Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
Other names: Wheaten, Wheatie
A hardy and brave dog, the Wheaten Terrier has a history of hunting foxes, badgers and vermin. Nowadays the Wheaten is more often chosen as a family pet, and its gentle demeanour is a striking contrast from that of the original dog. The Wheaten is prone to moments of stubbornness and independence but its instinct to hunt and maim appears to be well-consigned to the past by successive breeding with more amiable canines. The Wheaten’s fur is non-shedding and similar in texture to the Poodle’s.
Key facts about the Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
Origins and history
The Wheaten came about in Ireland in the 1800s. It was bred by the common man (rather than the Upper Class) to hunt and to guard livestock. The Wheaten was also used for herding. It wasn’t until 1943 that the Kennel Club of Great Britain recognised the breed. Wheatens are still used by some farmers to kill vermin but the dog is no longer used to hunt. The Wheaten is sometimes used as an aid of human psychological therapy.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 3 - Terriers
Section 1 : Large and medium sized Terriers
Physical characteristics of the Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
Female : Between 17 and 18 in
Male : Between 18 and 19 in
Female : Between 40 and 44 lb
Male : Between 40 and 44 lb
Various shades of wheaten (pale yellow-beige); sometimes including hues of gold and red.
Type of coat
The hair is medium length.
Single coat; soft and silky.
A well-built, stocky dog perfectly proportioned and not too leggy. The length of the Wheaten’s back from withers to croup is roughly equal to the height from the withers to the ground. The tail is carried high. The ears are small, set level with the skull and tend to flop forward slightly.
Good to know
The fur of the Wheaten easily attracts dust, grime and food. The dog’s everyday activities make him a ‘messy’ dog and one that is likely to transfer some of that dirt to your carpets and furniture. If you seek a ‘neat and tidy’ dog the Wheaten is not for you.
An affectionate and needy dog the Wheaten is. If socialised appropriately this breed makes a superb family dog but without proper guidance stubbornness and jealousies come to the fore. On the whole this is a people-oriented dog.
A playful dog, the Wheaten retains a puppy-like demeanour throughout its life. Take note, if the Wheaten is not invited to play games with humans it will find a way to either join in or sabotage the fun.
Not wholly a calm breed because of its seemingly limitless energy and friendliness. The Wheaten has a tendency to burn itself out by the end of the day but not before burning a hole in a carpet. If very excited it tends to forget things like housetraining.
The Wheaten is an intelligent dog but its love of play and mischief can subvert its braininess. Wheatens need to be taught in a consistent manner (and calmly) in order that an owner may extract the best from this playful dog.
The Wheaten has a prey-drive which can manifest especially when in contact with cats and smaller creatures (see later). Like other terriers, if untrained, it is likely to bolt at the scent or sight of a small furry animal. Socialisation and obedience training work well to dampen a Wheaten’s love of chasing.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Wheatens are known for their loyalty to the pack but this does not mean that they are overly wary of strangers or visitors. In fact, the dog is known for its enthusiastic greetings and tends to be overly excitable in the company of new people. This dog is known for its leaping.
A reasonably independent dog, the Wheaten was bred to work and to hunt by itself. Because of this it is a reliable and trainable dog but it has a tendency to do its own thing if not properly managed.
Behaviour of the Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
A Wheaten will cope with solitude but only up to a point. Like any dog, it should not be left alone for long periods of time. If a Wheaten is left alone it will become destructive.
Easy to train / obedience
The Wheaten is an exceptionally intelligent dog but requires proper training to fulfil its potential. By ‘proper’ we mean consistent and varied. This dog gets bored easily and is easily distracted by things that it considers more fun than its owner’s voice. Once trained the Wheaten is relatively obedient.
The Wheaten is not an overly vocal dog but it is quick to let you know of approaching danger either when it is in the house or out walking. Barking usually stops after a while.