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Glen of Imaal Terrier

 Photo of Glen of Imaal Terrier
Photo: courtesy of Liz Gay

Glen of Imaal Terrier Books

Group: Terrier - Breed Standard


A native of the Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, Ireland, this terrier was first recognised by the IKC in 1934. However, there are records going back to the sixteenth century which describe a terrier of the same description as today's Glen of Imaal Terrier. The terrain around the Glen of Imaal was harsh and every available resource had to be utilised by the people who lived there, and this included dogs. A Glen was expected to hunt badger and fox, keep rabbit and rats down and in the sport of dog fighting maybe even earn its master an odd copper or two.


Maximum height at shoulder: 35-36 cms (14 ins).

A medium-sized terrier which has great strength and maximum substance for his size, with a body which is longer than it is high. Their head is of a good width and fair length, with a powerful foreface and strong jaws. The ears are small and rose or half pricked when alert and thrown back when in repose. Their neck is very muscular, leading to broad, muscular shoulders which are well laid back. Their short, well-boned forelegs are characteristically bowed and splayed. Their chest is wide and strong, strong hindquarters are well muscled with good thighs and a good bend of stifle. Their tail is customarily docked, but when undocked should be carried gaily. They are active and agile, working silently, and should be free in action, covering the ground effortlessly with good drive from behind. Their coat is of medium length with a harsh texture and soft undercoat. Colours can be blue, brindle and all shades of wheaten.


Their character has been described as "typically Irish" and they are a contradiction to themselves. The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a great gorgeous glutton. He is also an idle exasperating idiot. He will walk forever and possess muscles Mohammed Ali would be proud of... if he can be bothered to get out of bed! They will be friendly, aggravating, argumentative, lethal and very loving. They will adore you and follow the first person with food. They will obey you until there is something better to do. They will retrieve, herd, do obedience, agility and are the dimmest dogs that have ever been created. They will humour you, if they are doing nothing else. They reach "size" relatively quickly but are not considered really mature until five years old. They are quite biddable but can easily have a mind of their own which will not run along the same thought patterns as yours. They need very firm handling as youngsters but are often big soppy fools as adults. When raised with children they adore them. However, due to their size and weight they can be quite clumsy and one must be careful that they do not knock toddlers over in their enthusiasm. They are often not good with other animals. A Glen of Imaal Terrier is anything, and everything, you would wish from a dog and quite a few things you wish they were not!

Breed Health

Unfortunately, like many breeds now, there are increased reports of cancer being suffered, but they do not seem prone to any particular type. Some Glens have been known to be allergic to fleas, otherwise they are generally a healthy breed, living into their teens. Some instances of PRA have been seen worldwide in Glens. Responsible breeders test their breeding stock at the age of two years.

Breed Care

Feeding: A Glen eats! Size for size the appetite of a Glen is about equal with a Great Dane. If a young Glen is exercised correctly it is virtually impossible to overfeed it. One point worth note is that the currently very fashionable, mega-high protein premium complete foods are not suitable for the breed. As small puppies probably yes, but as they get older they are an old fashioned breed that requires old fashioned bulk. Glen of Imaal Terriers have to have something on their frames to turn into the bulk and muscle that is a hallmark of the breed. A streamlined puppy usually leads to an under developed adult.

Grooming: They are a hairy breed and the coat easily grows to around three inches in length and then it is "dropped" in readiness for a new one. Terriers do not moult, however, they do require trimming. On average it appears a Glen needs stripping every six months. Once stripped it is mainly a question of waiting for the coat to grow; there is not the continual work as required by some other terrier breeds. Some additional work is required if the showring is intended but for the companion Glen the coat, if combed and brushed regularly, is easy to look after.


Despite the Glen's "strange" front assembly their movement is in no way restricted, and they can easily cope with any amount of exercise you wish to give them. Like any other dog they require daily exercise to keep fit and health. Exercise should always be given on a lead.


When it comes to training a Glen, the most important criteria is that you have a lot of patience! They expect to be consulted on all things and after due consideration they may agree to go along with your ideas! See our books on training

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Last link added: 24 Nov, 2006