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The Glen of Imaal Terrier 

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Marfidal Jerez Dulce at Romainville (imp Finland) with Romainville China Blue

Breed history

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is one of the four native terrier breeds of Ireland. Centuries ago soldiers who served the house of Hesse were given land and it is said that a terrier was developed for the harsh terrain of Wicklow. There are reports of dogs sounding very like Glens, one of which was George Turberville’s ‘The Noble Art of Venerie’ or hunting. Rowden Lee’s Modern Dogs in 1894 has two references to the breed, also the Irish terrier book by Jowett mentions another strain of terriers kept in the Glen of Imaal, being mostly blue with also wheaten, long in body and not straight in front, but dead game, kept for vermin destroying. 


Farmers in Ireland needed a dog that was a general all purpose animal, used not only for vermin control but protector of the stock.  Because of his low stature and bulky body he has a lot of strength. The work the Glen was bred for shaped the breed as we see it today. He is a silent worker so not yappy like some terriers, his coat is double thickness  for protection against the weather. The correct ear set is essential when working as large, dropped or hound ears would soon get torn, the correct rose ears gives him the ability to fold them back to give them protection. The description in general of a Glen is maximum substance for size, meaning he should have good bone, no weediness, with a good strong head and jaws.


Once upon a time in Ireland a dog had to obtain a ‘Teastac Misneac’ (a certificate of dead gameness) before he could obtain the title of champion. In  1971 the Glen of Imaal club was formed in Ireland, in 1993 the same club applied to the IKC to have the breed called the Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier. Meanwhile in England, Glens were about in the 70’s and in 1981 the Glen of Imaal Terrier Association was formed.  After many years, in 2007 Glens obtained championship status, meaning that we could make up champions in the breed for the first time.


Glen of Imaals are in general a very healthy breed, the most common cause of death in Glens is cancer, but this is the same in most breeds. The only inherited problem that Glens are known to have and the kennel Club requires testing for is an hereditary eye problem Crd3 (cone rod dystrophy). Glens are the only breed which suffers from this problem. Before testing became available breeders were unable to know their dogs eye status, as the disease is late onset, so a dog would commonly not show any symptoms until later in life. 

 Crd3 is a simple recessive gene and it took many years to isolate the gene responsible. Thankfully a simple blood test sent to a specialist laboratory can identify whether the individual is clear, carrier or affected. Clear to clear matings will produce puppies which are genetically clear and do not need testing. Carrier to clear will result in a percentage of clears and carriers, whilst affected to clear will result in all carriers. Afffected dogs should not be mated with carriers as this could result in resulting puppies suffering blindness in later life. Matings that produce carriers should be tested before they are mated or used at stud.

Breed Standard

The Kennel club guidelines for breed standard  for the Glen of Imaal Terrier are below: 


General appearance

Medium sized with medium-length coat, great strength with impression of maximum substance for the size of dog. Body longer than high.



Active, agile and silent when working. Native of County Wicklow and named after the Glen of Imaal.



Game and spirited with great courage when called upon, otherwise gentle and docile.


Head and skull

Of good width and fair length with powerful foreface. Muzzle to taper towards nose. Well-defined stop. Nose black.



Brown, medium size, round and set well apart. Light eyes undesirable.



Small, rose or half pricked when alert, thrown back when in repose. Full drop or prick undesirable.



Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Teeth of good size.



Very muscular and of moderate length.



Shoulders broad, muscular and well laid back. Forelegs short, well boned and slightly bowed.



Deep and of medium length, slightly longer than height at withers. Well-sprung ribs with neither flat nor barrel appearance. Chest wide and strong. Topline slightly rising to a strong loin.



Strong, well muscled, with good thighs and good bend of stifle. Hocks turned neither in nor out.



Compact and strong with rounded pads. Front feet to turn out slightly from pastern.



Docking previously optional.

Docked: Strong at root. Well set on and carried gaily.

Undocked: Strong at root. Well set on and carried gaily. In overall balance with rest of the dog.



Free in action. Covers the ground effortlessly with good drive behind.



Medium length, of harsh texture with soft undercoat. Coat may be tidied to present a neat outline.



Blue, brindle and wheaten (all shades).



35-36 cms (14 ins) at the shoulder is maximum height for dogs and bitches.


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