If you are not familiar with this breed, you are in for a treat. When first meeting a Wheaten you are struck by the beautiful coloring of its coat, hence its name, contrasted with dark penetrating eyes, black lips and a large black nose. These terriers are mild-mannered and outgoing dogs that will instantly become a friend, more so than the typical terrier.
Let’s get to know this breed better by first reviewing the numbers. The males grow to between 18-20 inches in height or 46-51 cm. while the females are 17-19 inches or 43-48 cm. The males weigh between 35-45 pounds or 16-20 kg. while the females weigh between 30-40 pounds or 14-18 kg. These measurements squarely place the dog into the medium size category.
You can expect the breed to survive for 12-15 years.
The dog’s roots are steeped in Irish traditional. This was not a dog of the upper crust of society. On the contrary, the Wheaten was bred by and for the average Irishman who needed a herder, hunting companion or a dispatcher of vermin. In fact, the breed was not recognized in the UK until the 1940’s, with the AKC doing so in 1973.
The Wheaten puppy is generally reddish-brown in color and remains so for approximately 3-4 months. The coat begins to transition to the familiar, warm wheaten color during this time. Full color transition will occur within 8-12 months. This very soft coat requires regular attention such as frequent combing and brushing. Combing is actually considered the better method. The coat does have the tendency to mat if left unattended. This becomes more acute if the coat becomes wet. Today, the Wheaten is not considered an outdoor dog for this reason.
Also, the coat should be trimmed regularly. This is important for two reasons. As mentioned earlier, with the tendency to mat, trimming the coat lessens this outcome. Secondly, although the dog doesn’t shed, a major advantage of the breed, trimming does eliminate loose hair. For potential dog owners who may be allergic to dogs, the Wheaten be an excellent choice, for this reason.
Obedience training is very important. The breed has a tendency to jump and can be very excitable. Some consider them to be the best greeters in the dog kingdom. They are not afraid to wonder and will bolt on you, as they decide to explore something new in their surroundings. We would suggest that training begin very early. They are quite sensitive and tend to reflect the owner’s mood so upbeat, positive re-enforcement, with firm repetition is advisable with respect to training.
The breed is well balanced emotionally and very determined to please. They can be very sociable with other dogs when introduced properly. As protectors, they can be relied upon to bark at unusual noises or visitors. That said, we wouldn’t categorize the Wheaten as a guard dog. They are too inclined to make friends. It is exactly this disposition though that makes the breed a wonderful choice for families with children. Their forgiving nature and willingness to romp about the house make them immediate favorites with the little ones.
Moderate exercise is advised. You can expect the Wheaten to adapt easily to your schedule with respect to walks and “play time”.
Separation anxiety can be an issue with the Wheaten. It seems that each time you leave, they consider it a final event. It is best not to create unneeded attention or excitement around departures. Leave quietly and make sure to provide a reward upon your return to re-enforce the desired behavior.
Wheatens have very sensitive skin and do not respond well to flea or tick bites. Itchy skin and hot spots can be expected. They are also prone to various food allergies, ironically wheat, for example. You should check with a Veterinarian for more details. They are also less tolerant of very hot weather. On the contrary, winter frolics in the snow are very desirable. In general though, Wheatens tend to be a healthy, long-lived breed with regular health care and a balanced diet.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is an excellent choice for families with children; for those who suffer from allergies or for someone looking for a loyal life long friend. With moderate exercise, firm but friendly training and regular grooming, the Wheaten will provide it’s owner with countless hours of companionship.