Complete Guide To The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier: Health, Grooming and Feeding

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a lively, merry, happy-go-lucky kind of dog that is just happy to be around its family. Although bred to be a working dog, this medium-energy level dog is pleased to be a part of the family. Intelligent, medium-sized, and affectionate, adding a Wheaten Terrier to your family will give you a friend for life.  

I’ve seen many Wheatens in my 20+ year career as a veterinarian. They’ve been pretty popular in my area and I’ve always found them to be happy and active. Let’s dig deeper into this interesting breed.

How Big Do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Get?

Male18″-19″ at the shoulder34-40 lbs
Female17″-18″ at the shoulder30-35 lbs

What Do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Look Like?

The dog is known for its square and sturdy shape, with a handsome goatee and long wavy fur partially covering its eyes. The dog has a soft, wavy, and single coat of fur that covers the entire body. The fur is any shade of wheat, which can range from a rich gold or copper color to an almost-white shade of wheat. Puppies are born with dark brown fur, which will grow into the traditional wheaten shade when they are two years old.  

What Kind Of Personality Do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Have?

There are very few dogs as happy and joyful as the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier when it comes to personality. This dog is the ultimate extrovert and is comfortable and delighted with just about everything. The dog is happy to participate in a job, working around the house or farm, or content to be at your side simply.  

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is intelligent and does have an independent streak. These characteristics can make the dog challenging to train. Be sure to start training early and only use positive training techniques. Consistency and positivity will be critical to keeping this dog happy but obedient. Although willful, this dog is extremely sensitive, and harsh training tactics may break this dog’s spirit.  

How Much Grooming Do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Need?

While beautiful, the Wheaten Terrier’s coat does need a fair amount of grooming to keep it looking good. Daily brushing is required to remove loose hair and pull out dirt and debris. Use a medium or fine-toothed comb to collect all the fine fur and brambles that may come out of the coat.

Most owners I know will take their Wheaten to the groomer every 6-8 weeks to keep them looking spiffy but anyone is capable at home of keeping their dog clean and trimmed the way they want. It may take practice and your dog may look funny at first, but you can groom your own dog at home.

Like other dogs, make sure the nails stay trimmed short if they are not naturally worn down from walking on rough surfaces.  

How Much Exercise Do Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Need?

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium-energy level dog that continues even through old age. Keep this dog exercised with two exercise sessions per day. This dog is happy to go for a long walk, play an invigorating game of fetch, or simply go on an adventure with its owner.

Wheatens happy to stay alongside its family and should be included in as many activities as possible. This breed of dog has a powerful prey drive and will chase any rabbit, squirrel, or leaf that falls in the yard. It is essential to always keep this dog on a leash or in a secured, fenced area.  

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Best Puppy Food For Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers:

Best Adult Food For Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers:

With their long coat, it can difficult for an inexperienced owner to tell when their Wheaten is overweight. Ask your veterinarian to show you how you feel the ribs and back to determine if they’re too big/thin.

How Long Does A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Live?

12-14 years

What Health Problems Can Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Have?

Wheatens are as susceptible as any other breed to things like obesity, dental disease, and hip dysplasia. There are a few health conditions that they are more prone to than just about any other breed. These include:

  • Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN)
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE)

Protein loss is something that is picked up usually by bloodwork or a urinalysis. Wheatens should be checked annually beginning at the age of 5 or 6 for these conditions. The major protein in the bloodstream, Albumin, is the one that needs to be watched.

What symptoms accompany these issues? PLN involves excessive urination accompanied by excessive thirst. In PLE the condition is usually associated with chronic diarrhea. Both health conditions result in weight loss for the dog. Left untreated, these conditions can become life-threatening in their later stages so, if you’re worried, talk to your vet!

Where Can I Learn More About Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers?

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club Of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a popular dog to add to a family and is readily available from breeders. Always be sure to thoroughly vet your breeder ahead of time to ensure they participate in good breeding practices. Your breeder should know the breed of dog and be willing to answer any questions you may have. If possible, try to meet all the puppies in the litter and the parent dogs. You will want an adventurous and confident little puppy and not a shy or overly aggressive Wheaten.  

I’d recommend starting with the Breeder Referral List from the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America.

Another option is the AKC Puppy Page.

It may also be possible to adopt a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier from a specific Wheaten rescue group. Many people will adopt this medium-size dog, not fully understanding how much energy this dog has. Both S’Wheat Rescues and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America Rescue offers rescued dogs. Not only is adoption the perfect way to get the dog of your dreams, but it is an excellent way to give a dog a forever home.  

Fun Facts About the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

  • This breed of dog originated in Ireland and is one of four different Terrier breeds to do so. The origin story for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier describes a sinking Spanish Armada filled with blue dogs. The dogs swam to shore and were welcomed by the native wheat-colored Terriers. The resulting puppy was the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.  
  • Described as the “poor man’s Wolfhound,” the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has long been associated with Irish peasants. In the past, only the gentry was allowed to own hounds and Beagles, while the poor were able to own Wheatens.  
  • A Wheaten puppy is always born with a dark coat, which may be shades of black. As the puppy ages, the fur starts to lighten until it is the trademark Wheaten color. This process usually occurs when the dog is about two years of age.  
  • The Wheaten Terrier is an incredibly athletic dog and has even participated in, and won, dock diving competitions. Krista, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, managed to jump a distance of 10 feet and 2 inches.  
  • This breed of dog is highly versatile and can learn several behaviors. The Wheaten was an all-around farm dog, able to herd, hunt, guard the property, and work as a gun dog. These attributes made them particularly useful for farmers.