Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

An all-round, medium-sized terrier that has lived in Ireland for over 200 years, the soft-coated wheaten is friendly, cheerful, and now widely popular in the US.


Previously known as the Irish Wheaten Terrier, or the Wheaten Irish Terrier, this breed was originally developed for going to earth against badgers.

The silky coat of this breed, which should be the colour of ripening wheat, is its crowning glory and endows it with its modern title. In other respects it is a typical working terrier, tough and fearless in the field and friendly and loyal in the home. Although it is an old breed that has been present in Ireland for centuries, its early owners paid little attention to a precise breed standard. As a result, there was too much variability for it to be taken seriously as a show dog. For this reason it was late arriving in the competitive show-ring and it was not officially accepted by the Irish Kennel Club before 1937. It was first exhibited in a dog show in Ireland in 1938. It was not fully recognized by the AKC until 1973 and in England it was not awarded Challenge Certificates until as recently as 1975. To this day it remains one of the less common terrier breeds.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier enthusiasts claim that it is their breed that was ancestral to the other Irish terriers, its coat colour being turned blue to create the Kerry Blue, and red to create the Irish (Red) Terrier, and its legs being shortened to produce a badger specialist, the Glen of Imaal Terrier. This may well be true, but it should be remembered that all breed enthusiasts like to envisage their own particular type of dog as being the ancestral form from which others have sprung, so caution is needed. But in their favour is the fact that the Wheaten is a versatile dog which, when not out hunting and going to earth, could be found taking on secondary roles such as guarding the house, destroying vermin, driving cattle or even herding sheep. In others words, it was the perfect all-rounder from which the more specialized breeds could easily have been developed.


As the name of the breed is the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, it goes without saying that the breed should have a soft flowing coat! At birth the puppies are quite a deep apricot which lightens as they mature.

Wheaten has a wider and shorter head; button ears; small hazel or brown eyes; and a docked tail. The fringe on the ears should be removed, but overall trimming is necessary only for show dogs. The coat color is light wheaten. A darker shade on the muzzle is permissible.


Normally non-aggressive, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier will get along with other pets in the household. Playful and good with children if raised with them correctly, it makes a good companion to any member of the family, regardless of age. It is a dependable, sensible watchdog.


The breed is prone to some heritable health matters. These include an eye disease, as well as colitis and an allergic skin problem. It is always best to purchase stock from a respected breeder who screens for heritable disorders.

Care and Exercise

It should be brushed and combed at least three times a week with a long-tooth steel comb and a wire slicker brush. Do not pluck, but trim the hair with thinning shears. Check the foot pads and between the toes for any odd bits or matting, and keep the hair on the tail short for reasons of hygiene. A long walk on a lead is ideal for this breed; this will keep the dog healthy and close to its master. If you are unable to walk the dog, let it run in a fenced yard. The wheaten loves retrieval exercises.


Wheatens will settle down happily anywhere be it city or country. They need companionship, long walks on a lead, and a fenced, safe yard for free frolics. Obedience is always a good idea. Naturally, correct feeding is most important. Should the Wheaten be of a quality to be shown, discuss the correct show trimming with its breeder or with a professional show groomer.

Puppies and Training

There are five to six puppies in a litter. The color ranges from red to wheaten, with a black mask. Puppies are darker colored at birth and gradually turn lighter.

Gallery of Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier