9 Things You Didn’t Know About The Wheaten Terrier

To spend time with a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is to love a Wheaten. Many people know these dogs for their friendly personalities, their low-shedding coats, and of course, their signature beards. But like most breeds, there’s more than meets the eye. Once you get to know one of these special dogs, how much you’ll learn could amaze you.

Let’s see if you know these fun facts about Wheaten Terriers. If you have a Wheaten of your own, you might be surprised by their unique history and characteristics.

#1 – They’re An Irish Breed

The Wheaten is one of many terriers coming from the Emerald Isle, along with the Irish, Kerry Blue, and Glen of Imaal Terriers. They did not become popular in America until the 1950s. Also, they were not recognized by the AKC for regular classes until 1973. Legends say that after the Spanish Armada sunk near Ireland, wheaten-colored dogs were waiting for them on the shore. The reality might not have been as magical, but Wheaten Terriers increased in popularity after that.

Irish dog
Image source: @Eric.Ray via Flickr

#2 – They Were Once The “Poor Man’s Dog”

In ancient Ireland, only the gentry – those who owned land – could own a hound (Beagles, Greyhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, etc.) or a spaniel. The terriers, like the Wheaten, were for the lower classes to use. Wheatens were known as the “poor man’s Wolfhound” for many years. Yet, it’s surprising because of how popular they are today.

Shaggy Wheaten Terrier
Image source: @localpups via Flickr

#3 – They’re Capable of Many Skills, Like Herding!

As a dog of the lower classes, the Wheaten Terrier is actually an all-round farm dog. They can do anything and everything a farmer may need – hunting vermin, guarding, and moving livestock. Despite being family companions, they still remain versatile to this day. They even compete in competitions for skills like agility, tracking, and herding. There’s nothing these canines can’t do!

Wheaten Terrier running

#4 – They’re Born With Dark Coats

Wheaten puppies are born in a variety of colors and are often seen as dark brown. Then, they lighten to a shade of wheat by the time they are two. It’s one of the things that makes the puppies too cute!

Wheaten Terrier Puppy Dark Hair
Image source: @Adam&Tess via Flickr

#5 – They’re A “People” Dog

Since the Wheaten Terrier was developed as a versatile farm dog that the farmer could depend on for anything they needed, it meant developing a dog with a loyal temperament. The breed is known for being “people-oriented,” wanting to be wherever the family is at all times. So, while they can work hard, they can also steal hearts.

Dog and Human Gazing at Each Other
Image source: @AdamKahtava via Flickr

#6 – They Don’t Shed, But They’re High Maintenance

Wheatens don’t have an undercoat, so they don’t shed. Yet, this doesn’t mean it’s a no maintenance coat. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Their long, single coat needs daily brushing to prevent mats. They also need regular trims to keep their hair manageable. While their low-shedding coats will keep your furniture fur-free, grooming will take up a little more time than you’d expect.

Shaggy Wheaten Terrier in car
Image source: @CheeseLin via Flickr

#7 – They Have Two Coat Types

While all Wheatens may look the same to those not familiar with the breed, Wheatens come in two coat types: “heavy” and “Irish.” According to the Wheaten Health Initiative, “Irish is finer and silkier than the ‘heavy coat’, but both require the same amount of care and attention.” But of course, both of these coats are equally adorable.

Wheaten Terrier outside

#8 – A Famous Wheaten Was A Diving Champion

One Wheaten Terrier named Krista competed in a diving dog championship. Her results were impressive since she was up against bigger dogs that were bred for swimming skills, like retrievers. Krista earned one first place ribbon and two third place ribbons in the first few rounds. But she was just shy of making the top 10 in the finals. She jumped 10 feet and 2 inches into the water, which was still very impressive for a Wheaten.

Dog wading in water
Image source: @nisasemione via Flickr

#9 – They Were Present In Victorian Art

Despite being an Irish breed, Wheatens were also depicted in some Victorian Art pieces. “The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child” by Frederic William Burton in 1843 is one popular example. While the breed isn’t labeled, the dog in the painting looks like a modern-day Wheaten Terrier.

Wheaten Terrier painting
Image source: Frederic William Burton via Wikimedia Commons

Dogs have been around for centuries, with some breeds being much newer than others. Thus, even if you feel like you’re an expert on your companion’s breed, think again. Each dog breed has a fascinating history that the average dog lover doesn’t know about. So, if you live with a Wheaten Terrier, hopefully these facts helped you understand your furry friend better.

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