There aren’t many jobs that the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier can’t nor hasn’t done. Indeed, the Wheaten Terrier was an all purpose farm dog for the poor man.
Here is a breed that had a brush with extinction during the beginning of the 20th century. Moreover, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has become the most popular terrier from Ireland in America. So much, that one of their coat types takes the name “American.”
While they may seem like a dog you’d see at a show, the Wheaten is a true terrier with a history of courageous ratting.
So what is this breed’s story and will they make a nice addition for your home?
Here is what you need to know about the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
It’s rather strange to be the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. For starters, interbreeding nearly lead to the breed’s demise, but saw a resurgence in Ireland and America from the mid 20th century and on. However, that fervor hasn’t spread to one of the more influential countries for dogs — England. In England, the breed is on the watch list due to slipping numbers in registrations. Moreover, in America, only the few usual suspects like the Bull Terrier or the Miniature Schnauzer are more popular from the terrier group.
The Wheaten Terrier’s history dates back as far as 200 years ago, most experts believe. A kennel website, Kaven Ranch, agrees with this, citing that the reason its hard to peg a true time of origin is because of how the Irish kept tabs on their history. It appears, according to Kaven Ranch, that Irish people prefer oral documenting to writing historical documents. Additionally, the breed’s stomping grounds tend to be in poorer counties. These counties include:Claire, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Wicklow and Waterford.
Two centuries ago, the breed could be found working on small farms. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was an excellent ratter, livestock drover, hunter of badger and fox and guardian of private property.
How the breed came about is a matter of postulation. Some posit that the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier derives from the Kerry Blue and native wheaten terriers.
Before the 20th century, the breed was a mystery to the outside of Ireland. That would change in the mid 20th century as the dog made appearances in England and United States. The breed’s first time in England, ostensibly was during the 1940’s, just before the breed’s recognition by the Kennel Club of the U.K. in 1943.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., an enthusiasts and breeder, Lydia Vogel from Massachusetts was responsible for bringing over the first Wheaten Terriers during the 1940’s. But it would be slow going for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. It wasn’t until the 1970’s, that two of the largest American kennels would grant recognition. Starting first with the American Kennel Club in 1973 and the United Kennel Club in 1978.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is the 49th most popular breed in America. Today, the breed performs at exhibitions or dog shows. They are still viable working dogs, but thrive more in companionship.
A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium size breed. A male should stand between 18 to 19 inches, while a female should range between 17 to 18 inches.
With regards to weight, a male should weigh around 35 to 40 pounds and a female 30 to 35 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
Tenacious and brave is the usual traits you think when you hear terrier. And that much is true with the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. It’s also true, that the breed may display a stubborn side and independency. That just means you’ll work harder for their attention and time during training. The Wheaten Terrier tends to run their own program and prefers to break up monotonous repitions.
But as courageous as they can be chasing down vermin or hunting fox, the breed has a soft patch. That is, aside from their coat. This is a happy go lucky and bright dog. Yes, they are intelligent and cheerful. Owners adore the way the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier greet them at their door after work. Or the way they’ll wag their tails at the first sight of their owner. This is devotion, which they have a ton of.
As a devout breed to their family, expect a fun loving and exuberant dog. This is a breed better for a family with older children. This will go for dogs as well, as this breed can be protective of what is theirs just as most terrier breeds are.
Getting back to training, the Soft Coat Wheaten Terrier prefers a positive tone to a harsh one. This is a sensitive breed. While they are eager to please, it doesn’t mean they are fond of yelling and ruthless training tactics. Additionally, the breed is adaptable, wherever you go, they are happy to follow. Apartment or farmhouse.
All in all, this is a versatile breed with a sweet side for charming their people. They’ll work hard and are capable of working many chores. They love older children and do better with female dogs than males. They are protective, loyal and cheerful. They’ll bark when there’s a need and alert you to the threat. A great playmate and a great fun family dog.
Before buying a dog you want to know if there is anything that can affect the decision. That’s why it is important to buy from a reputable breed, who will be transparent and has a sterling reputation. Go on their sites, or ask around. Read the reviews and demand that you see the health clearances you need to make the best decision possible.
Additionally, you’ll want to schedule regular visits with your veterinarian to ensure your dog remains healthy. If you do that, with preventative care and common sense — There’s no reason to believe your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier won’t live between 10 to 12 years.
Renal Dysplasia has been found with the Wheaten Terrier. This is common with breeds like the Collie and the Shih Tzu as well. Renal Dysplasia is when the kidney suffers from abnormal development, which can lead to renal failure. This is occurs, if it does, around 12 months. It can be fatal and lead to kidney failure.
Issues pertaining to protein is a problem for the breed. Enteropathy, which is when there is a loss of protein in the gastrointesinal tract due an intestinal disease or group of diseases. Typically, the dog will suffer diarhhea as a sign or symptom. This is common with the Basenji and Yorkshire Terrier.
The opposite of Enteropathy is Nephropathy, which is a loss of protein in the kidney due to diseases of the glomerulus. This typically progresses into protein loss in the urine, which will result in the possibility of renal diseases.
According to the website, PetMD, the breed has been found to suffer from Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Of course, this is a genetic retinal disease, where the photoreceptor cells deteriorate over time and results into blindnes.
Hip Dysplasia, which is common for a lot of breed isn’t a big concern for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals survey, the breed ranks 155th on the list. They have a low 5.1 rating out of 6,724 evaluations. Hip Dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint, which causes lameness, stiffness, discomfort, and pain. It can also lead to other orthopedic problems. The breed ranks among the Belgian Malinois and Irish Wolfhound.
Finally, a disease close to Cushings Disease, Addison’s Disease is a problem for the breed. This is a result of abnormal production by the adrenal glands next to the kidney. This can cause weakness, depression, the dog may vomit or produce bloody stools. Typical signs are lethargy, vomiting and diarhhea. There are drug treatment that could help. Always consult your Vet.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier will thrive when you include them into your family’s endeavors or give them a role. This could a job, as a protector, or as hunter. Whenever they feel like they are making a difference, is when the breed excels at life. They do need their exercise — So a daily walk or two short ones should be enough. A backyard romp or fetch will also help stave off boredom.
As a true ratter, this breed will have a prey drive. If they see a chipmunk or field mouse, the breed is likely to chase after it. Invest in a proper fence or a leash to protect them from running off on you and getting hit by a car.
This is a herding dog, which mean supervision around smaller kids. That is why most experts recommend that a family with older kids is better for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. They need to be around kids who know how to treat a dog and handle one. They’ll also require affection and attention. They won’t tolerate being alone for long periods of time. As long as you provide enough physical and mental stimulation, then there is no reason they can’t live in an apartment as well.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier should receive positive reinforcement during training. They’ll need early training and socialization as puppies to make sure you’re getting a friendly and fit dog for your home.
Brush teeth often, check their ears for bacterial buildup or infections, trim their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth and painful splitting and bathe when you deem necessary.
All breeds should benefit from a high quality diet and your Soft Coat Wheaten Terrier is no different. However, you may want to consult your veterinarian due to certain medical issues the breed suffers from. In general, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier should get a meat as the first ingredient formula, rich with quality protein, crude fat and calories.
Most experts suggest 1.5 cups to 2 cups per day. In addition, experts recommend breaking that up into two or so smaller meals. this will help reduce the chances of a fatal disorder, Bloat or Gastric Torsion. This condition is painful and is due to an excess of gas inside the stomach that causes it to distend.
As always, you should provide your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier with fresh drinking water.
A Soft Coated Terrier has two coat types, according to the breed’s Wikipedia page. The pages says the coats go by the names of Ireland and America. Ireland is silky and wavy, while America coats are thick and more plentiful.
The breed will require regular grooming, despite being infrequent shedders. Brushing should be done 2 to 3 times per week. A comb will necessary to help pull apart mats. The coat is abundant, mostly covering the legs and body. It should be soft to the touch and appeal as silky with a slight wave to it.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has one acceptable coat color option: Wheaten. There are no acceptable markings.
Fun Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Facts
- A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is bright. The breed ranks 63rd most intelligent on the reputable Stanley Coren study on “Intelligence of Dogs.” This means they will obey the first command 50 percent of the time.
- The U.K. Kennel Club lists the Wheaten Terrier on their “at watch” list. The breed had only 369 registrations in 2017, which was up from 326 in 2016.
- One reason for the breed’s downfall in the 20th century was due in part of mix breeding or interbreeding. In fact, most Wheaten Terriers would end up in Kerry Blue litters as puppies with the Wheaten coat type.
- The Irish Kennel Club gave the breed recognition in 1937.
- The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America claims that the breed is the possible progenitor of the Glen of Immal Terrier.
In England, the breed has become more rare even falling into the “at watch” list. In the United States, however, it is quite the opposite story. For the past five years or so, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has been dangling around the 50 most popular breed’s mark.
It’s easy to see why that is. Not only does this breed give you an advantage for working purposes — It is their charm, smarts, and devotion to family that really wins their people over. As word gets out about their legend as companion, expect bigger and better things in the U.S. for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier moving forward.