Glen of Imaal Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is an Irish dog, still fairly rare in the United States. He is named for the Glen of Imaal, in County Wicklow, Ireland. Like many similarly built, low-to-the-ground, powerful terriers, he was bred to hunt and kill lair animals, such as foxes and badgers. The dog would go into the animal’s den to drag it out. Glen of Imaal Terriers were even pitted in timed trials against live badgers to test their gameness until such events were banned in 1966. They also helped to keep vermin under control on Irish homesteads and farms. Unlike Fox Terriers and Lakeland Terriers, the Glen of Imaal is supposed to work silently. The Glen of Imaal Terrier was also used to turn spits cooking meat over a fire by trotting on a treadmill for hours at a time.

Though this spunky terrier serves mostly as a companion dog today, he can still dispatch vermin. The Glen of Imaal Terrier was first exhibited in Ireland in 1933. The breed was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1975, by the United Kennel Club (U.S.) in 1994, and by the AKC in 2004.


The sturdy Glen of Imaal Terrier is a low-to-the-ground, substantive terrier with a harsh, shaggy medium-length coat. The coat comes in many shades of blue, brindle, or wheaten, and consists of a rough outer coat lined with a dense undercoat. The muscular body is fairly long, with an approximate length to height ratio of 5 to 3. The legs are short, with the front legs a bit bowed. The chest is broad and strong. The head is powerful and sizable, but in good proportion to the body. The wide-set ears are located well back on the head. They are half pricked or rose shaped when the dog is alert, but when the dog is at rest, they lie back. The nose is black and the eyes round and brown. The muzzle is wide, not pointed, and the teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite.

Key Facts

  • Height:  12-1/2 to 14 in. (male); 12-1/2 to 14 in. (female)
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  30 to 40 lbs.
  • Availability:  Very difficult to find
  • Talents:  Hunting (earthdog), watchdog, guarding, and agility


Though not overly inclined to sound off, the Glen of Imaal Terrier has a deep bark that makes the dog sound much bigger than he is. Likes to dig and chase, and can be taught to retrieve. Adapts well to changes of owner. Prefers to sleep indoors, though he can sleep outdoors if the weather is not extreme. Does OK without a yard if sufficiently exercised. Be careful around swimming pools; some Glens are not good swimmers and can panic in water. The Glen needs a biannual stripping to maintain the harsh coat, plus scissoring under the tail as needed, and a good brushing once or twice a week to prevent matting. Hair in the ears should be plucked out regularly. The Glen of Imaal Terrier is generally healthy and hearty, but some cases of PRA, hip dysplasia, and flea allergies have occurred in the breed.


Spirited and cocky. Tough, stoic, and game when hunting; otherwise docile. Very brave. Patient and loyal. Though Glens can be peaceful and adoring with the family, and many live happily with children, this is a terrier of considerable substance and power and is not a breed that would show the same forbearance with a child as a Golden Retriever might. Responds well to obedience training. Sensitive to correction. Likes to be near his owner. Playful. Active outdoors. Feisty with other animals, Glens, like many terriers, will often display aggression toward dogs of the same sex. This is extremely variable, with some Glens being quite intolerant and others easily trained to coexist with other dogs. Some Glens live with cats, but this requires vigilance.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence:  Fairly independent
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  May be aggressive with same-sex dogs; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Not a barker
  • Indoors:  Moderately active indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Moderate trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Medium coat
  • Shedding:  Very light
  • Docking/Cropping:  The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Does OK without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Glen of Imaal Terrier Breed Standard

Glen of Imaal Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

No rescue contact.

Books about the Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal Terrier Gifts