About the SCWT


    Called the “perfect apartment dog” by the New Yorker, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier truly deserves such a title. This beautiful sporting terrier, originating in Ireland, does not shed, has no odor, and seldom barks. Intelligent, loving, obedient and lively: this is the Soft Coated Wheaten.

    One of the oldest Irish breeds, the Wheaten is the forerunner of the Irish and Kerry Blue terriers. In Ireland he was an invaluable aid to his master, helping with the stock and controlling vermin. The Wheaten was doubly precious to Irish hunters because he would respond to silent hand signals–especially helpful if the hunter were poaching illegal game!

The Wheaten’s background in Ireland is somewhat uncertain. For many years they were simply farm dogs valued for their working capabilities.

    In 1937 the breed was recognized by the Irish Kennel Club, and in 1943 Wheatens were officially accepted by the English Kennel Club. Their U.S. recognition was not to come until October, 1973.

    Before 1973, Wheatens were shown in Miscellaneous Class at dog shows in this country, and the U.S. Wheaten family was a small one. We are proud Riverrun played a part in the initial era of fanciers who pioneered the breed.

    In temperament the Wheaten is quite different from many other terriers. Our standard calls the breed “good tempered, spirited, and game”, and Wheatens show “less aggressiveness” than other terriers. In other words, although a Wheaten readily accepts your friends as his own, he can be a brave and loyal protector if need be. Somehow, Wheatens seem able to discriminate between friend and foe. And they love children best of all!

    In size the Wheaten is a medium dog. According to the Wheaten Standard, dogs should stand 18-19″ at shoulder and weigh 30-35 lbs. While you may see Wheatens varying greatly in size, keep in mind that the hallmark of our Standard is moderation on all points.

    Wheaten coat is sometimes a source of confusion for newcomers to the breed. Here, too, there is great variety from region to region. The standard calls for a “soft, silky, gently waiving coat of warm Wheaten color….”  However, this description applies to the mature coat, which the dog develops about the age 3.

In the U.S. one can find coats rough to cottony, brownish to gray to white. The true Wheaten coat is hard to come by. Maureen Holmes, Holmenocks Kennels, Ireland wrote, “Only very rare exceptional specimens are born with the rich lustrous coat which gives the breed its somewhat longwinded name. The coat of maturity comes with development, and it is also a breed of late maturity.” (English Dog World, March 1972)

    Because young Wheatens often have beautiful,, deep color and very soft, immature coats, the coat has been misjudged by many novices and others as well. Toby Lad, had a true wheaten coat: glistening, soft waves that needed little trimming. However, he was 3 1/2 years old before that coat emerged. As a puppy he looked more like a bail of straw with legs.

    Fortunately, coat is not the only thing on which the breed is judged. Structure is important if an animal is to move properly. A properly moving Wheaten will have good forward reach and strong drive from a well angulated rear. The head and tail should balance each other, the neck of sufficient length to give a graceful appearance, the tail set high. Topline should be straight with no bows or roaches.

    If the description above begins to sound technical, distill all of it to that word “moderate”. The Wheaten should be a beautiful dog without exaggeration on any points.

    Wheaten babies are born dark brown, dark red, dark sand, and even wheaten. Some have black masks, ears, and perhaps a dark line down the back. Others may have a touch of white on the chest at birth. However, as the dog grows, the color should lighten to what will be the eventual wheat color. And what is “wheat color”? Even wheat varies from region to region, country to country. For a definition of “wheat color”, we suggest you investigate wheat in your area!

    In temperament, Wheatens are a joy to show and have as companions. The late Margaret O’Conner (Gramachree Wheatens) wrote that “the wheaten has a special affinity for children. He has patience and tolerance without giving ground in rough-and-tumble play…All-encompassing love and deep-seated intelligence make it possible for the Wheaten Terrier to handle [children's] sometimes tumultuous affection”.


You have decided the Wheaten Terrier is the dog for you.  What is your next move?  The purchase of a puppy should receive thoughtful consideration, as it will become a member of your family.  Choosing a reputable breeder is primary to your objective.  Since it is almost impossible for YOU to know which of the pups will grow well physically and emotionally, you must rely entirely upon your faith in the person from whom you are purchasing your pup.  There are 3 options:

1.      PET SHOP OR DEALER – the worst possible choice.  Pups are poorly bred and raised.  They are thought of as merchandise to be sold for a high profit, which is possible because little has been put into the care of these pups.  Many are sickly, poorly socialized, weaned too young.  Pet shops rely on impulse buying which is no way to choose a family member.

2.      BACKYARD BREEDER – also a poor choice.  This is the person who owns a pet Wheaten and thinks it would be FUN to have puppies or maybe that it would be a great experience for the children.  Worse, it’s done to make money.  Usually this person knows little about the breed history or standard and less about grooming and care.  The backyard breeders do not do regular eye examinations by a veterinarian ophthalmologist nor do they have their dogs OFA’s with a hip X-ray.  They aren’t aware of any breed problems nor do they care.  Their goal is to produce pups, and when the “fun” is over, sell them fast.

3.      HOBBY BREEDER- the very best choice.  The serious and dedicated hobby breeder regards his dogs as special members of the family.  He does not expect a profit.  When someone breeds for enjoyment, for the pleasure and thrill of producing the very finest specimens possible, the result is SUPERIOR.  These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and every puppy and stand behind every dog that they have bred.

Without a doubt, your choice should be the HOBBY BREEDER.  It is an interesting fact to note that poor quality pups from pet shops and backyard breeders are usually sold for the same price and sometimes even more than those purchased from serious hobby breeders.  So, how does one recognize the dedicated breeder?  Your breeder should:

      • Belong to SCWICA, INC., a local Wheaten Terrier club or an all-breed club-
      • Or perhaps all 3, however, sometimes this is impossible if there is no Wheaten club in his area.  Membership involves participation, other points of view, breeding practices, and is in accordance with a club Code of Ethics.
      • Is actively involved in showing his dogs, which provides competition and encourages breeders to produce better dogs.  Though you may not want a show dog, you deserve a dog that was carefully and thoughtfully planned.
      • Live with his dogs, not keep them isolated in a kennel.  How else could they know the temperaments of their dogs they use for breeding?  Not all Wheatens have sound temperament.  Are the dogs hyper, shy, fear-biters or abnormally aggressive?  Ask to see the sire and dam—in their homes!
      • Know how to care for their Wheatens- The reputable breeder will share with you in detail about feeding, exercise, and especially grooming and coat care.  They will take the time because they take a lot of pride in their dogs and want them to be healthy and well-suited to their new families.
      • Have clean, healthy dogs and home environment.  Pups raised in filth are not thrifty, and may come to you with parasites, etc.  Look at the adults—are they groomed? healthy-looking? Well-socialized and behaved? Does the house smell clean?  These clues give you an idea how the pup itself has been raised.
      • Ask YOU questions.  A reputable breeder cares about what happens to his pups.  He wants the puppy to be happy, and he wants the owner to be happy, too.
      • Be aware of the problems in the breed-  A reputable breeder knows about the eye problems, hip problems, allergy problems, etc. that have appeared in the breed.  They will discuss them with you so that you are aware, too.  They will have proof that his breeding stock has been checked for these problems and will guarantee that your puppy will not have any crippling defects—in writing
      • Provide you with a written contract.  A breeder’s reputation goes out the door with each puppy, all arrangements being in writing.  The contract will assure you that you are getting what you expect.  All guarantees and agreements between you will be spelled out to prevent misunderstandings.  Buyers and seller receives copy.
      • Provide you with an owner’s manual.   This manual will help you understand the Wheaten and the care it requires, as well as feeding, inoculations, and grooming.
      • Provide you with a written guarantee and medical history.  Your puppy should have had several injections and stool checks before you take him home, and should be parasite-free.  Name and phone number of the breeder’s veterinarian should be provided.  A written health guarantee should also accompany the puppy.
      • Require spraying or neutering of pet quality puppies.  Breeders spend a lot of time and effort in their breeding program designed to improve the breed.  They selectively carry one their programs with only the best quality available.  Pet quality pups should be loved and enjoyed as pets.  Reputable breeders don’t “make puppies” just for the sake of puppies; they also do not want their dogs to end up in “puppy mills” to be exploited for profit and mass production with no thought of improving the breed.  Therefore, these reputable breeders will require that pets be sprayed or neutered before papers are granted to the new owners to be registered with AKC.
      • Give you a period of time in which to allow you to have the pup examined – by your Vet to determine the pups state of health so that both of you are assured of its health.  If a problem should arise, it can then be quickly resolved.
      • Make it clear to you that his responsibility continues- long after you have taken your puppy home, indeed, until your pup has departed from the earth.  Many breeders will ask that the pup be returned to them or placed with new owners who meet with their approval; if for any reason you cannot keep the dog.
      • Ask questions about YOU- and be curious as to what kind of a home you can provide for your new puppy.  Having a fenced yard is an important feature, as well as is the time you are able/willing to spend on the dog.  The breeder will make certain you understand all aspects of owning a Wheaten, including the negative (primarily the grooming) as well as the positive. Having the pup’s best interest at heart, the reputable breeder will take great pains to place his pups in proper homes the first time around.  A returned pup is a traumatic event for everyone concerned, therefore the breeder willing to accept a puppy back will want to make certain that a Wheaten is the breed for you.  It is not unusual for a breeder to be hesitant to sell you a pup until he knows more about you.
      • Be willing to give you references—names of people who have purchased dogs from him in the past, or handlers who have handled his dog in the ring, groomer’s, trainers or other breeders who can vouch for the litter’s temperament and conformation.

Once the breeder lives up to these criteria, your next step is to choose your puppy, whether it is pet quality or show quality.  If you find yourself with negative response to any of these requirements, think twice.  Don’t be impulsive and do ask questions.  GOOD LUCK!!!