The Glen of Imaal Terrier: Everything You Need to Know

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a rich history and a charming personality. The small, scrappy breed hails from Ireland and has made a name for itself as an excellent companion and skilled hunter.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Glen of Imaal Terrier to discover its many unique characteristics – from history and physical traits to personality and health. 

A Brief History of the Glen of Imaal Terrier

Origins in Ireland

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a long and rich history that can be traced back to the hills of County Wicklow in Ireland. It was bred to work in the rugged terrain of the valley, hunting rodents and other small game.

Despite the diminutive size, the breed was highly valued by its owners for its tenacity and loyalty. The Glen of Imaal Terrier’s fearless nature is the main hallmark of the breed. 

The Breed’s Purpose and Function

The Glen of Imaal Terrier was originally bred for use as a working dog, hunting small game and rodents in the rural areas of Ireland. They were also used for herding and as a general farm dog. 

The breed has a nickname – the “Turnspit Dog” because, at one point, it was used in kitchens where it ran in hamster-wheel contraptions that helped pour the near over the fire.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

In 1934, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was recognized by the Irish Kennel Club, followed by recognition from the British Kennel Club in 1975 and the American Kennel Club in 2004.

Today, the breed is recognized by kennel clubs around the world and is a popular choice for families looking for a loyal and affectionate companion.

Physical Characteristics of the Glen of Imaal Terrier

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a lesser-known breed that hails from the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. Originally bred to hunt vermin and small game in the rugged terrain of the region, the breed’s physical characteristics reflect its history.

Size and Weight

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a small, stocky breed with a distinctive build. They stand between 12.5 and 14 inches tall at the shoulder and typically weigh between 32 and 40 pounds.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier’s size and weight allow breed members to be agile and quick on their feet, making them well-suited for their original purpose of hunting.

Coat and Colors

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a harsh, medium-length coat that is weather-resistant and dense. This coat is perfect for the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions of the Wicklow Mountains. 

The Glen of Imaal Terrier’s coat comes in two colors – blue brindle and wheaten. The coat requires regular brushing and occasional trimming to keep it in good condition.

Unique Features

One of the most unique features of the Glen of Imaal Terrier is its turned-out feet, which allow them to gain better traction while navigating the rugged terrain they were originally bred to work in. 

Another unique feature of the Glen of Imaal Terrier is its broad chest and short, powerful neck. These physical attributes give them the strength and agility needed to hunt and catch their prey. 

Personality and Temperament

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a wonderful breed and a great companion for individuals and families alike. These terriers have a unique charm that is hard to resist, and they are sure to win over the hearts of everyone they meet.

General Disposition

One of the most endearing qualities of the Glen of Imaal Terrier is their love for their owners. They are a loyal breed that enjoys spending time with their family members.

They are also known to be quite curious and will often follow their owners from room to room to see what they are up to. This makes them a great breed for those who enjoy having a constant companion by their side.

Intelligence and Trainability

Glen of Imaal Terriers are a highly intelligent breed, but they can also be stubborn and independent. Therefore, training can be a challenge, especially for novice dog owners.

However, with patience and consistency, they can learn a variety of commands and tricks. It is important to note that Glen of Imaal Terrier responds best to positive reinforcement training methods.

Harsh training methods can cause these dogs to become fearful or aggressive, so it is important to use gentle and positive methods when training them.

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

Glen of Imaal Terriers have a strong prey drive and should be socialized with other animals at a young age to prevent aggression. They do well with other pets in the household but may be prone to chasing outdoor animals like squirrels or rabbits.

It is important to supervise Glen of Imaal Terriers when they are interacting with other animals, especially those they are not familiar with. This will help prevent any potential conflicts and ensure that everyone stays safe and happy.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is prone to certain health issues, including:

  • Hip Dysplasia: An orthopedic issue manifesting with pain and lameness due to malformation of the bones forming the hip joint 
  • Eye Conditions: The breed is at high risk of eye issues such as cone-rod dystrophy (CRD) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

The best way to keep your Glen of Imaal Terrier in good health is to provide them with a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise. Regular checkups with a vet are also essential to ensure that any potential health issues are caught early and treated properly.

Expected Lifespan

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a relatively long lifespan compared to other small breeds, with an average life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.


Overall, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a unique and lovable breed that makes an excellent companion for anyone looking for a smaller dog with plenty of personality.

With proper care and attention, Glen of Imaal Terrier can live long and healthy lives, bringing affection, joy, and devotion to their owners for many years to come.

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