Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Other names: Wheaten, Wheatie

Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

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

  • Life expectancy : Between 11 and 13 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Hunter
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Short, Long
  • Price : Between £745 and £1136

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 3 - Terriers


Section 1 : Large and medium sized Terriers

Physical characteristics of the Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Adult size

Female dog Between 17 and 18 in
Male dog Between 18 and 19 in


Female dog Between 40 and 44 lb
Male dog Between 40 and 44 lb

Coat colour

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.

Eye colour

Dark hazel.


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.



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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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

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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.


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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

Tolerates solitude

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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

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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.


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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.

Tendency to run away

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Although not as stubborn and independent as other terriers the Wheaten is an inquisitive sort. If something catches this dog’s eye (or nose) while it is outdoors, the Wheaten will be tempted to explore. A well-trained Wheaten will respond to a recall command.


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If it finds itself in an enclosed space or at home for long periods of time without exercise and fresh air the Wheaten will notify you of its displeasure by destroying your furnishings, doors, window sills and carpets. Terriers are chewers and will not let up until you do something to address the problem.

Greedy / Gluttony

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The Wheaten can easily get fat and unhealthy if given the wrong kind of food; it is well-known of owners to feed their Wheaten scraps of human food (they are avid beggars), but this only leads to medical problems associated with obesity in later life.

Guard dog

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A good watch dog is the Wheaten. It will bark at the approach of someone to the door or window of the house. However, it is too friendly a dog to back up its barking with an act of aggression.

First dog

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A great first dog and one that will entertain; the Wheaten is not an aggressive kind of terrier. However, such a dog requires consistent training and reinforcement of learnt behaviour.


Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier in a flat

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As long as the Wheaten is regularly exercised and interacted with, and is not left alone for long periods of time, it will be satisfied with life in a flat. Ideally, it should have access to a garden or outside space as well.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The Wheaten is a reasonably energetic dog. It needs about 45 minutes a day of exercise and plenty more of interaction with the pack. However, this dog is equally as happy to be sat on someone’s lap and to be treated like royalty.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Once trained, a Wheaten is exceptionally obedient. It is comfortable with new surroundings and enjoys new experiences. The dog should be housed in a crate when travelling though: it is a nervy and excitable traveller.


Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier and cats

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Due to their hunting ancestry the Wheaten Terrier is liable to want to chase a cat, even one that it has grown up with. Wheatens and cats will never be friends. If you already own a cat you should think twice before inviting a Wheaten into your home, for the cat’s sake.

Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier and dogs

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The Wheaten is not as dominant a breed as other terrier types and is not known to be overly aggressive toward other dogs. They are far more likely to make friends with another dog than challenge it to a fight.

Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier and children

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Wheaten Terriers are on the whole good with children. They are robust enough to withstand some rough play but they will soon reach the limit of tolerance. They do not seem overly bothered by loud noises and general excitement but can exhibit dominance if left unsupervised with a young child.

Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier and the elderly

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With only a moderate need for exercise and a charming and playful personality the Wheaten would suit the household of an elderly person. Grooming requires some degree of effort.


The price for a Wheaten Terrier can vary according to his age, gender and origins. But you could count on average £1,136 for a dog registered with the KC.

The average monthly budget ranges from £120 and £160 in order to fully meet the needs of the Wheaten Terrier.


The Wheaten should be brushed once a day to prevent its fur from becoming matted and tangled. Its hair continues to grow without shedding so should be clipped regularly. The dog’s claws should be clipped down once a month to prevent them from affecting the dog’s gait. Bath this dog only when necessary (i.e. muddied from a walk) and regularly check its ears for signs of infections or a build-up of wax.


The Wheaten has fur that does not shed. As such it may be suitable for someone with an allergy to dog hair.

Nutrition of the Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

The Wheaten should be fed twice a day. The meal must consist of a high quality dog food appropriately formulated for the dog’s age, activeness and health. A Wheaten that prefers to sit with its folks and eat rather than go for long walks will gain weight. Be mindful that no amount of human food will meet a dog’s nutritional demands. Furthermore, feeding any dog produce for human consumption can lead to canine tooth decay.

Health of the Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Life expectancy

11 to 13 years.

Strong / robust

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The Wheaten is a dog that is not prone to sickness. There are no significant health concerns associated with this dog.

Withstand heat

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The Wheaten does not tolerate hot weather. Care must be taken of your Wheaten during the summer months and the dog should never be left unattended in a hot car.

Withstand cold

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The coat of the Wheaten keeps the dog reasonably warm. However, this dog needs to be acclimated to cold weather.

Tendency to put on weight

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Weight gain is seen of some Wheatens; these dogs have a huge appetite and will eat to obesity. Owners are tempted to over-feed the Wheaten due to its size and cuteness.

Common illnesses

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.

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.


Good names for an Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier: Barnie, Grace, Kosmo, Nanette

Find out more dog name ideas here


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