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rec.pets.dogs: Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers
Send comments or questions to author or Sharon Meerbaum,
Most of this information is gathered from the resources listed below,
not from personal experience. There are no guarantees in life and
certainly none concerning the accuracy of what follows. OTOH, I've
tried to make the information as accurate as possible so please
contact me with any corrections or suggestions. I'd like to thank all
the Soft Coated Wheaten owners and lovers who reviewed this FAQ, as
well as Cindy Tittle Moore -- pet-lover extraordinaire.
Copyright 1995 by Mike Slepian (last updated March 1997). Single
copies may be downloaded and printed for individual use only. NOTE:
Soft Coated Wheaten Rescue organizations may freely give a copy with
each dog they place.
Table of Contents
* General Description
* Frequently Asked Questions
* The Standard
* Medical Information
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (SCWT) is, as the name implies, a
wheaten-colored terrier with a soft (open) coat. It is a shaggy blond
dog of medium size that does not shed. It is, however, much more than
the previous two simple sentences can convey. This breed truly offers
something for everyone. Anyone who has seen a well-groomed SCWT will
acknowledge the beauty of its coat -- abundant, medium long and
falling in waves that range from shimmering reddish gold to a gold so
light it is nearly silver and which ripples and shines with the play
of the muscles beneath. The breed has the stamina, strength, gameness,
joy-of-life, and intelligence (stubbornness?) of its terrier heritage.
True to its development as an Irish farm dog, the breed is steadier
than most terriers and intensely loyal to its human family. It is a
dog that has not been overly refined; it retains the air of a country
gentlemen with courage and power balanced by intelligence, gaiety, and
The Wheaten Terrier is distinctive: he has a compact, well-knit body
expressive of agile strength and power. His average height is 18.5
inches and he usually weighs from 30 to 45 pounds (bitches about 10%
smaller). Wheatens have a deep chest and well-sprung ribs. They have
straight forelegs and powerful hind legs, bent at the stifles with
hocks well let down. The tail is customarily docked to a length of 3-5
inches. The ears are smallish, set at the topskull level, carried in
front and dropped (they may have blue-gray shading). Their eyes are
dark reddish brown or brown, slightly almond-shaped, and medium-sized
-- yet seem larger due to black coloring of the eyerims. The eyes gaze
at you from beneath a curtain of bangs which naturally fall forward
over the eyes to shade and protect them. The muzzle is relatively
short for a terrier with a definite stop and crowned by a large black
The origins of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 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 modern history of the breed is closely related to that of
Ireland's other two breeds of long legged terriers, the Irish and
Kerry Blue Terriers (IT and KBT respectively). Native wheaten terriers
are thought to be important in the origin of both breeds. Indeed, an
origin legend of the KBT has a blue dog swimming ashore after a
shipwreck and breeding with existing wheaten colored terriers to begin
the breed (the wrecked ship was either from the Spanish Armada, a
Russian fisherman, or a Portuguese fishermen -- take your pick). Irish
terriers were first shown as a distinct class at dog shows in Dublin
in the 1870's. A reporter of an 1876 show stated about Irish Terriers
that _"Prizes had gone to long legs, short legs, hard coats, soft
coats, thick skulls, long thin skulls, and some prize winners were
mongrels."_ The first standard for Irish Terriers was not drawn up
until 1880. At that time terriers of the same general size, but with
open or soft coats were still often benched with the Irish Terriers.
Included in these soft coated varieties were dogs with silver, gray,
blue, and wheaten colors. The KBT was separated out as a distinct
breed during the time period between 1914 and 1922 and actually the
breed's early popularity centered in England where the modern style of
trimming Kerries was developed and the breed was refined.
Interestingly enough, the Kerry Blue is still shown untrimmed in
Ireland where it is called the Irish Blue Terrier.
The Wheaten did not prick the interest of dog fanciers as early as did
its two close cousins. As times changed during the early part of this
century and travel improved, the number of pure specimens declined and
the breed almost vanished. The turning point for the breed was a
terrier field trial in 1932 where a Wheaten terrier performed
exceptionally well. Patrick Blake, a noted fancier of Kerry Blues, was
very impressed and he became convinced that the breed should be
rescued from obscurity/extinction. He prevailed upon his friend Dr. G.
J. Pierse to start a club for the breed and sponsor it for recognition
by the Irish Kennel Club. Good specimens of the breed were still to be
found and the breed began to prosper. Recognition by the Irish Kennel
Club was achieved in 1937 and they were first officially presented at
an Irish Kennel Club show in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day. At that time
a certificate of gameness was required to achieve a conformation
championship. One controversy at the time the breed was recognized was
what name to give the breed. The first thought was to use Irish
Wheaten Terrier. This suggestion was vehemently opposed by two
already-recognized Irish breeds -- Irish Terrier and Glen of Imaal
Terrier (GofIT is a short legged terrier named for the area where it
was developed). Both of these breeds included wheaten as an acceptable
color. At the time, the wheaten color was actually preferred for ITs.
The IT standard no longer includes wheaten, but the color is still
part of the GofIT standard (GofIT's are recognized by the IKC, the
KC(GB), the FCI, but not by the AKC). Since both the IT and GofIT have
hard coats, the rather mouth-filling name of Soft-Coated Wheaten
Terrier was reached as a compromise (the hyphen was officially dropped
in the US in 1989).
The first record of Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers being imported into
the US was by Lydia Vogel who imported a breeding pair in November of
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 O'Connor family of Brooklyn
imported a dog from Maureen Holmes, one of the most influential Irish
breeders of SCWTs. The O'Connors had become interested in the breed
after falling in love with the 'shaggy dog look' shown in a picture of
one of the Vogel dogs. The O'Connors began showing their dog and
became interested in achieving AKC recognition. They tracked down
descendants of the Vogel pair and, with the help of Maureen Holmes,
other Irish imports. On March 17 (1962), again a great day for any
Irish dog, 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. A stud book registry was started in 1965 and by 1968 there
were 250 registered SCWTs. The first club matches were held in 1970
and 1971. The AKC admitted the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier to the
Terrier Group on March 13, 1973. Popularity has continued to grow and
by the early '90s the breed was the seventh most popular terrier and
over 2,000 puppies were registered yearly with the AKC. The breed's
rapidly increasing popularity has led to concerns over puppy-mills and
careless backyard breeding. Prospective owners should _carefully
research_ the origin of puppies as well as the seriousness and
qualifications of the breeder.
Frequently Asked Questions
_Is that a blond sheepdog? ... blond schnauzer?, blond kerry blue?_
In the unclipped condition there is some surface similarity to a
small Old English Sheepdog or Briard, but the dogs are really quite
different. With more of a show clip there is a good deal of
structural resemblance to the Kerry Blue Terrier since the two
breeds are related (see section on breed history). Although this
breed is steadily increasing in popularity, it is still a fairly
rare breed and will be unfamiliar to most people.
_Are they good with children?_
Yes, they are generally very good with children and seem to have an
instinctive tolerance for children's rough play without showing
aggressiveness. They are sturdy dogs and not easily injured.
Wheatens are also good with the sick and elderly and have been
successful as therapy dogs. Wheaten puppies (up until close to two
years old) deserve an extra comment since they, like puppies from
most breeds, will do some chewing and biting. Coupled with natural
dominance games of puppies, these energetic pups may be a bit much
for very young or very passive children. Like all breeds, they need
socialization with both humans and other dogs plus training to
reach their true potential as companions.
_However_, they are dogs with the instincts of dogs: _children
should not be left unattended with any type of dog!_
_Do Wheatens shed? Are they hypo-allergenic?_
All dogs shed, but the Wheaten is a single-coated dog and generally
sheds very little. They do not seasonally "blow" coat as do many
other breeds, but they do need regular brushing to remove dead
hairs and prevent matting.
Wheatens often appear on lists of dogs which are good for people
with allergies because of their non-shedding coat. However, many
allergies result from exposure to dog's dander, saliva, or natural
oils rather than hair and Wheatens produce all of these. Each
person's allergies are different so a person who suffers from
allergies should visit a breeder and spend some time with the dogs
at close quarters. If no reaction results, Wheatens may be a good
_Does this breed require lots of grooming? _
In a word, yes! Wheatens need about as much grooming as poodles.
They require regular brushing, several times a week to prevent
matting (daily is better). In addition, they may need to be trimmed
or tidied up four to six times a year. Show dogs should be
professionally groomed, but a pet owner can learn the techniques if
one wants to invest in the thinning shears and clippers (and time).
The fur should not be continually clipped short to avoid grooming
responsibilities since the dog's coat does serve some useful
purposes, notably protection and insulation. The coat protects the
dog from cold weather and moisture as well as from incidental
contact with bushes, branches, and plants. It is thought that
having the fur cover the eyes shades them from the sun like a
golfer's hat. Clipping the fur too short, too often, will cause a
change in the coat's texture and it will lose its silky shine.
_What about exercise requirements?_
The Wheaten is an active breed, and requires regular exercise. A
fenced yard where they can run is ideal. Daily walks should also be
provided. Any dogs without enough exercise will find other, more
destructive, outlets for their energy.
_Is this a good breed for first time dog owners? _
In a word, maybe! These are delightful dogs, good with families,
and very adaptable. On the other hand they require a good deal of
effort and commitment from the owner, perhaps more than most
breeds. Between the need for exercise, socialization, and grooming;
a commitment for many hours of attention a week may be needed for
the next 15 years. Many responsible terrier breeders are reluctant
to place dogs with first time dog owners.
_Dog ownership, in general, should not be entered into lightly and
this breed is no exception._
_Are they good with other pets?_
Wheatens are probably the most social breed of terriers. They
display little dog-dog aggressiveness and are less territorial as
well. They will get along with other household pets, especially if
the introductions and adjustments take place while the dog is
_Are they indoor or outdoor dogs?_
Although they were originally developed as farm dogs, they do best
when housed indoors and treated as one of the family. These are
people dogs and will always want to be where the family is. They
will not do as well in outside kenneling situations and most
breeders recommend that they sleep indoors, in the owner's bedroom.
_Can they live in the city?_
They make fine dogs for apartment dwellers as long as their
exercise requirements are met (more walking when there's no yard).
Their size is convenient, they are exceptionally sociable, and do
not disturb neighbors with barking. An article in "New York"
magazine in 1969? billed the Wheaten as "the perfect apartment dog"
while a "New Yorker" Talk of the Town piece from November 8, 1982
discussed meeting a Wheaten on Broadway.
_Are these dogs good in cold weather? in hot weather?_
Wheatens are good in cooler climates and are popular in such
northern countries as Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Normal
cold weather care should be taken, including regular inspection of
pads for iceballs. As mentioned above, they are mostly indoor dogs
and most of them enjoy excursions into cold and snowy weather.
They do not do as well in hot weather and may be noticeably less
active. They should always be given access to both shade (if
outdoors) and water and strenuous exercise should be avoided.
Indoors, they may prefer to lie on cool tiles or linoleum,
sometimes in bathrooms. Trimming the coat slightly shorter is OK,
but not so much that the sun can reach the skin.
_Do they make good obedience dogs?_
The Wheaten is very intelligent and a number of dogs have received
advanced obedience degrees, but they can be stubborn and
independent. The Wheaten, like most terriers, was bred to work
independently of human direction. If a dog is nose to nose with a
badger, it cannot take the time to ask "may I attack now, please,
or would you prefer me to wait?" Thus, obedience as a formal task
is rather foreign to the breed, but their loyalty and eagerness to
please will usually compensate. They are surprisingly sensitive and
respond best to positive training techniques and many people have
had good success with clicker training.
All dogs should learn basic good manners and certain general
behaviors, such as coming when called and walking on a lead. Puppy
kindergarten training is wonderful socialization for a young dog to
learn, to avoid dog-aggressiveness later in life. It should be
followed by a basic obedience course. A new certificate/program of
the AKC which emphasizes good manners is the Canine Good Citizen
Wheatens can also perform in competitive obedience such as that
sponsored by the AKC (most national kennel clubs sponsor some sort
of obedience competitions). Some 20-40 different Wheatens have
competed in AKC trials for each of the last five years.
_What other activities are there for Wheatens?_
Wheatens are intelligent, athletic dogs that can enjoy many
activities with their owners including hiking and camping. They
also can compete in more organized activities such as agility and
flyball where at least two Wheatens have obtained pins as 'Flyball
Masters'. Because of their background as general purpose dogs,
Wheatens are not considered specialists and are not permitted in
the more specialized AKC activities such as sanctioned field,
herding, or earthdog trials. In some cases they may be able to
compete in non-sanctioned fun matches or in events sponsored by
other organizations. They can compete in tracking trials as these
trials are considered part of obedience trials.
Each year the SCWT of Northern California sponsors a herding clinic
and instinct test near Sacramento. About 80% of the dogs usually
pass the test. A number of dogs have an HCT (herding capabilty
tested) title with the American Herding Breeds Assoc. and several
others have their first leg.
_Do Wheatens bark?/Are they good watchdogs?_
They are not, as a rule, given to barking, but they are alert to
their surroundings and generally will announce visitors. Usually
when a Wheaten barks, it is best to investigate. They are not
particularly territorial, but they are very loyal to their family.
Their size and loyalty will make them good for personal protection,
but they are much too sociable to be a guard dog.
_Are they all the same color?_
They are all wheaten in color as the name implies. Wheaten, however
encompasses a range from almost silver to a reddish gold. Wheatens
often have blue-gray shading on their ears and beards -- reminding
us of their link to the Kerry Blue Terrier.
_Why don't the puppies look more like the dogs?_
There is more variation among puppies in Wheatens (even within a
single litter) than is common for single colored breeds that breed
true to type. Puppies can have flat or fluffy coats, hard or soft
coats, and can be light in color or dark. They can also have black
tipping, black muzzles, or white blazes on their chests. The adult
coat texture and color is achieved through gradual changes and
should be set by the time the dog is two years old. Some
adolescents will go through a stage where they are much lighter
than adult dogs. The standard makes allowances for these coat
_What is a Wheaten welcome?_
They are well known for their habit of introducing themselves to
strangers (and friends) by jumping straight up and licking people
on the face or smelling a person's breath. They can be trained not
do perform this spectacular welcome, but you must start very early
and be very consistent!
_What other types of behavior are typical of Wheatens?_
The following list of Wheatie characteristics is taken from
responses of Wheaten owners to Wheaten-l, a mailing list for
Wheaten lovers. Not all Wheatens will display all of these traits,
but don't be surprised if a Wheaten demonstrates any of them. Also,
they are not all unique to Wheatens.
* Mad dashes around the house and yard
* Whirling when feeling happy
* Jumping on and off furniture rapidly while dashing around
* Jumping on people
* Mad, passionate, lightning-fast 'kissing' (your face, ears, hands)
* Sleeping on back with feet up or body twisted
* Beard wiping
* Sleeping across couch cushions
* Dropping toys behind couch
* Jumping on and over furniture, over baby gates
* Resting their head on your knee to get petting (dinner, let out,
* Dislike of hot weather, with inactivity
* Play bows when playing with each other
* Sitting on things like the curb, your foot, etc. (as if it were a
* Putting on a"Camille" act; if you send them away, you can hear
their little hearts breaking with each step they take! Also known
as the, 'Pitiful Pearl Act'. They can 'guilt trip' you from 40
* They sit on other dogs in play
* The ability to dash out any open door or gate (and meet with an
oncoming car!) at any opportunity.
* Many (not all, but maybe most) HATE to go out in the rain, but
LOVE the snow.
* Tremendously sensitive to and will reflect your moods. Thrilled
when you're happy. Sad when you're sad.
* Hate to be yelled at.
* Attached to all family members.
* Friendly and outgoing. They "never met a stranger they didn't
* Many are picky eaters.
* Occassionally stubborn.
* You don't GREET this dog, you WEAR her for an hour burrowing head
in the corner of the couch, under the pillows, so that all you see
* When walking on a leash, they takes the leash in his mouth and
hold their head up like they're walking themself.
* they loves to find sticks when they walk and carry them in their
mouth like a prized possession.
_How are Wheatens different from their cousins, the Kerry Blue
Many people have narrowed down their selection of their next dog to
either a Wheaten or a Kerry. Here is an opinion on how they are
different. This list was compiled from comments by both Kerry and
Wheaten owners. While there are some differences, the differences
are small. Many of the differences can be compensated for by
selecting the appropriate breeding lines.
* Kerries are slightly more feisty and more difficult to handle than
* Wheatens are a little more "flighty" and need more training,
* Wheatens may have a few more genetic problems,
* Kerries are more aggressive with other dogs,
* Wheaten's hair is silkier, less curly and softer (more open),
* Wheaten's coat requires more work and the hair may tangle more
* Both Kerries and Wheatens have some skin problems, though
different problems: cysts in Kerries versus rashes in Wheatens.
More information on Kerry Blue Terriers can be found at the Kerry
Blue Terrier FAQ written by Daryl Enstone. Another good reference
for Kerry Blues is the Kerry Blue site mai ntained by John Van den
Bergh. Return to Table of Contents
The standard of the breed describes the ideal Soft Coated Wheaten
Terrier, and no one dog lives up perfectly in every regard. In
general, an SCWT should resemble the standard as closely as
possible. The closer to perfect, the more likely the dog is to earn
a championship. A dog can still have major faults and be a good
SCWT, but should not be used for breeding. Being a good pet is
nothing to be ashamed of, rather the opposite! With the pet
overpopulation problem in this country, only the very best
representatives of any breed should reproduce. This is not just in
conformation terms, of course, but temperamentally and medically as
At the present time there are four standards for the Wheaten;
American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), Kennel Club
of Great Britain (KCGB), and the Irish Kennel Club (IKC). Because
the breed was developed in Ireland, the standard from the IKC is
used by the Federation of Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the
international collection of kennel clubs. The four standards are
very similar to each other, but there are subtle differences. When
added to the variation of judges' interepretations and preferences,
the differences in standards may lead to considerable variations in
Wheatens around the world. The different standards are briefly
discussed below and for more information contact the FAQ's author.
AKC Standard for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the
Standards at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards
are not typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is
referred to the publications in the resource section of this
document or to the National Breed Club for a copy of the AKC
Standard. Several sections from the AKC standard are summarized in
the following paragraphs.
Wheatens are medium-sized, hardy, well-balanced terriers with a
square outline. They are noted for their soft, silky coat of
wheaten color which falls in gentle waves and their steady
disposition. They should be happy, alert, well-conditioned animals
that show moderation is structure and temperament. Any
exaggerations should be avoided. The dogs should be 18-19 inches at
the withers and weigh in at 35-40 pounds. Bitches should be about
one inch shorter and five pounds lighter.
The head is rectangular in shape, well-balanced and in proportion
to the rest of the body. It should be moderately long with neither
coarseness nor snippiness. The top of the skull should be flat
between the ears and there should be a definite stop. The skull and
foreface should be of equal length. Ears are smallish to medium and
break even with the top of the skull. They lie alongside the cheek
and point to the ground. The nose is black and large for the size
of dog. The eyes are slightly almond-shaped and set fairly wide
apart. They should be brown or dark reddish-brown with black rims.
The teeth are large and white and should meet in a level or s
cissors bite and be surrounded by tight black lips.
The body is compact and relatively short-coupled with height (to
the withers) being equal to the length (from the chest). The back
is strong and level with a medium-length neck. The neck is clean
and strong, but not throaty and widens as it joins to the body. The
ribs are well sprung, but not barrel or slab shaped. The chest is
deep. The tail is docked and set fairly high. It is carried erect,
but not over the back. The legs are well developed and well knit.
The forelegs are straight and well-boned while the hindlegs have
well bent stifles and hocks that are well let down and parallel.
All four feet should have be round and compact with dark nails and
black pads. There should be no dewclaws.
The coat of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is one characteristic
which sets it apart from other breeds. It is a single coat that
abundantly covers the entire body including the legs and head. On
the head it falls forward to cover the eyes. The texture of the
coat is soft and silky and on the mature dog will have a slight
wave (the wave will be missing in puppies and adolescents). The
correct color is any shade of wheaten except on the muzzle and ears
where some blue-grey shading is allowed. Occasional guard hairs of
red, white, or black may be seen.
The colors for puppies and adolescents are different. Puppies may
be darker and even have black tipping. As the puppies go through
adolescence, they will lighten considerably in color and may become
nearly white (although white is not acceptable). They will then
darken again before two years of age by which time they must
acquire the proper wheaten color.
When shown, the Wheaten is trimmed to show a terrier outline
without exaggerated stylization. The head should be blended to give
a rectangular look with the be ard balancing the fall. Eyes should
only be indicated, not exposed. The coat is thinned, not clipped or
plucked, and should be long enough to flow when the dog is in
motion. The motion should be free and graceful with good front
reach and strong rear drive. Feet should turn neither in nor out
and the tail should be carried erect.
The Wheaten terrier is happy dog and should show himself with
gaiety and self-confidence. He should be alert to what goes on
around him yet maintain a steady disposition. He is less aggressive
than most other terriers yet will acquit himself admirably when
given the chance to face off and spar.
Standards in Other Countries
The FCI standard is the same as that from Ireland, the breed's
country of origin. Essentially it is the same as that of the US,
however, it permits the breed to be shown trimmed or untrimmed. For
the untrimmed dog it states: _The coat at its longest not to exceed
five inches. Abundant and soft, wavy and loosely curled. Abundance
not to be interpreted as length. Under no circumstances should the
coat be "fluffed out" like a Poodle or Old English Sheepdog. Dogs
in this condition to be heavily penalized as they give a wrong
impression of Type and Breed._ In Ireland, the preferred show coat
has more intense wave and shine with less profuse leg furnishings
than in the US. The coat may also be less full. The backs may be
slightly longer and there may be less angluation in the rear
In England the standard is, again, much the same. The statement for
neck does differ where it states: _Moderately long, strong,
muscular and slightly arched. Without throatiness. Gradually
widening toward, and running cleanly into shoulders_ (emphasis
added). The breed is shown untrimmed in England.
In some countries, notably Sweden where the breed is fairly
popular, docking of tails is illegal and the breed is shown with
its natural tail. The natural tail is carried high, is slightly
curved, and reaches about the same level as the top of the head.
The Wheaten Terrier is a generally healthy dog. They are fairly
long-lived for a dog of their size and weight and can often reach
their mid-teens. They also retain their puppy-like behavior longer
than some breeds: sometimes well over a year. Wheatens can be quite
sensitive to medications and dosages may be reduced over
conventional practice. As a result, consultation with the owner's
vet is recommended.
Because of their long coat, insect bites and allergic reactions are
not readily apparent and owners must regularly inspect for them --
particularly in summer. Wheatens paws must be regularly checked.
They have fast growing nails and somewhat profuse hair growing
between pads. If either is left to grow too long, an abnormal gait
can develop. Such a gait can in turn lead to leg damage.
As with all dogs, prospective owners should check with the breeders
to see that the breeding dog's hips are inspected and certified
against hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is less of a concern for
Wheatens than for many other dogs of similar size and weight. Eyes
should also be certified for Progressive Retinal Atropy (PRA).
There are two more serious concerns that have been identified for
Sensitivity to Anesthesia
Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are very sensitive to certain
anesthetics, particularly those with a barbiturate base. In this
regard they are very much like sight hounds. Any procedure
requiring an anesthetic should be discussed with the vet to make
sure he/she understands this sensitivity. The recommended protocol
is the following:
* Preoperative tranquilizing with Acepromazine or Atropine. (Some
Veterinarians may not choose to use Acepromazine)
* Induction with a combination of Ketamine and Diazepam (Valium)
* Maintenance of anesthesia with Isofluorane and Oxygen.
Protein and Kidney Abnormalities
It is suspected that Wheatens suffer from a higher than average
incidence of protein wasting diseases and kidney abnormalities. The
suspected i ncidence is perhaps up to 15-20% of the breed in the
US, but may be lower in other countries which have not imported
breeding stock from the US. The incidence may also be much lower in
some areas or lines within the US depending on the particular
breeder. The average onset of these diseases is 4.5 years of age,
and food allergies (particularly wheat glutens) are thought to be
involved. There is presently no early test to determine whether a
dog will develop a protein-losing disease. Active research is
underway to understand the causes, triggers, and genetic component
of protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), protein-losing nephropathy
(PLN), and Renal Dysplasia (RD). Symposiums on this subject are
held periodically in different locations, e.g. Guelph Ontario on
April 22, 1995 and at the US National Specialty in King of Prussia,
PA on October 4, 1995.
PLE and PLN are both protein-losing diseases, one from the gut
(PLE) and one from the kidneys (PLN). Both are thought to have some
genetic component and to be auto-immune problems. PLE has a
slightly earlier onset (at 4 years) than PLN (at 6 years), but both
first appear well after the age that most dogs are bred for the
first time. This late appearence of the diseases coupled with the
lack of early tests for them make elimination of the diseases quite
Renal Dysplasia is polycystic kidney disease. There are cysts that
form on the kidneys and the kidneys are very small. It affects pups
from birth and they usually die before their first birthday. The
thinking is that it is inherited, but it isn't known exactly how.
Not all pups in the same litter will get it -- some will have
disease and die, some may be carriers and never exhibit the
disease, and some may be clear and not be carriers or have the
disease. A simple dominant/recessive pair does not explain the
patterns seen in litters. Wheatens are not the only breed to suffer
from this problem, which is also know as Juvenile Renal disease.
Susan L. Fleisher has a web article on the subject.
Because of these potential health problems, some breeders recommend
that Wheatens be fed a high-quality, low-protein diet that avoids
wheat. Also recommended is allowing the dog to urinate frequently
to avoid stressing the kidneys.
The US National Club has recently begun an Open Registry for
genetic diseases. The Registry is administered by Dr. Meryl Littman
of the University of Pennsylvania and is co-sponsored by the
Canadian National Club. The purpose of the registry is to collect
health and genetic information on Wheatens affected with genetic
diseases, particularly PLE, PLN, and RD. Research related to these
diseases is being carried out by Dr. Shelly Vaden at North Carolina
State University, Dr. Theresa Fossum at Texas A&M University, and
Dr. Brian Wilcock at University of Guelph as well as Dr. Littman.
_Please do not contact these doctors directly: have your vet
contact them with any questions_
The AKC Canine Health Foundation has recently funded a research
project submitted by Dr. Vaden to study the mode of inheritance of
PLE/PLN in Wheatens. This grant is a matching funds grant so the
SCWTCA is looking for contributions. The grant plus matching
contributions will providealmost $100,000 for Dr. Vaden's research
The major fund raising event for the AKC - Canine Health Foundation
Grant will be launched during Montgomery weekend, the site of the
US National Specialty (October 3-6, 1996), and will be a silent
auction of donated item. In addition, there will be special gifts
for contibutions of a certain size. If anyone wishes to contribute
now and not wait for Montgomery the SCWTCA certainly will not
complain. Checks should be made out to AKC/CHF and one should note
on the check memo "For Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Research Fund".
Checks are to be sent to Rosemary Berg, 37953 Center Ridge Rd., No.
Ridgeville, OH 44039. (Rosemary is SCWTCA Treasurer) She will log
all contributions and forward them to the Canine Health Foundation
(this way we will be able to keep track of things). It should be
noted that all contributions will be TAX DEDUCTABLE (at least in
the USA, I'm not sure it would be so outside the US).
Prospective buyers should talk to the breeder about whether PLE or
PLN have shown up in their line. A reputable breeder who truly
cares about the breed will honestly answer their questions.
For more information contact the breed's parent club in your
country or this FAQ's author.
The following books are available and contain information that may
help you evaluate whether the wheaten terrier is the breed for you.
General books on all dog breeds or all terriers will usually have
some information on this breed. _Thorough_ research into the breed
is vital before purchase is contemplated. In addition to the books
listed below, the US Parent club has several pamphlets on aspects
of Wheaten ownership.
_The Complete Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier_, Roberta A. Vesley,
Howell Book House, McMillan Publishing Co., New York, 1991
_This book has a very good history of how the modern breed achieved
recognition, both in its native Ireland and here in the United
States. It also gives a good deal of information on US breeders
(into the mid to late '80s)._
_Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers_, Margaret A. O'Connor, T.F.H
Publications, KW-177, 1990
_The first 31 pages in this book are specific to Wheatens while the
other 160 pages are general dog information from the publishers.
The Wheaten section was written by one of the early fanciers in the
US (there is an earlier, out of print, version of this book
entitled How to Raise Train a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier dating
_The Wheaten Years_, Maureen Holmes, Alpha Beta Press, Orland Park,
_Maureen Holmes is an influential Wheaten breeder from Ireland. She
arranged the import of the O'Connor dogs to the US and many early
US dogs came from her kennels._
_The Complete Dog Book_, 18 Ed. American Kennel Club, 1994
_The official breed standard along with a limited history is
included with similar information on all the AKC recognized breeds._
The best place to find on-line information about dogs is Cindy
Tittle Moore's excellent collection of FAQs (from the
rec.pets.dogs.* newsgroups), dog web sites, email lists, and more.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has established an on-line presence
including general dog info, breed info and standards, and AKC
The US national club now has an SCWTCA Home Page.
Dave Perry, a Canadian breeder of Wheatens and Ceskys has a
homepage which includes a section on Wheatens. Dave has a great
collection of Wheaten pictures.
A number of Wheatens are now lucky enough have their own homepage.
The lucky dogs are Bailey, Ciara, Deegan , Ira, Jose, Kelly, Tommy,
Cyberpet, a commercial site with information on both cats and dogs
has at least one picture in their Wheaten section.
_WHEATEN-L_ is an e-mail list devoted exclusive ly to the Soft
Coated Wheaten Terrier. The list is currently an "open" list, and
anyone is welcome to subscribe. Once you join the list, you must
then follow the rules as outlined in the welcome message. The list
is owned by Mike Slepian and Kim Bryant and has been in operation
since May of 1996. To subscribe send email to
with SUBSCRIBE WHEATEN-L
yourfirstname yourlastname in the body of the message (no subject).
You will receive a message with instructions for the rest of the
_TERRIER-L_ is an e-mail list for the entire terrier group,
including Wheatens and all the other terriers. The list is also
open and anyone is welcome to subscribe. The list is owned by Daryl
Enstone (a Kerry Blue owner) and has been in operation since
October of 1994. To subscribe send email to
SUBSCRIBE TERRIER-L yourfirstname
yourlastname in the body of the message (no subject). You will
receive a message with instructions for the rest of the
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America
Mrs. Elaine Nerrie
Public Information Committee
1945 Edgewood Road
Redwood City, CA 94062
_This club is the breed's parent club for AKC purposes. The club publishes a
quarterly magazine with ads, articles, trophy standings and other news of
interest to club members. It is called Benchmarks, and is available from the
club. In addition, the club puts out a pamphlet for prospective owners, a
handbook for new owners, the amplified breed standard, and charts on grooming
and puppy colors. The pamphlet is free, but the other items all cost money.
They also have a new homepage (see the on-line resources)._
Regional Breed Clubs - USA
Charlene Adzima, Sec. & Rescue
52 Gibson Avenue
Trumbull, CT. 06611
_Delaware Valley SCWTC_
Thomas J. Neill, Sec.
319 R Glad Way
Collegeville, PA 19426
_Derby City SCWTC_
Jane Elkin Thomas, Sec. & Rescue
1508 Cherokee Road
Louisville, KY 40205
_Greater Cincinnati SCWTC_
Nan Meloy, Sec.
3081 Harry Lee Lane
Cincinnati, OH 45239
_Greater Denver SCWTC_
Louise Tucker, Sec.& Rescue
PO Box 433
3648 N. Perry Park Road
Sedalia, CO 80135
(303) 688-8569 or (303) 660-0511
_Motor City SCWTC_
Sharon Morgan, Corresp. Sec.
4206 W. Orchard Hill
St. Claire Shores, MI 48080
_SCWTC of Chicagoland_
Laura Rybski, Sec. & Rescue
5420 South Sayre
Chicago, IL 60638
_SCWTC of Greater Milwaukee_
Nancy Anderson, Sec.
3025 Highway V
Franksville, WI 53126
_SCWTC of Greater St. Louis_
Maria Unger, Sec.
10133 Buffton Drive
St. Louis, MO 63133
_SCWTC of Greater Tampa Bay_
Kathy Hann, Sec.
_SCWTC of Greater Washington D.C._
Terry Ames, Sec.
73144 Walnut Knoll Drive
Springfield VA 22153
_SCWTC of Metropolitan New York_
Ed Tannacore, Sec.
4 Vermont St.
Lyndenhurst, NY 11757
_SCWTC of Northern California
Wendy Beers, Sec.
706 Ramona Avenue
Albany, CA 94706
SCWTC of Southern California
Naomi Stewart, Sec.
Whittier, CA 90603
Canadian Breed Clubs
_Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Association of Canada _
Windham Centre, ON N0E 2A0
_Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Fanciers Association of Ontario_
Mary Ann Moran, Sec
14 Wellesworth Dr.
Ontario, Canada M9C 4P6
There are also breed clubs for SCWTs in Europe. Addresses for
these clubs can probably be obtained by contacting the SCWTCA at
the listing given above and some are shown below. Names and
addresses for other clubs can be sent to the author.
Countries where SCWTs are shown include the following:
Soft-Coated Club of Great Britain
Mrs. Judy Creswick
96 Newgate Street
+44 1670 512832
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Klubben
Rygge Haveby 2c
Tore Xygarden, editor newletter
Houston, TX 77070
(713) 469-4214 (TX)
Local Rescue (USA)
Note that some of the Local Clubs use the same person for rescue as secretary
(see club addresses above for contacts)
_Delaware Valley Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club_
Connie Kirchner, Rescue
26 Saratoga Road
Stratford, NJ 08084
_Motor City SCWTC_
Kristin Peterson, Rescue
7431 Deep Run Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48201
_SCWTC of Greater Milwaukee_
Monica Muth Kipp
552 W 32290 Highway ZZ
North Praire, WI 53151
_SCWTC of Greater St. Louis_
1429 Jenwick Streer
Chesterfield, MO 63005
_SCWTC of Greater Washington D.C._
Dr. David Lincicome
3032 Courtney School Road
Midland VA 22728
_SCWTC of Metropolitan N.Y._
Sally and Ray Murtha, Rescue
149 Berry Hill Rd.
Syosset, NY 11791
baylist: (415) 526-7048
_SCWTC of Northern California_
436 Lassen Drive
Martinez, CA 94553
_SCWTC of Southern California_
Carol Herd, rescue
8902 Pebble Beach Cr.
Westminster, CA 92683
_Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Rescue_
Pat Cooper P.O. Box # 387
Sharon, Ontario, Canada
(905) 770-9831 ext. 22 - (greater Toronto/Niagara area)
(905) 478-2139 - (as above)
(416) 783-9346 ext. 44 - (metro Toronto)
(519) 853-1456 ext. 52 - (southern Ontario)
BreedersPeople intending to purchase a puppy are strongly recommended to deal
with a responsible breeder as opposed to a pet store, casual backyard breeder,
or puppymill. People should question the breeder on health of dam and sire,
purposes of the breeding, health guarantees, and sale condition among other
items. They should not be suprised at questions from the breeder as well. These
questions may include plans for the dog (pet vs showing in conformation,
agility, obedience, etc.), size of household (no. and age of children), size
and condition of yard (e.g. is it fenced), and the like. _Selecting a good
breeder is as important as selecting the right breed for your circumstances!_
There are FAQs on 'getting a dog' (which discusses breeders), 'your new puppy',
'your new dog', and much other general dog and breed information at Cindy
Tittle Moore's excellent collection of FAQs from rec.pet.dog.*. A suggested
list of questions to ask a breeder is also available.
Most national breed clubs maintain a list of responsible breeders which are
members in good standing and follow the club's code of ethics. These lists are
moderated or refereed by the sponsoring club. In the US, the parent club
(SCWTCA ) sponsors such a breeder's referral list. For this type of list, the
onus of picking a good, responsible breeder has been undertaken by the breed
An unmoderated list of breeders, with a greater geographical scope, has also
been compiled. This list makes no attempt to filter out casual breeder s or
puppymills. With this list the task of selecting a good, responsible breeder
has been left to the prospective owner. For more information regarding this
unmoderated list, contact this FAQ's author.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier FAQ
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