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History of wheaten terriers


The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier has evolved after hundreds of years of serving as an all-around farm dog in Ireland. Although very little documentation exists, this medium sized terrier was likely once bred with a working dog to produce a more well rounded breed that not only could face down a badger, but also be used as a hunting dog or to herd livestock.

Known as a dog of the poor, the soft-coated wheaten terrier lead a working dog’s life, and according to the description on the AKC’s website, since:

“only the brave, strong and proficient survived and reproduced, nature really set the standard for the original stock of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. Thus has evolved a very attractive, well-made dog of medium size, quick witted, and responsive.”

As a result, the Wheaten Terrier has through, more than 200 years of natural selection, become a sturdy, intelligent and versatile family dog.

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is considered to be an ancestor of the Kerry Blue Terrier and possibly the Irish Terrier. According to legend, the Kerry Blue is the result of interbreeding when “blue dogs” swam to shore after a shipwreck off the coast and were greeted by medium sized dogs with open coats of wheaten color. Depending on the lore, the ship has been attributed to the Spanish Armada, a Russian fisherman, or a Portuguese fisherman. The soft-coated wheaten terrier and shorter-legged Glen of Imaal Terrier likely share some ancestry as well.

The Wheaten Terrier was granted breed status in Ireland 1937, followed by the British Kennel Club in 1943. Wheaten terriers were brought to the United States in 1946 by Lydia Vogel, but it was not until 1973 that they were first recognized by the American Kennel Club. As the breed continues to grow in popularity, wheaten terrier breeders are becoming more prevalent as well.

See video of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier breed judging at the 2008 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Want to find out more about Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers?

Is a Wheaten Terrier right for you?
Grooming tips for wheaten terriers
Allergies? Wheaten Terriers are hypoallergenic

You may also want to visit the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Association website at

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