented like the Labrador, outgoing and funny like the Poodle, and patient with children and even other household pets.
Still, the Wheaten can have some chasing instincts due to his background as a hunting dog. Of course, hunting wasn’t all the Wheaten Terrier was known for back in his days as a working Irish terrier.
This is a renaissance breed of sorts who was bred for several purposes and jobs. Let’s learn more!
History Of The Wheaten Terrier – What Was The Wheaten Terrier Originally Bred For?
The Irish Wheaten Terrier was bred for a few different jobs and he excelled at all of them.
There is a reason the ancient Soft Coated Wheaten continued to be bred for over two hundred years by Irish farmers and hunters alike.
The Soft Coated Wheaten proved himself to be a skilled, hardworking companion who enjoyed a good days’ hard work and loved working alongside his human counterparts.
Wondering what some of the Wheaten Terrier’s duties were back in his old Irish working days? Wonder no more!
Intelligent and fearless, the Wheaten was an ideal herding dog and bird dog, and he even dipped his paws into some pretty exciting pest control endeavours.
That’s right! This sweet and smart pup was an excellent vermin catcher on farms and in homes. He also excelled at hunting and bird dogging with his masters for sport.
However, the Wheaten was perhaps most often used as a herding dog and livestock guardian, in spite of the fact that he is rarely known to be aggressive and despite the fact that the Wheaten Terrier really isn’t all that large in size.
Still, the Wheaton’s vocal bark and assertive nature alerted his people to anything that might have been amiss on the farm or in the fields with livestock.
Today, the Wheaton’s vocal talents make him a wonderful guard dog in the home. Of course, don’t expect him to be a devoted protector. He will greet strangers like they are old friends the moment they step through the door.
And speaking of this friendly demeanor, let’s talk a little bit more about the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s temperament.
What Is The Wheaten Terrier’s Temperament Like And Is He A Good Family Dog?
The Wheaten is known for being friendly and makes a wonderful family dog.
Wheatens are famous for a few different traits – their soft, flowing coat, their incredible work ethic, and their friendly nature!
This is a dog who’s infectiously friendly personality will steal everyone’s heart. He loves to play just as hard as he loves to snuggle.
One of the greatest things about the Wheaten Terrier is how well he does in homes with children. Of course, with that being said, it’s very important for potential Wheaten owners with youngsters to make sure they socialize their Wheaten Terrier at an early age and consistently train him using positive reinforcement methods to help ensure a harmonious relationship between the dog and the child.
We also suggest talking to your children about the proper ways to interact and handle the family dog. Remind kiddos that dogs don’t like being grabbed, jerked on, poked or prodded, or shoved around. Remember, even the best behaved and trained dog can growl, nip, or bite out of fear or pain so it’s very important to supervise very young or rambunctious children around your Wheaten Terrier to ensure everyone is playing safely and gently.
We should also note that, while the Wheaten Terrier is known to do well with other household pets like dogs and cats, he is also known to exhibit some aggressive or territorial tendencies with other dogs of the same sex.
Keep in mind that the Wheaten Terrier is a Terrier, and Terrier dogs are known for a few key personality traits that may make them tough to handle for some novice dog owners who aren’t prepared.
Terrier dogs are known for their stubborn personalities, their high level of intelligence, their prey drive, their sass, and their business.
Like most Terrier breeds, the Wheaten Terrier can be a bit difficult to train due to his stubborn ways and will need a consistent, patient owner who is willing to invest a good amount of time in training their Wheaten posivitly using treats and praise.
And while the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is known for his happy-go-lucky, playful, and even puppy-like personality, he does have a tendency to become extremely attached to his family and may easily develop separation anxiety which can lead to destructive behaviors if left home alone for long periods of time.
What Does The Wheaten Terrier Look Like?
The Wheaten is known for his adorable look and his soft, wavy coat that comes in different shades.
Wheaten Terriers are cute. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. Not only do they behave in a puppy-like manner throughout their life but they also tend to look somewhat puppy-like, even well into their senior years.
The adorable Wheaten Terrier is perhaps most famous for his luxurious, shaggy coat which is considered to be hypoallergenic, can be wavy or curly, and requires a certain amount of grooming and care to keep it mat and tangle-free.
Here is a quick overview of the Wheaten Terrier’s average appearance:
Wheaten Terrier Height: 17 – 19 Inches
Wheaten Terrier Weight: 30 – 40 Pounds
Wheaten Terrier Coat Color: The Wheaton’s coat comes in several shades of beige, including white, creme, light brindle, dark brindle, wheaten, red, rich red, red brindle, grey, grey brindle, and dark brindle.
Is The Wheaten Terrier Considered Hypoallergenic? Yes
The adorable Wheaten Terrier dog’s coat can range in color and shade throughout his body as well, with many Wheaten Terrier’s having darker fur around the muzzle, eyes, ears, and paws.
Wheaten Terrier dogs also have moderate square muzzles, round brown eyes, and short, floppy ears.
How Do You Groom a Wheaten Terrier?
The Wheaten is known for his luxurious locks, but grooming him takes some commitment.
Like many dogs who are famous for their flowing coats, Wheatens need a fair amount of grooming and upkeep to ensure their luxurious locks stay healthy.
Wheatens can be prone to easy matting. They are shaggy coated dogs whose soft, silky hair is almost human-like and will need daily brushing and upkeep by using a few different types of grooming tools.
The good news is that Wheaten Terriers don’t need bathed as often as you may think for such a silky coated dog. In fact, many Wheaten experts agree that bathing your Wheaten once every other week will help keep him and his coat in ship shape.
Experts warn against bathing any more or less than necessary due to the fact that, like most dogs, Wheaten Terriers produce natural oils in their skin that helps to keep their fur healthy. Overbathing or underbathing could reduce or increase the rate at which these oils are produced, thus harming the Wheaton’s natural coat defenses.
Your Wheaten Terrier will probably need to see a groomer on occasion, and more often if you opt to give him a standard Wheaten Terrier haircut, although those trims are not necessary unless you want to show your dog.
Many Wheaten owners opt to keep their Wheaten Terrier in a traditional puppy cut, which can mean less time and money spent at a professional dog grooming salon.
Along with the proper grooming, brushing, and bathing of your Wheaten Terrier, you should also be sure to keep your Wheaton’s nails clipped keep split or broken nails from causing pain and hus ears will need to be cleaned regularly to help keep waxy buildup or excess moisture from causing him ear infections.
Now listen, we totally get that grooming your dog this often may not sound pleasant for either of you, but the truth is that, when done properly, daily grooming of your Wheaten can be a fun experience for both you and your pup. It will also aid in building a trusting bond between the two of you!
Most importantly, keeping up with proper grooming practices will help keep your Wheaten Terrier healthy.
Let’s learn more.
Health Issues And Lifespan Of An Average Wheaten Terrier
Like all dogs, the Wheaten Terrier can be prone to some genetic health issues.
All dogs can be susceptible to inheriting certain health issues from their parent dogs, and Wheaten Terrier is no exception.
Before committing to a Wheaten, it’s important you consider all the factors and risks he could face due to genetic health factors.
According to the American Kennel Club, the average Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has a lifespan of about 12 – 14 years and some of the most prevalent health concerns Wheaten Terriers may face include:
- Protein-losing nephropathy (kidney issues)
- Protein-losing enteropathy (gastrointestinal issues)
- Addison’s disease
- Renal dysplasia
- Ear infections
- And dental issues
According to the National Breed Club, some of the recommended health tests for Wheaten terriers include:
- Blood Chemistry Panel
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- UPC/Micro Albumin (MA) Testing
- And Urinalysis
Remember, all dogs can be prone to genetic health issues but the Wheaten is, for the most part, a healthy dog.
And while you can’t always predict what kind of ailments your dog will face in his future, you can help start him off on the right paw by getting him health screened at an early age so you and your vet can take preventative measures to help keep your Wheaten Terrier as healthy and happy as possible.
Other ways you can help keep your Wheaten feeling his best is by ensuring he maintains a proper diet for his age, weight, and activity level and, as we mentioned above, my maintaining proper and consistent groomed practices.
Another way you can help ensure your Wheaten lives a long and happy life is by making sure he gets plenty of exercise!
We’re about to find out!
What Are The Training And Exercise Requirements For Wheaten Terrier Dogs?
Wheatens are Terriers with a working dog origin, meaning they’ll need a lot of exercise and training.
Wheatens are Terriers with a working dog origin, meaning they’ll need a lot of exercise and training.
These highly adorable high achievers have endless amounts of energy and are in fact said to behave pretty puppylike well into their adulthood.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is an intelligent dog who needs lots of mental stimulation. He is also a sensitive dog in spite of his reputation as a somewhat of a bossy bee, and he’ll need consistent training with a firm yet patient owner who understands that positive reinforcement methods like treats and praise will work quicker and more effectively than aversive training or punishments.
Begin your Wheaten off young by socializing him and exposing him to as many new experiences as possible. Remember, it’s very important to ensure new experiences for a young Wheaton are positive, otherwise he could wind up developing fears of certain things.
For example, if you want your Wheaten Terrier to love water, don’t force him into the backyard pool. Instead, show him it can be fun and safe by introducing him to it slowly and gently, and by providing lots of praise and training treats along the way.
Making sure your Wheaten Terrier gets a proper amount of exercise will also help to alleviate any potential behavioral issues he may have due to excess energy or anxiety.
You should also keep in mind that Wheatens are known for their incredible enthusiasm and they love to run. They may have a high prey drive so walking your Wheaten on a good leash and harness is a must.
Experts also recommend that you make sure your backyard is safe for a Wheaten and his clever and energetic mind and body. This is a dog who is known for his incessant jumping habits and can actually jump quite high.
And speaking of jumping, Wheatens are jumpers who like to jump on everything and everyone, which could pose a problem for people who are easily irritated by jumpy dogs.
Training your Wheaten early on using positive reinforcement can help to reduce this undesirable behavior, but it is a part of the breed and has been known to be somewhat of an issue. So, that’s just an FYI.
Let’s Talk About The Pros And Cons Of Owning A Wheaten Terrier
Wheatens are great, but there are pros and cons to owning one of these adorable breeds.
Wheaten Terriers are cute, fun, funny, and family-oriented, but that doesn’t mean they are the right dog for every person and every home.
While you may love the way a Wheaten Terrier looks or behaves initially, keep in mind that there are some pros and cons to being a committed owner to Wheaten Terrier, and it’s a good idea to consider them before deciding to welcome a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier into your family.
Let’s go over a list of pros and cons to owning a Wheaten, starting with the good news first!
Pros To Owning A Wheaten Terrier:
- They are intelligent and devoted
- They make great family pets and get along well with children
- Wheatens are hypoallergenic and great for those who suffer from allergies
- He is a medium sized dog who is athletic, sturdy, and outgoing
- Wheatens know no stranger and enjoy making new friends
Cons To Owning A Wheaten Terrier:
- Wheaten Terriers are Terriers who can be bossy and stubborn
- Wheatens may be prone to destructive behaviors like digging and chewing if bored
- These are vocal dogs who enjoy barking
- Wheatens are spirited jumpers
- Wheatens require a certain amount of grooming upkeep
- These high-energy dogs need lots of exercise and training
- Some Wheatens have shown aggressiveness towards dogs of the same sex
What Is The Ideal Home Type For A Wheaten Terrier?
Wheatens do great in families with active households
Now that we’ve gone over some of the pros and cons to owning a Wheaten, let’s hone in a bit more on what the ideal home type would be for this dynamic dog.
Since Wheaten Terriers are known for their energetic, playful personalities, it’s clear that they will do best in homes with active families and with owners who are able to have flexible schedules and can be home with them often.
Wheatens will also thrive with people who are able and willing to devote the time and energy it takes to properly train and socialize them and keep them active and busy on a routine basis.
Remember, if Wheatens are left to their own devices too long or they become bored or anxious, they can be prone to destructive behaviors. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to go ahead and dog proof your home before you decide to get a Wheaton to keep both your dog and your valuables safe.
Wheatens can do well in larger apartments so long as their owners are able to get them out and exercised everyday. With that being said, Wheaten Terriers would do best in homes with backyard spaces where they are able to run around and get their exuberant, puppy-like energy out constructively.
If you have read this article and still want a Wheaten in your life but know your life is also super busy, don’t worry. That’s what dog walkers, pet car companies, and doggy day care centers are for!
A well socialized Wheaten Terrier can do well in doggy daycare if you have a busy schedule and are gone for most of the day. Of course, a loving Wheaten Terrier would certainly enjoy having his own private dog walker stop by the house to give him some love and attention throughout the day as well.
The choice is yours and the important thing to remember is that you have options!
Tips On Choosing A Healthy Wheaten Terrier Puppy Or Rescue
Going through trusted and responsible sources to get your Wheaten is plays a vital role in your dog’s overall health and happiness down the road.
Yes, it is unfortunately true that all dogs, no matter their breed or mix, can be prone to suffering from genetic health issues that could be out of our control.
Still, making sure your Wheaten starts off as a happy and healthy member of your family starts at the beginning.
Going through trusted and responsible sources to get your Wheaten plays a vital role in your dog’s overall health and happiness down the road.
And yes, we are aware that professional breeders can cost a pretty penny, but the good news is that they can save you a lot of money and emotional heartache in the future by helping to ensure your Wheaten Terrier puppy is healthy before he even goes home with you.
When picking out your Wheaten Terrier puppy, avoid going through backyard breeders, online sellers, pet stores, or sources who seem otherwise sketchy.
Do plenty of research and remember that responsible, reputable breeders will have health screened their puppies and even be able to provide you with certificates of health proving their dogs are cleared of any serious health issues before they go home with you.
Another benefit of going through a breeder is that you may have a chance to meet your puppy’s mother and get a better idea of what your WHeaten Terrier will look like and behave like once he is full grown.
If you would prefer to adopt your Wheaten Terrier (and trust us, we are huge advocates for the adopt don’t shop motto), then you’re in luck! There are a number of programs, rescues, and shelters that specifically focus on the Wheaten Terrier.
Many rescues and shelters even provide free initial veterinarian exams before releasing their dogs to homes. Plus, you can help reduce your chances of encountering certain behavioral issues by adopting an adult or young adult Wheaten Terrier who may be easier to train and have less energy and excitement to distract him.
So, do you think the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is the right dog for you? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.
Madison Guthrie (also known as Sonny Mackenzi) is a pet care specialist and positive-reinforcement trainer who works most closely with anxious and reactive dogs. Born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, Madison developed a love for animals at an early age and spent most of her childhood outdoors rescuing stray pets and helping to rehabilitate injured wildlife. Along with animals, Madison also developed a love for writing and music. Over the past five years, she has worked to use her passions to help the pets and pet parents in her community build stronger bonds and live happier, healthier lives together. Currently, Madison lives in South Pasadena, California where she owns and operates Miss Madison LLC, a marketing company that focuses on helping privately owned veterinary establishments and pet care companies grow and thrive. She also works as a dog trainer at My Dog Spot, which is an award-winning pet care and training establishment in Pasadena, California.