One of the most fun-loving, energetic, and excitable dog breeds on the planet today, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is about as friendly an animal as you are ever going to find – and certainly the most easy-going of all the terrier breeds.
A quintessential “family dog”, a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is going to get along well with every single one of your family members. Perfect with young kids, adults, and elderly folks, this dog is easily trained, incredibly smart, and while they can sometimes be a little bit hardheaded and stubborn they are as dependable and as reliable as a breed of dog can get.
Origin and History
Originating in Ireland and bred to be an “all-purpose form dog”, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier breed was charged with hurting duties, guarding livestock, and even hunting vermin down and killing them all over the farm.
Sharing a similar ancestry with the Kerry Blue Terriers and the Irish Terriers, these dogs were commonly referred to as the “poor man’s wolfhound”. Some individuals in the early days of Ireland used to dock their tails to avoid having to pay taxes on these dogs, and the breed was intentionally bred smaller to keep them from having to eat too much.
Unrecognized by the official Irish Kennel Club until 1937 (even though they had been going by the breed name of Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier for nearly 200 years by then), it took another 6 years until the British Kennel Club recognized the breed – and almost 40 more for the breed to become recognized by the American Kennel Club.
For the overwhelming majority of the breed history, these dogs lived in Ireland and in the UK, but they were also brought to Australia and the United States in the early 1970s and today can be found all over the world. Many of these dogs compete in some of the most grueling obedience, agility, and tracking competitions today and some are even charged with animal assisted therapy as well.
It’s impossible not to recognize a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier from the moment that you see one.
While they come in different coat colors (ranging from red, brown, and mahogany to a brilliant white color), these dogs have long hair that needs to be groomed on a somewhat regular basis – a lot like the Irish wolfhound.
A medium-sized animal as far as dog breeds are concerned, you’re going to have these dogs stand anywhere between 17 and 20 inches on average and they will weigh anywhere between 30 pounds and 45 pounds or so. Very well-built and muscular, these dogs may look soft because of their long hair but they are very strong runners, agile, and have almost endless amounts of endurance.
The dog breed hasn’t changed all that much since the earliest days in Ireland. Documentation reaching all the way back 100 years or so from Ireland shows that this has been the breed standard pretty much right along.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Temperament
As we highlighted above, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier breed in general has a very even temper – though they are energetic, excitable, and one of the most lovable breeds you are going to come across.
Lively and affectionate, these dogs are also going to “stand at the ready” when it comes to protecting their family and their homestead which can make them a little bit wary of strangers until they get to know them better.
Very good with children as well as the elderly, these dogs have even been used to help those with disabilities and as animal therapy dogs as well.
These dogs can be a little bit stubborn when they are puppies and are first going through their obedience training, but with a little bit of consistent work and energy they can learn pretty much anything you can think to train them. This makes them exceptional at agility and obedience competitions, especially since the larger crowds of major competitions won’t ever shake or rattle them.
Many find the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier coat to be one of the most beautiful dog coats in the world, and when it is well groomed and maintained it is silky soft and very smooth.
At the same time, their coat can become tangled pretty easily and it’s a good idea to calm them out at least once every day just to make sure that their hair doesn’t start to mat. As a general rule, you want to make sure that you give your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier a bath every six weeks or so, with nails being trimmed every week or two.
Trimming is going to be a necessity every month, though you’ll want to make sure that you don’t cut the hair too close to the skin, especially when the weather starts to get chilly.
Described as the perfect “all-purpose form dog” when they were being bred in their earliest history in Ireland, these dogs have transitioned away from a life on the farm exclusively into some of the best obedience and agility competition dogs.
These dogs are also being used actively in animal therapy roles, providing assistance to those that are disabled or those that are dealing with emotional incapacities.
One of the longest living breeds of dogs there are, it isn’t at all unusual for a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier to live anywhere between 11 years and 15 years – with some living even quite a bit longer than that. Because they are so energetic and because they are so strong they take to exercise very well and that helps them to maintain musculature and skeletal strength well into their advanced ages, which naturally contributes to a longer lifespan.
Like all dogs, however, there are a handful of health issues that can become problematic with this breed. These health issues include:
- Protein losing nephropathy
- Protein losing enteropathy
- Addison’s Disease
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye problems including cataracts
- Renal dysplasia
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- And certain kinds of cancer
It’s of the utmost importance that you only buy from a legitimate breeder of Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dogs to verify that you are getting the healthiest dog possible, but also to help improve the future of this bloodline as well.