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Wheaten terrier standing in a yard.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Terrier group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 15-20 inches
  • Weight — 35-50 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Soft, silky, luxurious, and mid-length
  • Coat colors — Beige, gold, and white are the predominant coat colors. Some soft-coated wheaten terriers may have touches of red, black, or blue-gray shading in the muzzle area. Puppies may be born with a dark brown coat, which will lighten to a shade of gold or beige as they age.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent, but can be trained to bark less
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Temperament — Fun, intelligent, independent, playful, and cuddly
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — Ireland

Wheaten terrier fun facts

  • Wheatens are one of the friendliest breeds. They’re known as extroverts of the dog world and love attention from the people in their lives.
  • They once worked as farm dogs. Soft-coated wheaten terriers can be skilled farm dogs, taking on several roles such as property protection and livestock herding.
  • Wheaten terriers are natural hunters. To this day, wheatens remain skilled hunters. They have hundreds of years of experience tracking down vermin and pests across the countryside of Ireland and the U.S.
Wheaten terrier in snow

Wheaten terrier temperament and characteristics 

Wheaten terriers are energetic and love to play with their friends and family. On average, these furry friends need at least one hour of rigorous playtime outside and off-leash, blowing off some of the steam this high-energy breed is known for, and a moderate amount of exercise before and after. A jog or trip to your local dog park will do just fine — you don’t need a large backyard for the wheaten terrier, good news for apartment or condo dwellers.

Soft-coated wheaten terriers are extremely friendly with other animals, including cats. They also socialize well with young children and other household family members. However, if you plan to put your wheaten with others, you might consider investing in early training to help make their transition into your home an even smoother process.

Common wheaten terrier health problems 

While wheaten terriers are relatively healthy dogs, stay aware of possible genetic health conditions. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common ones below.

  • Protein-losing nephropathy. This condition, otherwise known as PLN , affects the kidneys — causing them to leak excess proteins into the urine. Symptoms range from lethargy to weight loss and are generally treated with medications such as ACE inhibitors to protect your dog’s kidney health for as long as possible.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy. Retinal atrophy, or premature loss of retinal cells, can lead to cataracts and vision issues over time. Your vet may try supplements to support your dog’s eye health and prevent premature loss.
  • Addison’s disease. This condition, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, affects humans and dogs and occurs when there is insufficiency or damage to the dog’s adrenal glands. Symptoms include cortisol dysfunction, weight loss, shakes, and increased urination. Your vet may treat it with steroids.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease. IBD can be an unpleasant condition that causes gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting. It can occur completely idiopathically (i.e., for no reason), or might be a sign of a different underlying condition. Veterinarians often treat it with dietary changes or immunosuppressants.

Cost of caring for wheaten terriers

Wheaten terriers are relatively healthy dogs that may never experience the health problems above. On average, your wheaten will likely run you about $2,000 to $3,500 in its first year. This estimate includes breeder fees, registration, first-year wellness visits, and essentials such as food and supplies. Ownership may eventually average less annually, about $1,000 to $1,500.

Pet insurance

Planning makes sure that you and your pup have the best possible experience should the need for sudden medical care arise. Pet health insurance can be a way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses in a sudden medical crisis — and you may even get benefits for signing your pet up early on in your ownership.

If you want something more flexible that still gives comparable benefits, try opening a pet savings account. You may contribute to it regularly without a monthly obligation.

Wheaten terrier closeup laying on the floor.

History of the wheaten terrier 

Wheaten terriers are a European breed, having a rich history that begins in the farmlands of Ireland. These special dogs were talented farm dogs, working daily to shepherd flocks and defend crops and property. Many individuals believe that their roots began in this way due to a stray, unnamed predecessor that escaped a boat after the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Folklore says these dogs then swam to shore, mating with breeds such as the Irish wolfhound to create the wheaten we know and love today.

Beyond being helpful farmhands, these pets were skilled hunters that chased vermin, specifically mice and rats. When wheatens migrated to Britain, they were under a “law of the forest” restricting ownership to certain members of society. These sweet and happy dogs were eventually bred for companionship, serving as perfect pets across Europe and the United States.

Terriers: The talented vermin hunters of the East

Wheatens weren’t the only skilled hunters in Irish coats out there. The entire breed group of terriers gained significant traction in Europe before emigration to the U.S. and were renowned for their unparalleled hunting skills. Other examples of terriers include the Jack Russell terrier, the Yorkshire terrier, and the Staffordshire bull terrier.

Caring for your wheaten terrier

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be exciting and overwhelming. We’ve put together this helpful guide to help you give your wheaten the best experience possible in your first few weeks together.

Before you bring your wheaten home, we recommend puppy-proofing your home in preparation for teething. Then, we recommend scheduling your first trip to the vet where you’ll get your dog’s first set of vaccinations.

Finally, we recommend signing your pup up for FidoAlert — a free service that provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case your pet wanders off without you. It’s a fantastic tool that could save your pet’s life.

Here are some other basics to consider to help give your wheaten the greatest start possible:


Wheatens are high energy and love playtime in any form they can get it in. They thrive with at least one hour of outside play time and plenty of time together afterward — swapping the vigorous outdoor stuff for more mentally engaging indoor activities. Toys and games such as tug-of-war, fetch, Frisbee, and puzzle games will keep your wheaten terrier busy and satisfied, giving them plenty of outlets for their near-endless wiggles.

Wheaten terrier exercising outside.


Wheaten terriers don’t have the traditional double coat of other mid-sized dogs, so they do best with a once-a-month wash down, keeping grime and excess oils at bay. A moisturizing conditioner can be a nice touch to give your wheaten terrier’s single coat that light, springy quality it’s known for, keeping moisture locked close to the root of the shaft and near your dog’s skin.

Brushing should occur daily, as your schedule allows. If that’s too much of a commitment (or your wheaten is too wiggly ), you might consider scheduling it as a routine task 2-3 times per week. You can make a game out of it for your furry friend, incentivizing them with a fun, special brushing time toy or a delicious treat.

👉 While many believe wheatens are less agitating to those with allergies, no breed is truly hypoallergenic . Allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Dogs that are considered hypoallergenic simply shed less, and thus have a lesser effect on those with dog allergies.

Diet and nutrition

Your wheaten will do best with a balanced diet that features the building blocks of dog health: protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. There’s no need for special diets in most cases since many high-quality dog foods already have this ready to go with a vet-approved formula.

On average, wheaten terriers eat about a cup or two daily, divided into two regular-sized meals. Many pet owners find it easy to schedule this alongside the humans’ breakfast and dinner, sticking to a constant routine to keep their pup’s blood sugar balanced.

Before putting your wheaten on any diet or adjusting the amount of food given, contact your local veterinarian for help. Wheaten terriers may eat more or less depending on their stage of development and mental or physical health. Your vet can supervise the process to ensure your pet gets everything they need for a long and healthy life.

Training your wheaten

Wheaten terriers are exceptionally intelligent, making them adaptable and trainable in the hands of the right trainer. However, their higher-than-average energy levels can make it hard to create a learning environment that works for them if you don’t have a strategy in place.

Before choosing a training method and sticking to it, we recommend experimenting to determine what works best for your wheaten terrier. Trial and error can be a helpful way to keep your training sessions as effective as possible.

Some strategies to start with include:

  • Shortened training sessions. While your wheaten is energetic, they can get bored easily when they’re asked to do the same thing for prolonged periods. Frequent breaks and short sessions can be more rewarding for both of you.
  • Incentivized sessions. Encouraging your wheaten with special treats or toys during training sessions can help correlate positive vibes with training time — making it much more enjoyable for your pup.
Wheaten terrier walking across a pavilion.

Breeds similar to the wheaten terrier

Not quite sure that a wheaten is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Cairn terrier. Cairn terriers are a slightly smaller, yet similar breed to the wheaten terrier — and generally like being the star of the show. They are slightly less sociable than wheatens but still have that sky-high intelligence and bubbly, high-volume energy.
  • Wire-fox terrier. These unique-looking dogs have the personality and temperament of wheatens, with a slightly larger build. They’re very affectionate and may be more submissive than a wheaten.
  • Coton de Tulear. These French furry friends are sillier (but quieter) counterparts to wheaten terriers — hailing from the bichon frisé and Maltese breeds. Coton de Tulear breed members can be prone to separation anxiety, however.

Frequently asked questions

Why do wheaten terriers jump?

Wheatens are naturally “jumpy” due to their infectious personalities and over-the-top energy levels. Enjoy the happy hops, and be sure to take lots of pictures. It’s pretty impressive!

What are the behavior issues with wheaten terriers?

Your wheaten may be a bit stubborn, as they are highly energetic, independent, and intelligent. They might be a bit unruly off the leash as well, as they’ll want to adventure around on their own.

Is a wheaten a good first dog?

Wheaten terriers can be excellent first dogs if the owner has the time to dedicate to their extensive exercise schedules and 1:1 attention needs! Plan to set aside at least two hours to spend bonding with your wheaten to help them feel safe and secure.

How to calm a wheaten terrier

If you notice your pup is getting a little anxious, consider offering a chew toy or a lick mat to get those endorphins flowing. These are helpful tools to assist you in grounding your dog.

Can wheaten terriers run with you?

Wheatens are always ready to go out on a jog with you. Consider keeping them on a leash to avoid any unexpected or unwanted adventures or advances.