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Glen of Imaal Terrier standing in three-quarter view
©American Kennel Club
  • The Glen of Imaal Terrier has been used to hunt small prey in Ireland since the 16th century.
  • Glens’ heritage make them excellent competitors at Earthdog trials.
  • They love to play, but may inadvertently overpower smaller children with their might.

The Glen of Imaal is a remote valley in Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains, and also the origin of this hardy, intelligent, and friendly terrier. Legend has it that the breed is the result of crossing native Irish dogs with the hounds of Flemish and lowland soldiers sent to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth I in the 1570s. 

Here’s everything else you need to know about the Glen of Imaal Terrier:

1. The Glen of Imaal Terrier was first bred as a working dog.

They were bred to hunt small prey such as rats, as well as larger targets such as foxes and badgers (which could weigh more than the dogs, at up to 40 lbs). According to legend, Glens also had a role in the kitchen, turning a specially designed meat-cooking device called a turnspit—think of a dog-operated rotisserie. Today, they remain strong, fast-learning, game dogs.

2. The Glen of Imaal Terrier is known for its hardy, gentle character.

Glens don’t tend to bark much—perhaps because they were bred to be silent while working. And they’re known for being gentler in disposition than most other terriers. Some people describe them as “stoic.”

Glen of Imaal Terrier

3. “Small, but strong” is an oft-used description of the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

They only stand up to 14 inches tall and weigh up to 40 pounds, but Glens have surprisingly muscular hindquarters. In fact, Glen lovers sometimes call them “big dogs on short legs.”

4. Glen of Imaal Terriers tend to excel at Earthdog trials.

Like most terriers, Glens love to dig and catch whatever they can find in the ground—and no wonder, since they were bred to hunt household pests. This makes Earthdog the perfect sport for a Glen, allowing them to find a scent, follow it, enter a den, and work with a quarry.

5. The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a rough double coat.

Glens have a wiry outer coat and a soft undercoat, and they need to be brushed two to three times a week to avoid matting, especially around the ears, neck, legs, and belly. They should also be stripped two or three times a year. Though they do shed seasonally, shedding will be minimal as long as they receive this care.

6. Moderate exercise is required for Glen of Imaal Terriers.

With their little legs, these dogs won’t be good jogging partners. They do enjoy walks at a pace that suits them—though they’re just as happy playing around in a house, apartment, or yard. They’re independent-minded and able to make their own entertainment.

7. Glen of Imaal Terriers are intelligent and fast-learning.

They’re naturally suited for Earthdog, but with some training they can also be excellent at AgilityObedience, and even Rally—though like all terriers, their independence can be a challenge when it comes to taking orders. Early puppy and obedience training can keep those stubborn tendencies in check.

8. Though overall a healthy breed, they can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and eye disorders such as cone rod deficiency.

Responsible breeders will screen for these disorders before breeding—and you can ask to see the proof of screening. You can find more information about the health needs of Glens at the Canine Health Information Center.

9. Glen of Imaal Terriers don’t always get along with other dogs.

As independent-minded dogs, some Glens show dog-aggressive tendencies as they get older. Buying from a reputable breeder who socializes puppies properly, as well as committing to ample training early in your dog’s life, should help nip any aggressive tendencies in the bud. 

10. Glen of Imaal Terriers generally love children.

Glens love to play, so they’re well suited to life with children. But don’t be deceived by their diminutive size: these are powerful, muscular dogs who might play too rough for small children.

Purchasing and Registering your Glen of Imaal Terrier

Think the hardy, intelligent Glen of Imaal Terrier is the breed for you? Check out Glen of Imaal Terrier puppies on the AKC Marketplace.

After becoming the owner of a Glen of Imaal Terrier, it is important to register your dog. Why? The AKC is the only purebred dog registry in the United States that maintains an investigation and inspection effort. The AKC conducts thousands of inspections each year to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of dogs and the environments in which they live.

You can register your dog here, and you will receive your official AKC certificate in the mail. There are many other benefits, including a complimentary first vet visit, 30 days of pet insurance, and eligibility to compete in AKC events and sports.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Products You May Like:

Glen of Imaal Terrier Coffee Mug

What can make a well-designed, sizable coffee mug even better? If it’s adorned with an image of a Glen! Get a few for your house or office. It even makes a great gift for the terrier lovers in your life. Price: $15


Glen of Imaal Terrier Slate Sign

Home is where the dog is… especially if there’s a sign featuring your favorite Glen of Imaal Terrier. Choose your favorite scenic background: the mountains, the beach, the lake, a field or the yard. Whatever shows off your Glen the best. Price: $50



Learn More About Other Dog Breeds From Ireland:

Irish Setter

Kerry Blue Terrier

Irish Wolfhound
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