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How Long Do Wheaten Terriers Live? Average Lifespan, Data & Care

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By Kerry-Ann Kerr

A Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier sitting in grassy ground and looking at camera

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The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier originated in Ireland around 200 years ago. They are medium-sized dogs bred to protect property, herd livestock, and kill pests like rodents. They were also cuddly companions to their owners, and arguably, not much has changed. Wheaten Terriers still have a protective streak over their homes and families, and they love cuddles.

Wheaten Terriers have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, which is quite typical for a dog this size. If you’re considering getting a Wheaten Terrier, you might wonder what goes into their care so you can decide if they fit your family. Below, we’ll discuss their lifespan and care requirements so you can help your pet enjoy a long and happy life.

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Wheaten Terriers Average Lifespan

As mentioned, the average lifespan of the Wheaten Terrier is 12–14 years, which is affected by several factors, including their care, environment, and health conditions they might be prone to.

Although the things we do can impact how long your pet lives, when it comes to genetics, some factors are out of our control. However, by providing your pet with the best diet, medical care, and love, you can certainly make a difference.

Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier standing and looking directly at camera
Image Credit: bohemama, Shutterstock

How to Care for Your Wheaten Terrier for a Long Lifespan

Feeding & Diet

Wheaten Terriers don’t need anything specific from their diet, but you can support your dog’s health by feeding them high-quality, nutritious dog food to suit their needs. This breed can suffer with skin allergies, so it is worth investing in a high quality, low allergen food for your dog.

Wheaten Terriers are prone to putting on weight, so you need a formula that will match their energy output. Look for brands with meat proteins listed at the beginning of the ingredients, such as turkey, chicken, and beef. Your veterinarian can help you if you’re overwhelmed by your choices.

Environment and Care

It’s up to you to ensure that the environment you’re bringing your Wheaten Terrier into provides safety, comfort, and a place they can call home. They require a place to play and relax that will meet all of their needs, and if their environment fails them, it can cause stress and anxiety, which can become aggressive.

Wheaten Terriers have medium to high energy requirements that don’t diminish as they age. Daily exercise is vital, and they’ll need a home with a large, fenced-in yard where they can run and play. Playing fetch, going for long walks, and training them in agility trials are excellent activities for keeping them fit and healthy.

Their history as rat-catchers means they are always on the lookout for something to chase and catch, so games and activities that use those skills will help them feel satisfied and prevent them from becoming bored.

wheaten terrier dog training
Image Credit: Denis Babenko, Shutterstock

Grooming

The Wheaten Terrier is a low-shedding dog, but they are considered high-maintenance pets regarding grooming. They need to be brushed every day to avoid mats and tangles. The hair around their eyes and ears needs to be trimmed regularly, and you can take them to a professional if you are uncomfortable cutting their hair.

You should also inspect their ears regularly for signs of inflammation, debris, or infection. Their teeth should be brushed twice a day or at least three times a week.

You can introduce a brushing session into their routine as soon as possible so they are used to it by the time they are adults. They also need their nails cut regularly, especially if they walk on softer surfaces like grass.

Exercise

Your Wheaten Terrier requires plenty of exercise to keep in shape, but exercise is also good for your dog’s mental health. They thrive with variety, and you can introduce hiking, walking, playing, and running to keep them motivated and healthy.

The Wheaten Terrier has a high prey drive and requires training and early socialization to stop them from chasing small animals or neighborhood cats. They benefit from having a fenced-in yard where they can run free, but make sure it’s secure because Terriers are known to dig or jump fences if there’s something they want on the other side!

wheaten terrier dog playing outdoor
Image Credit: Denis Babenko, Shutterstock

Training

Training might not seem like an aspect that will affect your dog’s lifespan, but it all contributes to their care. A dog that doesn’t come back when called can be a real safety risk, and a poorly socialized terrier can end up being limited to staying at home and not getting the most out of life. The Wheaten Terrier is known to bark, and many owners must work with them to reduce the habit. Consistency and patience are required when training your Terrier; they are known for being stubborn.

Positive reinforcement is vital for training, and harsh words and corrections will only frighten your dog. Keep training sessions short and sweet; every small step should be met with praise and positive attention.

Healthcare

The Wheaten Terrier is relatively healthy, but it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the health problems they can encounter. Wheaten Terriers can develop retinal atrophy, hip and renal dysplasia, and Addison’s disease.

If you adopt your dog, determining their health history can be difficult, but if you get your dog from a reputable breeder, you can always look to their parents for an idea of how healthy they might be. Documents confirming prior veterinary visits and vaccinations provide more helpful information, and should be offered freely by an ethical breeder.

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The Life Stages of a Wheaten Terrier

Puppy and Young Adult

Generally, your Wheaten Terrier will be fully mature at around 18-24 months, but they will reach their adult height at around 6 to 8 months old. Your dog will be full of energy during this time, and you will need to put lots of time into socialization and training to ensure they grow into a confident, well-rounded adult.

Your veterinarian will also create a vaccination schedule for you to follow, which you should keep up with to ensure your dog remains healthy throughout their life.

brown Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier with a Puppy haircut
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Adult

Your Wheaten Terrier will retain some of their puppy qualities at first, as they don’t fully mature until they are 2-3 years old. Their development will be gradual, and you won’t notice drastic changes as you did during the puppy stage.

They start to slow down as they age, but like most terriers, have more energy than some other breeds. Ensure you keep up with regular vet visits since any problems with their health can be caught early and addressed.

Senior

At around 9 years old, your Wheaten is considered a senior. They will slow considerably and will spend more time sleeping. Most dogs will start to show signs of arthritis at this stage, and while the intensity of their exercise should gradually be reduced, it’s still important to keep them up and moving, for both their physical health and mental stimulation.

old dog Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier in the park
Image Credit: WeStudio, Shutterstock

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How to Tell Your Wheaten Terrier’s Age

The age of an adopted dog is much trickier to determine than one from a breeder, who will provide you with documentation to tell you your dog’s precise age. However, there are ways to estimate your dog’s age.

Determining the age of puppies is relatively straightforward; they should have all their deciduous (puppy) teeth by the time they are 6-8 weeks old, and when they are 3-4 months old, these start to be replaced by their permanent (adult) teeth, which will all be fully erupted by the age of 6 months.

Your vet can often give you an idea of your dog’s age between 6 months and 2 years, but it is more difficult to accurately tell the age of an adult dog.

When a dog reaches 7-8 years, they start to develop a condition called nuclear sclerosis, which is seen as a cloudy or hazy appearance within the pupil. This is quite different to cataracts, which appear as more solid, pearlescent material. Nuclear sclerosis, or lenticular sclerosis, is a completely normal aging process of the lens. It does not significantly impact vision, but over time it can have a dimming effect on your dog’s sight, so they may be a bit more wary of the dark.

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Conclusion

Wheaten Terriers live 12–14 years, and several factors, such as their lifestyle, nutrition, environment, and overall health, will affect this number. While many of the factors that impact our dog’s lifespan are out of our hands, we can have a significant effect on the quality and length of their lives. Keeping up with scheduled vet visits, providing high-quality food, keeping them enriched and active, and most importantly, providing them with lots of love, will help keep your Wheaten Terrier happy and healthy, and hopefully around for a long time!


Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

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