Glen of Imaal Terrier

This dog became popular in Europe after being seen in a dog show in Ireland. Brave and intelligent, it is a spirited breed with the characteristic terrier willingness to accept any challenge.


This terrier is named after the locality where it originated, south of Dublin, in County Wicklow. Since everyone familiar with this ancient breed knows full well that it hails from Ireland, this alteration has the hallmark of bureaucratic overkill. But although it has been ignored in Britain, it is only fair to point out that the title has been formally accepted by the FCT (in 1994) and the AKC (in 1997). To lovers of the breed it is, in any case, known simply as the Glen. A low-slung dog, it was originally developed to go to earth for badgers.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is one of the earliest of the terrier breeds that are native to Ireland, having been known from at least the 17th century. It has changed little during the passing years and even todays carefully groomed show champions remain very close in type to their early working ancestors, both in appearance and in temperament. It has been aptly described by one author as a dog that is "endearing rather than handsome".

The Glen of Imaal Terrier was first recognized as a distinct breed by the IKC in 1933 and in the same year it gained its first specialist breed club and appeared competitively in the show-ring. It thrived for a while, but then began to lose favour and its club was eventually disbanded. By the 1950s it was nearly extinct, but survived thanks to a handful of devoted breeders. In 1971 a new community was formed to foster the breed. Their endeavours succeeded and there are now examples in a number of different countries in Europe and North America, especially Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United States. Even today, however, it remains an uncommon breed compared with most other terriers. In 1998 the Kennel Club in London recorded only 58 new registrations, making it one of the rarest of all their officially recognized terriers.


Small and compact. It has a short, cute tail; legs that are short for its body length; and brown eyes, the charm of this breed. The hard coat comes in wheaten, blue, gray, and brindle.

The breed’s general appearance is not unlike a heavyweight rough-and-ready Sealyham, though it comes in blue, brindle or wheaten. It stands some 14 inches/З6 cm at the shoulder, weighs around 35 pounds/15 kg and is strong, utterly reliable, quiet and docile, yet capable of tackling any antagonist should the need arise. The breed is renowned for its stoicism.

Its coat is easily trimmed since the undercoat and topknot are soft; the topcoat has a harsher texture and this should be groomed regularly. The Glen of Imaal Terrier has an extremely powerful jaw, with a vicelike grip and has heavily boned and somewhat bowed front legs. Its body is longer than the height at its withers, and it should possess great substance with well-sprung ribs. Its hindquarters are unusually powerful, well boned and noticeably muscular, with sufficient length to maintain a level topline.


Aggressive toward other dogs and animals and with the very strong character of terriers, it is also an obedient and reliable family dog and watchdog.

In personality the Glen of Imaal Terrier was always a fearless attacker and, in addition to its badger-hunting duties, was also frequently used in locally staged dog fights. These took place weekly, on Saturdays, and were accompanied by much gambling and drinking. Around the home, when it was not out hunting or fighting, it proved to be a useful ratter and in early times was also employed as a kitchen turnspit. When out and about in the wild countryside, it became what was described as a typical "devil-may-care Irishman", full of mischief and lively curiosity. Although a short-legged breed, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was extremely athletic when circumstances demanded it. As a family dog, however, it remained remarkably gentle with its owners and tolerant of their children.

Care and Exercise

The harsh coat rarely mats, requiring only occasional brushing. Use a comb where the hair is long. Regular trimming is required. An energetic breed, this dog loves to run without a lead in a big open space.

Puppies and Training

There is an average of three to six relatively strong puppies per litter. Tails should be docked within one week of birth.

Gallery of Glen of Imaal Terrier