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Glen of Imaal Terrier


The Glen of Imaal Terrier, also known as the Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier, the Glen of Imaal and simply the Glen, is a game, resilient terrier with a big dog attitude and very short legs. They are outstanding earthdogs and loyal companions, as long as their owners understand the terrier temperament and the rigors of maintaining its coat. The Glen of Imaal Terrier was accepted into the American Kennel Club's Miscellaneous Class in 2001. It achieved full AKC recognition as part of the Terrier Group in 2004.
The average Glen of Imaal Terrier stands 12½ to a maximum of 14 inches at the withers and normally weighs approximately 35 pounds. Their harsh, medium-length double coat should be brushed regularly and hand stripped several times a year. The hair around their face and between their toes must be trimmed regularly as well. Glens can be blue, brindle or wheaten, which includes all shades from cream to red.

History & Health


The Glen of Imaal Terrier was developed in the 1800s in one of Ireland's most remote valley regions, which explains why the breed is largely unknown even among dog fanciers. It descended from three other terrier breeds native to Ireland: the Kerry Blue, the Soft Coated Wheaten and the Irish terriers. Because evolution of the Glen of Imaal was until recently geographically isolated, much is actually known about its development. Sometime around 1570, Queen Elizabeth hired Flemish and Lowland soldiers to quell uprisings in Ireland. She offered them land in the largely barren mountains of the Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, Ireland, as payment for their allegiance. The soldiers settled in that isolated region and brought their dogs with them. Among these was a low-slung, rough-coated hound purportedly of French descent, which subsequently cross-bred with indigenous Irish hounds and terrier-types.
Eventually, the settlers began to develop a particular type of terrier that could perform more than the traditional terrier tasks of dispatching vermin and hunting fox and badger. They wanted a specialized dog that also could work a "turnspit," which was a large treadmill-like wheel attached to a pulley that in turn was connected to a rotisserie-like device over a fire or hearth. The terrier was put into the wheel, and when he started trotting, the spit turned and dinner was cooked or butter was churned. The Glen of Imaal Terrier became the perfect ratting and working dog in this remote corner of the world.
When dog shows became fashionable in the early to mid-1800s, the breed gained wider recognition. By 1933, the Irish Kennel Club recognized the Glen of Imaal as a distinct breed, the third of Ireland's four terrier breeds. The breed's popularity waned during the World Wars, and by the 1950s precious few remained. A few fanciers did what they could to salvage the breed in its homeland, and by 1971, a new breed association was formed. Apparently, several Glens were brought to the United States in the 1930s with their immigrant owners. The breed finally gained a true following here in the early 1980s, when breed pioneers in Missouri imported foundation stock from Ireland, England and Finland. The Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America was founded shortly thereafter, and the breed became eligible for the American Kennel Club's Miscellaneous class in September of 2001. Glens achieved full AKC registration and eligibility for membership in the Terrier Group in 2004.


The average life span of a Glen of Imaal Terrier is 12 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include skin allergies and a degenerative eye disorder known as progressive retinal atrophy.

Temperament & Personality


The scrappy Glen of Imaal Terrier originated as a hunter of rodents, fox and badgers. Their fearlessness, speed, and ability to rouse animals from their dens made them efficient in the field, as did their unique ability to hunt silently. Today, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is still fearless and strong and functions mainly as a family companion. Like all Terriers, the Glen of Imaal has an independent streak and likes to be the boss of all situations. Though he doesn't bark as often as his terrier cousins, when a Glen barks, many people do a double take. His voice is strong and deep, and sounds like it should be coming from a much bigger animal. They are generally not as high strung as other terriers and are more patient with children than their counterparts.

Activity Requirements

These little guys don't need an excessive amount of exercise, but enjoy the outdoors and should be walked daily and allowed to run whenever possible. Exercise should be conducted in a fenced area or on a leash, as their chasing instincts are strong and will quickly disappear after cats, squirrels, birds and even bikes or cars.
They are fine for apartments and condos, as well as large homes with yards. They are an adaptable breed and can adjust their own energy levels to the energy level of their owner, however daily walks are still required.


Their willful terrier nature can make the Glen of Imaal a challenge to train, but with gentle, patient and consistent leadership, this breed picks up on new tasks quickly and can excel in advanced training activities. Training should be conducted in short sessions so the Glen doesn't lose interest, and should include lots of treats. They do not respond to harsh treatment or discipline, and these tactics can often backfire, producing a stubborn dog who won't listen to anybody.
Socialization should be conducted early and often, as the Glen of Imaal can be standoffish with new people. Teaching them to accept new people and new situations as welcome experiences can help keep their temperament even.

Behavioral Traits

Though they aren't as "yappy" as other terriers, the Glen of Imaal is still a bit of a barker, especially if someone rings the doorbell. This makes them excellent watchdogs, but if left unchecked, their barking can get out of hand and drive neighbors crazy. Proper socialization and training to obey commands to cease barking are important.
Glens are more patient with small children than other terriers, but are still not well suited for families with toddlers in the house. Small children don't know enough about boundaries, and the way a Glen lets his boundaries known can be to snap. They are fine with older children, however.

Never leave a Glen of Imall terrier unsupervised in the yard. They are serious diggers and can tear up a flowerbed in record time. They have also been known to dig under fences in search of adventure.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Glen of Imaal Terrier, named for the region in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland where it was developed long ago, is a medium sized working terrier. Longer than tall and sporting a double coat of medium length, the Glen possesses great strength and should always convey the impression of maximum substance for size of dog. Unrefined to this day, the breed still possesses "antique" features once common to many early terrier types; its distinctive head with rose or half-prick ears, its bowed forequarters with turned out feet, its unique outline and topline are hallmarks of the breed and essential to the breed type.

Size, Proportion Substance
Height - The maximum height is 14 inches with a minimum of 12½ inches, measured at the highest point of the shoulder blades. Weight - Weight is approximately 35 pounds, bitches somewhat less; however, no Glen in good condition and otherwise well-balanced shall be penalized for being slightly outside the suggested weight. Length – The length of body, measured from sternum to buttocks, and height measured from the highest point of the shoulder blades to ground, to be in a ratio of approximately 5 (length) to 3 (height). The overall balance is more important than any single specification.

Head - The head must be powerful and strong with no suggestion of coarseness. Impressive in size yet in balance with, and in proportion to, the overall size and symmetry of the dog. Eyes - Brown, medium size, round and set well apart. Light eyes should be penalized. Ears - Small, rose or half pricked when alert, thrown back when in repose. Set wide apart and well back on the top outer edge of the skull. Full drop or prick ears undesirable. Skull - Broad and slightly domed; tapering slightly towards the brow. Of fair length, distance from stop to occiput being approximately equal to distance between ears. Muzzle - Foreface of power, strong and well filled below the eyes, tapering toward the nose. Ratio of length of muzzle to length of skull is approximately three (muzzle) to five (skull.) Bottlehead or narrow foreface undesirable. Stop - Pronounced. Nose - Black. Teeth - Set in a strong jaw, sound, regular, and of good size. Full dentition. Scissors bite preferred; level mouth accepted.

Neck, Topline and Body
Neck - Very muscular and of moderate length. Topline - Straight, slightly rising to a very strong well-muscled loin with no drop-off at the croup. Body - Deep, long and fully muscled. Longer than high with the ideal ratio of body length to shoulder height approximately five (length) to three (height). Chest - Wide, strong and deep, extending below the elbows. Ribs - Well sprung with neither a flat nor a barrel appearance. Loin - Strong and well muscled. Tail - Docked to approximately half-length, in balance with the overall dog and long enough to allow a good handhold. Strong at root, well set on and carried gaily. Dogs with undocked tails not to be penalized.

Shoulder - Well laid back, broad and muscular. Forelegs - Short, bowed and well boned. Forearm should curve slightly around the chest. Upper arm (humerus) nearly equal in length to the shoulder blades (scapula). Feet to turn out slightly but perceptibly from pasterns. Feet - Compact and strong with rounded pads.

Strong and well muscled, with ample bone and in balance with forequarters. Good bend of stifle and a well-defined second thigh. Hocks turn neither in nor out, are short, well let down and perpendicular from hock to ground. Feet - As front, except they should point forward.

Medium length, of harsh texture with a soft undercoat. The coat may be tidied to present a neat outline characteristic of a rough-and-ready working terrier. Over trimming of dogs is undesirable.

Wheaten, blue or brindle. Wheaten includes all shades from cream to red wheaten. Blue may range from silver to deepest slate, but not black. Brindle may be any shades but is most commonly seen as blue brindle, a mixture of dark blue, light blue, and tan hairs in any combination or proportion.

The action should be free and even, covering the ground effortlessly with good reach in front and good drive behind. This is a working terrier, which must have the agility, freedom of movement and endurance to do the work for which it was developed.

Game and spirited with great courage when called upon, otherwise gentle and docile. Although generally less easily excited than other terriers, the Glen is always ready to give chase. When working they are active, agile, silent and dead game.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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