Glen of Imaal Terrier – History, Personality, And Training Tips

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is an independent breed developed as a badger hunter. Read on to discover why strength was before appearance when creating this breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
12 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder
Up to 35 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Glen of Imaal Terrier is a small size dog with some spirit of a large dog.

This small dog was built to handle hard work and be brave. They are low-slung terriers standing no more than 14 inches at the shoulder.

Opposite to some breeds, there isn’t anything fancy about this breed – after only one look at this dog, it’s obvious that this is a sturdy and working farm dog.

In fact, it’s obvious that this breed was developed in a period when the dog’s appearance wasn’t relevant, but how strong he is. Still, they are adorably cute.

Quick Facts

Real name: Glen of Imaal Terrier
Other names: Irish Glenn of Imaal Terrier, Wicklow Terrier
Origin: Ireland
Common nicknames: Glen, Glennie
Breed type: Terrier Group
Weight: 32-40 pounds
Height: 12.5-14 inches
Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
Litter Size: 3 – 5 puppies
Color: Wheaten or blue followed with a range of shades
Coat: Double coat with a soft undercoat

Glen of Imaal Terrier History

Glen of Imaal Terriers, or simply Glens are tough terriers from rocky County Wicklow.

This dog was bred by old-time farmers who worked hard to make a living from the distant and rural landscapes.

Since people had to be creative about living and dealing with harsh conditions, they needed hard-working dogs.

Glens were developed as badger hunters, but they did an enormous amount of work around the farm.

Some claim that they were even used in kitchens to run in a hamster-wheel contraption that turned the meat over an open fire – this is why some call them ‘Turnspit Dog.’

It seems like they were indeed used for this because they have bowed front legs, powerful hindquarters, and well-padded loin.

For several hundred years, these dogs were used to perform the most unusual tasks in the most remote corners of Ireland.

Dog fanciers claim that this breed emigrated to America as early as 1930, however, the breed became popular in the 1980s when fanciers and breeders imported foundation stock from Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The very first Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America was founded in 1986.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Physical Appearance

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a medium-sized working terrier. This breed is longer than tall and possesses great strength and always presents the image of a well-built and compact dog.

The breed still possesses antique features: distinctive head with rose or half-prick ears, unique outline, and unique topline which are essential to the breed type.

The head must be powerful, eyes brown, and ears always small. The nose is black and teeth are set in a strong jaw. The neck is very muscular and of moderate length.

Overall, the body is deep, long, and fully muscled. The chest is wide, strong, and deep, while ribs are well sprung. The tail is docked to approximately half-length.

Forequarters are short and bowed, while the forearm should curve around the chest.

The coat is of medium length, of harsh texture with a soft undercoat. In dog’s show over trimming isn’t allowed. Hindquarters are strong and well-muscled.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Personality

You may believe that a small size dog has low energy levels, but in fact – these small terriers are packed with energy and rhythm.

They do tend to be even-tempered and easygoing, and they are less vocal than most other terriers, but they are still terriers.

They love being active, and thrive on their humans’ friendship. Their bark is often deep, like that of a much larger dog, and they are great as watchdogs.

They are famous for their ‘Glen sit,’ in which the dog sits on its hind end and holds its entire body vertical. This isn’t something that is often seen in other breeds no matter how willing they are to be goofy.

As terriers, they may be stubborn a bit, but they do respond well to a firm hand and experienced dog owners.

Glens are highly intelligent and quick learners, and they will demand extra treats during the training sessions.

Glens are loyal and fearless, often ignoring their size and acting as much larger dogs.

Some may be dog-aggressive, especially when provoked. By the time they reach their maturity, Glens develop a strong prey drive and will chase smaller animals, such as rats.

It’s crucial to socialize them from day one with other pets.

If you want to train your dog like a pro, think about participating in dog agility, because Glens will do amazingly in agility.

Since they have short legs and dense bodies, they aren’t particularly great swimmers, and some of them can work in water, while others were trained to herd cattle and sheep.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Training

Just like with any other dog breed – if you want a well-behaved dog you need to invest your time and energy into proper socialization and early training.

Glens are very smart and trainable dogs as long as you know how to organize training and treats. They thrive on positive reinforcement and treats.

Glens tend to be stubborn, so make sure that you start training your Glen as soon as you get him home.

Make training sessions fresh and short, and don’t hold them with repetition.

Checklist for training your Glen:

  • Positive reinforcement is the key
  • Keep training sessions short
  • Provide early socialization
  • Think about puppy training classes if needed

Glen of Imaal Terrier Exercise

To keep your Glens happy and healthy you should provide moderate exercise.

Since they have short and curved front legs, Glens shouldn’t be forced into strong exercise as hikes and long walks on a leash – however, it’s always good to start leash training by keeping walk short and fun.

Glen will love to run and chase the ball in a fenced area and inside the house. When tired, Glen will ignore you until he feels fully rested.

If you are getting a puppy make sure that he avoids jumping off couches, going down steep stairs, or anything else that can put stress on their growing legs and joints.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Grooming

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a weather-resistant double coat, which is made of a rough outer coat and a soft undercoat.

This dog requires moderate weekly brushing to prevent matting and tangles and should be stripped two or three times a year.

By doing so you can actually achieve low shedding. Brushing this dog is fast and easy, but investing in a sturdy grooming table is a great option.

Nails shoudl be trimmed or grinded regularly, ears checked for wax, and gums checked weekly.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Health

Glen of Imaal Terriers are generally healthy dogs, and if you are dealing with responsible breeders you will get a healthy dog.

If you are not presented with medical documentation on the dog, or if you are not allowed to meet the dog’s parents and check facilities, the chances are that you are dealing with puppy mills. If that’s the case, just walk away.

As soon as you get your Glen home, take him to your veterinarian for a quick check-up. This way you will get him comfortable at the vets.

Ears should be checked regularly and cleaned, bathing should be done only when really needed, and skin should be checked for any sign of infection.

Recommended Health Tests for Glen of Imaal Terrier:

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

Is Glen of Imaal For You?

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a strong and highly independent dog with a strong need to please his owners.

Originally bred to hunt fox and badger and to keep homes free of rodents, the Glen is a highly skilled and cunning hunter.

When not chasing around they are devoted family members who love spending time with their humans.

If you are not sure if Glen of Imaal Terrier is for you think if you are willing to deal with dynamic terrier temperament, possible aggression toward other animals, digging holes, and stubbornness… If the answer is ‘no’ then the Glen of Imaal Terrier isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you want a dog of small size, rough-coating, and a moderate temperament with above-average watching skills, then the Glen of Imaal Terrier is for you.

The Bottom Line

Getting a dog isn’t something that should be taken lightly.

Being a dog owner isn’t only about cute moments that you get to share with your canine, but about having a well-behaved dog who is a trained member of society.

So, unless you are 100% sure that you provide what needs for a dog (plus, there are always unplanned situations) wait a bit longer until you are sure that you can handle it.

On the other hand, if you know that you can provide and give everything that one dog needs to be happy, then think about adopting Glen of Imaal Terrier first.

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