What is The Glen of Imaal Terrier?

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 5 min.

I find it a mystery that this cute fun loving little dog is on the KC’s Rare Dog Breeds List. A barrel chested, short legged, shaggy coated terrier with an inquisitive nature this dog is described by the Kennel Club as “low to the ground, fearless, tenacious, strong and substantial”. Listed on the KC’s Vulnerable Native Breed List with just 48 puppies registered in 2018 this makes for only Sussex Spaniels and Otterhounds as rarer in breed. Yet it is a delightful and very faithful little scamp that’s full of fun.

Quick Facts about The Glen of Imaal Terrier

also known as The Wicklow Terrier, Glen or Glennie.

10 – 14 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes – KC Recognised as part of the Terrier Group
Height at the Withers
Males and Females 30 – 36 cm    12 to 14 inches
Males 16 kg
Females 16 kg

Average Price
£725 for KC Registered Dogs
£450 for Non KC Registered Dogs

What Does The Glen of Imaal Look Like?

With beautiful coat colours of Wheaten, Brindle, Brindle Blue, Blue this small long dog has a muscular barrel shaped chest, a typical short nosed terrier head with intelligent dark eyes, furry ears, generally folded forward and down and a medium length strong tail.

Glen Of Imaal Terrier Wheaten
Wheaten coloured Glen of Imaal Terrier

These dogs are built of solid muscle which can’t always be seen under their shaggy hair.The legs are short, bodies long and necks are muscular and they hold their heads high and proud. You could describe this dog as a large pocket rocket given their size and extremely quick speed.

History of the Glen of Imaal Terrier

Said to have first been bred in The Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, Ireland. This Glen surrounded by the Wicklow Mountain Foothills is an area that has been used by the Irish Artillery Army for centuries.

Dachsund Black Smooth Hair

Elizabeth the 1st was believed to have paid French and German Mercenaries to control this area and use it for training purposes and whilst here they brought their own dogs with them (possibly a Dachshund) which was then cross bred with a local terrier breed (possibly the soft coated Wheaten Terrier).

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

After a couple of centuries of honing the breed it eventually lead to the Irish Kennel Club recognizing the breed in 1934, followed by the KC and much later the AKC as late as 2004.

In the 17th Century they were originally used by owners as a means of pest control, quick enough to catch rats and rabbits and big enough to kill small hogs. They were also used for badger hunting which is what the Germans used their Dachshund for, and then they have a darker history, being put into a ring to fight with a badgers for sport, something which was not banned in Ireland until 1960.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Characteristics

Despite its dark history these dogs are wonderfully faithful companions, very loyal and faithful, loving to be the centre of attention in your world.

Glen Of Imaal Blue Brindle Glen Of Imaal Puppy
A Blue Brindle Glen of Imaal Puppy

They do though, need a firm hand when it comes to other dogs, cats or fast-moving animals. If they are not controlled at a young age and taught to ignore other animals or to be social with other animals then they will tear off after whatever it considers to be fair game for chasing, and if it catches it there will be a scrap. Strong in both character and bodily muscle these dogs are extremely fast for their size.

They can be disarmingly cute particularly when they position themselves in what is known as the Glen Sit while they await the treat you have for them. This is apparently a common thing amongst this breed and not on well known in other breeds although I have seen it in Shih Tzu’s.

Glen Of Imaal The Glen Sit
The Glen of Imaal Sit

Exercising your Glen of Imaal Terrier

These will happily sit in the sun or on your lap for a considerable amount of time but if not exercised daily may well become bored and when they are bored, they can become disruptive. They are not particularly destructive when it comes to household furniture but if left in the garden to their own devices then you can expect to find a few holes dug in the flower beds.

If you are and outdoor family then this dog is ideal, despite their small size they can walk for miles or play football for hours as such they are great for occupying the kids, even if the kids have sat them down to tie bows in their hair.

Remember though, these dogs do have what is known as a high prey drive and if they see the neighbour’s cat they will be after them in double quick time. So, if you intend to walk them out and about you need good control verbally or a good leash.

They are not afraid of other dogs and will need to be socialised to stop them  attacking other dogs if they feel they are a threat regardless how big the other dog may be.

Glen Of Imaal With Docked Tail Wheaten Glen Of Imaal
A Wheaten Glen of Imaal with a Docked Tail

If you have an area of outstanding natural beauty with lakes or ponds, then don’t be surprised when you Glen takes off for a swim. Most of them seem to love water even if they are not great swimmers.

General Health for the Glen of Imaal

As the average life expectancy of a Glen of Imaal Terrier is somewhere between 10 to 14 years when properly cared for and fed a good diet to subject to their ages then problems are clearly few and far between.

Glen Of Imaal Wheaten Glen Of Imaal Terrier
Glen of Imaal Puppy

However there are a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are considering taking on one of these fun loving active dogs.

The most notable although rare conditions that can affect this breed include:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) usually not noted until about 5 yrs of age
  •  Hip Dysplasia
  • Atopic Skin Allergies

Conclusion for keeping a Glen of Imaal Terrier

Here at Top Lap Dogs we think that more people should take on this little bundle of fun, particularly if you and your family are outdoor types. A wonderful dog who if treated correctly from puppy stage will be a joy to have.

Given that this dog will happily walk form miles or play for hours they make for a dog that suits all family members and is unlikely to get hurt in the rough and tumble of the kids playing football or chase round the garden.

If you intend to keep one for a lap dog then provided that you give your friend adequate exercise on a daily basis and a secure garden you should not have any problemsand you will have a loyal and attentive little friend.

You can find more information on different breeds from our A to Z of Lap Dogs which is where this post is attached.

Bichon Frise With Child

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