Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Breed Group: Terrier
Remaining like a joyful puppy through out their lives, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are cheerful, lively, quite social, and more congenial than most other terriers. Exceptionally social with their family, visitors are met with a bark but then a lick, probably in the face after having been jumped on, which they take great delight in doing. Unusually playful, they enjoy the attention of older children, but they are likely to overwhelm a toddler or unsteady senior. They are somewhat testy with other dogs of the same sex but otherwise reasonably accepting of household pets. But none of this means they no longer possess what is referred to as a terrier attitude. The breed needs no more exercise than most dogs but room to romp in the yard and rousing play sessions are both needed. But off-leash activities must be in a securely confined area to prevent them from chasing other animals or trying to make friends throughout the neighborhood. But even after providing for their exercise needs, they are still active dogs, both inside and out. Some can be possessive of their food and toys while some dogs bark excessively or dig. Most are great jumpers so fences you expect to contain them need to be at least six feet high.
The average size Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is an average dog with above average strength. Females are between 17 and 18 inches tall and weight 30 to 35 pounds. Males are about an inch taller and five pounds heavier. Soft Coated Wheatens do in fact have a soft coat, especially when compared to the harsh coats of other terriers. Their coat sheds minimally earning them the title of hypoallergenic. But they need to be brushed at least every other day as their coat tends to trap sticks, leaves, burrs, and all manner of debris. They do reasonably well in cooler temperatures but poorly in heat.
A reasonable socialization effort is needed to develop their outgoing personality but training is necessary to control it. They are high-spirited and can be headstrong. They need an owner who can be consistent and firm but not harsh. Heavy-handed training will only make them more stubborn. Even though more social than most terriers, they are not a good choice for a first-time owner.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a healthy breed. Elbow Dysplasia affects about 6% of the dogs while Hip Dysplasia affects between 4% and 5% of the breed. Another 3% suffer from Patellar Luxation. But kidney disease may be their most serious problem. Two difficult to diagnose and potentially fatal conditions usually seen only in American bred dogs, protein-losing nephropathy and protein-losing enteropathy, involve the loss of protein from the kidney and intestine respectively. Retinal Dysplasia also affects them as do PRA, and allergies, most commonly to fleas and grass. The lifespan of a Wheaten is 12 to 14 years.
With about 2,000 dogs registered by the American Kennel Club on a yearly basis, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier ranks 59th in overall popularity.
Originally from Ireland, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred to be an all-around farm dog. Besides the basic terrier skill of killing vermin, it also herded stock and served as a guardian. Later, it was even trained as a gun dog. This may be why they are not as aggressive as other terriers whose responsibilities were primarily as vermin hunters. A relative latecomer to the show ring, it was not until 1937 that they were granted breed status in their native Ireland. But it was not until 1946 the first dog was imported into America. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers were slow to catch the public’s attention in the U.S., not being fully recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1973 with their popularity continuing to grow slowly since.
The breed seems to appeal to many in show business including TV actors Tori Spelling, Jerry Douglas, Eugene Roche, and Louise Sorel. The National (US) Breed Club is the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America.