The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was considered a poor man's dog in Ireland as the common people were unable to own hounds of value. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Wheaten for short, was bred as a farm dog and vermin hunter and guarding the farm. The origins of the Wheaten are unclear because detailed records were not kept, but this breed is recognized as developing in the 1700s out of the need to maintain a working dog for farming and has given rise to more stylized breeds, such as the Kerry Blue, Irish, and Glen of Imaal Terriers. Despite this breed's long history in Ireland, it did not gain breed recognition until 1973.
Not officially named the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier until 1937, this breed has a long history in Ireland. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a moderate dog with no high stylization, or exaggerated features accept their long beards and the shaggy tuft of hair on their heads, known as fau. The moderate look and size of the Wheaten kept this breed under the radar of the British in the 16th and 17th centuries. British Penal Codes enacted in 1704 forbade the Irish from owning any dog worth £5 or greater in value. Additionally, if the British developed an interest in an Irish dog, the Irishman was legally obligated to sell his dog. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was not an eye catching dog, and the Irish were able to breed and maintain these dogs as working farm dogs and vermin hunters. The Soft Coated Wheaten also proved a hardy, useful, smart dog and survived the Great Famine of the 1840s. By the 1900s, a series of Catholic Relief Acts had overturned many of the previous British Law that prevented the Irish from owning hounds and more stylized dogs. This led to a drop in Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier numbers as people chose dogs with greater features. The Kerry Blue Terrier, a breed said to have originated with the Wheaten, as well as the Glen of Imaal Terriers had already gained recognition and popularity while the Wheaten continued working the Irish farms. However, the 1930s saw a resurgence of interest in the Wheaten, and in 1937, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was recognized by the Irish Kennel Club as its own breed. The first Wheaten Terriers came to America in 1946 and slowly grew in popularity before being officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. Today, this bouncy, high energy breed, despite all his excellent qualities, remains only moderately popular.
The most distinguishing feature of the Soft Coated Wheaten is the long beard under its muzzle and the blonde fau that shades its eyes. Unlike other terriers, the Wheaten has an incredibly soft coat that has a slight wave to it. The Wheaten has a rectangular-shaped head in proportion to its body with dark reddish-brown or brown eyes of medium size. This breed's eyes are almond-shaped and set moderately apart. Small to medium-sized ears are level with the head and drop forward. The Wheaten's nose is large and black, and tight black lips cover classic Terrier teeth with a level or a scissor bite. The forelegs are straight and well-boned and end in round compact feet with black pads. The hind legs are well developed with bend stifle joints and end in compact, round feet with black pads. The tail is set high and carried upright at 90 degrees from the back and is usually docked.
Daily brushing is required to keep the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier's coat looking its best, but this breed is not known to shed much. When it comes to bathing, the Wheaten should only be bathed and shampooed when necessary due to the sensitive skin. Daily brushing will help keep the Wheaten's coat clean and mat-free. Dental hygiene is also important, so it is recommended to clean the Wheaten's teeth two to three times a week, though daily is preferable. Teeth cleaning will help reduce and remove tartar build-up and remove bacteria from the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier's mouth. Toe-nail clipping is recommended twice a month or when you hear your Wheaten's nails clicking while he walks. Because the grooming needs are higher in the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, it is suggested that owners start grooming practices while the Wheatens are puppies to acquaint them with the maintenance best. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a bouncy, active dog that needs to run to burn off excess energy. However, if given the opportunity to run around in a safe, fenced in area, such as a dog park, the Wheaten is highly adaptable to apartment and urban living. The Wheaten will tolerate a hotter climate over a colder one but is an ideal dog for temperate environments. When it comes to feeding the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, this medium-sized dog needs between 1.5 and 2 cups of dry food divided into two meals daily. How much you feed your dog will depend on his activity level, age, and metabolism. Since the Wheaten is a little more sensitive to food allergies than other breeds, pay close attention to his nutritional needs any adverse reactions. You can consult with your veterinarian to develop a nutrition plan suited to your dog's personal needs as well.