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From Irish farms in the 1800s to 21st-century sky-rises, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier has never felt out of place. With a soft, silky coat and a friendly, cheerful disposition, this medium-sized dog has charmed owners all over the world.
17 – 19 inches
30 – 40 pounds
12 – 14 years
Wheaten, White, Black, Red
Families, new owners, apartment dwellers
Cheerful, friendly, devoted
It is a sturdy, medium-sized dog that was originally bred for work on a farm, including hunting and tracking. Traditionally bred with a wheat-colored golden tan coat (hence the name), today it is also found with white, black, and red coats, although some clubs still require the wheaten color.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Characteristics
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Puppies
If you’re a first-time dog owner looking for a friend, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier might be a good choice. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are fairly easy-care dogs for beginners, with gentle temperaments and cheerful dispositions, but there are still a few things to be aware of. Like most dogs, they require daily exercise. Their soft coats are beautiful, but they do require a bit of care, including regular brushing and clipping. It is worth the time and money to find a well-socialized puppy from a reputable breeder, as that will help minimize health and behavior problems down the road.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a fairly common dog breed, so reputable breeders are easier to find than in many other breeds, but there are also many unsafe breeders out there. Proper breeders invest in their dogs’ health and happiness, including spending money on veterinary care, giving breeding mothers enough time to recover between litters, and spending time with each puppy to make sure they are well socialized and used to humans. Getting a dog from a good breeder will make it less likely that your puppy has serious health problems and make training easier.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is known for its cheery attitude and loving temperament. They are usually very friendly, with a deep bond with their families. They often get along well with strangers, especially if they are used to meeting new people. They love to play and run, but they aren’t as active as some of the large dog breeds. It’s something special to have a Wheatie’s devotion.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier tends to adore children with some socialization. It loves to run, play, and cuddle with humans of all ages and can be a great companion for a growing child. Although the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a generally patient dog, don’t let children pull its ears, fur, and tail. Younger children should be supervised until they are old enough to play safely.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
Terriers tend to be a little territorial, but a lot depends on how your Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is raised. It can have issues with other dogs, but with proper socialization, it can usually learn to get along with them. Although Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers have a strong prey drive, they can sometimes get along with cats and other smaller animals. However, if you adopt one that hasn’t been raised around other dogs or small animals, it can be difficult or impossible to socialize this breed to get along.
Things to Know When Owning a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
The amount of food a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier needs depends on the dog, but in general, they need between 1½ and 2½ cups of good quality dry dog food each day. Younger, larger, or more active dogs will need more food than older, smaller, or less active dogs. Food should be split up into at least two meals. As with many dog breeds, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are prone to overeat and should be monitored carefully to prevent obesity. Adjustment in diet is necessary as they age.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are active dogs that need exercise every day to stay happy and in shape. This exercise should be a mix of moderate and high-intensity exercises such as walking, running, hiking, and playing. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers have a high prey drive and often require training and leashing to prevent them from going after cats and small animals. They enjoy spending time in a fenced backyard or similar space where they can run free. Some Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are also escape artists who dig and jump to get out of fences, so it’s important to know if your dog needs additional supervision.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a fairly trainable dog. It is important to train them for all-around good manners such as bark training and leash training. With some patience and persistence, you should be able to train your dog to walk nicely on a leash, be quiet when asked, and not jump on people. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are also excellent candidates for agility training, hunting training, and teaching tricks. Their background as intelligent hunting dogs means that they can learn to navigate many tasks.
As you are training your dog, a few general principles will help you build a good relationship. You should be calm, firm, and consistent with your dog. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers don’t do well with harsh training, punishment, or anger. Instead, correct your dog’s behavior as needed and reward good behavior. Treats can be a good motivator for some dogs, but when it comes to basic behavioral training, praise and positive attention can be healthier in the long run so that you don’t become too reliant on food to keep behaviors good.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are low shedding dogs, but their coat is a little high maintenance. Their fur needs to be brushed every day to keep healthy and clean. A gentle comb is best for removing tangles and dirt without frizzing up their wavy hair. They also need regular trims from a professional groomer. Hair around the ears and eyes needs to be trimmed regularly, and a short haircut can help minimize tangles and keep your dog cool in hot weather. You might also need to regularly clean teeth and ears and trim claws.
You shouldn’t need to bathe your Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier too frequently. The oils in a dog’s skin and hair are important and healthy, and bathing strips these oils, so it’s best to wait until your dog is muddy or smelly. This varies depending on the dog and the environment, but it’s normal for a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier to go several weeks without a bath.
Health and Conditions 🏥
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a fairly healthy dog. It can suffer from various protein-loss conditions as well as minor conditions such as dysplasia, Addison’s disease, and retinal atrophy. Vets often run hip and eye exams as well as urine screens on Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers to test their health, especially as they get older.
No dog breed is a guarantee of perfect health. Your Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier might develop any of a number of diseases that the breed isn’t prone to. You can help by keeping your dog healthy with proper feeding and exercising (including avoiding obesity) and taking your dog in for regular checkups.
Male vs Female
Male Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are a little bit bigger than females, and they have a reputation for being higher energy. Although that might be generally true, there’s a lot of variation from dog to dog and each one has a different personality, so getting one gender isn’t a guarantee of better behavior. Both males and females are healthier and have fewer behavioral issues when they are neutered. Unless you plan to use your dog for breeding or showing, it’s recommended to have your dog neutered to prevent unwanted puppies and help your dog be happy and healthy.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
1. This Breed Has Humble Irish Roots
Originally bred to protect farms in the Irish countryside, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier excelled at everything from vermin protection to guard duty. Soon, farmers started taking it on hunts, leading to the nickname, “poor man’s Greyhound.”
2. It’s Associated With St. Patrick’s Day
For an Irish dog, it’s only natural to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The breed was entered into the Irish Kennel Club on St. Patrick’s Day in 1937, and the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was established on St. Patrick’s Day in 1962.
3. This Breed Had a Rapid Rise in Popularity
Although the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was only admitted to the American Kennel Club in 1973, it exploded in popularity. Less than 50 years later, it is the dog as of 2020, just behind the Scottish Terrier.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a fantastic dog for many owners all around the world. Its soft, silky coat makes it a pleasure to pet. It is happy and good-tempered, with a fierce loyalty to its family. Although it has a high prey drive and needs some training, it is still a fairly good dog for new owners and families. If you have a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, she’s sure to steal your heart.
Featured Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock