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rec.pets.dogs: Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Breed-FAQ

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Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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                        Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers

   Mike Slepian,
   Send comments or questions to author or Sharon Meerbaum,
   Most of this information is gathered from the resources listed below,
   not from personal experience. There are no guarantees in life and
   certainly none concerning the accuracy of what follows. OTOH, I've
   tried to make the information as accurate as possible so please
   contact me with any corrections or suggestions. I'd like to thank all
   the Soft Coated Wheaten owners and lovers who reviewed this FAQ, as
   well as Cindy Tittle Moore -- pet-lover extraordinaire.
   Copyright 1995 by Mike Slepian (last updated March 1997). Single
   copies may be downloaded and printed for individual use only. NOTE:
   Soft Coated Wheaten Rescue organizations may freely give a copy with
   each dog they place.
Table of Contents

     * General Description
     * History
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * The Standard
     * Medical Information
     * Resources
     * Clubs
     * Rescue
     * Breeders
General Description

   The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (SCWT) is, as the name implies, a
   wheaten-colored terrier with a soft (open) coat. It is a shaggy blond
   dog of medium size that does not shed. It is, however, much more than
   the previous two simple sentences can convey. This breed truly offers
   something for everyone. Anyone who has seen a well-groomed SCWT will
   acknowledge the beauty of its coat -- abundant, medium long and
   falling in waves that range from shimmering reddish gold to a gold so
   light it is nearly silver and which ripples and shines with the play
   of the muscles beneath. The breed has the stamina, strength, gameness,
   joy-of-life, and intelligence (stubbornness?) of its terrier heritage.
   True to its development as an Irish farm dog, the breed is steadier
   than most terriers and intensely loyal to its human family. It is a
   dog that has not been overly refined; it retains the air of a country
   gentlemen with courage and power balanced by intelligence, gaiety, and
   The Wheaten Terrier is distinctive: he has a compact, well-knit body
   expressive of agile strength and power. His average height is 18.5
   inches and he usually weighs from 30 to 45 pounds (bitches about 10%
   smaller). Wheatens have a deep chest and well-sprung ribs. They have
   straight forelegs and powerful hind legs, bent at the stifles with
   hocks well let down. The tail is customarily docked to a length of 3-5
   inches. The ears are smallish, set at the topskull level, carried in
   front and dropped (they may have blue-gray shading). Their eyes are
   dark reddish brown or brown, slightly almond-shaped, and medium-sized
   -- yet seem larger due to black coloring of the eyerims. The eyes gaze
   at you from beneath a curtain of bangs which naturally fall forward
   over the eyes to shade and protect them. The muzzle is relatively
   short for a terrier with a definite stop and crowned by a large black

   The origins of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier are a bit misty, but
   the breed is thought to date back over 200 years. With the historical
   Irish emphasis on oral traditions over written ones, it is not too
   surprising that the history of terriers belonging to farmers and the
   poorer folk is not well documented. References place long-legged
   terriers with open coats and wheaten color in the areas around Cork
   and Wicklow (southern Ireland) as well as around Ballymena (northern
   Ireland). These were general purpose farmers' dogs -- a hard life
   requiring solid, intelligent dogs with enough size to enforce
   authority, but not so large that upkeep was expensive. He was the
   enemy of all vermin, would guard the family larder, could herd sheep
   and cattle and would patrol the boundaries of the small farms to warn
   off trespassers. He could also be used as a hunting dog and was
   capable of tracking otter and badgers, taking them both on land and
   water. Some old-timers referred to him as _"... the best dog ever for
   poaching."_ In short, he was a strong, medium sized dog of great
   intelligence and versatility.
   The modern history of the breed is closely related to that of
   Ireland's other two breeds of long legged terriers, the Irish and
   Kerry Blue Terriers (IT and KBT respectively). Native wheaten terriers
   are thought to be important in the origin of both breeds. Indeed, an
   origin legend of the KBT has a blue dog swimming ashore after a
   shipwreck and breeding with existing wheaten colored terriers to begin
   the breed (the wrecked ship was either from the Spanish Armada, a
   Russian fisherman, or a Portuguese fishermen -- take your pick). Irish
   terriers were first shown as a distinct class at dog shows in Dublin
   in the 1870's. A reporter of an 1876 show stated about Irish Terriers
   that _"Prizes had gone to long legs, short legs, hard coats, soft
   coats, thick skulls, long thin skulls, and some prize winners were
   mongrels."_ The first standard for Irish Terriers was not drawn up
   until 1880. At that time terriers of the same general size, but with
   open or soft coats were still often benched with the Irish Terriers.
   Included in these soft coated varieties were dogs with silver, gray,
   blue, and wheaten colors. The KBT was separated out as a distinct
   breed during the time period between 1914 and 1922 and actually the
   breed's early popularity centered in England where the modern style of
   trimming Kerries was developed and the breed was refined.
   Interestingly enough, the Kerry Blue is still shown untrimmed in
   Ireland where it is called the Irish Blue Terrier.
   The Wheaten did not prick the interest of dog fanciers as early as did
   its two close cousins. As times changed during the early part of this
   century and travel improved, the number of pure specimens declined and
   the breed almost vanished. The turning point for the breed was a
   terrier field trial in 1932 where a Wheaten terrier performed
   exceptionally well. Patrick Blake, a noted fancier of Kerry Blues, was
   very impressed and he became convinced that the breed should be
   rescued from obscurity/extinction. He prevailed upon his friend Dr. G.
   J. Pierse to start a club for the breed and sponsor it for recognition
   by the Irish Kennel Club. Good specimens of the breed were still to be
   found and the breed began to prosper. Recognition by the Irish Kennel
   Club was achieved in 1937 and they were first officially presented at
   an Irish Kennel Club show in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day. At that time
   a certificate of gameness was required to achieve a conformation
   championship. One controversy at the time the breed was recognized was
   what name to give the breed. The first thought was to use Irish
   Wheaten Terrier. This suggestion was vehemently opposed by two
   already-recognized Irish breeds -- Irish Terrier and Glen of Imaal
   Terrier (GofIT is a short legged terrier named for the area where it
   was developed). Both of these breeds included wheaten as an acceptable
   color. At the time, the wheaten color was actually preferred for ITs.
   The IT standard no longer includes wheaten, but the color is still
   part of the GofIT standard (GofIT's are recognized by the IKC, the
   KC(GB), the FCI, but not by the AKC). Since both the IT and GofIT have
   hard coats, the rather mouth-filling name of Soft-Coated Wheaten
   Terrier was reached as a compromise (the hyphen was officially dropped
   in the US in 1989).
   The first record of Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers being imported into
   the US was by Lydia Vogel who imported a breeding pair in November of
   1947. Although she successfully showed her dogs in AKC shows under the
   Miscellaneous Class, there were not enough dogs or interest to receive
   AKC recognition. Ten years later, the O'Connor family of Brooklyn
   imported a dog from Maureen Holmes, one of the most influential Irish
   breeders of SCWTs. The O'Connors had become interested in the breed
   after falling in love with the 'shaggy dog look' shown in a picture of
   one of the Vogel dogs. The O'Connors began showing their dog and
   became interested in achieving AKC recognition. They tracked down
   descendants of the Vogel pair and, with the help of Maureen Holmes,
   other Irish imports. On March 17 (1962), again a great day for any
   Irish dog, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was formed.
   At the time there were thought to be less than 30 Wheatens in the
   country. A stud book registry was started in 1965 and by 1968 there
   were 250 registered SCWTs. The first club matches were held in 1970
   and 1971. The AKC admitted the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier to the
   Terrier Group on March 13, 1973. Popularity has continued to grow and
   by the early '90s the breed was the seventh most popular terrier and
   over 2,000 puppies were registered yearly with the AKC. The breed's
   rapidly increasing popularity has led to concerns over puppy-mills and
   careless backyard breeding. Prospective owners should _carefully
   research_ the origin of puppies as well as the seriousness and
   qualifications of the breeder.
Frequently Asked Questions

   _Is that a blond sheepdog? ... blond schnauzer?, blond kerry blue?_
     In the unclipped condition there is some surface similarity to a
     small Old English Sheepdog or Briard, but the dogs are really quite
     different. With more of a show clip there is a good deal of
     structural resemblance to the Kerry Blue Terrier since the two
     breeds are related (see section on breed history). Although this
     breed is steadily increasing in popularity, it is still a fairly
     rare breed and will be unfamiliar to most people.
   _Are they good with children?_
     Yes, they are generally very good with children and seem to have an
     instinctive tolerance for children's rough play without showing
     aggressiveness. They are sturdy dogs and not easily injured.
     Wheatens are also good with the sick and elderly and have been
     successful as therapy dogs. Wheaten puppies (up until close to two
     years old) deserve an extra comment since they, like puppies from
     most breeds, will do some chewing and biting. Coupled with natural
     dominance games of puppies, these energetic pups may be a bit much
     for very young or very passive children. Like all breeds, they need
     socialization with both humans and other dogs plus training to
     reach their true potential as companions.
     _However_, they are dogs with the instincts of dogs: _children
     should not be left unattended with any type of dog!_
   _Do Wheatens shed? Are they hypo-allergenic?_
     All dogs shed, but the Wheaten is a single-coated dog and generally
     sheds very little. They do not seasonally "blow" coat as do many
     other breeds, but they do need regular brushing to remove dead
     hairs and prevent matting.
     Wheatens often appear on lists of dogs which are good for people
     with allergies because of their non-shedding coat. However, many
     allergies result from exposure to dog's dander, saliva, or natural
     oils rather than hair and Wheatens produce all of these. Each
     person's allergies are different so a person who suffers from
     allergies should visit a breeder and spend some time with the dogs
     at close quarters. If no reaction results, Wheatens may be a good
   _Does this breed require lots of grooming? _
     In a word, yes! Wheatens need about as much grooming as poodles.
     They require regular brushing, several times a week to prevent
     matting (daily is better). In addition, they may need to be trimmed
     or tidied up four to six times a year. Show dogs should be
     professionally groomed, but a pet owner can learn the techniques if
     one wants to invest in the thinning shears and clippers (and time).
     The fur should not be continually clipped short to avoid grooming
     responsibilities since the dog's coat does serve some useful
     purposes, notably protection and insulation. The coat protects the
     dog from cold weather and moisture as well as from incidental
     contact with bushes, branches, and plants. It is thought that
     having the fur cover the eyes shades them from the sun like a
     golfer's hat. Clipping the fur too short, too often, will cause a
     change in the coat's texture and it will lose its silky shine.
   _What about exercise requirements?_
     The Wheaten is an active breed, and requires regular exercise. A
     fenced yard where they can run is ideal. Daily walks should also be
     provided. Any dogs without enough exercise will find other, more
     destructive, outlets for their energy.
   _Is this a good breed for first time dog owners? _
     In a word, maybe! These are delightful dogs, good with families,
     and very adaptable. On the other hand they require a good deal of
     effort and commitment from the owner, perhaps more than most
     breeds. Between the need for exercise, socialization, and grooming;
     a commitment for many hours of attention a week may be needed for
     the next 15 years. Many responsible terrier breeders are reluctant
     to place dogs with first time dog owners.
     _Dog ownership, in general, should not be entered into lightly and
     this breed is no exception._
   _Are they good with other pets?_
     Wheatens are probably the most social breed of terriers. They
     display little dog-dog aggressiveness and are less territorial as
     well. They will get along with other household pets, especially if
     the introductions and adjustments take place while the dog is
   _Are they indoor or outdoor dogs?_
     Although they were originally developed as farm dogs, they do best
     when housed indoors and treated as one of the family. These are
     people dogs and will always want to be where the family is. They
     will not do as well in outside kenneling situations and most
     breeders recommend that they sleep indoors, in the owner's bedroom.
   _Can they live in the city?_
     They make fine dogs for apartment dwellers as long as their
     exercise requirements are met (more walking when there's no yard).
     Their size is convenient, they are exceptionally sociable, and do
     not disturb neighbors with barking. An article in "New York"
     magazine in 1969? billed the Wheaten as "the perfect apartment dog"
     while a "New Yorker" Talk of the Town piece from November 8, 1982
     discussed meeting a Wheaten on Broadway.
   _Are these dogs good in cold weather? in hot weather?_
     Wheatens are good in cooler climates and are popular in such
     northern countries as Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Normal
     cold weather care should be taken, including regular inspection of
     pads for iceballs. As mentioned above, they are mostly indoor dogs
     and most of them enjoy excursions into cold and snowy weather.
     They do not do as well in hot weather and may be noticeably less
     active. They should always be given access to both shade (if
     outdoors) and water and strenuous exercise should be avoided.
     Indoors, they may prefer to lie on cool tiles or linoleum,
     sometimes in bathrooms. Trimming the coat slightly shorter is OK,
     but not so much that the sun can reach the skin.
   _Do they make good obedience dogs?_
     The Wheaten is very intelligent and a number of dogs have received
     advanced obedience degrees, but they can be stubborn and
     independent. The Wheaten, like most terriers, was bred to work
     independently of human direction. If a dog is nose to nose with a
     badger, it cannot take the time to ask "may I attack now, please,
     or would you prefer me to wait?" Thus, obedience as a formal task
     is rather foreign to the breed, but their loyalty and eagerness to
     please will usually compensate. They are surprisingly sensitive and
     respond best to positive training techniques and many people have
     had good success with clicker training.
     All dogs should learn basic good manners and certain general
     behaviors, such as coming when called and walking on a lead. Puppy
     kindergarten training is wonderful socialization for a young dog to
     learn, to avoid dog-aggressiveness later in life. It should be
     followed by a basic obedience course. A new certificate/program of
     the AKC which emphasizes good manners is the Canine Good Citizen
     Wheatens can also perform in competitive obedience such as that
     sponsored by the AKC (most national kennel clubs sponsor some sort
     of obedience competitions). Some 20-40 different Wheatens have
     competed in AKC trials for each of the last five years.
   _What other activities are there for Wheatens?_
     Wheatens are intelligent, athletic dogs that can enjoy many
     activities with their owners including hiking and camping. They
     also can compete in more organized activities such as agility and
     flyball where at least two Wheatens have obtained pins as 'Flyball
     Masters'. Because of their background as general purpose dogs,
     Wheatens are not considered specialists and are not permitted in
     the more specialized AKC activities such as sanctioned field,
     herding, or earthdog trials. In some cases they may be able to
     compete in non-sanctioned fun matches or in events sponsored by
     other organizations. They can compete in tracking trials as these
     trials are considered part of obedience trials.
     Each year the SCWT of Northern California sponsors a herding clinic
     and instinct test near Sacramento. About 80% of the dogs usually
     pass the test. A number of dogs have an HCT (herding capabilty
     tested) title with the American Herding Breeds Assoc. and several
     others have their first leg.
   _Do Wheatens bark?/Are they good watchdogs?_
     They are not, as a rule, given to barking, but they are alert to
     their surroundings and generally will announce visitors. Usually
     when a Wheaten barks, it is best to investigate. They are not
     particularly territorial, but they are very loyal to their family.
     Their size and loyalty will make them good for personal protection,
     but they are much too sociable to be a guard dog.
   _Are they all the same color?_
     They are all wheaten in color as the name implies. Wheaten, however
     encompasses a range from almost silver to a reddish gold. Wheatens
     often have blue-gray shading on their ears and beards -- reminding
     us of their link to the Kerry Blue Terrier.
   _Why don't the puppies look more like the dogs?_
     There is more variation among puppies in Wheatens (even within a
     single litter) than is common for single colored breeds that breed
     true to type. Puppies can have flat or fluffy coats, hard or soft
     coats, and can be light in color or dark. They can also have black
     tipping, black muzzles, or white blazes on their chests. The adult
     coat texture and color is achieved through gradual changes and
     should be set by the time the dog is two years old. Some
     adolescents will go through a stage where they are much lighter
     than adult dogs. The standard makes allowances for these coat
   _What is a Wheaten welcome?_
     They are well known for their habit of introducing themselves to
     strangers (and friends) by jumping straight up and licking people
     on the face or smelling a person's breath. They can be trained not
     do perform this spectacular welcome, but you must start very early
     and be very consistent!
   _What other types of behavior are typical of Wheatens?_
     The following list of Wheatie characteristics is taken from
     responses of Wheaten owners to Wheaten-l, a mailing list for
     Wheaten lovers. Not all Wheatens will display all of these traits,
     but don't be surprised if a Wheaten demonstrates any of them. Also,
     they are not all unique to Wheatens.
     * Mad dashes around the house and yard
     * Whirling when feeling happy
     * Jumping on and off furniture rapidly while dashing around
     * Jumping on people
     * Mad, passionate, lightning-fast 'kissing' (your face, ears, hands)
     * Sleeping on back with feet up or body twisted
     * Beard wiping
     * Sleeping across couch cushions
     * Dropping toys behind couch
     * Jumping on and over furniture, over baby gates
     * Resting their head on your knee to get petting (dinner, let out,
     * Dislike of hot weather, with inactivity
     * Play bows when playing with each other
     * Sitting on things like the curb, your foot, etc. (as if it were a
     * Putting on a"Camille" act; if you send them away, you can hear
       their little hearts breaking with each step they take! Also known
       as the, 'Pitiful Pearl Act'. They can 'guilt trip' you from 40
     * They sit on other dogs in play
     * The ability to dash out any open door or gate (and meet with an
       oncoming car!) at any opportunity.
     * Many (not all, but maybe most) HATE to go out in the rain, but
       LOVE the snow.
     * Tremendously sensitive to and will reflect your moods. Thrilled
       when you're happy. Sad when you're sad.
     * Hate to be yelled at.
     * Attached to all family members.
     * Friendly and outgoing. They "never met a stranger they didn't
     * Many are picky eaters.
     * Occassionally stubborn.
     * You don't GREET this dog, you WEAR her for an hour burrowing head
       in the corner of the couch, under the pillows, so that all you see
       is body
     * When walking on a leash, they takes the leash in his mouth and
       hold their head up like they're walking themself.
     * they loves to find sticks when they walk and carry them in their
       mouth like a prized possession.
   _How are Wheatens different from their cousins, the Kerry Blue
     Many people have narrowed down their selection of their next dog to
     either a Wheaten or a Kerry. Here is an opinion on how they are
     different. This list was compiled from comments by both Kerry and
     Wheaten owners. While there are some differences, the differences
     are small. Many of the differences can be compensated for by
     selecting the appropriate breeding lines.
     * Kerries are slightly more feisty and more difficult to handle than
       Wheatens ,
     * Wheatens are a little more "flighty" and need more training,
     * Wheatens may have a few more genetic problems,
     * Kerries are more aggressive with other dogs,
     * Wheaten's hair is silkier, less curly and softer (more open),
     * Wheaten's coat requires more work and the hair may tangle more
     * Both Kerries and Wheatens have some skin problems, though
       different problems: cysts in Kerries versus rashes in Wheatens.
     More information on Kerry Blue Terriers can be found at the Kerry
     Blue Terrier FAQ written by Daryl Enstone. Another good reference
     for Kerry Blues is the Kerry Blue site mai ntained by John Van den
     Bergh. Return to Table of Contents
The Standard

     The standard of the breed describes the ideal Soft Coated Wheaten
     Terrier, and no one dog lives up perfectly in every regard. In
     general, an SCWT should resemble the standard as closely as
     possible. The closer to perfect, the more likely the dog is to earn
     a championship. A dog can still have major faults and be a good
     SCWT, but should not be used for breeding. Being a good pet is
     nothing to be ashamed of, rather the opposite! With the pet
     overpopulation problem in this country, only the very best
     representatives of any breed should reproduce. This is not just in
     conformation terms, of course, but temperamentally and medically as
     At the present time there are four standards for the Wheaten;
     American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), Kennel Club
     of Great Britain (KCGB), and the Irish Kennel Club (IKC). Because
     the breed was developed in Ireland, the standard from the IKC is
     used by the Federation of Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the
     international collection of kennel clubs. The four standards are
     very similar to each other, but there are subtle differences. When
     added to the variation of judges' interepretations and preferences,
     the differences in standards may lead to considerable variations in
     Wheatens around the world. The different standards are briefly
     discussed below and for more information contact the FAQ's author.
  AKC Standard for the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
     Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the
     Standards at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards
     are not typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is
     referred to the publications in the resource section of this
     document or to the National Breed Club for a copy of the AKC
     Standard. Several sections from the AKC standard are summarized in
     the following paragraphs.
     _General Appearance/Size_
     Wheatens are medium-sized, hardy, well-balanced terriers with a
     square outline. They are noted for their soft, silky coat of
     wheaten color which falls in gentle waves and their steady
     disposition. They should be happy, alert, well-conditioned animals
     that show moderation is structure and temperament. Any
     exaggerations should be avoided. The dogs should be 18-19 inches at
     the withers and weigh in at 35-40 pounds. Bitches should be about
     one inch shorter and five pounds lighter.
     The head is rectangular in shape, well-balanced and in proportion
     to the rest of the body. It should be moderately long with neither
     coarseness nor snippiness. The top of the skull should be flat
     between the ears and there should be a definite stop. The skull and
     foreface should be of equal length. Ears are smallish to medium and
     break even with the top of the skull. They lie alongside the cheek
     and point to the ground. The nose is black and large for the size
     of dog. The eyes are slightly almond-shaped and set fairly wide
     apart. They should be brown or dark reddish-brown with black rims.
     The teeth are large and white and should meet in a level or s
     cissors bite and be surrounded by tight black lips.
     The body is compact and relatively short-coupled with height (to
     the withers) being equal to the length (from the chest). The back
     is strong and level with a medium-length neck. The neck is clean
     and strong, but not throaty and widens as it joins to the body. The
     ribs are well sprung, but not barrel or slab shaped. The chest is
     deep. The tail is docked and set fairly high. It is carried erect,
     but not over the back. The legs are well developed and well knit.
     The forelegs are straight and well-boned while the hindlegs have
     well bent stifles and hocks that are well let down and parallel.
     All four feet should have be round and compact with dark nails and
     black pads. There should be no dewclaws.
     The coat of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is one characteristic
     which sets it apart from other breeds. It is a single coat that
     abundantly covers the entire body including the legs and head. On
     the head it falls forward to cover the eyes. The texture of the
     coat is soft and silky and on the mature dog will have a slight
     wave (the wave will be missing in puppies and adolescents). The
     correct color is any shade of wheaten except on the muzzle and ears
     where some blue-grey shading is allowed. Occasional guard hairs of
     red, white, or black may be seen.
     The colors for puppies and adolescents are different. Puppies may
     be darker and even have black tipping. As the puppies go through
     adolescence, they will lighten considerably in color and may become
     nearly white (although white is not acceptable). They will then
     darken again before two years of age by which time they must
     acquire the proper wheaten color.
     When shown, the Wheaten is trimmed to show a terrier outline
     without exaggerated stylization. The head should be blended to give
     a rectangular look with the be ard balancing the fall. Eyes should
     only be indicated, not exposed. The coat is thinned, not clipped or
     plucked, and should be long enough to flow when the dog is in
     motion. The motion should be free and graceful with good front
     reach and strong rear drive. Feet should turn neither in nor out
     and the tail should be carried erect.
     The Wheaten terrier is happy dog and should show himself with
     gaiety and self-confidence. He should be alert to what goes on
     around him yet maintain a steady disposition. He is less aggressive
     than most other terriers yet will acquit himself admirably when
     given the chance to face off and spar.
  Standards in Other Countries
     The FCI standard is the same as that from Ireland, the breed's
     country of origin. Essentially it is the same as that of the US,
     however, it permits the breed to be shown trimmed or untrimmed. For
     the untrimmed dog it states: _The coat at its longest not to exceed
     five inches. Abundant and soft, wavy and loosely curled. Abundance
     not to be interpreted as length. Under no circumstances should the
     coat be "fluffed out" like a Poodle or Old English Sheepdog. Dogs
     in this condition to be heavily penalized as they give a wrong
     impression of Type and Breed._ In Ireland, the preferred show coat
     has more intense wave and shine with less profuse leg furnishings
     than in the US. The coat may also be less full. The backs may be
     slightly longer and there may be less angluation in the rear
     In England the standard is, again, much the same. The statement for
     neck does differ where it states: _Moderately long, strong,
     muscular and slightly arched. Without throatiness. Gradually
     widening toward, and running cleanly into shoulders_ (emphasis
     added). The breed is shown untrimmed in England.
     In some countries, notably Sweden where the breed is fairly
     popular, docking of tails is illegal and the breed is shown with
     its natural tail. The natural tail is carried high, is slightly
     curved, and reaches about the same level as the top of the head.
Medical Information

     The Wheaten Terrier is a generally healthy dog. They are fairly
     long-lived for a dog of their size and weight and can often reach
     their mid-teens. They also retain their puppy-like behavior longer
     than some breeds: sometimes well over a year. Wheatens can be quite
     sensitive to medications and dosages may be reduced over
     conventional practice. As a result, consultation with the owner's
     vet is recommended.
     Because of their long coat, insect bites and allergic reactions are
     not readily apparent and owners must regularly inspect for them --
     particularly in summer. Wheatens paws must be regularly checked.
     They have fast growing nails and somewhat profuse hair growing
     between pads. If either is left to grow too long, an abnormal gait
     can develop. Such a gait can in turn lead to leg damage.
     As with all dogs, prospective owners should check with the breeders
     to see that the breeding dog's hips are inspected and certified
     against hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is less of a concern for
     Wheatens than for many other dogs of similar size and weight. Eyes
     should also be certified for Progressive Retinal Atropy (PRA).
     There are two more serious concerns that have been identified for
  Sensitivity to Anesthesia
     Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are very sensitive to certain
     anesthetics, particularly those with a barbiturate base. In this
     regard they are very much like sight hounds. Any procedure
     requiring an anesthetic should be discussed with the vet to make
     sure he/she understands this sensitivity. The recommended protocol
     is the following:
     * Preoperative tranquilizing with Acepromazine or Atropine. (Some
       Veterinarians may not choose to use Acepromazine)
     * Induction with a combination of Ketamine and Diazepam (Valium)
       administrated intravenously.
     * Maintenance of anesthesia with Isofluorane and Oxygen.
  Protein and Kidney Abnormalities
     It is suspected that Wheatens suffer from a higher than average
     incidence of protein wasting diseases and kidney abnormalities. The
     suspected i ncidence is perhaps up to 15-20% of the breed in the
     US, but may be lower in other countries which have not imported
     breeding stock from the US. The incidence may also be much lower in
     some areas or lines within the US depending on the particular
     breeder. The average onset of these diseases is 4.5 years of age,
     and food allergies (particularly wheat glutens) are thought to be
     involved. There is presently no early test to determine whether a
     dog will develop a protein-losing disease. Active research is
     underway to understand the causes, triggers, and genetic component
     of protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), protein-losing nephropathy
     (PLN), and Renal Dysplasia (RD). Symposiums on this subject are
     held periodically in different locations, e.g. Guelph Ontario on
     April 22, 1995 and at the US National Specialty in King of Prussia,
     PA on October 4, 1995.
     PLE and PLN are both protein-losing diseases, one from the gut
     (PLE) and one from the kidneys (PLN). Both are thought to have some
     genetic component and to be auto-immune problems. PLE has a
     slightly earlier onset (at 4 years) than PLN (at 6 years), but both
     first appear well after the age that most dogs are bred for the
     first time. This late appearence of the diseases coupled with the
     lack of early tests for them make elimination of the diseases quite
     Renal Dysplasia is polycystic kidney disease. There are cysts that
     form on the kidneys and the kidneys are very small. It affects pups
     from birth and they usually die before their first birthday. The
     thinking is that it is inherited, but it isn't known exactly how.
     Not all pups in the same litter will get it -- some will have
     disease and die, some may be carriers and never exhibit the
     disease, and some may be clear and not be carriers or have the
     disease. A simple dominant/recessive pair does not explain the
     patterns seen in litters. Wheatens are not the only breed to suffer
     from this problem, which is also know as Juvenile Renal disease.
     Susan L. Fleisher has a web article on the subject.
     Because of these potential health problems, some breeders recommend
     that Wheatens be fed a high-quality, low-protein diet that avoids
     wheat. Also recommended is allowing the dog to urinate frequently
     to avoid stressing the kidneys.
     The US National Club has recently begun an Open Registry for
     genetic diseases. The Registry is administered by Dr. Meryl Littman
     of the University of Pennsylvania and is co-sponsored by the
     Canadian National Club. The purpose of the registry is to collect
     health and genetic information on Wheatens affected with genetic
     diseases, particularly PLE, PLN, and RD. Research related to these
     diseases is being carried out by Dr. Shelly Vaden at North Carolina
     State University, Dr. Theresa Fossum at Texas A&M University, and
     Dr. Brian Wilcock at University of Guelph as well as Dr. Littman.
     _Please do not contact these doctors directly: have your vet
     contact them with any questions_
     The AKC Canine Health Foundation has recently funded a research
     project submitted by Dr. Vaden to study the mode of inheritance of
     PLE/PLN in Wheatens. This grant is a matching funds grant so the
     SCWTCA is looking for contributions. The grant plus matching
     contributions will providealmost $100,000 for Dr. Vaden's research
     The major fund raising event for the AKC - Canine Health Foundation
     Grant will be launched during Montgomery weekend, the site of the
     US National Specialty (October 3-6, 1996), and will be a silent
     auction of donated item. In addition, there will be special gifts
     for contibutions of a certain size. If anyone wishes to contribute
     now and not wait for Montgomery the SCWTCA certainly will not
     complain. Checks should be made out to AKC/CHF and one should note
     on the check memo "For Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Research Fund".
     Checks are to be sent to Rosemary Berg, 37953 Center Ridge Rd., No.
     Ridgeville, OH 44039. (Rosemary is SCWTCA Treasurer) She will log
     all contributions and forward them to the Canine Health Foundation
     (this way we will be able to keep track of things). It should be
     noted that all contributions will be TAX DEDUCTABLE (at least in
     the USA, I'm not sure it would be so outside the US).
     Prospective buyers should talk to the breeder about whether PLE or
     PLN have shown up in their line. A reputable breeder who truly
     cares about the breed will honestly answer their questions.
     For more information contact the breed's parent club in your
     country or this FAQ's author.

     The following books are available and contain information that may
     help you evaluate whether the wheaten terrier is the breed for you.
     General books on all dog breeds or all terriers will usually have
     some information on this breed. _Thorough_ research into the breed
     is vital before purchase is contemplated. In addition to the books
     listed below, the US Parent club has several pamphlets on aspects
     of Wheaten ownership.
     _The Complete Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier_, Roberta A. Vesley,
     Howell Book House, McMillan Publishing Co., New York, 1991
     _This book has a very good history of how the modern breed achieved
     recognition, both in its native Ireland and here in the United
     States. It also gives a good deal of information on US breeders
     (into the mid to late '80s)._
     _Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers_, Margaret A. O'Connor, T.F.H
     Publications, KW-177, 1990
     _The first 31 pages in this book are specific to Wheatens while the
     other 160 pages are general dog information from the publishers.
     The Wheaten section was written by one of the early fanciers in the
     US (there is an earlier, out of print, version of this book
     entitled How to Raise Train a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier dating
     from 1965)._
     _The Wheaten Years_, Maureen Holmes, Alpha Beta Press, Orland Park,
     Ill., 1977
     _Maureen Holmes is an influential Wheaten breeder from Ireland. She
     arranged the import of the O'Connor dogs to the US and many early
     US dogs came from her kennels._
     _The Complete Dog Book_, 18 Ed. American Kennel Club, 1994
     _The official breed standard along with a limited history is
     included with similar information on all the AKC recognized breeds._
  On-line Resources
     The best place to find on-line information about dogs is Cindy
     Tittle Moore's excellent collection of FAQs (from the
     rec.pets.dogs.* newsgroups), dog web sites, email lists, and more.
     The American Kennel Club (AKC) has established an on-line presence
     including general dog info, breed info and standards, and AKC
     The US national club now has an SCWTCA Home Page.
     Dave Perry, a Canadian breeder of Wheatens and Ceskys has a
     homepage which includes a section on Wheatens. Dave has a great
     collection of Wheaten pictures.
     A number of Wheatens are now lucky enough have their own homepage.
     The lucky dogs are Bailey, Ciara, Deegan , Ira, Jose, Kelly, Tommy,
     and Trixie.
     Cyberpet, a commercial site with information on both cats and dogs
     has at least one picture in their Wheaten section.
     _WHEATEN-L_ is an e-mail list devoted exclusive ly to the Soft
     Coated Wheaten Terrier. The list is currently an "open" list, and
     anyone is welcome to subscribe. Once you join the list, you must
     then follow the rules as outlined in the welcome message. The list
     is owned by Mike Slepian and Kim Bryant and has been in operation
     since May of 1996. To subscribe send email to with SUBSCRIBE WHEATEN-L
     yourfirstname yourlastname in the body of the message (no subject).
     You will receive a message with instructions for the rest of the
     subscription process.
     _TERRIER-L_ is an e-mail list for the entire terrier group,
     including Wheatens and all the other terriers. The list is also
     open and anyone is welcome to subscribe. The list is owned by Daryl
     Enstone (a Kerry Blue owner) and has been in operation since
     October of 1994. To subscribe send email to SUBSCRIBE TERRIER-L yourfirstname
     yourlastname in the body of the message (no subject). You will
     receive a message with instructions for the rest of the
     subscription process.
Breed Clubs

  The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America
   Mrs. Elaine Nerrie
       Public Information Committee
       1945 Edgewood Road
       Redwood City, CA 94062
       (415) 299-8778
_This club is the breed's parent club for AKC purposes. The club publishes a
quarterly magazine with ads, articles, trophy standings and other news of
interest to club members. It is called Benchmarks, and is available from the
club. In addition, the club puts out a pamphlet for prospective owners, a
handbook for new owners, the amplified breed standard, and charts on grooming
and puppy colors. The pamphlet is free, but the other items all cost money.
They also have a new homepage (see the on-line resources)._

    Regional Breed Clubs - USA
   _Connecticut SCWTC_
       Charlene Adzima, Sec. & Rescue
       52 Gibson Avenue
       Trumbull, CT. 06611
       (203) 268-7690
       _Delaware Valley SCWTC_
       Thomas J. Neill, Sec.
       319 R Glad Way
       Collegeville, PA 19426
       (610) 489-4048
       _Derby City SCWTC_
       Jane Elkin Thomas, Sec. & Rescue
       1508 Cherokee Road
       Louisville, KY 40205
       (502) 451-1002
       _Greater Cincinnati SCWTC_
       Nan Meloy, Sec.
       3081 Harry Lee Lane
       Cincinnati, OH 45239
       _Greater Denver SCWTC_
       Louise Tucker, Sec.& Rescue
       PO Box 433
       3648 N. Perry Park Road
       Sedalia, CO 80135
       (303) 688-8569 or (303) 660-0511
       _Motor City SCWTC_
       Sharon Morgan, Corresp. Sec.
       4206 W. Orchard Hill
       St. Claire Shores, MI 48080
       _SCWTC of Chicagoland_
       Laura Rybski, Sec. & Rescue
       5420 South Sayre
       Chicago, IL 60638
       (312) 586-5712
       _SCWTC of Greater Milwaukee_
       Nancy Anderson, Sec.
       3025 Highway V
       Franksville, WI 53126
       _SCWTC of Greater St. Louis_
       Maria Unger, Sec.
       10133 Buffton Drive
       St. Louis, MO 63133
       _SCWTC of Greater Tampa Bay_
       Kathy Hann, Sec.
       (813) 595-2946
       _SCWTC of Greater Washington D.C._
       Terry Ames, Sec.
       73144 Walnut Knoll Drive
       Springfield VA 22153
       _SCWTC of Metropolitan New York_
       Ed Tannacore, Sec.
       4 Vermont St.
       Lyndenhurst, NY 11757
       (516) 228-8977
       _SCWTC of Northern California
       Wendy Beers, Sec.
       706 Ramona Avenue
       Albany, CA 94706
       SCWTC of Southern California
       Naomi Stewart, Sec.
       10832 Cullman
       Whittier, CA 90603
       (310) 947-1770_
  Canadian Breed Clubs
        _Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Association of Canada _
            Ardelle Darling
            RR #1,
            Windham Centre, ON N0E 2A0
            _Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Fanciers Association of Ontario_
            Mary Ann Moran, Sec
            14 Wellesworth Dr.
            Ontario, Canada M9C 4P6
            (416) 622-6513
       There are also breed clubs for SCWTs in Europe. Addresses for
       these clubs can probably be obtained by contacting the SCWTCA at
       the listing given above and some are shown below. Names and
       addresses for other clubs can be sent to the author.
       Countries where SCWTs are shown include the following:
             Soft-Coated Club of Great Britain
                 Mrs. Judy Creswick
                 96 Newgate Street
                 NE61 1BU
                 +44 1670 512832
             Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Klubben
                 Rygge Haveby 2c
                 1580 RYGGE
                 Tore Xygarden, editor newletter
                 Gjevikbakkene 29
                 1404 SIGGERUD

            Gwen Arthur
            10702 Laneview
            Houston, TX 77070
            (713) 469-4214 (TX)
  Local Rescue (USA)
Note that some of the Local Clubs use the same person for rescue as secretary
(see club addresses above for contacts)

        _Delaware Valley Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club_
            Connie Kirchner, Rescue
            26 Saratoga Road
            Stratford, NJ 08084
            (609) 784-0502
            _Motor City SCWTC_
            Kristin Peterson, Rescue
            7431 Deep Run Road
            Bloomfield Hills, MI 48201
            (810) 642-5255
            _SCWTC of Greater Milwaukee_
            Monica Muth Kipp
            552 W 32290 Highway ZZ
            North Praire, WI 53151
            _SCWTC of Greater St. Louis_
            Greg Buettmann
            1429 Jenwick Streer
            Chesterfield, MO 63005
            (314) 530-1955
            _SCWTC of Greater Washington D.C._
            Dr. David Lincicome
            3032 Courtney School Road
            Midland VA 22728
            (540) 788-4916
            _SCWTC of Metropolitan N.Y._
            Sally and Ray Murtha, Rescue
            149 Berry Hill Rd.
            Syosset, NY 11791
            (516) 921-8741
            baylist: (415) 526-7048
            _SCWTC of Northern California_
            Lance Carter,Rescue
            436 Lassen Drive
            Martinez, CA 94553
            (707) 557-3974
            _SCWTC of Southern California_
            Carol Herd, rescue
            8902 Pebble Beach Cr.
            Westminster, CA 92683
            (714) 893-5821
            _Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Rescue_
            Pat Cooper P.O. Box # 387
            Sharon, Ontario, Canada
            LOG 1VO
            (905) 770-9831 ext. 22 -> (greater Toronto/Niagara area)
            (905) 478-2139 -> (as above)
            (416) 783-9346 ext. 44 -> (metro Toronto)
            (519) 853-1456 ext. 52 -> (southern Ontario)
BreedersPeople intending to purchase a puppy are strongly recommended to deal
with a responsible breeder as opposed to a pet store, casual backyard breeder,
or puppymill. People should question the breeder on health of dam and sire,
purposes of the breeding, health guarantees, and sale condition among other
items. They should not be suprised at questions from the breeder as well. These
questions may include plans for the dog (pet vs showing in conformation,
agility, obedience, etc.), size of household (no. and age of children), size
and condition of yard (e.g. is it fenced), and the like. _Selecting a good
breeder is as important as selecting the right breed for your circumstances!_
There are FAQs on 'getting a dog' (which discusses breeders), 'your new puppy',
'your new dog', and much other general dog and breed information at Cindy
Tittle Moore's excellent collection of FAQs from*. A suggested
list of questions to ask a breeder is also available.

Most national breed clubs maintain a list of responsible breeders which are
members in good standing and follow the club's code of ethics. These lists are
moderated or refereed by the sponsoring club. In the US, the parent club
(SCWTCA ) sponsors such a breeder's referral list. For this type of list, the
onus of picking a good, responsible breeder has been undertaken by the breed

An unmoderated list of breeders, with a greater geographical scope, has also
been compiled. This list makes no attempt to filter out casual breeder s or
puppymills. With this list the task of selecting a good, responsible breeder
has been left to the prospective owner. For more information regarding this
unmoderated list, contact this FAQ's author.


    Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier FAQ
    Mike Slepian,
    Sharon Meerbaum, SMBMRA@AOL.COM

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