Glen of Imaal Terrier

Typically Feisty, the Small Glen of Imaal Terrier is Also a Gentle, Loving Pet

Resilient and ready for anything, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a small dog that thinks it's a big one. Usually weighing less than 40 pounds in adulthood, the "Glen" has been called "a big dog on short legs," in that it is a dwarf breed. Sturdy and low to the ground, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is more reserved and patient than many Terrier breeds, and is gentle and loving with the family – but just as bold and vigorous as you might expect of a Terrier when the need – or urge – arises.


Nestled in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland is a remote valley, the Glen of Imaal. In the 1570s, Flemish mercenary soldiers were allowed to settle there by Elizabeth I as a reward for their assistance in subduing Irish rebels. They brought their small, rough-coated French hounds that looked much like the Basset Fauve de Bretagne or the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen; these hounds mated with local Irish dogs, who were mostly Terriers. The resulting breed was a good hunter; it was first bred to rid the home and farm of vermin, and to hunt fox and badger. Interestingly, it also performed another unique task – running on a wheel in "hamster fashion" as a means to turn a spit over a fire.

Glen of Imaal Terriers remained isolated and limited to their little valley until 1870, when Terrier-type dogs began to be shown in Lisburn. One of them was today's Glen of Imaal Terrier. In 1933, the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of Ireland was formed, and although the breed was nearly extinct thanks to World War II, it began to recover more than 30 years later.

In the 1930s, immigrant families brought some Glen of Imaal Terriers to the United States, but there was relatively little interest in the breed until the 1980s. In 2004, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club. Today, although the breed is still rare in the United States, it is very much celebrated in the Glen of Imaal.


Rectangular in shape and with a medium length double coat, the Glen of Imaal Terrier can be blue – ranging from slate to silver; or wheaten – ranging from cream to red; or brindle. With short legs, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is longer than it is tall, with a height of about 12 to 14 inches in adulthood, and an adult weight of 30 to 40 pounds. The undercoat is soft and the outer coat is harsh, perfectly suited to stand up to the elements. The front feet are distinctively turned out and the legs are bowed. With intelligent brown eyes peering out from beneath what can be shaggy brows, the Glen of Imaal Terrier finishes its perfect, quizzical look with a button black nose and rose-shaped ears that are perpetually perky and enhance the quizzical look unless the dog is alert; then, they lie back against the head.


A unique "all-in-one" package, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is mix of two contrasting temperaments: both bold and fearless as well as docile and gentle. Independent like most Terriers, this breed is a "large dog in a small body," and quite feisty if need be. Exceedingly intelligent and very devoted to those it loves, this pup has a surprisingly deep bark that sounds like it belongs to a much larger dog. As a courageous, loving pet, it will do its very utmost to protect you in the event of perceived or real danger.

Not surprisingly, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a working dog – and this will be true of your pet as well, even if you truly only want your beloved family member to be a companion. Therefore, be careful to keep in mind that your dog is a Terrier first and foremost, with a strong prey drive, an absolute need to dig, and boundless curiosity. Keep your pet in a securely fenced-in, safe place – make sure the fence is dig-proof – when not on a leash. Give it lots of exercise, with a daily walk and plenty of opportunity to use that intelligence and energy.

It might surprise you to know that this dog is not a strong swimmer, so make sure that you have a securely fenced-in pool if you have one. As with any vulnerable “child,” a pool poses many dangers.

Finally, although the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a lovely dog, it is a Terrier, so make sure you socialize, socialize, socialize, socialize, and socialize some more as soon as you bring your puppy home. The Glen of Imaal Terrier doesn't like to fight – but if another dog steps up to the plate, your pet won't back down. Because your pet is so eager and will soak up knowledge whether you give it or not, it's useful to put your puppy in training classes as soon as possible, at 10 to 12 weeks.

Finally, it can take a couple of years for your pet to reach its full maturity. Until then, keep in mind that you've got a puppy in the house for all intents and purposes, and proceed accordingly.


The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a healthy, hardy dog, with a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years. However, Glen of Imaal Terriers are prone to certain common health conditions, including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism. You should get health clearances from your breeder for these conditions which can be checked on the OFA web site ( You should also get thrombopathia certification for your puppy from Auburn University, and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation confirming that your puppy's eyes are normal, since the breed is also prone to progressive retinal atrophy. Dogs' eyes should be tested and certified yearly until the age of eight.


The Glen of Imaal Terrier sheds very little, and if you're not planning on showing your pet, you can simply let your pet go "natural." Trim as needed or "strip" for show.

Your pet's teeth should also be brushed at least 2 to 3 times a week, daily if your pet will allow.

Trim nails once or twice a month if they aren't worn down naturally and check ears weekly for redness, which can indicate infection. Wipe ears out with a cotton ball that's been dipped in a mild pH balanced cleanser. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear. Your pet won't like having its feet handled, and may also disagree with having you look in its mouth, but if you start early and reward often, you'll make it much easier.


Glen of Imaal Terrier.

Retrieved May 18, 2015.

Glen of Imaal Terrier.

Retrieved May 18, 2015.

Glen of Imaal Terrier.

Retrieved May 18, 2015.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Dog Breed.

Retrieved May 18, 2015.

Glen of Imaal Terrier (Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier).

Retrieved May 18, 2015.

Glen of Imaal Terrier.

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