The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred as an all purpose farm dog and family companion in his native country of Ireland. The Wheaten shares a common ancestry with both the Irish and Kerry Blue Terrier and is distinguished by his soft silky coat and merry disposition.
A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppy should never be an impulse purchase. Buying a Wheaten is a commitment for the life of a dog that may live 12 years or more. Shop carefully, making sure you are getting a quality pet that has been bred and raised to insure sound body and mind. Discuss the characteristics of the SCWT with various owners and breeders. See adult Wheatens. Make sure this breed is right for you and your family.
Wheaten temperament is unique, combining the alert intelligence of the terrier with the steadiness of the working dog. A quick, lively and affectionate dog, the Wheaten retains his puppy exuberance and medium-to-high energy level all his life. Eminently adaptable, he can enjoy life in the city or the country, just so long as he is close to his people and receives ample daily exercise. They are incurable kissers!
All children should be supervised when a dog is present. Wheatens do well with considerate, well-behaved children. Because Wheaten exuberance may overwhelm small children and because they require much time and attention, many breeders urge parents of infants and pre-schoolers to wait until children are older to get a Wheaten.
Most Wheatens will bark an alarm when strangers approach, but generally they are quieter than smaller terriers. They must be fenced or walked on a lead since they are known to wander and will chase squirrels, rabbits, cars, etc. if allowed to run loose. Wheatens will leap straight up off the floor. They jump up on people and it is difficult to correct this trait.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is not everyone's perfect pet. Special requirements must be met if he is to achieve his potential. He must know that he is a dog and therefore below the human family in pecking order. Wheatens often want to be leaders and can be stubborn and headstrong. They need consistent, firm discipline but are sensitive to harsh treatment. They must be trained to be submissive without breaking their spirit. They are quite trainable but it takes more work, time and dedication than with many other breeds.
The Wheaten Terrier is a high-maintenance breed. Plan on frequent grooming sessions to keep his beautiful coat clean and free of mats. Shedding is minimal. The coat needs to be combed out thoroughly every other day to discourage mats and to remove such debris as is attracted to it; e.g. leaves, twigs, mud, etc. Trimming is necessary to keep his coat within bounds and to preserve his terrier image; nails and ears (can) require weekly attention.
Many people find, however, that the effort required is a small price to pay for a companion sensitive to its owner's moods and personality, one that is a constant source of interest and fun and one with the knack of charming everyone he meets.
What if I have allergies or asthma…
Wheatens are sometimes billed as hypoallergenic because they don't shed like a lot of other breeds. Many people with dog allergies can and do own Wheatens successfully, but remember that no dog is hypoallergenic for everyone! People can be allergic to dog hair, dander, or even saliva – so it's possible you may have an allergic or asthmatic reaction to a Wheaten. If you or a member of your family has experienced reactions to any animal, you should spend a lot of time with a Wheaten before bringing one home. Some people even have different reactions to puppies than they do to adult dogs, so try to spend time around both. If you can borrow one from a friend for a day, so much the better!
Health Issues in the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is basically a healthy dog that, given proper care, will live a long and active life. All breeds, however, have certain health problems and the Wheaten is no exception. Veterinarians have identified three conditions which occur at a higher than normal rate in the breed: protein losing nephropathy, protein losing enteropathy and renal dysplasia. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, Inc. actively supports research projects at several veterinary colleges where these health issues are being addressed. More information is available in Wheaten Health.
A quality puppy is worth the wait.