Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

"Puppy for Life"

Photo of Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier


The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier hails from Ireland where – along with the Kerry Blue and Irish Terriers – he worked as a farm dog. These dogs had multiple jobs, including protecting the farmer and his property, keeping vermin under control, and herding livestock. The Wheaten didn't make his mark off the farm until the early 1930s, when a Kerry Blue enthusiast suggested to a friend that he start a breed club for Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. The national Irish Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1937. American interest in the breed began when a breeding pair was imported into the United States in the late 1940s. By 1962, an American club had formed. In 1973, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. The breed ranked 49th among the 155 registered to the AKC in 2014.


The Wheaten's terrier alertness is tempered by the steady temperament of a dog who is used to helping out around the farm. These dogs love their people and their people's friends, and like to demonstrate their love by jumping up on all concerned. This hard-to-break habit (and others, like leash-pulling), together with their terrier-like tenacity requires firm but loving guidance from an experienced dog owner.


The Wheaten's coat is beige, wheat, or gold-colored. Unlike the coats of other terriers, it's soft to the touch (hence, the breed name). Like the Irish Terrier and the Kerry Blue Terrier, the Wheaten's face is graced by a “fall” of hair that needs precise grooming in order to maintain the breed's look but get a better view of the eyes. The breed is medium in height and weight, with males being a little larger than females.


A Wheaten responds well to firm, consistent but patient training that is positive in approach. He's a confident dog who needs to be shown that his role in the household is that of follower, not leader. That said, the Wheaten doesn't need harsh demonstrations of human authority in order to understand what's required of him. Even more than other breeds, the Wheaten is ultra-sensitive to harsh training methods, and doesn't take kindly to the owner who attempts to have his way by force.

Grooming & Care

Although Wheatens shed very little, their grooming needs are considerable. Frequent (at least three times a week) combing and brushing of the coat is needed to prevent painful mats and remove any accumulated mud, snow and ice. In addition, the fall and other longer hair should be trimmed periodically to maintain the Wheaten's special look. Weekly ear cleanings, nail trims, and paw pad-hair trims also are crucial to keeping your Wheaten healthy and well-groomed.

Health Concerns

Like all purebred dogs, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has some genetically-based health issues. Among them are Addison's disease, kidney disease, protein-losing neuropathy (PLN), and protein-losing enteropathy (PLO). Dogs should be screened for hip dysplasia, eye problems, and proper kidney function before being bred.

Famous Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

The Magic Kingdom of Landover series of novels by Terry Brooks had a human-sized Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier named Abernathy.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 5
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 57
Exercise 60
Challenges High grooming needs.
Height 17 to 19 inches
Weight 30 to 40 pounds
Life 12 to 14 years
Home Alone 84
With Kids 86
With Strangers 22
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.