Why Wheaten Terriers Are the Best Family Dog in the World
How My Love For 'Wheaties' Began
About nine years ago, my husband and I were done with our mourning period for our dog Buddy, who had been our furry friend since we had met. I had gone to the pet store in Windsor, Ontario while I was attending university there. My original plan was to simply purchase a goldfish. I ended up leaving with a dog which became my long time companion of 14 years. Buddy was gone and we had waited about one year, and we made it a habit to bring our two young boys to our local pet store to look at puppies.
Land of Paws in Mission, Kansas, is a dog boutique. The prices are not for the faint of heart. The designer dogs come with designer food and designer clothing, collars, toys and chewies. The prices of the puppies were very intimidating, however, we couldn't help but notice the Wheaten terrier puppies. They were so darn cute, like living teddy bears. They were so soft (hence the Soft-coated Wheaten terrier), and just absolutely adorable. One of the female pups caught our eye and we continued to go in and visit her.
After hearing all of the terrifying information about puppies and puppy mills, I wouldn't dream of buying another dog from a pet store. However, Land of Paws is adjacent to a very popular veterinarian, Dr. Gates. They use the same breeders and encourage their patrons to get to know the breeders and the different dogs. They were, in my opinion, to the point of ridiculousness when it came to pampering their puppies, and they still sell dog beds for over $1000.00.
Needless to say, our female Wheaten got the best of us. We ended up spending a small fortune on her, and then a large fortune on all of her accessories, just in time to take her to my parents' home in Canada (who incidentally just got a new Yorkie puppy). It was love at first sight and our Hannah is now nine years old. She has given us years of love, happiness, and crazy 'Wheaten-ness.' Any Wheaten owner will know exactly what that means as Soft-coated Wheaten terriers have a quirkiness about them that is unlike any other dog breed I've ever known.
Hannah as a puppy, and McDuff (My parents' Yorkie)
The Wheaten Terrier Breed
The Wheaten breed was originally meant to be an all-purpose farm dog. They are from Ireland and share a lineage with the Kerry Blue terrier and the Irish terrier. The Wheaten wasn't a rich man's dog, and wasn't even acknowledged as a breed by the Irish Kennel Club until 1937. It took until 1973, about 30 years after Wheatens were brought to America, to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Wheaten terrier breed is around 200 years old, and can be seen in the artist Frederick William Burton's famous artwork, 'The Aran Fisherman's Drown Child.' He completed the paintings in the late 1830s and the early 1840s.
There are four different types of Wheatens, although they are a purebred dog. They just differ by regions and coats. There is the traditional Irish coat, the heavy Irish coat, the American coat and the English coat. Regardless of they type of Wheaten, they do not shed and so they are often called a 'hypoallergenic dog.' This was a big selling point with my Hannah as my youngest son is allergic to dander and several other things. It's wonderful having a dog that doesn't shed any hair at all. Her coat, however, requires a lot of grooming, but more about that later.
One of the Paintings 'The Aran Fisherman's Drown Child'
Wheaten terriers are known as amazing family dogs and one of the best breeds to have for children. They have a very gentle temperament and they love other dogs and children. They will play for hours as puppies and they have a lot of spunk, but they are not as aggressive as other terrier breeds when they play, which is why they are great for kids.
Wheaten terriers, in a nutshell, love everyone and anyone. They get very excited when someone comes to the door and will rush up and great them (often by jumping up) because they think every person in the world is there just to see them. They are great guard dogs as they are protective and will growl and bark if someone is at the door or intruding. However, once a Wheaten sees who's at the door, they are happy with their tail wagging and would more than likely hold a flashlight for any intruder that would just simply pat their head.
Another reason Wheaten terriers are such great family dogs is because they are very intelligent and easily trainable. The only thing it's hard to train them to do is not jump up on people. They love people so much and it's an instinct. Hannah was very easy to train and kennel train, and she also has always been docile with my children. One stern word to her and she will sit, flee, or quit doing whatever it is that is irritating us, which isn't often. They are very loving without being clingy because they also love their independence.
As mentioned before, Wheaten terriers are a hypoallergenic dog. This is perfect for kids with allergies to dogs. However, their coat needs a lot of attention!
Grooming a Wheaten Terrier's Coat
The Soft-coated Wheaten terrier has a single coat, meaning that it will not shed. This is what makes them hypoallergenic. With that being said, it does take a lot of work to keep their coats from matting.
Their coats grow continuously and they grow fast. We usually get Hannah buzzed in the summer months because Wheatens can't take heat very well. However, in the winter months, her coat requires a lot of attention.
Their coat looks naturally like big blond curls when it's longer. You need a comb to brush out your Wheaten and you should devote 5 to 10 minutes a day brushing your dog. The Wheaten's coat can be groomed into a traditional Wheaten terrier shape, which requires a professional. This shape looks like a Scottie but the coat is blonde. The coat is shiny and straight, and very soft. Its wheat colour gives it the name, even though they are born a very dark brown. The black around their beard is there to stay.
You can have a puppy cut for your Wheaten too. Puppy cuts make the Wheatens extremely cute, as they will resemble a teddy bear. A professional can do this, or you can just keep some thinning shears and make the coat more manageable. Regardless of how many times you brush them, their fur will mat.
The shaved Wheaten look makes the dog look like a deer. The coat will grow back quickly, and it will be silky and wavy. I wouldn't recommend getting this kind of cut done in the winter because Wheatens will get cold without their coats. However, they hate the heat and in the summer. It's best to keep them cool.
This Is the Traditional Wheaten Coat
This Is a Typical Puppy Cut for a Wheaten
Shaved Wheaten Terrier With Summer Coat
Good Brush For Grooming
What Kind of Exercise Does Your Wheaten Need?
One of the things that makes Wheaten terriers most desirable for busy families is that while they do like to play and run around, they don't really need much exercise. Wheatens get most happy when you come home for your greeting. It doesn't matter if you leave for five hours, or five minutes. They will get your attention to greet you when you walk in the door.
The thing about Wheatens is, they get hot very easily. If you take them for a long walk or take them to a dog park, they will want to run and jump on the people in the park more than they want to play with other dogs, and get ready for your Wheaten to steal every other dog's water, because he or she will be very hot!
Wheatens will play and get all 'wound up' for awhile, but their favourite place is to snuggle on a couch or a bed and get very cozy. Some people will say that Wheatens need a ton of exercise, but that isn't really true.
1) They do best while crate trained (my Hannah is crate trained).
2) They love to sleep and lounge around.
3) They don't like the heat.
One thing to mention is that Wheatens tend to love the snow. I am in a Facebook group focused on Wheaten terriers and there are hundreds of stories about Wheaten terriers loving the snow. It's funny how the Wheatens seem to have instinctual similar quirks!
Wheaties Love The Snow!
What Kind of Food Does Your Wheaten Need?
Wheaten Terriers should eat 1 1/2 cups of DRY dog food daily. It should be broken up into two meals, one in the morning and one at night.
If you have another dog, make sure you get your Wheaten on a schedule. If she/he won't eat, pull the food until it's time for the next meal. Soon enough your Wheaten will follow the rules.
Wheaten males should weigh about 40 lbs give or take 5 lbs, and Wheaten females should weigh about 35 lbs, give our take 5 lbs. My Hannah must have been the runt of the litter. She weighs 26 lbs, which is just perfect for us.
We feed our Wheaten Innova, which is on the expensive side, however our vet recommends it and that's what she had before we bought her. Wheatens have allergies, often to chicken. We feed Hannah the Bison Innova for adult dogs in small bites, twice per day.
We do give Hannah dog cookies, which we get at her vet (same place we bought her.) Just make sure you're feeding your Wheaten a high quality dry dog food and high quality treats. One treat I would recommend is a flossie. They are made by a company called Merrick, and they are expensive, but they also help the health of your dog's teeth and gums and they are every dog's favourite when it comes to chewing! My mom's Yorkie came for a visit and took one of Hannah's flossies, and she now buys them by the case!
Innova food runs about $16.00 for a small bag, and flossies run about $6-9 each.
Picture of a Flossie
Like Everything, Wheaten Terriers Do Have Their Downside
So now that we know that Wheatens are fun loving family dogs, perfect for children and great for lots of love and cuteness, we'll talk about the down side of Wheaten terriers.
- You won't be able to teach your Wheaten to walk well on a leash. It's pretty much impossible to train them on a leash as they will pull and pant and want to jump on everyone they see. A Wheaten is not a 'long walk' kind of dog. I have been told by my friends on the FB Wheaten Den that some of their dogs are extremely good on leashes, so this might be just my experience. Hannah is horrible!
- You can't leave your Wheaten off a leash either. If you're in a busy area, the first thing your Wheatie will do is take off and jump on another person, and they won't care if there is a car in the way or not.
- Some Wheatens are somewhat headstrong when in comes to training, but they are usually very easy to train and very intelligent.
- As mentioned on point three, Wheatens will never stop jumping up on new people that walk through the door. If you have a pizza coming, or some Chinese delivery, or if you have company, your Wheaten will jump up and demand to be petted. We Wheaten Owners like to call this the 'Wheaten Greetin!'
- This is not really a negative thing in my opinion, but Wheatens really like to be held, and some can get pretty heavy. They like to be held like a baby.
- Wheatens often like to tear up papers, toilet paper, kleenex, etc. Again, on the Wheaten Den Facebook page, I have talked to dozens of people who say their Wheaten likes to rip up paper for some reason
- Wheaten terriers need constant attention to grooming. They need to be groomed about every six weeks, and they need to be brushed constantly because their coat mats so easily.
- Wheatens like to jump up and they will (not intentionally!) jump up on small children and knock them down. Their intentions are good, but I know Hannah knocked down my youngest son a few times when he was small.
The 'Wheaten Greetin'
My Son Holding My Wheaten
My Wheaten, Hannah, Tearing Paper
If You Are Interested...
If you are interested in a Wheaten terrier, that's terrific!
Here are some places you can look for great breeders:
- The American Kennel Club: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/soft-coated-wheaten-terrier/
- Dog Breed Centre: http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/soft-coated-wheaten-terrier
- Petfinder: https://www.petfinder.com/dog-breeds/Soft-Coated-Wheaten-Terrier
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America: (Thanks Wheaten Den FB Friends for this!) http://scwtca.org/
- And Best of All: Wheatens in Need Rescue: http://www.wheatensinneed.org/
** The first link will give you information on where to buy Soft-coated Wheaten terriers in your area
Thank you for reading, I certainly appreciate it!