Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier – A Closer Look at the “Poor Man’s Dog”

Last Updated on April 22, 2023

Bred for fulfilling various chores, this fluffy dog will also be your extroverted best friend.

Also known as the An Brocaire Buí or the Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is affectionate with kids and loyal to its owners.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog portrait

You can’t go wrong with adding the friendly Wheatie to your family. Let’s find out a little more about this dog breed and how it can be a perfect match for you and your lifestyle.

Where did the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier originate? 

The Wheatie originates in Ireland to fulfill various farm dog duties. It’s also an excellent canine that can do other tasks like ratting, herding, guarding livestock such as chicken coops, and killing vermin.

This dog’s early history is largely unknown, but many believed it descended from the Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed. The first records of a Wheaten Terrier date back to 1785 in County Kerry, Ireland.

Their name came from their unique fluffy coat with a distinct warm color that looks like ripening wheat, giving it the name Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.

The Irish Kennel Club granted official breed status to the Wheaten in 1937 in Ireland.

Lydia Vogel brought the first Wheatens to the United States in the 1940s, but the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognized the breed in 1973, yet they remain moderately popular worldwide.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog standing on the meadow
An adult Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog standing on the meadow

Some call the Wheaten Terrier the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound” because back in the day, the law forbade common folk from owning prestigious hunting dogs and hounds such as the Irish Wolfhound, Beagles, or spaniels.

So, the Irish commoners bred this all-purpose farm dog, as well as a guard dog.

Wheaten Terriers are still known for their potential up to these days. For instance, we have Krista, a Wheatie famous for her diving abilities.

She came within an inch of making the Top 10 at 2016’s national dog diving championships. This feat is impressive, considering that she was competing against retrievers who are built to swim and dive.

You can watch it in this video:

What does a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier look like?

This canine’s conformation is a compact square build and rectangular face. Its head is long but well proportioned to the body, while its medium length, strong neck is carried proudly.

The Wheatie sports a pair of brown eyes and a black nose, and they have small to medium ears that hang down and shape the face.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier side view portrait
A side view portrait of a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog

Wheatens are sturdy dogs with muscular bodies and powerful forequarters and hindquarters, ensuring their agility and strength when undertaking farming duties.

Their tails are usually docked so that two-thirds of their original tail remains. Undocked tails are also permitted within the breed standard.

Size: Are Wheaten Terriers good for apartments?

These medium-sized canines are good apartment dogs. They’ll do fine without a yard because they’re also active indoors, so a spacious home would be more than enough.

Wheatens have a height of 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm) and a weight of 30 to 40 pounds (14 to 18 kg), where females are a bit smaller. They reach their full-grown size once they’re around 6 to 8 months.

Even though these terriers are ideal for city life or apartment living, you should still take them on their daily walk.

The Wheaten Terrier’s silky coat 

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog walking on the grass
A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog playing outdoor

Wheaten Terriers only have a single coat that’s silky, soft, and gently curls. Their lush hair has a natural look with very little fuss, and it makes them stand out from other terrier breeds.

It falls elegantly over the entire body in waves and also falls over the eyes.

Coat colors come in varying shades of wheaten – from pale beige light wheaten to a darker golden hue, which are all acceptable in the show ring.

You may also occasionally see red, white, or black hair on your Wheaten, which is normal.

Wheaten pups are seldom born with the correct coloring and can be in varying shades of red, grey, and black.

They will outgrow these colors and markings, and their coat will change its hue to its unique shade of wheaten color as the pup matures. This will stop once the pup is fully grown.

It’s also interesting to note the few differences between American Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers and Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers.

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier exploring the barley field
Source: @saoirsethewheatenterrier / IG

The Irish coat is not that fluffy and lays very close to the body. Their hair is silky and wavy, and it grows more slowly, while the puppies can look a little scruffy.

They can also be slightly lighter compared to the coats of the American Terrier.

On the other hand, the American coat tends to be more woolly and fluffy, and a puppy can show off a full coat from a young age.

The fur can mat easier than the Irish type, and frequent grooming is necessary to keep this canine in showroom condition.

American Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier lounging
Source: @king_killian_wheaten / IG

Are Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers considered good family dogs?

It may come as a surprise that one of the terrier dog breeds can be this easygoing, gentle, and fun-loving.

Wheaten Terriers are affectionate doggos who would love to be part of any family activity or cuddle and relax on the couch.

Another thing that makes them great family pets is being good with kids. They tend to be too excitable, though, so it’s best to supervise interactions to avoid a child or your dog from getting hurt.

Being bubbly “bouncers” doesn’t make this dog breed inherently aggressive, except with other dogs of the same sex, called same-sex aggression.

They also have a high prey drive but can live peacefully with other pets they grew up with.

As a non-typical terrier, this fido has a puppy-like temperament where it will jump and get excited to see you every time you walk in the door.

It has an endearing habit of welcoming its humans with a “wheaten greetinthat’s bound to melt your heart.

Watch this video and tell us who wouldn’t want to go home to this Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier?

And although they’re active and alert, they’re not violent. They’re friendly canines that give a positive response to new people.

Does the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier bark a lot?

Not really, but they’ll bark once or twice whenever they sense danger. With that said, these dogs don’t like being alone and should be in a household with a constant companion.

They can be left alone for about 4 to 8 hours, but any longer can lead to separation anxiety, which often results in moaning, restlessness, and eventually, behavioral problems, like excessive barking.

Related to that is their tendency to run after anything that moves as they have a strong prey drive to chase and destroy vermin.

They’re also intelligent canines that can be stubborn and headstrong. Use their eagerness to please and high trainability to divert them from any unwanted behavior.

Early socialization and training partnered with consistency and patience can bring out the best in any dog. Not only will they grow up as well-behaved fidos, but they can also excel in dog sports and as service dogs.

Taking care of your Wheatie

Wheaten Terrier laying on the deck
Source: @salsathewheaten / IG

The Wheaten Terrier is considered high-maintenance, especially in the grooming section.

All that hair helps your pooch adapt to warmer climates, but they prefer the cool weather. Did you know that their soft coat protects them from cold and wet temperatures?

So if your doggo is spending some time outdoors and the sun is up, make sure she has plenty of shade and fresh water to cool off.

Here’s how else you can keep your terrier in tip-top shape.

How much exercise does a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier need?

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog running on the meadow
An active Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog running on the meadow

These terriers have high energy levels and need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day to keep themselves in shape.

You can break this into two 15-minute sessions a day, and activities can include short walks or playing vigorously in the yard.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are good running partners on short-distance runs, and they also like to swim.

If you’re staying in a small apartment with little room for activities, ensure that they’re getting their daily dose of exercise in some other ways.

Mental stimulation is important, too. So invest in some puzzles or interactive toys for your fur buddy.

Do Wheaten Terriers shed?

Wheaties have a low- to non-shedding coat and are considered hypoallergenic dogs. Still, they require constant clipping and grooming.

Brushing or combing your pet’s wavy coat every day or 3 times a week will not only prevent it from matting, but it will also help remove any dirt or debris that she could’ve gotten outside.

Wheaten Terrier in a grooming salon
Sourcee: @ironwood_ridge_wheatens / IG

And bathe your Wheatie ONLY when necessary, like if she played outside and is visibly dirty, muddy, or starting to have a smell. It can be every other week if your pup is outdoorsy or every 2 months.

You can also trim the fluffy coat if you’d prefer it short but never shave it. This will lessen grooming maintenance and the chances of them trudging dirt in your home from outside.

If you feel that your terrier’s hair is too much of a task or if you don’t have time to do it, a professional groomer can help with that. They can even give your pooch the whole treatment if you want to.

Start grooming your puppy a few times a week so they can get used to the process. Dogs can get impatient and restless when being groomed, especially with things like having their nails trimmed.

If they are used to this process from a young age, they’re less likely to give you, or the groomer, issues as they grow up.

Stick to a routine when feeding your terrier

The general recommended amount for Wheaties is between 1.5 and 2 cups of high-quality dog food daily.

Still, your pet’s breed size, weight, metabolism, and health should be considered when thinking of what to feed her and how much.

And if your doggo is very active, she might like gobbling up her food. To keep her from doing so, avoid free-feeding and overfeeding, and you can divide her food into two meals.

Not only will it keep her feeling full throughout the day, but it will also teach her discipline that there’s a time for everything.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog waiting for food
Source: @mollyandmaizey_wheatenlife / IG

It’s also best to fight the urge of giving your pup table scraps and certain human foods, especially those with high sugar content.

Are Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers healthy?

Like any dog breed that gets proper care and nutrition, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is sturdy, healthy, and has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

But all canines are predisposed to some health problems due to genetics and other causes.

This breed can suffer from Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN) and Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE). PLN is a kidney ailment and occurs when protein seeps into the dog’s urine.

PLE then refers to an excessive loss of protein from the dog’s bloodstream within the intestinal tract.

In extreme cases, both of these diseases can be fatal. If your Wheaten Terrier is vomiting, not wanting to eat, easily fatigued, and suffering from diarrhea, then get them to the vet immediately.

Sad Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog lying on the bed
Source: @artie_the_wheatie / IG

Other health concerns to be aware of are renal diseases such as renal dysplasia, which affects the kidneys.

Addison’s Disease, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and Canine Hip Dysplasia are also seen in these canines but are not as common as the kidney disease mentioned above.

To make sure your Wheaten is in top health, you should also check their ears for infections and brush their teeth regularly. Always use high-quality toothpaste formulated for dogs (never use human toothpaste).

It’s best to take your Terrier for regular checkups at the vet. This includes screenings, such as hip evaluations, ophthalmologist evaluations, blood chemistry panels, and urinalysis.

Annual blood and urine tests should also become routine to check for kidney function and abnormalities that would show any signs of mentioned kidney diseases.

The SCWTCA or Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America has outlined the Annual Testing Protocols for this breed.

How much does a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppy cost?

Adorable Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppy
Source: @fudge_the_wheaten_terrier / IG

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier puppies have an average price of $1,500 to $2,500 each.

But many factors can affect the costs, like if you want a Wheatie pup from a champion or top line, then it can go as expensive as $3,000 to $5,500.

You also have to think of the breeder or kennel’s location because that would include shipping fees and if they have a lot of puppies available.

The litter size of this purebred is up to 8, but if there are only two or one left, that can cost more.

And spending moolah doesn’t stop after purchasing the puppy. There are vet or medical emergency bills, food, supplies, and grooming expenses, too.

If you feel that you’re ready for all that and you’re just excited to browse the puppies for sale online, let’s go!

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier breeders

Purebred dogs like the Wheatie are easier to spot online as you can check the AKC Marketplace and the breed clubs dedicated for them, such as the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, for a list of registered breeders.

But how can you spot a reputable breeder that cares for its dogs? While you’re online, you can start your research by checking their website and seeing what their previous clients say about them.

You can also visit their social media pages.

Then, if you have your eye on a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier puppy, request if you can see it, its littermates, and parents.

This will give you a glimpse of how they react in towards their owner, when strangers are around, and if they live in a clean, healthy environment.

Get some peace of mind knowing that they took all precautions to ensure sterling medical records and health. You will also be able to request the medical records of the puppy’s parents as a guarantee.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog panting from a walk
Source: @willow_thewheatenterrier / IG

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers for adoption

If you’re the type of owner looking for an adult dog instead of a puppy, then adopting is the choice for you. It’s also a noble way of giving another fur angel a chance to have a family and be loved.

Here are some great rescue shelters to look at for possible adoption:

  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Greater Tampa Bay (Florida)
  • Midwest Wheaten Rescue & Friends (Elkhorn, NE)
  • Wheatens In Need Rescue (Katy, TX)

Curious about Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier mixes? 

You can also get some interesting Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier mixes, which is always a fun option to consider. Here’s our list of the cutest Wheaten Terrier hybrids.

The Wheagle

A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Beagle mix dog lying on the bed
Source: @lifeofobi2019 / IG

The Wheagle, or Beagle and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier cross, has inherited the loving temperament of its parents.

It’s a playful pup that’s also an affectionate companion. You’ll find it hard to say no to its big brown puppy dog eyes.

Depending on the dominant breed’s genes, its coat colors can be white, beige, tan, black, and brown, or a combination of these shades.

The Whoodle

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Poodle mix dog in the big tree stump
Source: @whoodles / IG

The Poodle and a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier mix is a friendly and active crossbreed who’d thrive from different kinds of mental and physical stimulation.

Affectionate and sociable, the Woodle is great for families with kids.

It has a beautiful silky coat that can be black, brown, red, or cream and require daily grooming.

The Soft-Coated Wheatzer

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Schnauzer mix dog lying on the bed
Source: @wayouttheatre / IG

This pup is a mix between the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and Schnauzer.

Eager to please, friendly to strangers and other pets, and affectionate to family members, these intelligent dogs make great family companions.

Coats of the Soft-Coated Wheatzer dogs are soft and wavy and come in various colors.

The Wheatador

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Labrador mix dog
Source: @munchkinlord / IG

Combining the Labrador Retriever and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier resulted in energetic and loving dogs that are easy to train and happy to be around their owners, making them fabulous pets for active families.

Since the parent breeds look distinctively different, it’s challenging to pinpoint exactly how a Wheatador will look in appearance.

This aspect depends on the dominant parent breed in each litter. They are guaranteed to be athletic and muscular in build and ready for an active lifestyle.

Should I get a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier?

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier’s friendly and eager-to-please attitude makes it an exceptional dog for first-time dog owners and active families.

It will show you love and affection and will be fiercely loyal. So you’ll have a cuddly teddy bear as well as an alert watchdog.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier dog posing on the beach
Source: @twoterriertailsnz / IG

Wheaties can be stubborn dogs, which means you will need a little more patience when training them. But if trained from a young age using the right methods, you won’t have any issues.

If you are happy to keep your pup well-groomed and give them daily exercise, you’ll find that this dog is a great companion — you might even end up wondering how you ever lived without them in the first place!

Do you already own this fun-loving canine? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment and let us know about your experiences with the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.

Further Reading: Similar breeds to the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

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