Discover the Charm of the Soft Terrier Breed: Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft terriers are a popular breed known for their friendly and playful nature. Originating from Ireland, these dogs were bred as all-purpose farm dogs with duties including herding, guarding livestock, and hunting vermin. They have a long history and were recognized as a breed in Ireland by the Irish Kennel Club in 1937.

One interesting fact about soft terriers is that they were commonly referred to as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound” in Ireland. They were not owned by the gentry and their tails were docked to avoid taxes. It’s fascinating how historical context can shape a breed’s development and physical traits.

In the United States, serious interest in soft terriers took around ten years to develop after the first ones were exported in the 1940s. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, Inc. was established in 1962 to protect and advance the interests of the breed. Today, soft terriers compete in various activities such as obedience, agility, and tracking. They are even used in animal-assisted therapy, showcasing their versatile nature.

Let’s talk about their appearance. Soft terrier puppies have dark coats that can range from red and brown to mahogany or white. Their muzzles and ears may be black or dark brown. As they mature, their coat gradually grows out to a wheaten-colored coat, which can contain black, white, or darker brown “guard” hairs. It’s interesting how their coat evolves over time, starting out with a darker color and eventually settling into their characteristic wheaten hue.

Soft terriers are medium-sized dogs, typically ranging from 17 to 20 inches in height and weighing around 30 to 45 pounds. They have a square structure and a well-built body. One notable feature of soft terriers is their soft, silky hair that doesn’t shed like most dogs. Similar to human and poodle hair, their hair keeps growing and requires regular trimming. Daily brushing and combing are also necessary to prevent mats from forming.

These dogs are known for their intelligence and trainability. They respond well to praise and learning tricks comes naturally to them. Their friendly nature and lack of aggression make them a great choice for families with children. If obtained from a reputable breeder, soft terriers rarely have aggression issues. They love people and form strong bonds with their families.

Now, let’s dive into coat types. Soft terriers have two coat types: Irish and Heavy (American). The Irish coat is thinner and silkier, while the Heavy coat is thicker and fuller. Some breeders believe that the Irish coat is the original working coat, while the Heavy coat is a result of cross-breeding between coat types. However, the judges in the AKC conformation show ring don’t always accept the Irish type well. The Irish coat still requires daily brushing to prevent matting.

A fascinating aspect of soft terriers is their long life span. They are generally a long-lived breed. However, like any breed, they are susceptible to various heritable diseases. They are most known for two protein wasting conditions: protein-losing nephropathy (PLN) and protein-losing enteropathy (PLE). These conditions can be potentially fatal if not managed properly. Regular check-ups and adherence to their country’s advised testing protocols are essential for their overall health.

Apart from PLN and PLE, soft terriers can also suffer from other health issues such as renal dysplasia, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison’s disease, and cancer. Some individuals may have food and environmental allergies, as well as atopic dermatitis. It’s crucial for potential owners to discuss these health issues with a reputable breeder before deciding to bring a soft terrier puppy into their home.

In terms of temperament, soft terriers are energetic and playful. They require patient and consistent positive training. Harsh methods can result in fear and aggression. These dogs are known for their enthusiastic greetings, often jumping up to lick people’s faces. While they are considered less scrappy than other terriers, they are lively and active. Regular exercise is a must to keep them happy and healthy.

Soft terriers are cool-weather dogs and can easily overheat in hot weather. When it comes to socialization, they can get along well with cats and other dogs if properly introduced. However, caution should be exercised due to their strong prey drive. They are protective of their families and although they may bark at strangers, they rarely become aggressive. Training is crucial to avoid excessive barking and ensure good behavior. Soft terriers are loyal and obedient when well trained.

In conclusion, soft terriers are wonderful companions known for their friendly and playful nature. Their long history and versatile capabilities make them a fascinating breed. From their origins as farm dogs in Ireland to their various activities today, soft terriers have proven to be adaptable and intelligent. Their unique coat types and potential health concerns add to their individuality. Overall, soft terriers are a great choice for families who want an affectionate and loyal furry friend.

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