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Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier – Hypoallergenic Dogs

Exactly one year ago Almar’s Firecracker Finn, aka Finley the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, joined our family.

Our son has a dog allergy but desperately wanted a dog. We spent months researching and visiting various breeds with the hope of finding one he would not have a reaction to. (Click on When an Allergic Boy Gets a Dog for the full story.)

Our allergist told us not to get a dog. We read that there was no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Despite all that, we continued our search because we truly believe that a pet brings so many positive things to a child and family.

We finally heard and learned about Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. They are a non shedding dog and considered hypoallergenic. The ironic thing is, if our son was not dog allergic we never would have learned about this wonderful breed.

From the SCWTCA:

“The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred as an all-purpose farm dog and family companion in his native Ireland. Sharing a common ancestry with the Irish Terrier and the Kerry Blue, the Wheaten is distinguished by his soft, silky coat and merry disposition.

In disposition, Wheatens are steady and fun-loving and they tend to be less scrappy than most other terriers. Wheatens are adaptable to both country and city environments. They relate well to children and usually make good watch-dogs who will bark to announce the  arrival of a stranger. This does not mean Wheatens are everyone’s perfect pet. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are lively, inquisitive, exuberant dogs who jump and kiss to express their love of people. A fenced yard or exercise on lead is required to insure safety. A regular grooming schedule with brush and comb is absolutely essential to maintain the lovely coat in a shining, clean, and mat-free condition. Being so “people-oriented,” Wheaten puppies must be carefully home-raised and socialized; they need gentle but firm and consistent training. The Wheaten is a house dog whose marvelous personality and temperament flower only in a good home environment. Those who do not have the time to train intensively or to do the brushing and combing required should not consider this breed.”

Wheatens are medium size dogs weighing 35-40 pounds for males and 30-35 pounds for females. They are square in outline and are hardy and well balanced. Males dogs are 18-19 inches at the withers and femailes are 17-18 inches at the withers. They have a fine curly coat that ranges from a white, light tan to a golden wheaten color as an adult. Puppies are born dark brown and lighten as they age.

Wheaten Terriers are often called the Peter Pan of dogs because they are lifelong puppies. This can be quite endearing or quite difficult depending on your own temperament. Wheatens are extremely energetic, like to jump on people (known as the Wheaten Greetin), can be mouthy if not trained properly and overall need a lot of love, attention, grooming and exercise.

If you can handle all of that you will be rewarded with a dog who is extremely loyal, loving, easy going and a kid at heart.

Having two young boys in our family, and living pretty active lives, we felt the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier would be a great match for us. Thankfully we were right. Finley is a wonderful dog and addition to our family, and our son who has dog allergies has not had a single reaction. Finley just turned one in May and we are so happy with him that we will be welcoming a second Wheaten into our home in August. Finley will soon have a sister! We can’t wait to meet Maggie.

If you’d like to know more about our experience with Wheaten Terriers or have any questions, feel free to contact us through our contact page.

If you are interested in getting a dog for your family and are dealing with dog allergies you might want to read our article Dog Allergies and Hypoallergenic Dogs.

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About Ruth LovettSmith

Ruth LovettSmith is a writer, artist and designer with a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is the Founder and Editor of the popular food allergy information guide Best Allergy Sites. She also writes articles on art and design, food allergies, parenting, gardening and healthy living and is an advocate for and within the food allergy community.

21 comments

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  2. this website is not very well orgnizaed well! :(

  3. Sorry you feel that way Nicole. Feel free to let us know what you think we can do to improve your experience.

  4. I read your post during our own search for a hypoallergenic dog. My daughter and I both suffer from dog allergies, but my daughter’s reaction is much worse than mine. We decided to give the wheaten a try and now have a six month old boy who is wonderful! We have had no allergy issues and our little Willie puppy is such a sweet dog.

    If I can add to the description of a wheaten’s character, in our experiience anyway, while the wheaten is a high energy dog, ours is not crazy. Once he got used to all of us, he’s actually very mellow at home. He plays and sleeps and plays and sleeps. When someone new comes over, he gets very, very excited and tries to jump and just kiss them to death, but we’ve learned that if the person ignores and is calm with him, that he quickly calms down. We started puppy classes as soon as he was ready after his shots and I can’t recommend that enough, for any dog. I just wanted to share this because reading about them being a “high energy” dog made me hesitate with this breed. I was afraid he would be out of control all the time. But that’s not the case at all, at least not for our family. He’s active, playful, snuggly and just plain wonderful. A great dog for families.

    Thank you for sharing your story of this wonderful breed!

  5. Nicky – Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story and experience!!

    Wheaten’s are fantastic dogs aren’t they? We LOVE ours.

    I’m glad to hear that Willie is not as crazy as you thought he’d be. I write this as my own two Wheaten’s are running around the room wrestling. :)

    I actually had the same experience as you. I read about how crazy they were and was slightly worried then had that “it’s not so bad” moment as Finley and Maggie were growing up. (The are now 3 and 2).

    That being said, I wonder what I would have thought had I not read anything and just went ahead with the breed. Do you see where I am going with this?

    I too think they are great dogs. They are tamer than most terriers but aren’t couch potatoes either.

    I agree – they make a great family dog.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share!

  6. Thanks for the info, my daughter has allergies, and we have been looking at that SCWT as well. I’ve read that they cannot be taken off leash, and can’t be left alone. I work from home mostly, but may need to leave for up to 4 or 5 hours, say once or twice a week. Also, we like to camp a few times in the summer, and don’t want to worry about our family pet running away lovingly to a stranger (as one book put it!). Would you agree with those comments?

  7. Lara,

    As with any breed, all dogs are different. When we read all the books and heard all those types of stories, we too were worried. I can only speak to my experiences with our own 2 Wheatens.

    1. They are both super friendly and will approach anyone. So yes, they may go with someone else – though that’s never been a problem for us.

    2. They are very hyper, quick and can/will run off. I worked a lot on training both my dogs. I read a lot about how to train in books and took my first dog to obedience classes. We live in the country and have an invisible fence. Both dogs stay within the fence. I walk them regularly off leash at nearby trails and they stay within earshot and come when called.

    3. Our first Wheaten (a male) was very clingy to me as I work from home. He did not love being home alone, but got used to it over time. We got a second Wheaten who seems completely fine and now keeps our first company. We have left them both for several hours without a problem. I think the key here is again, training from the beginning.

    4. Both our Wheatens hated crate training. They would bark, whine etc. when in the crate. Once they were house trained, we did away with the crate. I do know other Wheaten owners whose Wheatens love the crate. I guess it depends on the dog and how well you train them.

    We love our Wheatens and couldn’t imagine having any other dogs. They are so cute, happy all the time, loving and energetic. They aren’t for everyone, but they fit right in with our family.

    If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Best of luck to you on your decision!

  8. Hi! We have a 9 week old wheaten male puppy. We LOVE Him, but he is doing a few very concerning things. We are very familiar with puppy training because we have a 9 month old miniature schnauzer, Millie. We successfully potty trained Millie with the crate. We decided to use the same method with Henry, our new puppy. The thing is that Henry pees in his crate.. He even peed in his FOOD today. He lays in it and does it several times a day. Our other puppy never did anything like this, so I am worried. We take him out every hour or two and anytime he whines or gives an indication that he might need to go…. He goes outside and peeps and poops, But then he will go again in his crate within an hour sometimes. We thoroughly clean it every time. We made the crate exactly his size, he can turn around, but that is it. I know he is a baby, but this is weird right? Any advice? Please help! Did your puppies ever do this?

  9. Jennifer,

    I know many people who were able to crate train their Wheaten. We were not one of them.

    Both our Wheatens soiled their crate. We did everything from dividing the crate in half, to thoroughly cleaning etc.

    I work from home so basically I trained by keeping them in a gated off area and took them out hourly until they went and then every couple of hours. Sometimes I tethered them to me so I could keep an eye on them.

    We hung jingle bells by the door and I taught our first Wheaten to ring the bells to go out but having him hit them with his paw or nose every time I took him out.

    I praised them both thoroughly when they did their business outside.

    It took 6 months or so for our male, but he is now fully trained and never has accidents.

    Our female took longer and she still has accidents on occasion. If we are away too long, if it’s raining heavily out, etc.

    If you’ve taken your pup in to make sure there are no parasites or infection, then you might just have a Wheaten that is more difficult to train.

    I promise, it does get easier in time and it should happen.

    Good luck! Wheatens are wonderful dogs and you’ll find that this extra effort is well worth the love and attention Henry gives you.

  10. Thank you so much for your response. Henry is doing a little better now. I am SO glad to hear he is to the only one who does this! And I am especially glad to hear that it will stop someday :-)

  11. Hang in there Jennifer and thanks for stopping by with the update on Henry!

  12. We have a 7 year old Wheaten that we adore named Carly. Carly was crate trained. Carly trained very easily. She learned every trick we taught her including ringing the bell to go potty. Carly loves car rides, going for walks and running free in the park. She loves to sit out in front of our house (tied up) to watch the action.She listens well and comes back when you call.

    We work all day out of the home and Carly has always been great being alone. As a puppy, staying in the crate or gated in the ktichen and now she has the run of the house.

    My husband who is allergic to most dogs has never had a reaction to our Wheaten.

    Carly’s negatives: Jumps on all guests; shows aggression when near food and objects she gets a hold of; and isn’t too fond of other dogs and attacks the vacuum.

    Two days ago we just got Carly a sister, Sophie, another Soft Coated Wheaten. We love our Wheatens!!

  13. Andrea, thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. I’m so glad to hear you have had good luck with your Wheaten. They are amazing dogs aren’t they?

    Our babes, Finley and Maggie, both jump on people all the time. I’m sure you know it’s common and even named the “Wheaten Greetin”. Many people don’t mind, but some understandably do. I think it’s hard to train it out of them, they are just so friendly.

    Fin had food aggression issues early on that we were able to train him out of. It took a little while but worked eventually.

    Congrats on the new puppy! I hope Carly enjoys having a new sister!

  14. Hi,

    I have been looking for a SCWT for months but have had no luck. Any suggestions for finding one in San Diego or Southern California area?

    Thanks, Christine

  15. Christine,

    Try checking out the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America at the following link: http://www.scwtca.org/

    They should be able to point you to breeders in your area.

    Good Luck!

  16. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, concerns and stories. I would like to get a SCWT for the family come summertime, I am a teacher and will have the time to dedicate to training a dog over the summer. I do realize the training process will take longer, but at least I will have a good start over the summer. I have allergies and three children: 2, 5 and 11. I have much more research to do but this website comment thread has been very helpful. Thank you all so much. My next step is to check out the terrier site listed above and research crate training and owner pet obedience school. If anyone has any tips or suggestions it would be much appreciated. Thanks for all of your input thus far! Enjoy your angels: )

  17. Erica,

    Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words.

    There are a lot of books on SCWT and training as well, so be sure to do an amazon search or check out your library.

    Also, feel free to post back with any questions you might have.

    Best of luck!

  18. Hey Ruth – My husband and I got an Almar Wheaten as well! and we’re having some trouble with our crate training (sounds like we’re not alone!) and his biting (“mouthing”) habits. We were wondering if you had any trouble with biting habits and if you had any advice on controlling it? He has gotten better with us but still goes straight for other peoples’ hands. He is 4.5 months now.

  19. Claudia,

    Congrats on your new Wheaten!

    So sorry for the delayed response, it’s been a busy month and summer so far.

    Finley was a nipper (and sometimes still is), Maggie was not.

    Keep in mind that your pup is still young and that’s how they play with their litter mates. He may also be teething or will be soon. With some work and patience, he should outgrow it.

    What worked for us was a little tough love. Any nipping and biting behavior got a strong no from us. If he continuted we would gently pin him to the ground (with body or hand) and repeat no. Key word gently.

    This is much like what a mother would do to her own pup to teach him what behavior was acceptable or not acceptable.

    Since your pup is likely still small. Start with no. Then put your palm on the back of his neck and gently push him to a laying position and hold him down while saying “no bite”.

    The goal is to teach him that you are the pack leader.

    Also, chew toys work wonders. So when you say “no bite”. After you release him you can give him a toy and say “toy” or “bite toy”.

    Hope that helps!

  20. Just so you no, in about a year or two. wheatons develope thier own alergies. to almost everything you feed them, they become itchy and missorable at times from the discomfort.and they get runny eyes and esr wax that smells. there is meds for this, but it cost alot of money of course. so your better of finding out now about a none allergenic diet for her. I’m not trying to scare you. I just want to prepare you. otherwise they are the best dogs.

  21. Ruth LovettSmith

    Thanks Sharon. I think some Wheatens are more prone to allergies than others. Thus far we’ve been ok, but we don’t feed our dogs grain based foods which can be problematic for some breeds.

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