The origins of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are a bit misty, but the breed is thought to date back over 200 years. With the historical Irish emphasis on oral traditions over written ones, it is not too surprising that the history of Terriers belonging to farmers and the poorer folk is not well documented. References place long-legged Terriers with open coats and Wheaten color in the areas around Cork and Wicklow (southern Ireland) as well as around Ballymena (northern Ireland). These were general purpose farmers’ dogs – a hard life requiring solid, intelligent dogs with enough size to enforce authority, but not so large that upkeep was expensive. He was the enemy of all vermin, would guard the family larder, could herd sheep and cattle and would patrol the boundaries of the small farms to warn off trespassers. He could also be used as a hunting dog and was capable of tracking otter and badgers, taking them both on land and water. Some old-timers referred to him as “…the best dog ever for poaching.” In short, he was a strong, medium sized dog of great intelligence and versatility.
The first record of soft Coated Wheaten Terriers being imported into the US was by Lydia Vogel who imported a breeding pair in 1947. Although she successfully showed her dogs in AKC shows under the Miscellaneous Class, there were not enough dogs or interest to receive AKC recognition. Ten years later, the breed finally achieved AKC recognition, and in 1962 the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was formed. At the time, there were thought to be less than 30 Wheatens in the country. By 1968, there were 250 registered SCWTs. Popularity has continued to grow and by the early 90’s the breed was the seventh most popular Terrier and over 2,000 puppies were registered yearly with the AKC.
As its name implies, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is prized for its coat, which is soft, silky, with a gentle wave, and of a warm wheaten color. Underneath, however, is a formidable dog that leaves no doubt as to its Terrier origins. Squared and medium-sized, he is happy, steady, self-confident and alert to his surroundings. The Wheaten is also versatile, competing in obedience, agility and confirmation trials.
The Wheatens range in size from 17-19 inches tall at the shoulder. When fully grown, the females usually weight around 30 pounds and the males weigh around 40 pounds. They are alert and happy animals, graceful, strong, and well coordinated.
They are playful, affectionate and adaptable. The hair does not shed on clothes or carpets, but must be combed out, or it will mat. They are excellent for people with allergies.
This is a people-oriented breed; Wheatens demand a great deal of attention from their human families. They are happiest to be with their family inside or outside. They are excellent “watchdogs” and are famous for announcing any visitors. Wheatens are not friendly to cats; they see them as “vermin to hunt”.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are full of fun, and their puppy antics usually persist throughout life. Wheatens tend to be less scrappy than other Terriers but they are true Terriers and will be more active than many other breeds. They love exercise of any kind. They relate well to children and can adapt to city, country and suburban life. Happy in apartments or large areas, Wheatens need regular grooming to keep its coat mat free.
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