Country of Origin: Ireland
Height: Males 18 to 19.5 inches, females 17 to 18 inches
Weight: Males 35 to 45 pounds, females 35 to 40 pounds
Coat: Single coat is soft, silky, gently waved or curled, abundant
Colors: Any shade of wheaten
Other Names: Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Wheaten Terrier
Registries (With Group): AKC (Terrier); UKC (Terrier)
Origin and History
In times past, all of the terriers of Ireland were known collectively as Irish Terriers, so it is difficult to know whether ancient references to this strain are about the generic type or specifically about the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier known today. What is known is that the Wheaten, Kerry Blue Terrier, and Irish Terrier share a similar leggy, racy, square terrier appearance that stamps them with generally analogous origins.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier of 200 years ago was a dog of the poor and was so common that few considered him worthy of notice. There are some references to wheaten-colored, open-coated dogs with punishing jaws, mainly in the Kerry and Cork areas. These dogs were used especially for otters and badgers and worked on the farm, performing the usual terrier task of chasing small animals into burrows and dragging them out. He was also valued for his skill at working cattle, hunting badgers and foxes, and protecting his family.
The Wheaten was recognized by the Irish Kennel Club (IKC) as a separate breed when he was issued his present name in 1937. In North America, the Wheaten was finally recognized as a breed by the United States in 1973 and by Canada in 1978.
Alert, friendly, and happy, the Wheaten is often quieter than the smaller terriers. He is headstrong but obedient. He loves kids and is a good companion for them, although he is best with older children; his enthusiasm may overwhelm small children. He is intelligent, playful, and curious about what’s going on around him.
The Wheaten needs a moderate amount of exercise every day. A long daily walk, supplemented with a daily play session in the yard, will help keep him fit.
The breed’s long, silky coat should be brushed or combed every day or two, and he should be bathed at least every other month. He doesn’t shed much, and loose hair will be removed as he is combed—if this is not done, his coat will mat. His straggly hairs should be trimmed regularly to maintain a terrier outline.
The average life span of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is 12 to 14 years.
The Wheaten is a strong-minded dog and can be stubborn—he wants to lead, not follow. This makes it especially important for owners to teach acceptable behaviors from the time they are puppies.
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