An Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is considered to be Ireland’s dog of all work. A Wheaten, as the breed is affectionately called herds animals, guards the homestead, be the able and dependable companion of the hunter in the family and most of all be the lively, playful and wonderful companion of the children. A Wheaten is commonly bred with sighthounds to breed lurchers. Cross breeding is a common though unofficial practice. The Wheaten is crossed with poodles to create the Whoodles. Wheagles are created by crossbreeding a Wheaten with a Beagle.
If you have decided to own an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier then be prepared to be continually greeted by the “Wheaten Greeting” as these dogs are known to be enthusiastic greeters. The dog shows its affectionate nature by jumping and licking the face of the human family and of long time friends. The exuberant welcome extends to strangers. The dog is extremely affectionate but this kind of greeting has knocked down many small children and has caused discomfiture when perfectly clean clothes are muddied by the dog. The Wheaten has the typical terrier stubbornness and it would be a challenge to teach the terrier not to do this jumping and licking act. This Wheaten has the typical stubbornness of a terrier. If you want a dog that will instantly act on your command the Wheaten is definitely not the dog for you. This breed will need careful and consistent training given that they have a mind of their own. The Wheaten is a stubborn breed. However it is not impossible to turn a willful Wheaten into a well mannered pet. This intelligent breed is generally anxious to please. The trick is to introduce positive training methods in a consistent, firm but gentle manner.
A Wheaten is a medium sized dog that weigh anywhere from 30 to 45 pounds and stands about 17 to 19 inches. This breed would be a good choice for dog lovers who are deterred from having a pet because of allergies. Unlike most dogs, this breed does not shed. The dog grows hair that is similar to human hair. The hair keeps on growing and would need to be regularly trimmed. A Wheaten’s coat comes in four varieties – the heavy Irish, the traditional Irish, the American and the English. All these coat types are hypoallergenic.
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The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has a square solidly built body that does not appear to be stocky. The good bone structure, the compact body as well as the legs that are pretty long for its size provide the dog with the strength and agility to traverse difficult terrain. The well furnished legs appear to be bigger than they really are. Unlike other breeds, the Wheaten has a very dense single coat that is not rough or wiry. The coat is wavy but not curly. The same length of silky Hair covers the entire body of the dog. The face of a Wheaten has a noticeable beard. Wheaten puppies are born with dark apricot coats that develop into a wheaten color as the dog matures.
This breed has a distinctly rectangular shaped head. The short but strong muzzle is covered by longer hair that forms a beard and makes the muzzle appear wider. The end of the muzzle is covered by a large black nose. Bushy eyebrows fall over dark hazel medium sized well placed eyes. The ears that take the form of an inverted triangle are folded forward and covered with longer hair that blends with the hair on the face. The Wheaten has a strong neck that gracefully flows into sloping shoulders. This breed has a strong back that forms a level topline, a wide and moderately deep chest and a well developed fore chest. The tail that is docked or allowed to have its natural form is always carried upright.
The wheaten is an outstanding working dog. This dog also has the typical personality of a terrier – clever, lively, friendly and loving. Like any other terriers, this breed would also manifest stubbornness although they are less independent as compared to other breeds of terriers. Moreover, the independent behavior and the willfulness can be corrected with positive training methods and socialization that are best started when the Wheaten is still a puppy.
This dog is a puppy at heart and will remain so even if the dog has attained full maturity. The Wheaten will love and enjoy playing with the kids. These dogs make a wonderful companion and playmate for the children. Terriers are not an aggressive breed. A teased or a roughly handled terrier will simply go away. A well socialized Wheaten gets along well with other dogs. However because of a strong prey drive even a well socialized one will be enticed to chase cats and smaller pets.
This breed is not a barker, it is the ideal size and it provides for its own exercise inside the home. This makes the dog a suitable pet for a person living in apartment. The breed will adapt well to country life as long as it is close to the family. This breed needs a lot of attention and would always want to be included in the family activities. It would never do to leave the wheaten alone for long period of time. The dog will suffer from separation anxiety. A Wheaten that is kept in an apartment would need to be taken on long walks daily. However this breed do not tolerate heat and would prefer to exercise in the early mornings or early evenings when the temperature is cooler.
The Wheaten is not a breed for everyone. It would need a firm owner who will show the dog who is the boss. A cute puppy would make a delightful lapdog. Take care though as once the puppy is allowed to share the master’s bed a less firm master will find a hard time to keep the full grown dog off the bed.
The single coated Wheaten will be a relatively easy breed to care for as unlike wire coated terriers that would need to be stripped and plucked; a Wheaten would only need regular trimming. However, the coat would need to be groomed every day to prevent tangles and knots from forming. A metal toothed comb should be used and combing must be started at the neck down the back and to the body of the dog, always following the direction of hair growth.
Checking the ears for wax build up, trimming the nails and brushing the teeth must be included in the grooming session. Too frequent bathing should be avoided as it can damage the silky texture of the hair.
Among the four terriers of Ireland the Irish Soft coated Wheaten Terrier is considered to be the oldest breed. This wonderful breed only shows that the Irish’s talent is not confined to breeding race horses. Centuries ago, Ireland nobility have kept and raised Irish Wolfhounds and other breeds of coursing and hunting dogs. This privilege however was not granted to the commoners. The Irish farmers bred medium sized terriers as all around farm dogs. These versatile dogs rid the household of vermin, helped in herding the livestock and protected the livestock and the property by alerting the farmers to the presence of intruders. These relatively small dogs were also the able helpers of farmers when they go hunting.
Legend has it that when a Spanish Armada was defeated, a blue-gray dog survived and swam ashore. This dog mated with the native Irish dogs with wheaten colored coats. Wheaten and blue terriers were produced.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was speculated to have originated from the Blue Terrier and from other large terrier breeds that was popular then in Irish communities. This breed has been in existence for centuries however it was not shown until 1933. The Wheaten was only recognized by the Irish Kennel Club in 1937 in spite of the fact that the Kerry Blue gained recognition in 1922. A Kerry Blue breeder by the name of Dr. G. J. Pierse recognized the excellent abilities of the Wheaten and initiated the recognition of the breed. However, the Irish Terrier Club and the Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier opposed the recognition of the Wheaten. The two clubs were placated when the breed’s name was changed by Dr. Pierse from Wheaten Coated Terrier to Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. The English Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1943. The Wheaten has reached American soil when 7 puppies were imported to Boston on November 24, 1946. However, interest for the breed was developed in 1957 when dogs were imported from Ireland by the O’Connors and the Arnolds. On St. Patrick’s Day of the year 1962, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was founded and in 1973 the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. Presently, the Wheatens are slowly gaining recognition although it is still considered to be an unknown breed.