Breed standards are often subject to interpretation (is your idea of “medium boned” the same as someone else’s?), and “types” can exist in the same breed – field versus bench, for example. Other breeds can be similar and share the same name, but depending upon who is being asked, differences in size, color, shape and personality may enough to be considered as variations in one breed, if not two different breeds: The American Akita and Japanese Akita (or Akita Inu) come to mind.
With regards to the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, some may hear the terms, “North American” (or just “American”), and “Irish,” and wonder if, like the Akita, they are different enough from each other to be almost different breeds altogether.
“Irish” and the “North American” refer to coat. Both are single coated, but the “Irish” type is less full (some might say “sparse”), lays closer to the body, and is wavy, soft and silky. Because this coat grows slower, it can take a few years for it to look its best, and until that point of maturity comes, such puppies can look endearingly scruffy. Some feel that Irish type coats also tend to be lighter colored.
The “North American” coat, while also soft, is full and lavish from an early age. Puppy coats can mat quickly, but the coat becomes easier to maintain in adulthood. These coats soak more easily in rain since they don’t contain the natural oil found in the other type of coat.
Experienced breeders will say they’ve encountered every variation of coat between the two mentioned above, and in the end, all Wheatens can claim ancestry in the Irish working man’s dog: A versatile, intelligent and tough all-purpose farm dog.