Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier in the Snow

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Dog Breed

Other names:
Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Wheaten Irish Terrier
Wheaten Terrier

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (Irish: An Brocaire Buí) is a pure bred sporting terrier native to Ireland. Commonly nicknamed Wheaten or Wheatie, it is best known for its loving temperament and soft wavy wheaten colored coat. The Wheaten has Irish roots but has also since made its appearance around various areas of England, Australia, and The United States.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was originally bred for herding and guarding livestock in addition to hunting vermin. However, this breed with its happy attitude and sweet nature also makes an outstanding companion. The Wheaten gets along great with children and makes a perfect watch dog due to its alert demeanor and protectiveness over those closest to it. If integrated into social interactions as puppies they will behave gracefully among other pets.

Because this dog is protective and closely devoted to their families they are characterized as being very loyal and often considered excellent watch dogs. They do require some minimum straightforward training in the areas of obedience and social interactions because of their self-confidence and hunting custom but when faced early on, those things are not considered issues.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Breed Details

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a member of the Terrier group; these dogs were developed in Ireland as multi-purpose farm dogs, but have since become popular worldwide as loyal family pets. Wheaties are adaptable to a variety of lifestyles, and are good either as family companions or as working animals. Some Wheaten Terrier facts: they're medium-sized, with medium-length coats that are either scruffy (Irish) or woolly (American) in texture. Here are some Wheaten Terrier pros and cons:


  • Intelligent
  • Fairly low-maintenance
  • Good with children
  • Extremely alert and enthusiastic
  • Great watchdog abilities
  • Socializes well with other dogs
  • Adapts well to a variety of living situations
  • Good for first-time owners
  • Fairly healthy overall
  • Sheds very little


  • Can be stubborn and strong-willed
  • May suffer separation anxiety if left alone
  • Prone to hole-digging
  • Doesn't handle hot temperatures well
  • High prey drive means they may chase smaller animals
  • Will need early socialization with other pets
  • Are considered "bouncy" (will jump around vigorously)
  • Subject to Shaggy Dog Syndrome (debris clinging to coat)
12 - 15 yrs.
17 - 20 in.
35 - 45 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Breed Description

The Soft Coated Wheaten is a medium sized dog with a compact and sturdy stature. The breed ranges in height between 17-20 inches and weighs between 30-45 pounds. They have wheaten (rust) colored coats, dark paws, and dark colored muzzles. They have a lifespan between 12-15 years.

The Wheaten possesses a distinguishing blend of intelligence and enthusiasm making it easy to train and easy to love. The medium energy level gives this breed just the right balance of playfulness and obedience that sets it apart from other breeds. They are loving and happy making them thrive in most social situations especially if they receive proper training and exposure to social environments early in their lives. Soft coated terriers like the Wheaten tend to be the least aggressive of Terriers.

The overall maintenance of this breed is fairly low with the exception of slight training necessities. They require minimum care when it comes to grooming and exercise. As far as grooming goes a daily brushing and monthly wash and hair trim will just about do the trick. When it comes to exercise, the terrier will be just fine with a brisk walk or game of fetch in the park daily. Because the Wheaten is a terrier it is intelligent, making training a simple task in comparison to some other breeds. However, they do require firmness and consistency in order to receive proper training.

Breed History

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was recognized by the Irish Kennel Club in 1937 when it debuted in the Irish Kennel Club Championship on March 17, 1937. However, it has been said that the true date of origination cannot be located in printed form. Based on that mysterious fact it could quite possibly be one of the eldest Irish breeds. The validity of this claim is due to repetitive reference of a terrier that fits the same coat, color, and size descriptions of the Wheaten. Because of this information, it is believed that the Wheaten appeared much earlier in History.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is indigenous to Ireland and has been bred there for more than 200 years. They were originally bred as a multipurpose farm dog to guard, watch, and herd livestock animals as well as to hunt and kill other unwanted small animals such as rats and mice. It was then known as the &quoate;poor man's wolfhound"e;. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier still participates in various competitions today including tracking and obedience. Also, they are sometimes used in animal-assisted therapy.

The breed was registered with the Kennel Club in England and the British Kennel Club in the UK in 1943. Wheaton's also appeared in the United States in the 1940s when imported by Lydia Vogel of Massachusetts but the breed did not begin to flourish in the United States until around the late 1950s when they were brought to the US by the O'Connors and the Arnolds. The breed was in time recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. The 1970s was a blossoming period for the Wheaten because not only were they were recognized by the American Kennel Club but they also made their first appearance in Australia. The breed has since continued to grow and develop in all of the areas mentioned above.


The Wheaten Terrier is well known for its silky wavy wheaten colored coat. It is square in appearance and sturdy in stance. The boxy appearance of the body is in a balanced proportion with the rectangular shape of the head. The hair distinctly falls slightly over the eyes and the ears fold forward. Their tails are either kept natural or docked. Disclaimer: docking is illegal in most areas of Europe.

The Wheaten's eye color is typically brown or reddish brown but can also on rare occasion be light or yellowish in color. Wheatens typically have black toenails and small paws. Their noses are also black and larger in comparison to the rest of their faces.

They possess rather strong muzzles. There are a variety of coat types possessed by the Wheaten Terrier of which are Traditional Irish, Heavy Irish, English, and American. The Irish coat typically being the thinner and smoother of the types. These dogs can be more easily tolerated by individuals who are allergic to dogs because their coats have very low shedding.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Colors

The images below represent the coat colors and patterns associated with Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers.

Wheaten (Dark)
Wheaten (Light)

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Variations

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has little variation in physical appearance within the breed--with one glaring exception: the puppies' coat colors. Dogs of this breed are often born with darker brown coats, and often have black facial markings; they can look so different than mature Wheaten Terriers that uninformed owners will mislabel them as a different breed! As the puppies grow their coats undergo some color changes; by 24 months, the puppies' color will usually have lightened, and the black masks will have disappeared, so that they will appear a more typical member of the breed.

Some owner choose to clip their Wheaten Terriers hair short while others choose to leave it in the natural long haired state (technically medium length). The two coat types are:

  • Irish: A Wheaten Terrier with an Irish coat has hair that is soft, wavy and silky, and which lays closer to the body; the coat is scruffier in appearance. This coat is more common in Europe.
  • American: This coat is fuller and more woolly in appearance; Wheaten Terriers with American coats are typically a bit darker in color. Dogs with these coats are seen most often in the U.S.

In regards to size, a true Wheaten Terrier doesn't vary much from its average height of 18 inches and weight of 35 pounds. Though some breeders will offer small or Mini Wheaten Terriers puppies (12-15 inches, 20-30 pounds) for sale, it's likely those dogs are actually crossbreeds; the Miniature Wheaten Terrier is not a sub-type of this breed.

Wheaten Terrier Temperament

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is affectionate, playful, and loyal. The Wheaten develops a strong relationship with its family. They have a very enthusiastic attitude and are mildly energetic in composure. They are also known to be amazingly alert and highly coordinated.

Wheaties are happy-go-lucky but require a balance between positive feedback and firm reinforcement of rules. The fact that they are part terrier gives them a strong element of intelligence. They hold honest attitudes, requiring the same type of training. This breed's intelligence assures their ability to quickly catch on to your expectations during training. When met with the right training this breed is the perfect candidate for a household companion.

"Wheatens are always overzealous when reunited with their own best friends--for to leave a Wheaten alone for even a few moments warrants a welcome fit for a hero returning home after months at war!"¹ This was quoted by a long time owner of a Wheatie because they greet their owners with a jumping lick to the face often known as the "Wheaten greetin". What a warm, welcoming, sweet-natured, loving pet to come home to after a long day! This trait found in the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has its positive and negative aspects. It should be moderated because the dog should not be allowed to jump up on everyone. This can become a problem especially in reference to guests and children coming within close proximity of your pet and should be regulated to eliminate the risk of someone being knocked down. These dogs enjoy social interactions so they have been known to become destructive or rebellious when left in isolation for long periods of time.

Wheaten Terrier Maintenance

This dog is fairly low maintenance. Their intelligence makes training simple. They need frequent brushing but other grooming needs are only necessary generally once a month. This breed also requires daily exercise. A long walk or outdoor games involving running will suffice. They enjoy hunting because of their roots so keep yourself alert and make sure your Wheaten is on a leash or in a secure area when out and about. This breed will respond best to positive reinforcement in training.

Avoid overly strict treatment but definitely present a sense of consistency and firmness. Gentle owners should be careful not to be overly passive. They should be intentional in developing a stern attitude, making it very clear to the terrier who is the master in the relationship. These dogs are strong willed and tend to take what they can get when it comes to authority.

Grooming Requirements

If the Wheaten is groomed and bathed once a month they should have little to no shedding. Their coats should be brushed once a day or once every other day to keep the coat from tangling or matting. Their coats should be cut to a length of three inches. Using a brush should be avoided, instead use a medium-toothed comb. Dry shampoo can also be used in between bathing routines. The eyes should be cleaned and ears checked at the time of monthly grooming. To maintain a healthy dental hygiene, you should brush your Wheatens teeth 2-3 times per week for plaque and tarter build up. Also, clip your terriers nails 1-2 times per month to eliminate scrapes and scratches if and when your Wheatie jumps up to greet you.

Exercise Requirements

Terriers are known for being highly active. They will be happier and have a higher sense of well-being if they are exercised often. This specific breed of terrier will be happy and healthy taken on fast paced walks or involved in outdoor games on a daily basis. They can accompany you on hikes or participate in a fun outdoor game of fetch at the family picnic. In any case, just make sure your Wheaten is allowed plenty leisure for run and play.

Living Requirements

They can adapt to most any region, making them the perfect candidate for the city or the country. The Wheaten can live outdoors but only if in a cooler environment. Overall they do best when living indoors. This breed requires daily exercise so a small fenced yard is ideal and appropriate.

Wheaten Terrier Health

The lifespan of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier ranges between 12-14 years. Though they usually live fairly long lives they are predisposed to harmful inherited digestive ailments (listed below). Testing can be done to diagnose these diseases but initially those interested in adopting a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier should request hereditary information in the area of health from the breeder.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers.

Addison's disease
Renal dysplasia

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:August 30, 2016