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Photo courtesy of Blake Williams, AKC Breeder of Merit

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a rare dog breed that hails from Ireland. Glens, as they are often called, are small, sturdy canines that excel at Earthdog challenges. Here are some more interesting facts about the Glen of Imaal Terrier:

1. They Are From a Remote Valley in Ireland

The Glen of Imaal is actually a place in Ireland. “Glen” is another word for a narrow valley, and the Glen of Imaal is a valley in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains, which are located south of Dublin. This is where the Glen of Imaal Terrier developed.

2. They Are a Product of Irish Rebellion

When the Irish rebelled against British rule in 1570, Queen Elizabeth sent Flemish and lowland soldiers to crush the rebellion. In exchange for their services, Elizabeth gave the soldiers land to settle in the Glen of Imaal. These soldiers brought their hound dogs with them, and before long, their hounds were breeding with native Irish dogs. These crosses produced the modern Glen of Imaal Terrier.

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3. They Were Bred to Hunt Vermin

The foreign settlers of the Glen of Imaal bred their dogs to hunt vermin, foxes, and badgers. To this day, Glens have retained their instinct to hunt small animals. They excel at Earthdog tests, which require dogs to hunt prey underground.

4. They Also Operated Turnspits

According to legend, the Glens had another responsibility in addition to hunting vermin: cooking dinner. Apparently, the settlers of the Wicklow Mountains cooked meat with turnspits that were fashioned so their dogs could operate them. The turnspit was connected to a contraption like a hamster wheel; when the dog walked on the wheel, he would make the meat turn over the fire.

5. They Excelled at Early Irish Dog Shows

An early Irish dog show took place in 1870 in Lisburn, less than two decades after the very first modern dog show in England. The winner for the Terrier class that year was described as: “Not high on the leg, longer than tall, not straight in front, turned-out feet, and a slatey-brindle color. The long and useful type of Irish terrier one associates with County Wicklow.”

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Photo courtesy of Jo Lynn, Breeder of Merit

6. They Almost Became Extinct

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has always been a rare breed, but their numbers dwindled down to almost nothing during World War II. By the early 1970s, the breed had bounced back, thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders. In the 1980s, fanciers in the United States began to take an interest in the breed.


For more on Irish dog breeds, check out our video below!

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