Showsight Presents the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

THE ESSENCE OF TYPE

Unacceptable coat qualities include: coarse, wooly, frizzy, and/or plush. All of these factors produce a “stuffed animal” look. An overabundance of coat is caused by the presence of undercoat and produces a look that is foreign to correct breed type. On the other hand, too little coat is as faulty as too much coat. To be typey, Wheatens must be well-covered with coat. All the standards and amplifica- tions agree on this. Adult Wheaten coats must never be straight or tightly curled. Fortunately, the fashion of blow-drying (and even ironing) Wheaten coats has been replaced by air-drying, which enhances the coats’ natural waves. While “straight” is pretty self-explanatory, a distinction should be made between “waves” (gentle undulations) and “curls” (ring- lets). Any sign of kink in the coat is particularly offensive. I see the breed coming full circle in terms of coat qual- ity, and if there can be any semblance of a silver lining behind the ominous kidney cloud, I think the rash of imports have not only improved coat quality, but also re- adjusted our eyes to the look of correct and typical coat. We can only hope that, just as it has become nearly impos- sible to finish a Wheaten with a curly, frizzy coat, in the future, the other undesirable coat qualities (harsh, wooly, overabundant, straight) will become nearly extinct as well. Our (American) standard calls for “any shade of Wheaten.” The FCI standard is a little more specific, stip- ulating color must be: “A good, clear wheaten of shades from light wheaten to a golden reddish hue.” In the Amer- ican standard amplification, proper color is described as “…any shade of Wheaten from pale gold through warm honey” ( Illustrated Standard , page 26). Sometimes, proper coat casts a platinum-like sheen. Mrs. Holmes refers to this phenomenon saying, “… over this [coat] is a ‘silver sheen’ characteristic of the breed.” (Ibid. page 152.) Correct color should be thought of as falling within a range of acceptable hues. The American standard ampli- fication reminds us, “Very deep color in a puppy does not always predict strong adult color. Color change continues throughout the life of the dog. The hairs are often banded. Closely observed, the Wheaten is not a self-colored dog. (Illustrated Standard, page 26.) Both the American and FCI standards go into detail about puppy coats. However, the FCI describes newborn puppy colors, which would be nearly—if not entirely—cleared by the time they entered the ring. Our standard devotes a paragraph to the color transition that some coats make between six months and two years of age. While we still do see many Wheatens’ coats that go through the described transition, increas- ingly, many do not. Most importantly, coat color must always be warm and reflective, which is dependent upon proper coat texture. (See photos above.) Again, proper coat texture creates correct col- or; you will never see ideal color on an improperly textured coat, as it will not carry the requisite sheen. Mrs. Holmes is quite adamant in stating “coat color… must have a warm GOLDENhueNOTyellow…Brown is a colour that isNEV- ER mentioned or allowed in a WHEATEN … No black or gray is allowed in the adult coat, which includes the head.” (Ibid. page 153.) She singles out the head because it is not uncommon to find grey shading, allowed on ears andmuzzle,

that the coat is to fall in “gentle waves,” I take exception to the inclusion of the word “curly” in describing the ideal coat. In fact, in the original Irish standard it was specified that coat “...if curly, curls must be large and loose.” (Redlich, Anna The Dogs Of Ireland . Dundalk, Ireland; Dundalgan Press, 1949, page 166). Note that Mrs. Holmes uses the word “body.” This is important to our discussion, as the amount of coat that Wheatens carry has a tremendous impact on their appearance. While Mrs. Holmes goes out of her way to decry overly abundant coats, thin coats where skin is readily visible are equally faulty. One key factor is undercoat. Ideally, the coat is single and abundant. Some dogs do carry single coats throughout their lives, while others start out with undercoat that intensifies during adolescence and then dissipates with maturity, resulting in single-coated adults. It’s remarkable that such divergent puppy coats actually mature into very similar adult coats. Both the American and the FCI stan- dards allow latitude when assessing coat texture in young dogs. However, the ideal coat will be wavy, abundant, and soft, even at six months. The American standard mentions guard hairs only in the color section but, in the past, many adolescent Wheat- ens’ coats contained harsh guard hairs (the infamous “dead reds”). Today, many dogs sport coats where any guard hairs that do appear are soft, so this is the ideal for which we should be striving.

272 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION

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