The Wheaten was bred in Ireland for over two hundred years to be an all-purpose farm dog whose duties included herding, watching and guarding livestock, and vermin hunting and killing. They share a common ancestry with the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier but were not owned by gentry. In Ireland, they were commonly referred to as the "Poor Man's Wolfhound." Their tails used to be docked to avoid taxes and were often kept to a specific size.
Despite its long history, the Wheaten was not recognised as a breed in Ireland by the Irish Kennel Club until 1937. In 1943, the British Kennel Club recognised the breed in the UK as well. The first Wheatens were exported to Lydia Vogel in the United States in the 1940s, but serious interest in the breed took another ten years to develop. In the 1970s, the first Wheatens were imported into Australia by Anubis Kennels. Finally, in 1973, they were recognised by the American Kennel Club. Recent importation of Irish-style dogs have improved and broadened the gene pool. Today, Wheatens compete in obedience, agility, and tracking and are occasionally used in animal-assisted therapy as well.