The soft-coated Wheaten terrier is a medium-sized terrier that has a temperament that is a bit different from most other terriers. These dogs tend to be much less aggressive in nature than the typical terrier, though they are typically still very energetic and active. They are also highly intelligent and able to perform more functions that many terriers. This breed goes back at least 200 years in Ireland and was considered a common mans dog, capable of controlling vermin, herding sheep and acting as a watchdog.
The Irish and the American Wheaten terriers are two varieties of the same breed, officially known as the soft coated Wheaten terrier. Both types have their roots in Ireland, but over time the two have diverged, so that now most people knowledgeable about the breed consider the Irish and the American types to be distinctly different. The only real difference, however, is the appearance of the coat, but it is enough of a difference to be a point of contention among breeders.
Irish Wheaten Terrier
The Irish Wheaten terrier carries the older, traditional type of coat. His hair is soft and slow-growing, and does not tend to get tangled or matted. The coat falls in waves from the dogs body and does not stand out from his back or sides. In most cases the dog is of uniform color, a rich golden wheat color, though he may have a tiny bit of grey or blue-black on his muzzle and ears.
American Wheaten Terrier
An American Wheaten terrier has a much thicker coat than the Irish type. The coat tends to stand out from his body and it gives the dog a fluffy teddy bear look. It is not as glossy as the Irish coat, though it does share the same gold color that gives the breed its name. Dogs with this coat type often have a lot of dark hair on their faces and ears which will remain throughout their lives.
The breed standard does not distinguish between the American and the Irish varieties of the soft coated Wheaten terrier. According to the accepted standard, the Irish coat is correct, but many American-coated dogs win in the show ring despite this fact. An important consideration for anyone seeking a puppy as a pet is the amount of grooming required. The American coat grows quickly and requires frequent grooming and overall trimming, while the Irish coat grows much more slowly and does not require the overall body clip that the American coat does.