Breed Group: Terrier Group
Shoulder Height: 17-20 in.
Weight: 35-45 lb.
Life Span: 10-12 years
- The Wheaten Terrier shares a common ancestry with the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier.
- They were first referred to as the "poor man's Wolfhound" because of their vigorous energy, big dog attitude, and loyalty to their people.
- Irish farmers used Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers as general farm dogs – they protected property, worked livestock, controlled vermin and hunted badgers and foxes.
Though the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier has a long history on the Emerald Isle, they are a breed that only recently has started to gain momentum. The Irish Kennel Club itself did not recognize the breed until 1937, over two hundred years after the breed was first developed. The American Kennel Club was even later, not recognizing them until 1973. Since then, however, the Wheaten Terrier has charmed numerous dog owners with their energy and exuberance.
One of the biggest appeals of the breed is their proclivity towards children. They adore children of all sizes, but the younger they are, the better it gets. This is primarily because the Wheaten Terrier has a lot of energy and is naturally very playful, even by terrier standards. While it is not recommended that you walk them without a leash because of their strong chase instinct, they enjoy dog parks and are typically very friendly towards strangers, both human and canine.
Another charming aspect of the Wheaten Terrier is their enthusiastic greeting. If you want a dog that will meet you at the door with a little dance before leaping into your arms and licking your face, this is the breed for you. Many perform this "Wheaten greetin'" no matter who might be entering the room. You'll need to train your dog appropriately so that they don't get overconfident with visitors.
Wheaten Terriers do demand vigorous physical exercise to keep them happy. The more fast-paced the exercise, the more they'll enjoy it. This is why dog parks are such great places for them. They have a long coat that does not shed. Like Poodles (and humans), their hair does not stop growing and must be trimmed regularly. To avoid matting, they should also be combed or brushed once a day. Positive reinforcement rather than physical punishment is the better training method with these fantastic little dogs.
Like any terrier, the Wheaten Terrier is a fit and hardy breed with a long lifespan. They are however susceptible to some genetic illnesses and responsible breeders test their breeding stock before mating to reduce their incidence.
- Some animals are susceptible to one of two protein deficiencies: protein-losing nephropathy (PLN), which is where the dog loses protein in the kidneys; and protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), where the dog is unable to absorb protein in the digestive tract. Both cases are fatal if untreated, but a strict diet with veterinary advice should help them live long and well.
- Addison's disease, a rare condition of the adrenal glands that results in low blood pressure and a coma if untreated, appears more frequently in Wheaten Terriers than other breeds.
- Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is another ailment that pops up with some frequency.
- The dog featured in Irish artist Sir Frederic William Burton's famous watercolor The Aran Fisherman's Drowned Child (1841), is commonly believed to be a Wheaten Terrier. The artwork is displayed in the National Gallery of Ireland.
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