Traits, Personality and Behavior
Many people fall in love with the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier for the wrong reasons: Wheaten puppies are adorable, with long, silky coats in a warm shade of light brown (hence: Wheaten). But these sweet-looking puppies can become stubborn dogs who are too much to handle for owners unwilling or unable to provide their pets with the proper guidance, training and socialization, and who aren't prepared to deal with a coat that is a huge chore to keep free of mats and tangles. Although the Wheaten is known for being less feisty than many of this terrier cousins, he's still not necessarily the greatest dog with young children.
Still, if you're a terrier fan and daily coat care at home and regular trips to the groomer don't deter you, the fact that the Wheaten tends towards the less-destructive and quieter end of the terrier spectrum might make all the difference in your decision. Just don't forget you'll need to give him fair, consistent training or you're likely to end up with a badly-behaved dog whose favorite hobbies are escaping from the backyard and jumping on everyone who comes into the house.
Don't think for a minute your Wheaten is going to live in your backyard. These are very people-oriented dogs, and not only will a Wheaten be unhappy exiled from his family, he'll let the world know by barking loudly while he excavates your lawn. Since a tired dog is a good dog, redirect that terrier enthusiasm into dog sports like agility or obedience or be sure to offer long walks a couple times a day. But keep him on a leash: The Wheaten's desire to chase anything can get him into a lot of trouble.
Health Issues Common to Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers
Breed-specific health problems include protein-losing nephropathy (PLN) and protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), as well as Addison's Disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands. There are no specific genetic screening tests for these conditions, nor for a kidney disease known as renal dysplasia which affects Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. However, there are several tests available to help Wheaten owners diagnose and monitor these conditions when they occur, and your puppy's breeder should be willing -- eager, in fact -- to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives and discuss how prevalent those particular health concerns are in his lines.
To protect yourself from the expensive vet bills associated with these conditions, you'll want to purchase pet insurance for your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier before they show symptoms or are diagnosed.
| Condition | Risk Profile | Cost to Diagnose and Treat
| ---------- | ---------- | ---------- |
| Addison's Disease | Medium | $1,000-$5,000 |
8 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Puppy
Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questioned asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
Start your search for a good breeder on the Web site of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, which maintains a referral list for breeders; choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.
Ask your breeder to show you written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) clearing your puppy's parents of these health problems. PennHip certification of hips is also accepted.
Look for a breeder who has American Temperament Test Society (TT) certification on her dogs since temperament is so important in dogs intended to be family companions.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of all these problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Wheaten Terriers. Look for your puppy elsewhere.
Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Wheaten can live to be 12 or more years of age, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
Puppy or adult, take your Wheaten to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of the genetic conditions that affect the breed.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Pet Insurance for Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers
Pet insurance for Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace dog insurance offers full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.