Glen of Imaal Terrier: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

two Glen of Imaal terriers on grass

 jtyler / Getty Images

The Glen of Imaal terrier is a medium-size terrier dog breed from Ireland with a medium-length wiry coat that doesn’t shed much. Overall, the dog is longer than it is tall. It appears to be a big dog on short legs thanks to its large head and deep, muscular chest. Its front legs have a bow to them, yet the dog still has a powerful and agile gait. The Glen was originally used as a pest exterminator and hunting dog, as well as a working farm dog. Plus, it’s an affectionate companion that enjoys both being busy and curling up next to its humans.

Breed Overview

Group: Terrier

Height: 12.5 to 14 inches

Weight: 32 to 40 pounds

Coat: Medium-length, wiry

Coat Color: Blue brindle, wheaten

Life Span: 10 to 15 years

Temperament: Affectionate, gentle, bold

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Ireland

Characteristics of the Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal terriers tend to have a sweet temperament with their family, though they can be spirited and stubborn at times. They don’t have quite the energetic and busy personality that some other terrier breeds do, but they still enjoy an active lifestyle. 

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Low
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Glen of Imaal Terrier

The exact origin of the Glen of Imaal terrier is unknown. But the breed hails from the mountainous and remote County Wicklow in Ireland. The farmers there needed hard-working dogs that could perform a variety of tasks. They used the terriers to exterminate vermin and to hunt badgers, foxes, and other game. 

One of the breed’s odd jobs gave it the nickname “turnspit dog.” People used their Glens to walk on a hamster wheel-like contraption that turned meat over a cooking fire. The dogs' powerful front legs served them well in this task.

The Glen of Imaal terrier began to gain recognition beyond its remote environment toward the end of the 1800s, and it slowly started arriving in North America in the early 1900s. But the American Kennel Club didn’t officially recognize the breed until 2004.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Care

Glen of Imaal terriers don’t require an excessive amount of exercise, though they still need activity every day. They also have some specialized grooming needs. And they should receive training and socialization from an early age.

Exercise

Aim for at least an hour of exercise per day for your Glen of Imaal terrier. However, don’t allow your dog to engage in strenuous exercise until it is fully grown, as this can damage its growth plates. It’s even recommended to keep young Glens from jumping off furniture or going down steep stairs to prevent too much stress on their joints. Short walks and playing with toys are ideal ways to exercise your dog. Puzzle toys also can provide mental challenges. 

Moreover, keep your Glen of Imaal terrier on a leash or in a securely fenced area when outdoors. This breed has a strong prey drive and might take off chasing perceive prey if given the chance.

Grooming

Brush your dog weekly to remove any loose fur and prevent tangles. Pay special attention to the fur around the ears, chest, stomach, and legs, which can be prone to matting. Also, this breed should have its coat hand-stripped a few times per year to remove the dead fur that doesn’t shed out on its own. 

Bathe your dog every month or so, depending on how dirty it gets. But check its ears at least weekly to see whether they need cleaning. Also, trim its nails roughly every month, and brush its teeth daily.

Training

Begin training and socialization when your dog is a puppy to help prevent bad habits from forming. Glens are relatively smart, but they can be stubborn and get bored with repetitive training. So try to keep training sessions short, varied, and fun. Always use positive-reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise. 

Moreover, aim to expose your dog to different people and other dogs from a young age. This breed doesn’t always get along with other dogs, and it can be moderately reserved around strangers. But having lots of positive social experiences should help to curb these tendencies. 

glen of imaal terrier on the floor

sillybillie_odiebear / Instagram

Common Health Problems

Glen of Imaal terriers are generally healthy, though they are susceptible to some hereditary health issues, including: 

Glen of Imaal dogs as pets illustration

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water accessible for your Glen of Imaal terrier. Feed it a high-quality canine diet in two measured meals per day to ensure that your dog is getting the proper nutrition. Be sure to discuss both the type of food and the amount with your vet. Be mindful of treats and other extra food, so your dog doesn’t overeat. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal terriers aren’t extremely common, but it’s still possible to find the breed at animal shelters and rescue groups. You just might have to travel a great distance and wait some time, depending on where you live. See whether you can get your name on a breed wait list if possible. If you’re looking for a puppy from a responsible breeder, expect to pay around $1,700 to $2,500 on average.

For more information to help you find a Glen of Imaal terrier, check out:

Glen of Imaal Terrier Overview

Pros
  • Affectionate and gentle

  • Relatively easygoing

  • Sheds minimally

Cons
  • Can be stubborn about training

  • High prey drive

  • Has specialized grooming needs

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any dog breed, do thorough research on the Glen of Imaal terrier to make sure it’s right for your lifestyle. Talk to breed owners, rescue groups, veterinary professionals, and reputable breeders to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • Are Glen of Imaal terriers good family dogs?

    Glen of Imaal terriers generally do moderately well with kids when they’ve had proper training and socialization. They can be good for respectful older children, but they might not always tolerant young kids.

  • Are Glen of Imaal terriers aggressive?

    Well-trained and socialized Glen of Imaal terriers typically are good around people, though they might be somewhat reserved around strangers. They also don't always get along with other dogs, and they might perceive smaller animals as prey.

  • Are Glen of Imaal terriers good apartment dogs?

    Glen of Imaal terriers are fairly adaptable to different lifestyles, including apartment living. They're also not major barkers, though they do have a deep alert bark.

Article Sources
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  1. Glen of Imaal Terrier. American Kennel Club.

  2. Glen of Imaal Terrier. American Kennel Club.

  3. Glen of Imaal Terrier Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.