Glen of Imaal Terrier

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glen of imaal terrier portrait
Prepare to be enchanted by the pint-sized powerhouse known as the Glen of Imaal Terrier – the small yet mighty bundle of joy! With their signature bow-legged stance and a mischievous twinkle in their eyes, these spirited adventurers are ready to take on the world, one playful zoomie at a time.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is best suited for those who appreciate an energetic, intelligent partner in adventure. Whether you’re a family with kids, a single active individual, or a retiree with a zest for life, this hardy terrier will keep you on your toes and fill your home with laughter.


OFFICIAL NAMEGlen of Imaal Terrier
OTHER NAMESIrish Glenn of Imaal Terrier, Wicklow Terrier, Glen, Glennie
BREED GROUPTerrier Group
HEIGHT12.5-14 inches
WEIGHT32-40 lbs
LIFESPAN10-15 years
two glen of imaal terriers on a garden
Photo: jtyler/Getty Images Signature


The Glen of Imaal Terrier carries an air of rugged charm and undeniable character. Glens, as they are affectionately known, are sturdy terriers that stand no higher than 14 inches at the shoulder. Their low-slung stature might fool you but don’t be mistaken; these dogs are robust and built for hard work.

Take one look at a Glen and you’ll see a dog that appears longer than it is tall. This unique body shape gives them an endearing appearance of a big dog on short legs. It’s their large head and deep, muscular chest that contribute to this illusion. Despite their size, they move with grace and agility, a testament to their origins as skilled hunting dogs.

Their heads are a standout feature, large and broad with a strong jaw that speaks of their tenacity. The eyes of a Glen are medium-sized, round, and brown, radiating intelligence and warmth. Their ears are small and rose-shaped, adding to their overall scruffy appeal.

The tale of a Glen’s tail is quite interesting. Once customarily docked to just half its length, nowadays, you’ll find Glens sporting a full-length tail that’s strong at the base and tapers towards the end. When a Glen is at rest, their tail hangs down but when they’re excited or in action, it forms a gentle curve.

One of the most striking features of a Glen is their coat. It’s medium length, harsh, and can be wheaten, blue, or brindle. This shaggy coat gives them a somewhat unkempt appearance, but it’s this very trait that adds to their charm and sets them apart from other terrier breeds.

Looking into a Glen’s face, you’ll be met with an expression that’s keen and alert, yet softened by the gentlest of smiles. It’s as if they’re always ready for the next adventure but equally content with a quiet evening by your side.

In all, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a package of delightful contradictions – a robust yet compact body, a serious yet sweet expression, a scruffy yet charming appearance. It’s these contrasts that make the Glen a truly unique and endearing breed.

glen of imaal terrier walking on grass
Photo: DejaVu Designs/Getty Images


At first glance, Glen of Imaal Terriers may appear to be your typical terrier – energetic, playful, and spirited. But spend some time with a Glen, and you’ll soon discover there’s much more to this breed than meets the eye.

The Glen is known for its hardy character. Their origins as a working breed shine through in their tenacity and courage. They were bred to chase after foxes and badgers, which required both strength and cunning. Today, while they might not be chasing after critters, you can see their hunting instincts come alive during play.

Despite their plucky spirit, Glens are surprisingly gentle creatures. They’re affectionate family dogs who love nothing more than to snuggle up with their favorite humans.

Their love for their family is unwavering, and they form deep bonds with those they hold dear. This isn’t a breed that will bounce off the walls or demand constant attention. Instead, they’re content to be by your side, sharing in your everyday moments.

Glen of Imaal Terriers carry an air of independence. They’re intelligent and savvy, always keen to explore their surroundings and figure things out on their own. This independent streak doesn’t mean they’re aloof. On the contrary, Glens are sociable dogs who enjoy meeting new people and making friends.

While they’re generally even-tempered, Glens do have a stubborn side. This stubbornness can make them a little challenging at times, but it’s also part of their charm. It’s their way of showing their strong will and determination. And while they can be stubborn, they’re never aggressive. In fact, they’re one of the more docile terrier breeds, making them a great choice for families.

One trait that sets Glens apart from many other breeds is their “stoic” personality. They don’t tend to bark much, preferring to quietly observe their surroundings rather than making a fuss. This calm demeanor makes them a peaceful addition to any household.

Another endearing characteristic of the Glen is their playful side. They’re spirited dogs who enjoy a good game or a romp in the yard. Their playful nature is balanced by their calm temperament, making them neither hyperactive nor lethargic.

Ideal Environment

Ideal Owner

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a versatile breed that thrives in various settings, be it city apartments or sprawling country estates. What matters most to them is being part of a loving family.

They are great with children, showing patience and gentleness that makes them a wonderful family pet. Their tenacity and playful nature make them an excellent companion for active individuals too.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Glens can be quite sociable. They generally get along well with other dogs, especially if they’ve been raised together. However, due to their hunting instincts, they might chase after smaller animals like cats or rodents. Therefore, it’s crucial to have proper introductions and supervision when bringing a Glen into a multi-pet household.

Physical Environment

The physical environment for a Glen should ideally offer some space for them to explore and play. They love a good romp in the yard, but they’re also quite content indoors. As long as they have their favorite toys and their beloved humans around, they’re happy campers.

One thing to note about Glens is their propensity for digging. It’s a remnant of their past as hunting dogs used to dig out prey from their dens. So, a secure yard or garden area is a must to prevent them from digging their way to freedom.

Climate Adaptability

Glens are a hardy breed, able to adapt to different climates. However, there are certain precautions to consider. In colder climates, their dense coat provides some protection against the chill, but they should still have a warm shelter to retreat to.

In hotter weather, they can be prone to overheating due to their thick coat. It’s essential to provide plenty of shade and fresh water to keep them cool.

glen of imaal terrier standing on grass
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images


The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a relatively low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming, but they do have specific needs to keep them looking their rugged best.

Coat Care

Let’s start with their distinctive coat. It’s medium length, harsh, and comes in shades of wheaten, blue, or brindle. This shaggy coat gives them a somewhat scruffy look, adding to their endearing charm. However, it also requires regular care to keep it healthy and clean.

Routine brushing is essential for a Glen. Aim for a good brushing session once or twice a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting. A slicker brush or a pin brush is ideal for this task. Their coat isn’t prone to shedding excessively, but regular brushing will help manage any loose fur.

A couple of times a year, a Glen’s coat will need to be ‘stripped’. This involves removing dead hair from the coat to allow new growth. It’s a process unique to certain breeds like the Glen, and it helps maintain the texture and color of their coat. Stripping can be done at home if you’re comfortable with it, or you can take your Glen to a professional groomer.

Bathing your Glen doesn’t need to be a frequent affair. They’re not a breed that gets particularly smelly, so a bath every few months should suffice, or whenever they get into something messy. Always use a dog-friendly shampoo to protect their skin and coat.

Dental Care

Now, let’s talk about dental hygiene. Just like us humans, Glens need regular dental care to prevent issues like gum disease or bad breath. Brushing their teeth a few times a week is recommended. You can use dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush for this task. Dental chews can also be a useful addition to their dental care routine.

Nail Trimming

Moving on to their nails, Glens, like all dogs, will need regular nail trims. If your Glen is regularly walking on hard surfaces, this can help keep their nails naturally short. However, if you hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Nail clippers or grinders designed for dogs are the tools for this job.

Ear Care

Finally, don’t forget their ears. Check them weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor, or irritation, which could indicate an infection. You can clean your Glen’s ears with a vet-recommended cleanser to keep them healthy.


The Glen of Imaal Terrier strikes a delightful balance between energy and tranquility. Glens are not as high-energy as some other terrier breeds, but they do enjoy a good romp and require regular exercise to stay fit and content.

Exercise Amount & Types

A typical adult Glen will need about 45 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. This can be split into two walks or play sessions. They’re quite adaptable, so whether you prefer brisk morning walks or leisurely evening strolls, your Glen will be more than happy to accompany you. Just remember to keep them on a leash or in a secure area as their hunting instincts might kick in if they spot a squirrel or bird.

In addition to walks, Glens also enjoy playtime. They’re intelligent dogs who love engaging games that challenge them mentally and physically. Hide-and-seek, fetch, or tug-of-war are all great options. Puzzle toys can also be a hit, providing mental stimulation while also rewarding them with treats.

While Glens are generally laid-back, they do have a playful, energetic side. They’re robust dogs who love to run and explore, making them excellent companions for outdoor adventures. Hiking, camping, or just playing in a fenced yard can provide them with the physical activity they need.

Dog Sports

If you’re interested in dog sports, Glens can be a great choice. Their intelligence and agility make them well-suited for activities like agility courses or earthdog trials. Participating in such events can be a fun way to bond with your Glen while also keeping them active and engaged.

Exercise Precautions

It’s important to remember that although Glens are hardy and robust, they can be prone to certain health issues if over-exercised, especially as puppies. Always ensure that exercise is age-appropriate and not too strenuous.

glen of imaal terrier on a garden
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images


Known for their intelligence and independent spirit, The Glen of Imaal Terrier can be a joy to train, but they also present their own unique challenges.

The Glen is an intelligent breed. They’re quick to pick up new commands and are capable of learning a wide range of tricks. However, their intelligence comes with an independent streak. Glens are thinkers, and they like to do things their own way. This can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness, but it’s just their way of showing their individuality.

When it comes to training a Glen, positive reinforcement is key. They respond well to rewards-based training where good behavior is rewarded with treats, praise, or playtime. This not only makes training a fun experience for your Glen but also encourages them to repeat the desired behavior.

Start with basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’, and gradually move on to more complex commands. Consistency is crucial in training. Repeat commands regularly and maintain the same rules to avoid confusing your Glen.

Socialization is another important aspect of training. Introduce your Glen to a variety of people, places, and situations from a young age. This will help them grow into well-rounded, confident dogs who are comfortable in different environments.

Training a Glen to walk on a leash is also essential. Given their hunting instincts, they might be inclined to chase after small animals. Early leash training can ensure they behave well during walks.

Remember, Glens are sensitive souls. Harsh training methods or punishment can be counterproductive and harm your relationship with your pet. Patience and understanding are vital when training a Glen.

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

When it comes to feeding a Glen, quality is key. Look for high-quality dog food that meets the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Whether you choose dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, ensure it’s packed with high-quality, meat-based protein. This supports their development and overall health.

The amount of food your Glen needs will vary depending on their age, size, and activity level. A general guideline is about 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food per day for an adult Glen, split into two meals. Puppies have different nutritional needs and require more frequent feedings. Always consult with your vet to determine the appropriate portion size for your individual pet.

As Glens can have efficient metabolisms and good appetites, it’s essential to monitor their weight. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can cause numerous health problems. Regularly check your Glen’s weight and body condition, and adjust their food intake as necessary.


Treats can be a useful tool for training, but remember they should make up no more than 10% of your Glen’s daily caloric intake. Opt for healthy treats like pieces of fruits or veggies, or dog-specific treats that are low in fat and sugar.


Hydration is just as important as nutrition. Always ensure your Glen has access to fresh, clean water. This is especially crucial during hot weather or after exercise to prevent dehydration.


The Glen of Imaal Terrier is generally a robust breed with a lifespan ranging from 10 to 15 years. However, like all breeds, Glens can be predisposed to certain health issues. Here are common ones:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is an eye condition that can lead to blindness. It’s important to have regular eye checks to catch any signs early.

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. It can lead to discomfort and mobility issues.

Rod-Cone Dystrophy: Another eye condition, it affects the retina and can cause vision loss.

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD): Similar to human hip dysplasia, CHD can cause lameness and arthritis in dogs.

Viral and Bacterial Infections: Like all dogs, Glens are susceptible to common infections such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Regular vaccinations can help protect them against these diseases.

Remember that not every Glen will experience these health issues. What’s important is to be aware of them and take preventative measures to ensure your Glen leads a healthy life.

A balanced diet plays a crucial role in maintaining your Glen’s health. High-quality dog food that meets the AAFCO standards can provide the nutrients your Glen needs to stay fit and strong.

Regular vet check-ups are another must. These visits allow your vet to monitor your Glen’s health and catch any potential issues early. They’re also an opportunity to keep up with necessary vaccinations.

glen of imaal terrier puppies
Photo: Kaossamuel/Getty Images


The story of the Glen of Imaal Terrier begins in the 17th and 18th centuries, in the Glen of Imaal region on Ireland’s eastern seaboard. The farmers of this area are credited with developing the breed, creating a sturdy, versatile dog that was adept at hunting and farm work. Legend has it that the breed may have been influenced by the dogs brought by Flemish immigrants granted land by Queen Elizabeth I.

Despite their humble beginnings, Glens were not just farm dogs. They were renowned for their strength and tenacity, often used in dog-turning spits, a task that involved turning a wheel to cook meat over a fire. This earned them the nickname ‘Turnspit Dogs’. Their role in the kitchen is a testament to their hardworking nature and adaptability.

Glens have always been well-regarded in their homeland. They were first recognized by the Irish Kennel Club in 1934, and later by the Kennel Club of England in 1975. The breed made its way to the United States in the early 1930s, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier currently ranks 169th on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds, but its fans cherish the breed for its unique qualities rather than its popularity ranking.

Parent Club

The parent club for the Glen of Imaal Terrier breed in the United States is the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America (GITCA). Founded in 1986, GITCA has been dedicated to preserving and promoting the breed for over three decades.

For more information about the club, its activities, and how to get involved, you can visit their official website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Glen of Imaal Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 


Venturing into the world of Glen of Imaal Terrier ownership? That’s exciting! First, prepare for an active and intelligent companion. Make sure you have time for exercise, training, and lots of play.

If you’re buying a puppy, choose a reputable breeder. They’ll provide health clearances and ensure your Glen has a strong, healthy start to life. However, consider rescuing a Glen. It’s a wonderful way to give a dog a second chance at a loving home. The Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America (GITCA) is a fantastic resource for rescue opportunities.

Whether you buy or rescue, remember that welcoming a Glen into your home is a long-term commitment. These dogs are special, and they deserve nothing but the best. Enjoy the adventure!


Are Glen of Imaal Terriers good pets?

Absolutely! Glens make excellent pets. They’re loyal, intelligent, and have a unique blend of spiritedness and tranquility. They’re great companions for active families and individuals.

Why are Glen of Imaal Terriers rare?

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is one of the lesser-known Irish terrier breeds. Their rarity can be attributed to their specific breeding in the isolated Glen of Imaal region in Ireland and their late recognition by major kennel clubs.

Is the Glen of Imaal Terrier a working dog?

Yes, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was originally bred as a working dog. They were used for hunting and farm work, and even turned meat on a spit in kitchens!

Why does my Glen of Imaal Terrier sit up?

This is known as the ‘Glen Sit.’ It’s a unique trait where the Glen sits with its hind legs stretched out in front. It’s not fully understood why they do this, but it’s a charming characteristic of the breed.

How much exercise does a Glen of Imaal Terrier need?

Glens are active dogs and need about 45 minutes of exercise to keep them healthy and happy. A couple of brisk walks along with some playtime each day should suffice.

Are Glen of Imaal Terriers good with kids?

Generally, Glens are good with children. They’re known for their patient and gentle nature. However, like all dogs, they should be supervised around small children.

Do Glen of Imaal Terriers shed a lot?

Glens have a dense double coat that sheds moderately. Regular brushing can help manage shedding and keep their coat healthy.

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