One major difference between the Tibetan terrier and the soft coated wheaten terrier is that the former isn't a terrier at all. If you're specifically looking for a dog with terrier qualities, the Tibetan "terrier" lacks most of them -- he originated as a herding breed.
In Tibet, these dogs were known as holy dogs, as they were bred in monasteries and considered as exceptionally lucky canines. Included in the American Kennel Club's non-sporting group, they are companion dogs -- don't worry too much about excessive digging and the killing of small animals with this breed.
At maturity, the Tibetan terrier stands between 14 and 17 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 18 and 30 pounds. The soft coated wheaten terrier is somewhat larger, standing between 17 and 19 inches tall, and weighing between 30 and 40 pounds. The breed standard for the soft coated wheaten terrier specifies that males are larger than females.
Coat and Colors
The Tibetan terrier's double coat is thick, long and shaggy, and appears in any color. It may be wavy or straight. The soft coated wheaten terrier's coat is unique among terriers in that it isn't wiry, but consists of the single, soft coat that gives the breed its name. His hair is not just soft, but also silky, with a slight wave. Wheaten, which is the color of wheat, with a reddish gold tone, is the only permitted shade, but the breed standard states "any shade of wheaten." Thus, this terrier may appear in hues ranging from light tan to golden.
Grooming and Shedding
Neither breed sheds much, although the soft coated wheaten terrier may lose a few more hairs than the Tibetan terrier. Both require regular grooming, with the soft coated wheaten terrier necessitating a bit more work in this area as well. Without a good brushing several times a week, the coat of either breed can easily become a tangled mess.
If you live in a cold climate, the Tibetan terrier may be the better choice. Not only does he sport a heavy double coat, but his exceptionally large, flat paws give him good traction in snow.
Both breeds require a fair amount of exercise and adore their people. The soft coated wheaten terrier makes a somewhat better watchdog than the Tibetan terrier, but in true terrier fashion he also barks more. While both breeds usually get along well with other dogs and children, cats are another story. The Tibetan terrier generally tolerates felines, but the soft coated wheaten terrier sees them as prey. The exuberant soft wheaten terrier welcomes new people into the fold, while the sensible Tibetan terrier takes his time with strangers.