Glen of Imaal Terrier

Temperament: Gentle, Spirited, Bold

  • Height: 12.5-14 inches
  • Weight: 32-40 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
  • Group: Terrier Group 

Gentler, less excitable than most terriers, but still bold and spirited, the double-coated Glen of Imaal Terrier is named for one of Ireland's most remote locales. The brave but docile Glen is a strong, no-fuss dog built for hard work.


The Glen of Imaal Terrier, named for the region in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland where it was developed long ago, is a medium sized working terrier. Longer than tall and sporting a double coat of medium length, the Glen possesses great strength and should always convey the impression of maximum substance for size of dog. Unrefined to this day, the breed still possesses “antique” features once common to many early terrier types; its distinctive head with rose or half-prick ears, its bowed forequarters with turned out feet, its unique outline and top-line are hallmarks of the breed and essential to the breed type.

About the Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glens are scruffy, sturdy, low-slung terriers standing no more than 14 inches at the shoulder. There’s nothing fancy or fussed-over about Glens.

Rather, their wiry no-frills coat, broad head, and bowed front legs suggest a working farm dog from a time and place where substance was more important than style. And yet, they’re also ridiculously cute. It takes a heart of stone to resist reaching down to give a Glen a scratch behind the ear and a pat on the well-muscled rump.

NUTRITION The Glen of Imaal Terrier should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.

GROOMING The Glen of Imaal Terrier’s weather-resistant double coat, consisting of a rough outer coat and a soft undercoat, requires moderate brushing weekly to prevent matting of the furnishings (the soft hair around the ears, neck, legs and belly) and should also be stripped two or three times a year. They shed very little as a result of this effort. It does not take a great amount of time, and the bonding you achieve with your pup is well worth the time involved. Since Glens are a dwarf breed, a small but sturdy grooming table is a very good investment. It will make the process much easier on both of you. The nails should be trimmed regularly, and the ears checked weekly for debris or excess wax buildup.

EXERCISE A little more laid-back than the typical terrier, Glens require moderate exercise to stay healthy and happy. As a dwarf breed with slightly curved front legs, Glens should not be rushed into strenuous exercise such as long walks on leash—it’s good to start leash training, but keep the walks short and fun. A small handful of the pup’s regular kibble can be used to reward him for staying close while on leash. Let him run around the house or a fenced yard, perhaps chasing a toy or ball. He will flop down for a rest when he has had enough. Owners should prevent puppies from jumping off couches, going down steep stairs, or engaging in anything that might put undue stress on their growing front legs and joints. Pups need time for the growth plates in their legs to close before they do any jumping or start climbing or descending stairs. Going down stairs is more stressful on the front legs than going up. Some breeders have pups avoid stairs and jumping as much as possible until they are at least 9 months of age, as the growth plates will close sometime between 9 and 12 months. This is a normal part of the developmental process but especially important in dwarf breeds whose legs are short in relation to their body weight.

TRAINING Glens are versatile, trainable, and very smart. They love people but normally won’t get chummy with other dogs. They are quieter and less spiky than other terriers—but, still, they’re terriers: brave, sometimes stubborn, and keenly interested in the doings of small furry critters, their natural prey. Like most terriers, they have a great deal of character and learn quickly, which can make training a joy, although they may get bored with repetition. Positive reinforcement is the key. Keep training sessions short: Five minutes of training two or three times a day is much better than one 30-minute session. Early socialisation and puppy training classes puppy training classesare recommended.

HEALTH Glen of Imaal Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but there are several health and genetic screening considerations specific to the breed. These include hip dysplasia and eye disease such as cone rod dystrophy. Responsible breeders will screen their stock for conditions the breed can be prone to. Caution should be taken to avoid unnecessary stress on the front legs during their first nine months of life. As with all breeds, the Glen’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test

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