Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

soft-coated wheaten terrier standing outside

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The soft-coated wheaten terrier is a medium-size terrier dog breed from Ireland that sports a silky and wavy, medium-length coat in its trademark wheaten (gold) color. Puppies actually are usually born with a dark coat, which grows out to the wheaten color as the dog matures. The coat doesn’t shed much and instead continuously grows and must be trimmed. Overall, the wheaten has a square, muscular build. It was bred to be a hard-working farm dog as well as a cuddly companion.

Breed Characteristics

Group: Terrier

Height: 17 to 18 inches (female), 18 to 19 inches (male)

Weight: 30 to 35 pounds (female), 35 to 40 pounds (male)

Coat: Wavy, silky, medium-length

Coat Color: Wheaten

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Temperament: Friendly, lively, affectionate

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: Ireland

Characteristics of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft-coated wheaten terriers tend to have an upbeat, extroverted temperament. They are typically loving with and devoted to their owners, and they are moderately wary when it comes to strangers. A bubbly, high energy level also shapes the wheaten’s personality.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

The soft-coated wheaten terrier originated in Ireland roughly 200 years ago. It comes from the same ancestor as the Kerry blue and Irish terriers. And all three terriers were bred to be all-purpose farm dogs. 

They could herd livestock, protect property, and even exterminate rodents. Plus, they were lovable companions to their families. Today’s wheatens still have that prey drive, as well as a protective streak when it comes to their family and property. 

The Irish Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1937. And wheatens made their way to the United States in the 1940s. The American Kennel Club didn’t recognize the breed until 1973.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Care

Soft-coated wheaten terriers need plenty of exercise each day, and they tend to remain energetic well into their old age. Their coat does require quite a bit of upkeep. And they need early and consistent training and socialization.


Plan on at least one to two hours of exercise per day for a wheaten. These dogs prefer to be active with their owners rather than being left to their own devices. Walks, jogging, hikes, and games of fetch all are ideal activities. Plus, dog sports, such as agility and herding, are a great way to burn both mental and physical energy. 

When outdoors, keep wheatens either on a leash or in a securely fenced area. Both their herding instinct and their prey drive can make them want to chase moving objects, including cars and small animals. And they might ignore your attempts to call them back.


The wheaten’s coat requires daily brushing, as it tends to mat easily. Use a pin or slicker brush to remove any loose hair and dirt. And follow that with a comb to make sure to get out all the tangles. 

Plan on a bath at least every month, depending on how dirty your dog gets. And trim the coat roughly every four to six weeks, paying special attention to the hair around the eyes and the beard to keep them neat. Check your dog’s nails every month to see whether they’re due for a trim. And try to brush its teeth daily.


Wheatens are smart, but they also can be stubborn and strong-willed. Aim to start training and socialization when your dog is a puppy to prevent bad habits from forming. Always use positive-reinforcement methods, and try to make training sessions fun. Be consistent and firm in your commands. But avoid harsh corrections, as they can cause this sensitive breed to shut down and refuse to learn.

Moreover, having positive experiences with new people and dogs from an early age can help to make the wheaten more comfortable around strangers. Puppy obedience classes are excellent to instill both basic commands and good manners.

Common Health Problems

The soft-coated wheaten terrier is overall a healthy breed. But it is prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water accessible for your dog. And feed a high-quality canine diet that’s nutritionally balanced. It’s typical to feed two measured meals per day. But be sure to discuss the quantity and type of food with your vet to ensure that you’re meeting your dog’s individual needs. Moreover, make sure not to overfeed treats and other extra food to help prevent your dog from becoming overweight.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

The soft-coated wheaten terrier is a moderately popular dog breed. So it is possible to find one at an animal shelter or rescue group, though it might take some time. See whether you can get your name on a breed wait list if possible. For a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay between $800 and $2,000 on average.

For further information to help connect you with a wheaten, check out:

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Overview

  • Loving and devoted

  • Low shedder

  • Often good with children

  • Can be stubborn about training

  • High grooming needs

  • Can't tolerate hot weather well

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Always do your homework when determining whether a dog breed is right for your lifestyle. Talk to soft-coated wheaten terrier owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinary professionals. Try to spend some time around wheatens as well.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

 There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are soft-coated wheaten terriers good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized wheatens generally are good around children. However, dogs should always be supervised around young kids.

  • Are soft-coated wheaten terriers aggressive?

    Soft-coated wheaten terriers can be moderately protective, barking at perceived threats. But as long as they have proper training and socialization, that rarely turns into aggression.

  • Are soft-coated wheaten terriers good apartment dogs?

    Wheatens do best when they have a home with a yard they can exercise in, as they are an energetic dog breed. They might be able to live in a spacious apartment if they get ample time outside for exercise each day.

Article Sources
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  1. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. American Kennel Club.

  2. Wheaten Terrier Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.