Glen of Imaal Terrier

Hailing from the remote valleys in Ireland comes the Glen of Imaal Terrier. Find out everything you need to know about this gorgeous breed below!

Imaal Terrier on a green grass lawn

Height: 12.5-14 inches
Weight: 14.5-18 kilos
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the Glen of Imaal Terrier’s positive and negative traits below:

Pros:

  • Suitable for apartment living
  • Ideal watchdog
  • Small in size yet robust
  • Low shedding and hardly drools

Cons:

  • Aggressive towards other animals
  • Typical Terrier temperament
  • Likes to dig holes
  • Long waiting lists

Overview

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is classed as a Vulnerable Native Breed by the Kennel Club. For this reason waiting lists for a puppy are high. The Glen of Imaal Terrier price ranges from £500 onwards which can be a little expensive for potential owners. In 2018, there was only 48 breed registrations which is low however the Otterhound had even less!

This pooch displays behavior commonly shared with others in the Terrier family. Digging, animal aggression, stubbornness, fearlessness, and high energy levels are all traits seen in the Glen. For this reason Terriers are best handled by experienced owners as opposed to first time owners.

Small and robust, this canine may behave as large dog. Of course this could land them in serious trouble, especially if challenged by a larger opponent. They also have a strong prey drive and will chase after other animals and possibly smaller dogs. For this reason the Glen of Imaal Terrier should always be leashed.

These dogs are members of the family and expect to be treated as such! Whilst they don’t like being left alone when everyone else goes out, they can cope by themselves. It’s their independent streak that prevents this breed from becoming prone to separation anxiety.

History

These canines originate from Ireland in the remote area of Glen of Imaal found in the Western Wicklow mountains. Elizabeth I sent French mercenaries to Ireland to defeat the Irish rebellion. After their task was complete the soldiers were allowed to stay in County Wicklow. Their dogs would then breed with local Irish canines creating the Glen.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier was originally used to hunt rodents, badgers, otters and foxes. These farm dogs would herd livestock, assisting farmers with daily life. They were also thought to have been used as ‘Turnspit dogs’ that would flip over meat whilst cooking by running on a wheel. However, there is a lack of evidence supporting this.

These dogs are one of four Terrier breeds native to Ireland. The Glen of Imaal was popular in their homeland but were only introduced to other countries in the 19th century. It is thought the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, another Irish breed, has some connection to this breeds ancestry. Despite their size these pooches were used for dog fighting.

Dating back to the 16th or 17th century, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was first registered by the Irish Kennel Club in 1934. In order to work the breed needed a certificate giving them the title of Champion. It proved they had a set of skills that made them efficient workers. This stopped in 1966 after Badger Trials were prohibited.

Related: Discover more about the Sussex Spaniel breed in this guide.

Personality

Although they share some of the typical Terrier temperament features, barking isn’t one of them. Unlike other Terriers the Glen of Imaal was bred to be silent when hunting. This is also known as ‘mute to ground’.  Gentle, yet strong, this dog can definitely be described as small but mighty!

A strong prey drive accompanies this breed and they won’t hesitate to give chase! Indoors they’re calm, gentle and affectionate but will push boundaries trying to get their own way! This Terrier is generally easy-going and won’t be the one to start a fight, but will defend themselves ferociously.

Are Glen of Imaal Terriers Good With Strangers?

As a watchdog, the Glen of Imaal Terrier will bark at strangers approaching their home. Socialization will be needed to prevent this dog becoming fearful of those they don’t know. They’re protective of their families and would also act as guard dogs many years ago.

A closeup shot of glen of imaal terrier with harness standing on green grass

Are Glen of Imaal Terriers Good With Children?

This breed is better around older children. Younger children will find play too rough with this pooch. Like most Terriers, the Glen appreciates their personal space. This is why older children are better suited as they better understand how to treat a dog.

Are Glen of Imaal Terriers Ok With Other Dogs?

No, the Glen of Imaal Terrier isn’t known for it’s friendliness towards other dogs. He won’t instigate a problem but will finish it! Socialization with other dogs is extremely important whilst the Glen of Imaal Terrier is young. It can have a massive impact on how these pooches behave around other canines.

They can live with another dog in the household but cats can be a little harder for them to get used to. Smaller animals should be avoided due to the Glen’s high prey drive.

Exercise

This energetic little pooch will need up to one hour of exercise each day. Sometimes they may want a little longer. Ideally they should have access to a small garden, but they can live in flats. They should only be exercised off-leash in enclosed areas. Obesity can be an issue for this breed so keeping up with their activity needs is important.

Glen of Imaal Terriers love dog sports! Earthdog trials, barn hunting, agility, tracking and obedience are all categories this pooch will deeply enjoy. Avoid overexerting these dogs. Glen of Imaal Terrier puppies could damage their growing joints if over-exercised.

Recommended: Read about the Karelian Bear Dog breed next.

Health

Check out the breed-related health issues of the Glen of Imaal Terrier below:

  • Cone Rod Dystrophy- This eye condition damages the cone and rod cells of the retina. As time goes on, blindness will occur.
  • Cushing’s Disease- It is most commonly caused by a very small tumor in the brain. Symptoms include excessive drinking and urination, muscle loss, scaly thin skin, bald patches, swollen belly and low energy levels.
  • Cataracts- The lens becomes opaque preventing light from passing through the retina. If the Cataract is small it won’t affect vision. Any larger and vision loss will be imminent.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- This inherited health condition will eventually lead to blindness. It is caused by the deterioration of the photoreceptor cells within the eye.
  • Distichiasis- When the eyelashes grow in an abnormal place it will cause irritation, eye discharge, inflammation and even ulcers.
  • Patellar Luxation- The kneecap moves from the femoral groove causing temporary dislocation. It will normally relocate back into position after a brief period.
  • Hip Dysplasia- Joint laxity is caused by the ball of the femur and socket of the hip fitting loosely together. Symptoms such as pain, inflammation and swelling will be experienced, followed by arthritis.
  • Hypothyroidism- This endocrine disorder is caused by an underactive thyroid. The lack of hormones produced will cause the affected dogs metabolism to slow down.
  • Aortic Stenosis- The aortic valve to the heart is narrow and because of this the heart is forced to work harder which could lead to complications. It is an inherited condition.

Intelligence & Training

The strong-willed Glen of Imaal Terrier will need a firm owner that can handle typical Terrier behaviors. Like always, respect training is one of the most important teachings for those in the Terrier family. Once they respect your ownership and house rules, life with this canine will be much easier!

Naturally intelligent and easily trainable, the Glen of Imaal Terrier can pick up on commands fairly quickly. Lessons should begin indoors first. As this Terrier has a strong prey drive, they’ll easily be distracted outside. Boredom can strike quickly and they hate repetition. Make sure lessons are only 10-15 minutes long.

Terriers need positive reinforcement. These stubborn canines won’t entertain a lesson if they feel they’re being mistreated! Food is their key motivator but try replacing this with praise as the breed is prone to weight gain.

Socialization is deeply important for the Glen of Imaal Terrier. It will have a massive influence on how they treat other people and dogs. Group puppy classes are one way of doing this. They can also learn a few tricks too! Visit new locations, places and homes with this dog. Encourage play and friendly behavior.

Recommended: Cannot decide on whether to get a Show Cocker Spaniel or a Working Cocker Spaniel? This guide has all the information you need.

Grooming

Generally, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is fairly low maintenance. They have a water-resistant coat that will need a weekly brush to keep it looking fresh. Pin brushes, slicker brushes and combs are all ideal tools to use on their coat. Their fur is meant to have a shaggy feel and will only need trimming around the face, ears, tail and paws.

A closeup shot of glen of imaal terrier with harness standing on green grass

Show dogs should be hand stripped weekly. Those that aren’t competing can be hand stripped twice a year.  Owners can do this with a stripping knife but some prefer the help of a professional groomer. It helps keep the coat healthy and tidy.

Baths will be needed every three months. The dogs natural oils will look after the coat during this period. Ears will need to be cleaned weekly in order to remove debris. Teeth should be brushed 3 times a week however vets recommend this is done daily. Don’t forget to trim their nails every 10-14 days or as and when necessary.

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