Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Originally from Ireland, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred to be a working dog that could do everything from guarding livestock to hunting and killing vermin. Believed to be related to the Kerry Blue Terrier, these playful, energetic dogs are true Terriers with the classic focus and headstrong intelligence of any Terrier. It gets its name from the soft, silky "wheaten" colored coat.
There is no written record of the actual origins of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier; however, it's thought that they've been around for more than 200 years because there are significant and recurring references to Terriers with soft coats, similar in size to today's Wheaten Terrier, and with the typical wheaten color. Legend has it that when the Spanish Armada sank off the shores of Ireland, the Kerry blue Terrier was on board and when those dogs swam ashore, they found Terriers with soft wheaten coats ready to say hello.
What is known is that the early so-called "wheaten" Terriers were bred to work and their measurements, physical characteristics, and actual coat colors weren't important. The original stock of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was chosen by nature. These dogs had to be hardy, brave and strong to survive and be reproduced. Because of that, today's Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is attractive, sturdy, medium-sized, intelligent, very ready to work, and quick of wit. These dogs have discriminating eyes and steady natures, born from their ancestors' love of work, and with an irrepressible joy that makes the most stoic owner smile.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was registered with the Irish Kennel Club and made its debut at the Irish Kennel Club Championship Show in 1937 on St. Patrick's Day. In 1962, also on St. Patrick's Day, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was formed; the club's goal was to preserve and protect the breed in the United States, to introduce it to and make it popular with the public, and to encourage American Kennel Club registration. The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was registered with the American Kennel Club on May 1, 1973, and was given classification in the Terrier Group on October 3, 1973.
Compact and square, this medium-sized dog has a single, wavy, soft coat that comes in varying shades of wheaten color. Puppies are born with dark brown and lighten to their final color by the age of two. There are two coat varieties, the Irish and the American. The Irish version of the coat is thinner and silkier than the American version, and many true proponents of the breed believe that this is the "real" Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier version.
In adulthood, these dogs stand 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 30 and 45 pounds. Graceful, strong, and athletic, your pet has enough stamina and size to perform as a working dog on a farm as a general herder, yet is small and focused enough to perform typical Terrier tasks like keeping vermin at bay.
Energetic, fun loving and playful, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a true Terrier in every way; one of the endearing (and sometimes perhaps dismaying) characteristics your pet may display is that he or she will often do what's called the "Wheaten greetin' " – that is, so enthusiastic is your pet to meet new people that he or she will jump straight up in the air high enough to lick someone's face as a dramatic and astoundingly acrobatic greeting.
Joyful, headstrong, and very intelligent, your puppy needs a firm, gentle hand and positive, consistent training with some patience thrown in. Do NOT be aggressive or harsh with your pet when you discipline him or her, because this will kill that joyful spirit and may also cause him/her to become aggressive.
Protective of family and loved ones, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers will probably do fine with other dogs and even cats if they are introduced to them as puppies. If not, be careful, since the wheaten Terrier has a very strong instinct to prey on smaller animals because of its vermin-hunting capabilities and will most certainly chase cats rather than get along with them. Properly socialized, though, this loving, friendly, nonaggressive pet will become an integral part of the family very quickly.
Your pet makes a great watchdog – but not a good guard dog. He or she will bark freely if strangers approach, but will not be aggressive. If you have children, this is a wonderful pet to have, especially if you socialize children to be gentle with your puppy early in your pet’s life.
Your dog will do very well in an apartment environment as long as he or she gets plenty of exercise. One of the most endearing qualities of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is that it retains its puppy-like personality well into old age. Sweet tempered and very agreeable, you should never have to discipline your pet harshly, since he or she will listen quite well. However, because Terriers are naturally headstrong, he or she will also try to take over if you don't adopt the appropriate "alpha dog" posture, meaning you must establish yourself as the boss, or “leader of the pack,” or your dog surely will.
Your pet is a very sturdy and healthy specimen that should live a long time, 12 to 15 years on average. He or she can have some breed-specific, heredity-related diseases to watch for, most notably protein-losing nephropathy, where protein is excreted excessively through the kidneys, and proteinlosing enteropathy, where protein is improperly absorbed in the digestive tract, simply passing through undigested into the stool. Both of these disorders can be potentially fatal, but if caught early can often be managed with medication and dietary changes. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are also prone to developing a skin disease called atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema.
Daily combing is necessary to avoid matting and tangling. Eyes and ears should be cleaned and checked regularly. Bathe or dry shampoo if necessary; the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier does not shed, so your pet will not lose copious amounts of hair as other dog breeds might, but they do lose hairs out of their coats just as humans do out of their heads. Therefore, daily combing will also help to prevent even this minimal "shedding." If you have allergies, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier makes an excellent pet choice, since the breed is considered to be largely hypoallergenic.