The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (commonly called a Wheaten, or even a "Wheatie") is a small- to medium-sized breed that, while still feisty, is one of the more relaxed terrier breeds. These dogs are great for families--and caring for and maintaining them is moderately time-consuming. The info below contains all you need to know about Wheaten Terrier care: puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. For everything Wheatie-related, keep reading!
Wheaten Terrier puppy development from birth to adulthood typically spans 14-16 months. Physically, Wheaties grow rapidly in height and length for about the first six months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent puppy "fills out" by gaining muscle mass and fat. And when do Wheaten Terriers stop growing? They're usually at their full adult size by about 12 months of age. Socially, Wheaties develop fairly steadily: they reach adolescence at 4-5 months, sexual maturity at 8-9 months, and full mental maturity by 14-16 months (though some will retain their puppylike behavior for up to an additional year). For specific developmental milestones, see the following chart:
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|2-3 Weeks||Eyes/ears open, begins walking|
|6-8 Weeks||Can be separated from mother, housetrained, introduced to solid food|
|3 Months||Old enough to begin exercise; further training; vaccinations/de-worming needed|
|5-9 Months||Adolescent period, characterized by increased fear, independence, disobedience|
|9 Months||Sexual maturity; can be switched to adult food|
Like all dogs, Wheaten Terriers need consistent physical activity in order to maintain their health and happiness. And like all terrier breeds, the Wheaten is crafty and clever, so these dogs will need activities that exercise their brains as well as their bodies. The good news: they don't need a great deal of it. Though these amounts can vary depending on a Wheatie's age, the typical adult Wheaten Terrier will need about 45 minutes of exercise per day. You can start exercising your Wheatie puppy at three months of age by taking it on short (10- to 15-minute) walks, the increasing the walks' duration as the puppy grows.
There are, of course, some precautions that need to be taken when exercising your Wheaten. First, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't be allowed to participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. Also, due to an extremely high prey drive, Wheaties should be leashed when in public. Here's why: an owner can be enjoying a leisurely walk with their unleashed Wheaten Terrier--when suddenly the dog is off like a shot chasing a bird or squirrel, not coming back to the owner for hours. When exercising in the yard, the area will need to be properly secured--and even then the dog will need to be supervised; Wheaties are superb escape artists, and will quickly dig under a fence (or heck, just jump over it!) to go after an interesting-looking critter.
Safeguards aside, it's important to give your Wheatie some exercise every day. These lively, cunning little dogs need constant physical and mental stimulation, and a bored or restless Wheaten will be destructive, disobedient, and generally unhappy. So frequent exercise will save your Wheatie's sanity--and your own. A few exercise ideas:
- Walking: Two 15-minute walks per day should suffice
- Hide-and-Seek: Great indoor activity; give your Wheatie a treat when it finds you
- Fetch/Frisbee: A Wheaten will chase a ball or Frisbee for hours
- Canine Sports: Wheaten Terriers excel at agility, flyball, and other competitions
- Hiking: Great bonding activity
When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Wheatie access to one or more balls or chew-toys that will allow the dog to release pent-up energy. It's also recommended that you have a consistent daily exercise schedule for your dog, such as walks after breakfast and dinner along with a play period in the afternoon.
Maintenance for these dogs in terms of shedding and drooling is pretty low overall. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier shedding is light--and drooling is pretty much a non-issue.
As a single-coated breed, Wheatens don't have an undercoat (which is what makes heavy-shedding breeds lose so much hair). Wheatens are often considered hypoallergenic, so they're good dogs for allergy sufferers--but does a Wheaten Terrier shed at all? They do, but very little. So owners won't need to concern themselves much with stray-hair cleanup.
And a Wheaten may drool a bit in anticipation of food, but almost never otherwise. If your Wheaten Terrier is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case you should consult a veterinarian.
Like all breeds, Wheaten Terrier diet and nutrition is vital to these dogs' health and longevity. This particular breed, as a fairly active terrier, will need food that's high in animal proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Wheaten Terriers are also known to have various dietary issues: some Wheatens have lesser ability to absorb certain proteins than most dogs, while other Wheatens have an intolerance to gluten (a protein found in many grains). The best Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier food, therefore, is premium grain-free dry food. The kibble will need to be high in quality because it'll contain the "correct" proteins and no grains; this specific combination is very difficult to find in cheap dog foods. Breed experts also recommend visiting a veterinarian to discuss the best diet plan for your Wheaten.
But how much of this premium food should you feed your Wheaten? The breed experts say that following the recommendations listed on the food packaging is not a good idea, as manufacturers purposefully make the portion suggestions high to make you use (and in turn, buy) more of their products. The typical adult Wheaten Terrier--and this amount may vary depending on the dog's age and activity level--will need 1½-2 cups of dry food per day; also depending on its age, a Wheaten Terrier puppy will need about one cup of food per day, divided into three meals per day until the pup is six months old. For further portion guidelines, see this feeding chart:
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|2 Months||3 lbs||Dry||0.2 cups||3x/day|
|3 Months||7 lbs||Dry||0.25 cups||3x/day|
|6 Months||15 lbs||Dry||0.4 cups||3x/day|
|9 Months||25 lbs||Dry||0.6 cups||2x/day|
|12 Months+||35 lbs||Dry||0.75 cups||3x/day|
Like all dog breeds, Wheaten Terriers will become obese if over-fed and under-exercised. Though obesity isn't as prevalent in these dogs as in some breeds, it's still an issue--and a fat Wheatie will have breathing, digestive, and joint problems, not to mention a shorter lifespan. Though the above-listed portions may seem small, they're ample enough, so try and stick to them. Also try to establish a consistent feeding schedule for your Wheaten so the dog gets used to eating at the same time every day. Don't feed the dog table scraps--and by all means, do not "free-feed" your Wheaten Terrier. Free-feeding is leaving food in a dog's bowl all the time, allowing it to eat anytime it wants; veterinarians say it's the number-one cause of canine obesity, and it's a thoroughly unhealthy practice overall. Put your Wheatie's bowl down only at mealtimes, and pick it up 15-20 minutes after the dog begins eating, even if food remains.If you're worried your Wheaten Terrier is overweight, give the dog this simple Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Decrease your Wheatie's daily food intake by one-fourth, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.
Though opinions differ on what's the best dog food for a Wheaten Terrier, the most sensible choice is premium grain-free dry food. Because Wheatens have certain dietary restrictions like possible inability to digest some proteins and possible gluten intolerance, high-quality food is recommended. Though it's more expensive, premium grain-free kibble will contain important ingredients--useful proteins and no grains--that cheap dog foods will lack.