Meet the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier (With Puppy Photos!)

Soft-coated wheaten terriers might be the best-kept secret in the dog world with their endearing personalities.

Updated December 28, 2023

Though the soft-coated wheaten terrier may not be as widely recognized as other breeds, it holds a special place in the hearts of those who know it well, acclaimed for its exceptional versatility and suitability for families, particularly those with children.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Are Mostly Hypoallergenic

Soft-coated wheaten terriers are known for being more hypoallergenic than others, which makes this breed an excellent option for pet lovers who suffer from allergies. Unlike many other breeds, the wheaten's unique coat produces less dander, which is often the primary cause of allergic reactions to dogs. Their hair-like coat also sheds very little, further reducing the likelihood of triggering allergies.

Their Color Changes From Puppyhood

Soft-coated wheaten terrier puppies experience a remarkable transformation in their coat color as they grow. Initially, they are born with a dark coat, which is quite different from the adult's signature look.

Over time, this darker fur gradually fades and transforms into the breed's distinctive soft, wheat-colored coat. This change typically begins to occur around six months of age and can continue until they are about two years old.

Need to Know

If you adopt a puppy, remember their color likely won't stay the same over the next couple years. 

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Are From Ireland

Soft-coated wheaten terriers originally hail from Ireland, and they're actually part of Irish folklore. These terriers are often woven into the rich tapestry of Irish legends and stories, symbolizing good luck and being esteemed for their hardworking nature on Irish farms. This cultural and mythological association adds an extra layer of intrigue and charm to the breed.

They're The Opposite of Royalty

Soft-coated wheaten terriers was unique in old times because it was one of the few that could be owned by peasants. In historical times, commoners were generally restricted from owning certain types of dogs, including hounds or spaniels, which were considered exclusive to the upper class. Little did they know, this dog breed was equally as special as the others.

Fast Fact

Soft-coated wheaten terriers were once known as the 'poor man's wolfhound.' 

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers Are Extremely Versatile

Wheatens are like the Swiss Army knives of the dog world — super adaptable and ready to tackle pretty much any task on the farm. They weren't just herding sheep or cows; they were also the farm's security guards, keeping an eye out for any trouble.

If there was an intruder, they acted like family bodyguards, prepared to protect their human family. They'd even help out on hunting trips as gun dogs, and let's not forget their skills in hunting down pesky vermin.

Need to Know

Few dog breeds are as versatile as this one, with most being bred for specific tasks like hunting, working, or companionship.

You'll Have Long-Term Puppy

Wheatens, or Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, grow up more slowly than most other dog breeds. They keep their playful, puppy-like ways for a long time, often until they are three or four years old.

Unlike other dogs that calm down as they get older, Wheatens stay full of energy and love to play and explore. This makes them fun and lively pets, but they also need regular training and socializing for a longer time to help them become well-behaved adult dogs.

The Wheaten Greetin'

One of the soft-coated wheaten terrier's defining characteristics is the 'wheaten greetin'. When you get home, they can't wait to say hello in the most excited way — often by jumping up with the biggest puppy smiles. It's their way of showing how much they love and miss you. It's like a little celebration every time you walk through the door. 

Quick Tip

To prevent them from jumping up, use positive reinforcement to teach them what behaviors are acceptable.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers Are High Maintenance for Grooming

Hypoallergenic doesn't mean low maintenance. Daily brushing is a must to keep their coats from turning into a tangled, matted mess. They should also have regular trims to keep their coat manageable. Your best bet may be to bring them to a professional groomer every 6–8 weeks (or as needed). 

And Need a Secure Outdoor Environment

Most dogs that were bred to hunt vermin have a high prey drive, and the soft-coated wheaten terrier is no exception. If they see a chipmunk, squirrel, or any other small critter, they'll be on the move. If you're considering this breed, you'll need to keep them on a leash, runner, or fence in a decent portion of your yard for them to run around in safely.

Norfolk Terrier vs Wheaten Terrier

Both are bred for vermin hunting. The Norfolk terrier from England and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier from Ireland are distinct breeds. They're hypoallergenic, but the Wheaten has a single-layer coat that sheds less, while the Norfolk has a wiry topcoat with a shedding undercoat.

Personality-wise, Wheatens are known for their friendliness and are particularly suitable for families with children due to their gentle and playful nature. Norfolks are also friendly but more spirited and alert. Each breed, with their own unique traits, offers love and companionship for various lifestyles.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers Can Be An Awesome Breed for Kids

The soft-coated wheaten terrier thrives on interaction, and kids will naturally have the energy to keep up with them. They don't need to be talked into going out to play. They'll gladly follow your kids wherever they go and will even run alongside them when they need to release some pent-up energy. Just keep in mind that a high-energy pup and high-energy kids can mean both get into trouble when their needs aren't met.

Need to Know

Once they're done with exercise for the day, they're happy to cuddle up next to your kiddos.

They're Brave and Bold

Like most terriers, the soft-coated wheaten terrier is known to be a fearless pup with a big personality. This sometimes means they have quite the stubborn streak, but it also means that they'll gladly join you on any adventure, whether it's hiking the mountain or going for a boat ride.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers May Be Prone to Separation Anxiety

Since this breed forms such strong bonds with their families, they are particularly prone to separation anxiety. If you're out of the house most of the time and can't bring them along, this is probably not the best breed for you to choose. They need human interaction on a regular basis to stay happy and healthy (mentally and physically). 

Quick Tip

If you're only gone for a few hours each day, take the measures to reduce separation anxiety and give them a job to do while you're away.

They'll Try Digging to the Center of the Earth

These dogs are serious diggers. Seriously. They'll dig everywhere if you let them. The easiest way to get this behavior under control (and other terriers' desire to dig under control) is to show them where they are allowed to dig. 

Quick Tip

Most pet parents grab their terrier a sandbox or show them a certain part of the yard where they can dig. 

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers Are Pretty Small — Comparatively

Wheatens definitely fit the bill as smaller dogs with giant personalities. No, they're not toy breeds, but they'll solidly stay on the smaller side. These adorable fluffballs usually tip the scales between 30 and 40 pounds, with the boys being just a tad bigger than the girls.

Standing at a cute 17–19 inches, they're like your personal little ball of happiness on four legs. If you're searching for a medium-sized dog with a lot of spirit, a Wheaten could totally be your new best bud.

They Love Being Well-Rounded Family Dogs

The wheaten terrier has a remarkable combination of characteristics: they're lively and spirited, but still have a gentle demeanor; they're playful and stubborn, but are surprisingly obedient. These qualities make them an excellent addition to any family. Their lack of popularity is not due to any issues with the breed, but rather due to many pet parents not knowing they exist.

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Meet the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier (With Puppy Photos!)