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This dog originates from Ireland and was bred to be a multipurpose working type of terrier. They are relatively good pets for people with allergies as they shed very little.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a typically farm bred terrier which originates from Ireland. They were seen as the 'poor persons' dog, and were never used by nobility who preferred the more expensive and exclusive Irish Wolfhound. This little terrier had to work hard for its living being a dog kept as a ratter, hunter, guard dog, watch dog, herder and all round farm companion. These farm dogs were allowed freely to breed and no standards for this dog came about until the 1930's when the Irish Kennel Club recognised it as one of 4 separate Irish breeds.
It is thought that the Wheaten Terrier may have been one of the founding dogs for the Kerry Blue Terrier.
Average height to withers: Males and females up to 20 inches with males usually being around 2 inches taller than the female.
Average weight: Up to 20.5kg, males usually weighing more than females.
The Wheaten Terrier is a medium sized dog with a 'squarish' shape. Its hair does not shed like many dogs. Like the Poodle, it carries on growing and therefore sheds very little. As it says in the name, the hair of this dog is beautifully soft and woolly. Pups are born a darker red, brown or black and they develop the characteristic golden wheat colour as they mature, reaching its final colour by a couple of years old. The coat sometimes is a darker colour at the tips of the outer guard hairs and if there is any damage to the skin underneath, the overlaying hair grows back a darker colour similar to a scar.
The nose is always dark, and the eyes display a quick intelligence. They have a 'beard' which serves to enhance their boxy shape. The solid neck angles into a straight and strong back, with well muscled hind quarters. The tail was customarily docked, however, however, from 2007 this was effectively banned in the UK, with permitted exceptions, (as defined by the Docking of Working Dogs Tails (England) Regulations 2007 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006). This ban also extends to the showing of some dogs with docked tails, with the exception of dogs who are demonstrating their working skills. This is something to bear in mind when buying a puppy as heavy fines can be imposed if someone is found to be in contravention to these Regulations.
This dog often stays puppyish into adulthood! It is a friendly, fun and reasonably tolerant dog, even with children and will tolerate a lot of play, even when it may not be in the mood. That said, while they are one of the few terriers that are tolerant towards children, early socialisation is still recommended as is supervised play between the child and the dog. It is defensive without being aggressive or argumentative, which is unusual for a terrier, but will always stand its ground and will protect its pack at all costs, being a good watch dog. It will bark to let the family know of unknown people at the house. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are lively, inquisitive, exuberant dog, but can be a true terrier in the way that it can be stubborn and head strong. Because of this it is essential that this dog has a firm and confident leader and it knows its place in the family pack. Once this is established, it can be incredibly loyal, enjoying being with its family and hating to be left alone for long periods.
It has a lot of energy and will require ongoing walks and stimulation. Like many terrier, it does not have the patience for canine sports, instead preferring exercise to take the shape of a good romp over hills and woods. A good recall must be in place if the owner wants to let the dog off the lead as it will chase most moving animals, and will go to ground if necessary to catch its quarry. They are very determined dogs!
Quite a healthy breed, the Wheaten Terrier can live up to the age of 15 years. They are known for being more prone to heritable diseases where the dog either fails to absorb essential proteins via the digestive system or where it loses it in the kidneys, before it being passed out via the urine. Called PLE and PLN, these disease can be fatal, however, if they are caught early, they can be managed, under your vets direction and some changes to the diet.
The woolly coat does require attention, optimally each day. It is quite a thick coat which does not shed as much as some other breeds, and attention should always be paid in hotter weather. Exercise should be restricted to the cooler parts of the day to prevent overheating, and access to shade and water provided.