Key Facts about the Health of your Wheaten Terrier

On the whole the Wheaten Terrier is a healthy and robust dog, but does have genetic predispositions to certain diseases. Although it is important that owners are aware of these, it must be remembered that the majority of Wheatens live long and active lives.

The WHEATEN HEALTH HANDBOOK summarises the information given on this site. Go to the Health Handbook page for more information.

Select each Section header for more information

It is important that owners learn to recognise the signs of the diseases that may affect their Wheatens'.

In this way the chances of catching a disease in its early stages are increased and therefore the opportunity to do something to prevent the situation from becoming any more serious or life threatening may present itself.

Firstly educate yourself about your breed:

  • Read the material available on Wheaten health and canine health in general.
  • Learn the symptoms of those problems that could affect your dog's health.
  • Test your dog to establish the baseline for your dog and then test annually, even if your Wheaten is not showing signs of it being unwell
  • Learn how to monitor your Wheaten's health i.e. the various tests you can do.
  • Familiarise yourself with the purpose of each test and learn what each result means.
  • Keep records of all testing in a file or by using WatchDog*(UK) Health Tracker. (Please contact us for further details)
  • Please inform your breeder if your dog has a hereditary or other medical condition and consider sharing your health information with your respective breed club and also the SCWTCA Endowment Inc. Pedigree and Health Database, details on this page.

Every dog is individual and what may be considered "normal" for one dog may differ slightly for another.

If you were to compare any of your dog's test results, including temperature and respiration rates, with another owner's results, you might find this was the case.

However, any large discrepancies in values may need further investigation.

A first blood/urine test you will establish a baseline for your dog and each test after can be seen as a "snapshot" of your Wheaten's health.

In order to monitor your dog's health correctly, it is important to ask for a copy of the test results from your vet and to keep them on file (or use WatchDog*UK Health Tracker), so that you can compare later test results with earlier ones.

In this way you will be able to identify any variations in your Wheaten's health, but bear in mind that your dog could just be having an "off" day at the time of the test. However, if later testing shows a developing trend, you would be wise to consult your vet.

See also the Grooming and Care - Basic Guidelines page for more information.

Try to develop a good working relationship with your vet.

When choosing a vet ask if they are familiar with the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and its medical conditions.

A copy of ‘Testing Protocols’ should be taken to your Vet and you should ask if they are able to follow these Breed health protocols.

If your vet is not familiar with the breed, suggest that you could provide further information on Wheaten health issues.

Keep records to ensure that testing takes place annually.

Please download and give Documents 1 and 2 to your veterinarian:

1. Annual testing for healthy dogs (a quick guide) use this pdf (opens in a new page)

2. Recommendations Concerning Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN) in SCWT, available on pdf (opens in new page)

Feeding your Wheaten

There are as many answers to what to feed your Wheaten as there are different dog foods.  We do not recommend any specific dog food or feeding method.

We do want to explode a couple of myths:

Myth 1 - Wheatens must be fed a special diet to avoid PLE or PLN.

  • There is no specific diet that will avoid your dog getting one of these diseases.  Dogs that are diagnosed with these or any other illnesses may be prescribed a specific diet by their veterinarian.

Myth 2 - Wheatens are allergic to certain foods and ingredients.

  • Just because your dog is a Wheaten does not mean he is allergic to or has intolerance for certain ingredients such as chicken or grains.  Individual dogs of any breed can have an allergy or intolerance for any one of the many ingredients that are in dog foods

As with anything concerning your dog’s health, WHI & SCWTCA encourages you to consult your breeder and your veterinarian.

The following sections show basic parameters.


The average canine gestation period is about 63 days.

Body Height and Weight: Kennel Club Breed Standards for the Wheaten Terrier states:

wheaten image

Height: measured at the point of withers


UK 18-19½ inches/46-49cms

IKC & USA 18-19 inches/46-48cm


IKC & UK Somewhat less

USA 17-18 inches/43-46cms



UK 35-45 pounds/16-20.5 kgs

IKC 40-45 pounds/18-20.5 kgs

USA 35-40 pounds/16-18 kgs


IKC & UK Somewhat less

USA 30-35 pounds/13.6-16 kgs

Note: weight should be in relation to height

Every dog is an individual therefore the above measurements are approximations

A dogs temperature is usually 38 to 39.2°C, (100.5 to 102.5°F) but the table shows what other ranges of temperature could mean:

Degrees Centigrade (°C)Degrees Fahrenheit (°F)Possible Cause
36.698Hypothermia - keep your dog warm
38 - 39.2100.5 - 102.5Normal temperature
39.4103Moderate fever
40104High fever
41.1106Heatstroke - cool down immediately

A dog's body temperature is usually measured using a rectal thermometer and can vary between 37.2°C to 39.2°. This can be dependent on a number of reasons; emotional state, level of activity, environment and even time of day.

Temperatures outside these values do not automatically indicate that a disease or a disorder is present.

However if your dog's temperature drops below 37.2°C (99°F), or rises above 40°C (104°F), then this is cause for concern and you should contact your vet immediately.

In the Snow Here is a link to a website (from a Verinarian in Alaska) which gives useful information of treatment should your dog suffer from pododermatitis: red, swollen, itchy feet, caused by exposure to snow and ice.


Hair Flow Chart – single coat

A Wheaten coat is hair, not fur and care should be taken in hot weather

air flow


Dogs do not have sweat glands, other than on their footpads, they have to pant in order to reduce their body temperature. However panting would not help in reducing the dog's temperature if it is suffering from heatstroke.

What you should do:

Remove your dog from direct sunlight and establish a good flow of air around the dog - use an elctric fan if possible.

Jamie says Keep Cool

The dog should not be immersed in ice or ice-cold water. To decrease the dog's temperature use cool water and damp cloths or a spray bottle if available, particularly under the front armpits, the groin and the flanks. Contact your Vet immediately and follow their instructions, they may want to check the core body temperature and give further treatment.

Never leave your dog in a car on hot day. This link is to an article which provides more information (opens in a new page).

A study by Nottingham Trent University monitored temperatures in empty cars in the UK every day for two years and found that they exceeded 25° Celsius (77° Fahrenheit) every month, high enough to cause overheating in some breeds.

Pulse Rate: generally 70 - 120 beats/minute

Pulse rate is the number of heart beats per minute. Larger dogs have slower rates than small dogs, and dogs that are in good physical condition will have lower heart rates than dogs of similar age and size who are not physically fit.

Puppies typically have higher heart rates, up to 180 beats per minute is normal up to one year of age.

Respiration Rate: 18 - 34 breaths/minute

Respiratory rate is the number of breaths per minute. Normal respiratory rates are assessed when the dog is resting. A dog that is in pain, having heart or respiratory problems, suffering from heatstroke, or simply excited, will usually have an increased respiratory rate. Assess at the overall situation and condition to make a proper assessment.

Blood Pressure

A healthy dogs blood pressure should be around 147/83. A reading of around 170/110 indicates hypertension (high blood pressure) and Veterinary help should be quickly obtained.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, a graph gives rough comparisons of dog to human ages.

Graph of approximate dog years compared to human years (defined as how much each species ages in a year), allowing for differing sizes of dog. For data sources click here.

Graph - dog years to human years

The green line would be within the weight range for a Wheaten, so for example, a Wheaten on its 15th birthday would roughly equate to an 83 year old human.

Caring for your aging Dog - have a look at the article on this subject on pages 11-13 in Newsletter 22 March 2012