The soft coated wheaten terrier is an outgoing, friendly, and sometimes stubborn breed due to his terrier nature. Originating in Ireland, this breed of Irish terrier has been bred for at least two centuries for general farm duties, including herding, protection of livestock, and of course, hunting vermin. His stocky, sturdy build is contrasted nicely with his soft, silky wheaten-coloured coat, owing to his description as an ‘iron fist in a velvet glove.’ Although originally bred for outdoor farm assistance, they make for lively companions as pets in family homes.
As a medium-sized, stocky Irish terrier breed, wheaten terriers are a sturdy, square, and muscular breed. Wheaten terriers are easily identified by their wavy, gently-waving coats and their stylish goatee.
Their fur coats can range in colour from the typical wheat-coloured coat to golden reddish hues, and the length can be up to 12.7 cm long at its longest. The coat texture is silky and gently waving, giving wheatens a characteristically soft appearance despite their robust structure and gait. It’s important to note that quite often the puppies do not have the same colour coat as in maturity.
Wheatens have small- to medium-sized ears that sit gently in a forward-facing position, whilst their tails are well-set and not too thick. It should not be carried over the back. Although tail docking has long been standard for this breed, the practice is banned in the United Kingdom. Much like other terriers, wheatens have long cranial heads in proportion to their body. They appear robust but not coarse.
The soft coated wheaten terrier is closely related to other breeds of Irish terrier and is perhaps the oldest amongst the Kerry Blue Irish terrier and Irish terrier.
How big do wheaten terriers dogs get?
Height: 46-48 cm (bitches slightly shorter)
Weight: 18-20.5 kg (bitches slightly less)
Anyone looking to purchase a wheaten puppy should be aware that they are a lovely, affectionate, and loyal friend, but they are still terriers and retain their frequent stubbornness traits as well. Nevertheless, they get along exceedingly well with children and are highly loyal to their owners, provided that they remain stimulated as they are a high-energy breed with a more extroverted flair than many other breeds.
Although they are highly energetic and just about always eager to please, they require frequent exercise and are ideal for homeowners with medium or large estates with plenty of garden space. They were bred as farm dogs, so wheatens still love being able to run, chase, and play outdoors.
Are wheaten terrier dogs intelligent? Yes, very.
Are wheaten terrier dogs affectionate? Extremely.
Do wheaten terrier dogs have high or low energy levels? High energy.
Are wheaten terrier dogs loyal? Yes.
Are wheaten terrier dogs playful? Yes.
Are wheaten terrier dogs aggressive? No.
Are wheaten terrier dogs easy to train? Yes.
Are wheaten terrier dogs good guard dogs? Somewhat.
Wheatens have a knack for intelligence and, at times, stubbornness, which can make them fairly challenging to train. They also require a high degree of socialisation and firm, routine training without harshness as they are sensitive to poor treatment. They do get along fairly well with other dogs, but are prone to chase smaller pets as in their nature as terriers. Lastly, they are quite friendly with strangers and very affectionate with children.
Do wheaten terrier dogs get along with other pets? Somewhat. They are prone to chase.
Do wheaten terrier dogs get along with other dogs? Yes, somewhat.
Are wheaten terrier dogs good with kids? Yes, very.
Are wheaten terrier dogs good with strangers? Somewhat.
This breed is best suited for homeowners with a fenced yard in which they can play and let out some of their seemingly endless energy. They are prone to chasing birds and rodents, so it’s best to raise them in a loving household with plenty of living space. Heat sensitivity is an issue, so they will tolerate cool climates better than hot climates. Although they can tolerate city living, wheatens are happier in the countryside in homes where the owner or a family member can keep them stimulated.
Are wheaten terrier dogs good for first-time owners? Definitely.
Are wheaten terrier dogs hypoallergenic? Yes.
Are wheaten terrier dogs prone to drooling? Not much.
Are wheaten terrier dogs a good breed for apartment living? No.
Do wheaten terrier dogs shed a lot? Almost no shedding.
Do wheaten terrier dogs bark a lot? Sometimes, yes.
Can wheaten terrier dogs be left alone at home? Not for extended periods.
Can wheaten terrier dogs handle the heat? No, not well.
Can wheaten terrier dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes, thanks to their thick fur coat.
Are wheaten terrier dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes.
Wheatens are generally a healthy breed, with only a handful of health concerns that owners should take note of. As with most breeds, their ears should be regularly inspected for infection and their teeth should be kept hygienically clean with dog-formulated toothpaste.
Prospective wheaten owners should visit their veterinarian frequently for possible health conditions, such as:
Protein-losing nephropathy (PLN): a kidney ailment that should be tested for at the veterinarian. It may be difficult to diagnose and there is no cure, but treatment is available;
Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE): one of many types of gastrointestinal condition. Can be treated, but severe cases may lead to hospitalisation;
Renal dysplasia: the abnormal development of the kidney(s). Can be diagnosed early on in puppies and treated, but unfortunately there is no cure for renal dysplasia;
Addison’s disease: failure to produce hormones in the adrenal glands. Can be treated if diagnosed early on.
How long do wheaten terrier dogs live? - 12-14 years
Wheaten terriers are a highly energetic breed that require plenty of physical and mental stimulation as they grow and develop from puppies to adults. If you are considering purchasing a wheaten, make sure that you’re giving him plenty of space to roam and play in a controlled environment.
They can and will instinctively chase birds or small pets they come across, so keep close and maintain discipline to avoid any mishaps. During exercise sessions, use a lead whilst walking or jogging, and only remove the lead in a fenced environment such as in a back garden.
Owing to their friendly, affectionate nature, leisurely walks in the park with others should not pose any problems so long as your wheaten has been well-trained and is wearing his lead. Combine relaxing strolls outdoors with some rigorous play to keep him thoroughly stimulated.
How much exercise does a wheaten terriers dog need? - 1-2 hours per day
Do wheaten terriers dogs like water play? Normally, yes.
Wheaten terriers should be fed a high-quality diet of dog food and have consistent access to clean drinking water. They can eat kibble or, with the supervision of a veterinarian, be fed a quality diet of raw or fresh food as well.
Many wheaten owners attempt to find diets that reduce the onset of PLN or PLE, but it’s always best to speak to your veterinarian if you are concerned about these ailments and require a specific diet for health reasons.
Below are some rough estimates for how much your puppy/adult wheaten requires, but keep in mind that every dog is unique and thus a personal dietary plan should be prepared.
Are wheaten terriers dogs prone to weight gain? Somewhat.
How much should I feed a wheaten terrier puppy? About 120g per day, in three sessions.
How much should I feed an adult wheaten terrier dog? About 280-360g per day, in total.
Although wheatens’ fur coats hardly shed at all, they are still fairly demanding in terms of grooming and routine care. Wheatens should be groomed every few days at least. They also require frequent stimulation as they do not tolerate boredom or isolation very well at all.
- Grooming: every few days, owners should brush, comb, and trim their fur coat, especially around the fall (hair in front of their eyes). Their teeth should be brushed regularly with dog-friendly toothpaste and their nails should also be trimmed since long nails can cause pain and discomfort.
- Emotional care: wheatens can tolerate being left alone for a little while, but they should never be left alone for the better part of a day or an entire day. Make sure that they are trained well and with discipline as puppies, but don’t exert any harsh punishment on them as they are quite sensitive. A bored, lonely wheaten can quickly become destructive by biting or chewing shoes, furniture, or knocking over potted plants, for example.
The soft coated wheaten terrier dates back to the 18th century in Ireland, where they were perhaps first bred from the Irish terrier. What is certain is that they were bred to be farm dogs for non-gentry social classes, thus earning the nickname “poor man’s wolfhound” in its native Ireland.
Wheaties were first used for rustic farm chores and vermin hunting in barns, but over time have become affectionate, loyal house pets as well. They were first recognised by the Irish Kennel Club in 1937 and, although fairly rare in the UK, are a beloved breed.
The wheatens of today are identical in shape, size, and colour to those of a century ago, as depicted in the Irish painting “The Aran Fisherman's Drowned Child."
Wheatens have historically had their tails docked, but this has been outlawed in the UK since 2007.
The temperament of wheatens is unique in that they are steadfast and intelligent, as with other terriers, but steady and disciplined as with working dogs.
Purchasing a new puppy is a major responsibility for the owner that comes with many important duties, but there are also risks when buying a puppy to be wary of. Please consult our buying guide and always ensure you purchase from reputable breeders that follow Kennel Club guidelines and standards for breeding. Avoid purchasing from puppy mills or anywhere selling puppies that have not been bred in an ethical manner. If you’d like to purchase a wheaten terrier, we only work with reputable breeders so consult our page for offers.
How much does a wheaten terrier cost to buy? - About £750-£1,150.
How much does a wheaten terrier cost to feed? - An adult wheaten terrier costs about £0.70-£1.00 per day to feed.
How much does insurance for a wheaten terrier cost? - About £20-£40 per month.
Sensible alternatives to purchasing a new wheaten puppy include rescue and adoption.
Additional resources can be found via wheaten terrier associations such as: