All puppies are irresistibly appealing. However, it is the adult dog and its behavioural traits which must be the definitive factor in selecting any specific breed of dog. None more so than the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.
To avoid heartache later, conscientious breeders will proactively insist on prospective owners making themselves fully familiar with this high maintenance, big personality breed, it’s various developmental stages and wide type diversity. The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of GB offers a variety of resources such as Wheaten Fundays, Grooming Workshops, Area Reps, Dog Shows etc., to enable the enquirer to fully research and have hands-on opportunities before committing to the next 14+ years.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is companionable and loving, often at its most contented sharing in family life which usually includes the furniture and your bed. Despite all your early good intentions these endearing pets will inveigle their way up on to the sofa and beyond. (You’ve been warned!) As an intelligent and very sensitive Terrier, this breed is not suited as a kennel dog, or to live in isolation whatsoever. Being shut in all day will create depression and loneliness and have an adverse effect on its sunny disposition therefore they are not suited to working owners who are out all day. The individual generally keeps its puppy-like enthusiasm well into old age.
Described as a game, spirited terrier, this is already in evidence by 12 weeks of age. Overnight this bundle of teddy bear fluff suddenly morphs into a canine ‘Terrier-ist’ as the exuberant, fun loving and enthusiastic big personality emerges. Like all terriers, the Wheaten Terrier is very people orientated and expects everyone to share his joie de vivre. This exuberance requires correct socialising and firm, positive, disciplined and consistent training, especially during adolescence approximately ages 8-24 months where clear acceptable behaviours are reinforced.
The ‘Wheaten greeting’ is legendary. Not every walker will appreciate being suddenly bombarded by a whirlwind of muddy paws and wet fur jumping up at them from seemingly nowhere, as the undisciplined Wheaten Terrier puppy happily greets every passer-by. Dogs may also object to a playful youngster cajoling them which puts the pup at risk from a nip from a less friendly dog.
In the home, usually every visitor is greeted as a long-lost friend. The dog’s delight is often expressed vocally and inevitably jumping up in attempting to lick your nose. Some dogs never learn to say hello quietly or calmly, always looking to adding to its friendship base. Welcomed by many, but not by all of your visitors.
The Wheaten Terrier will equally guard and protect its property. Not a ‘yappy’ dog, however its strong alarm bark will leave no doubt he means business. If left alone excessively for long periods, the single pet may come distressed and may alert everyone within earshot and beyond, to its unhappiness and anxiety, much to your neighbours’ annoyance
Despite its intelligence and sensitive spirit, this breed is robust and adaptable, being originally bred as a general multi-purpose farm dog. It is very much a ‘Jack of all trades’ and in moderation, with great patience, can be trained to do most canine functions, for example, Obedience, Agility, Field Trial, Therapy Dogs (selection according to its aptitude). Its intelligence may on occasion be interpreted as stubbornness.
Whilst many are attracted to this beautiful breed for its glistening palomino curls and waves, this Terrier is no pushover. Do not be misled…underneath this glamorous appearance is a tough dynamic high energy Terrier who won’t back down and is usually fair game for most things.
Some Wheaten Terriers are more Terrier-like than others with a strong hunting instinct. Without clear discipline, these particular individuals will gleefully take on a swan, chase ducks, cattle, deer, etc. Once selected deafness and stubbornness kicks in all your shouting and appeals in the world won’t distract this determined hunter. Without firm control and good training your ‘Goldilocks’ could wreak havoc, usually to your embarrassment. The scent of a fox will whip your cute pet into a frenzy.
Whilst your pet will live very peacefully with your cat, the same affection will not extend to your neighbours’ moggy or chickens, which will be targeted and regarded as fair game. Most Wheaten Terriers are generally friendly and approachable whilst others can be over protective and more guarded, seeing other dogs as a threat. It’s vital prospective owners appreciate the full Terrier instinct and temperament.
A daily consideration is the Grooming. As the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier does not moult, which is a modern-day appeal, but the coat is high maintenance. The Wheaten Terriers’s coat covers the full spectrum from thin and silky to thick and plush with everything in between. All coats will knot and matt and require a commitment to grooming. The puppy coat drops at approximately 8 months and requires daily combing out until at least 18 while it transitions into the adult coat. For some this daily routine is therapeutic; for others it is laborious and is left to felt and matt leaving the dog uncomfortable and sore. This usually results in the dog being shaved. The final coat and colour may take up to 4-5 years to mature. The slower maturing silkier coats often means your puppy will look more like a ragamuffin and not remotely like the beautiful adult dogs that first caught your eye.
All coats, but the heavier coats especially, become an absolute sponge for wet and mud. Your pet will enjoy paddling in streams and ditches which may have treacle mud bottoms. Daily paw rinsing after a walk will become routine especially in the damp winter months. Shampooing and bathing becomes a frequent event. Approximately every 6 weeks is recommended however the Wheaten Terrier is not a smelly dog. The dirt drops out as the muddy coat dries usually into its bed. The coat will require regular trimming to keep it manageable and the dog comfortable.
Ear flaps especially need to be kept well-trimmed. Otherwise the incubated dark moist ear canal becomes a breeding ground for ear infections. Also, heat is trapped and, in warm weather especially, your pet will be very uncomfortable. The ear canal will need to be regularly plucked to keep it hair free.
All puppies grow up. Your adult dog may spend all day much of its day lounging legs akimbo seemingly asleep but will leap into action as you reach for your shoes. Expert interpreters of body language, your pet will learn to read your moods and actions from a young age having every desire to live in harmony with its family. ‘Zoomies’ and ‘Wheaten Whirls’ are all typical glee expressions adopted by your pet to raise a smile.
In the right environment, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier will be a delightful, devoted life companion full of good humour and optimism giving years of devotion. In the wrong home this same good humour will be misinterpreted and regarded as a nuisance.
It is strongly recommended your final decision in choosing your pet is based on spending time with knowledgeable owners and their pets and not by pictures on the Internet.
Remember, quality, well socialised, health checked puppies raised conscientiously by considerate thoughtful breeders are rarely advertised. Buyer beware.