Officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1973, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, occasionally known as the "poor man's wolfhound," was originally developed in Ireland, although dating this is uncertain. The Wheaten's ancestors are thought to be the Irish and Kerry Blue Terriers, which bear a striking resemblance to the breed. Primarily bred to hunt, herd and rat about the farmstead, the Wheaten Terrier gained popularity as an all-purpose dog, serving to protect supply stores and livestock from predators. From Ireland, the Soft-Coated Wheaten was imported to America in 1946 and to Australia in the 1970s.
Often likened in appearance and structure to the Airedale Terrier, the Wheaten Terrier is distinctive and functional, characterised by a medium build, a bearded muzzle, high-set tail, triangular 'drop' ears and a wiry outer coat in common colour variations of white, mahogany and red. Despite being an illegal practice in most countries across Europe, the process of tail 'docking' is often undertaken with this breed, although such is not a breed standard. Traditionally employed in hunting fox, otter, badger, weasel and rats, the Wheaten Terrier retains its natural instincts, inclined to chase smaller animals unless trained not to.
Compatible with children and other domestic animals, the Wheaten Terrier is a great breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner. Inherently energetic and fun-loving, the Wheaten requires regular exercise and mental enrichment. Highly intelligent and responsive, the breed can be trained to a high standard. On average a healthy Wheaten Terrier will weigh 14-20 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years when shown the appropriate love and care. It is not uncommon for a Wheaten to outlive this expectancy.
Despite being generally healthy and long-lived, the Wheaten Terrier is susceptible to a variety of health conditions, ranging in severity. This includes flea allergies, kidney disease and a protein wasting disease known as PLN and PLE. Addison's Disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands, is also prevalent in the breed.