THE SOFT COATED WHEATEN TERRIER IN AMERICA by BETH VERNER & EMILY HOLDEN
DESCRIPTION AND CHARACTERISTICS T
he Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (SCWT) is a working, sporting terrier. Th e breed originated in Ireland as an all purpose farm
dog that performed a variety of tasks: rid the farm of vermin, herd and guard sheep, hunt with his master, protect the family and farm. Sometimes referred to as the poor man’s Wolfhound, the SCWT had to do it all because “early in Britain’s history, ‘Laws of the Forest’ allowed only freemen and landowners to own hunting dogs. Th e poor tenant farmer and fisherman could not legally own any animal worth more than five pounds sterling.” 1 Th e ability to meet this demand for ver- satility is still evident in today’s SCWT. A continuum of temperaments and tenden- cies can be found among puppies from the same litter. Th is is not so astonishing, as children born of the same parents and raised in the same environment can be polar opposites in many characteristics. And as with humans, it is di ffi cult with SCWTs to ascribe a characteristic tenden- cy to a particular gender. Consequently, a cookbook description does not apply for all SCWTs. Th ey can be devoted companions or aloof co-inhabitants. Some are keenly interested in chasing squirrels and rabbits, while others could care less. During o ff - leash walks with their family, SCWTs have been known to circle their humans with apparent intent to keep the flock together. Others dart ahead tracking or hunting with no interest in checking back, let alone gathering the flock. Th ere are SCWTs that enjoy nothing more than a brisk jog with their owner and some must be persuaded to leave the couch for a leisurely walk. Th eir own agenda is paramount for many SCWTs. Others defer first to their master, then proceed with their own agen- da. After all, SCWTs are terriers. Unlike the Golden or Labrador Retrievers that seem intent on pleasing their humans,
the tenacity of terriers renders them more inclined to march to their own drummer and attempt to convince their human to pursue that agenda as well. Given this wide diversity in tempera- ments, it is important to work with a responsible breeder to select the right pup- py. Th e responsible breeder spends lots of time with their puppies and the prospec- tive owners in order to recommend the best match. No matter the individual dog’s innate tendencies, SCWTs are generally a hap- py-go-lucky, exuberant, fun loving dog. To help the SCWTs become model pets and companions, socialization and train- ing should begin early and occur often throughout their lives.
Puppy Kindergarten or Socializa- tion classes are highly recommended to expose young SCWTs to dogs and people of all shapes and sizes. It is important to frequently expose the SCWT youngster to all sorts of people, places, and pets, in and out of the home. As puppyhood turns to adulthood, many owners partic- ipate in performance classes to enhance socialization and discover what most interests their SCWT. Th ere is a vast array of activities that family members can enjoy throughout life with their SCTW: agility, flyball, herding, obedi- ence, therapy, tracking, tricks, to name only a few. SCWTs are considerably easier to live with, especially as puppies and youngsters,
1 Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America Judges Education CD 284 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , F EBRUARY 2015
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