Wheaten History

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Did You Know?

Wheaten temperament is unique, combining the alert intelligence of the terrier tribe with the steadiness of the working dog.

  • Lydia Vogel of Massachusetts brought the first Wheatens to the United States in the 1940s, but real activity in the breed in this country did not begin until the late 1950s when the O'Connors and Arnolds imported their dogs.
  • The Irish Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1937.
  • The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a native of Ireland.
  • The Soft Coated Wheaten was shown at Westminster in February 1947.
  • The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was admitted to the American Kennel Club Stud Book on May 1, 1973.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier History

The actual origin of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier cannot be found in printed record. Recurring reference to a terrier soft in coat, wheaten in color, and of a size to fit the Wheaten of today, lends credence to the belief that the history of the Soft Coated Wheaten began long before records were kept and when the challenge of "best dog" was most often settled in a "fists up" confrontation between the owners.

Known for more than 200 years in Ireland, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is believed by some to be an important ancestor of the Kerry Blue. Legend tells us that when the Spanish Armada was sunk off the shores of Ireland, the blue dogs who swam ashore found terriers with a soft wheaten coat waiting to welcome them.

Of necessity these early dogs were bred for their working qualities, with shade of coat or exact measurements of small consideration and no record. As 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. The demands of his function required steadiness and discrimination, which have been retained, while preserving the joy in living and the stamina associated with a terrier.

Sponsored by Dr. G.J. Pierse, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was campaigned to registration with the Irish Kennel Club, and on March 17, 1937, a most fitting day for Irish dogs, made its debut in the Irish Kennel Club Championship Show. For many years this breed was required to qualify in both major and minor field trials over rat, rabbit, and badger before attaining championship. Registration with The Kennel Club (England) came in 1943.

In 1962, on St. Patrick's Day - again that most appropriate date - the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America was founded when a small group of interested fanciers met in Brooklyn and agreed on a common goal, namely to preserve and protect the Wheaten in the United States and to promote the breed to public interest and American Kennel Club registration. Also present at that meeting were three Wheatens destined to pioneer the breed in the show rings-Holmenocks Gramachree, Gads Hill, and Holmenocks Hallmark, better known as "Irish" (O'Connor), "Liam," and "Maud" (Arnold). Since then, each year has seen substantial gains in registrations, in Club memberships, and in public interest. And each year showing has increased in breed competition and in obedience exhibition.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book on May 1, 1973, and to classification in the Terrier Group at AKC shows October 3, 1973.

* Information courtesy of the AKC