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Wheaten Terrier

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Enormous fun and undeniably gorgeous, soft coated wheaten terriers are easy to love. These dogs will love you back too and they enjoy family life. They can live happily in most environments, but they tend to like the sound of their own voices and so can annoy close neighbours. These confident dogs need regular grooming, lots of exercise and can suffer from separation anxiety.

Which breed group is the wheaten terrier in?

Breed group: Working

Wheaten terrier breed history

The soft coated wheaten terrier originated in Ireland where it was considered to be a poor man’s dog and was trained to be an all-rounder. Wheaties’ duties would have included hunting, ratting, guarding livestock and herding. The precise history of these dogs is unknown, but their ancestors likely included Irish terriers and Kerry blue terriers. The soft coated wheaten was recognised by the Irish Kennel Club in the 1930s and by the Kennel Club in 1943.

Wheaten terrier breed characteristics

Medium-sized dogs of considerable charm, wheaten terriers boast gorgeous wavy or curly coats. Their flat heads are covered in a copious amount of hair which falls forward and their V-shaped ears are also hairy. Wheaten terriers are compact and sturdy with muscular hindquarters. Their coats are soft and profuse on the head and legs. The accepted colours are blonde, brown and wheaten.

This breed generally boasts an outgoing, confident character with a penchant for fun. The dogs are affectionate and loyal but may form a particularly strong bond with one member of the household. They are quick to learn, highly intelligent and thrive on human contact.

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Height: up to 50cm
  • Weight: up to 20kg
  • Robust
  • Compact
  • Curly or wavy coat
  • Blonde, brown or wheaten
  • Muscular hindquarters
  • V-shaped ears
  • Confident
  • Intelligent
  • Strong prey drive
  • Loyal
  • Friendly

Health issues with wheaten terriers

Wheaten terriers are sturdy dogs with relatively long lifespans but can suffer from the following conditions:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - test available through the Kennel Club
  • Cataracts - secondary to PRA
  • Retinal dysplasia (retinal folds)
  • Renal dysplasia (RD)
  • Protein-losing Enteropathyphy (PLE)
  • Protein-losing Nephropathy (PLN)
  • Congenital deafness
  • Hip dysplasia - Breeders should have stud dogs hip scored
  • Microphthalmia (rbp 4)
  • Skin allergies
  • Atopy - a hypersensitivity to pollen
  • Lymphangiectasia
  • Various types of cancers
  • Addison’s disease

What is the wheaten terrier bred for?

These compact and sturdy medium-sized dogs were bred to fulfil a variety of duties in farming communities including hunting, ratting and guarding livestock. As their popularity spread, they were principally bred as pets and for showing.

What sort of owners does the wheaten terrier suit?

Charismatic, outgoing characters, wheaten terriers love to play and really enjoy family life. They are affectionate dogs which get on well with children of all ages and their intelligence ensures that they are easy to train. They are good choices for first-time owners, but they do require intensive grooming and plenty of exercise.

Although adaptable, wheaten terriers are not well-suited to apartment living due to their tendency to bark (a lot) and engage in rowdy play. They shouldn’t be left home alone and must be kept busy otherwise they can become destructive. Potential owners who cherish their gardens won’t enjoy the fact that these dogs love to dig and can destroy a flowerbed or lawn in double quick time!

Soft coated wheaten terriers are characterful, loyal and friendly pets which are enormous fun, but which need owners who can devote much of their day to entertaining, walking and grooming them. Their strong prey drive can be problematic when out and about but all-in-all, wheaties are wonderful!


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