Dog Breed Review

Glen of Imaal Terrier




For some people, they prefer the even cooking of an horizontal rotisserie cooker. Yet, for people cooking centuries ago, the preference was using the Glen of Imaal Terrier for an even and slow cook. That’s right! This archaic, medium size breed was quite literally the “cooking dog.”

Thanks to their short legs and powerful hindquarters, the Glen was more than a companion or vermin killer. This rare dwarf terrier was the chef of the Irish family in its day.

Although the breed wasn’t adhering to a recipe or seasoning, it just goes to show you how important dogs were centuries ago. 

So what else makes this cooking connoisseur such a wonderful family companion?

Here is what you need to know about the Glen of Imaal Terrier


Relax Martha Steward, Emeril and Rachel Ray, you can all keep your daytime television jobs. The Glen of Imaal has a different role and job these days. Although they surely make fine hunters and vermin exterminators, the Glen Terrier is better fit for companionship. A role the breed continues to flourish with.

But it wasn’t always that way, at least for the most part. In fact, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was a preference of European kitchens for a couple of reasons. First, the breed was great at keeping vermin like rats or mice out of the house. Second, their natural build gave them an advantage of performing that specific job. That job was, “turnspit dog,” or as some would say, “kitchen dog” or “cooking dog.”

Where does the story begin with the Glen of Imaal Terrier? Many historians and writers who follow the breed have a difficult time answering that question. Much like other breeds, pure speculation seems to fill the lines of this breed’s history.

Historians have spoke about a dog resembling a Glen Terrier as far back as the 16th century. In George Tuberville’s work, one of the first, if not, the first book on dogs, Tuberville describes what sounds like a Glen Terrier. Moreover, the books describes a dog with crooked legs and is great at eradicating rats, which would describe the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

So we know that the breed is old but how and who gave the breed its start? Many historians believe that the breed’s start dates back to the first Queen Elizabeth era. At the time, the British empire had control over Ireland. Yet, there was destabilization in the area, and mercenaries from France and German came in to help stabilize the region. In doing so, the soldiers are said to have brought with them their own dogs.

Around that time, King William the Third made a decree to give land to those soldiers. The land would turn out to be the Wicklow County of Ireland. This land was harsh, and the tough elements meant that it would be hard living. So, in doing so, the people of remote valley Glen of Imaal, are said to have bred the native terrier dogs with foot hounds. The result is said to be a dog with short legs, the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

While the breed’s role as kitchen helper was an important task, possibly the most important job to the people of Ireland was vermin killer. With this role, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was effective. Their size, their courage, and their hard work ethic. That said, the breed was also a hunting dog that would hunt badgers and foxes.

Historians claim the breed’s development took place in the 18th century. However, it is evident, that the breed began appearing at different dog shows in the latter end of the 18th century. Moreover, the breed began stirring seats at dog shows in the 1880’s, but it was their work, showmanship, and stigma in the 1930’s that won them recognition with the Irish Kennel Club.

While the American Kennel Club claims the breed’s more prominent moments began in the 1980’s, there is evidence, according to the club, that the breed initially came to the states as early as the 1930’s. 

England’s Kennel Club gave the Glen of Imaal Terrier recognition in 1975. Recognition with the UKC, the second biggest club in the United States came in 1993. In 2016, the Canadian Kennel Club fell in line with recognition. The big club, the American Kennel Club, in 2004, finally gave this old but important breed recognition.

Today, although not as popular as other Ireland breed’s like the Irish Wolfhound, Irish Setter and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is still a relevant breed. According to the AKC, the breed ranks 180th on their list. The breed still serves as a hunter but enjoys a much easier life as a companion.


As a medium dog breed, the American Kennel Club cites the breed at 12.5 to 14 inches. With regards to weight, the Glen of Imaal Terrier should fluctuate between 32 to 40 pounds.

The UKC, however, indicates a 35 pound weight limit for males and a maximum of 14 inches for males. Females should be that or less.

Personality and Temperament

The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a zest nature about itself. Although they may look diminutive in appearance, there is nothing small about this breed’s heart. The Glen Terrier has courage, they are bold, and when the need arises, they can channel that temperament to their advantage. Much like a true Terrier, the Glen of Imaal Terrier approaches work with fervor and fire. They are resilient and fierce when the need be.

Interestingly, that all appears to change at home with a well taught dog. They are calm, near stoic in their day to day indoor faculties. When they grow up with children and smaller animals, they are kind and caring. A Glen Terrier of Imaal will play as much as a smaller child, and can match their enthusiasm for a good romp.

The downside may include a dose of prey drive as natural hunters of vermin. Of course, you can avoid catastrophe by supervising the interactions with smaller animals such as pet mice and cats. That said, the breed doesn’t get along as well with fellow male Glen Terriers as they would a female.

With their master or family, they are loyal and will devote their hearts and love towards their lead hand. Expect plenty of compassion and affection from the devout Glen Terrier. An ultimate family dog, that is eager to learn and willing to train. The breed loves to learn and will excel at sports like coursing, agility, tracking and rally. They love to dig and explore and will bark more as a necessity than a luxury.

All in all, this dual purpose dog is a wonderful working breed that makes for a wonderful companion.


A Glen of Imaal Terrier has far and few health concerns to worry of or about. That said, this doesn’t exclude them from certain health complications such as Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy or allergies.

There are things you can do as a consumer to avoid a cataclysmic purchase or unhealthy dog. Since testing is available for certain conditions, it is always wise to purchase from a reputable breeder, who can provide you the proper documents and health clearances. Furthermore, you should schedule routine visits with the veterinarian to get on the same page  and execute a good health plan for your Glen of Imaal Terrier.

With that in mind, if all goes well, you can expect your Glen Terrier to live between 10 to 15 years.

One of their bigger issues facing the breed is Hip Dysplasia. Of course, this is a condition where there’s a malformation of the hip joint, which causes the femur to rub causing pain and aggravation. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals performs a survey evaluating breeds for different diseases and conditions. In their survey, the OFA found that the Glen Terrier to be 28.1% dysplastic for Hip Dysplasia. This ranks the breed overall at 21st on their list. Not a flattering number, yet, a lot of breeds suffer from this orthopedic nuisance like the Boykin Spaniel and Amstaff Terrier.

The news isn’t much better pertaining to the abnormal growth of the elbow joint or Elbow Dysplasia. The Glen Terrier ranks 32nd on the list from 128 evaluations. which puts them at a 12.5% dysplastic rate. Breeds like the Chow Chow and Pug fare much worse than the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

A congenital disorder affecting the eyes, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, can also be prevalent with the Glen Terrier. However, there is testing available for this disease and responsible breeders can avoid breeding dogs ultimately that will suffer from PRA that results in blindness. Retinal deterioration begins at two years of age, however, most dogs won’t show any signs until 7 years old. It’s important to consult the health clearance document or a veterinarian.

Due to their short legs, you may encounter other joint issues with this breed as well as problem with growth plate injuries. Allergies is also a concern for the breed.


Living with a Glen of Imaal Terrier isn’t all that hard as other breeds. In fact, aside from some growing pains, the breed is relatively easy to handle. Moreover, it is important to socialize them early on, so that your Glen isn’t running after every squirrel they see. With that said, the breed has selective hearing issues, and when they are set on something, they may be hard to reach, figuratively speaking. Crate training can also be helpful and training them early on in activities like coursing or tracking will help engage the breed.

Regular exercise is certainly in the deck of cards for the Glen of Imaal Terrier. In fact, you should at least provide them with about 30 to 60 minutes per day. Teach them around your children and other dogs to better acquaint them. 

Glens like to dig and explore so it’s important to fence in your area or keep them on a leash. Additionally, you’ll need to teach younger children and yourself to handle this breed with care. In fact, the Glen Terrier shouldn’t do much jumping from high platforms until the age of one. Their short legs can present issues that could affect them in the long run.

Trimming their nails, inspecting their hair, coat and skin is also resourceful to prevent from bigger health issues. Adequate amount of affection and time is a need for this breed. They shouldn’t be left alone, and should never live outdoors. The Glen Terrier belongs with their family and needs a purpose.


Depending on what you want from the Glen Terrier, how much you feed them will pertain to their age, metabolism and activity rate. Furthermore, there is no special requirement for the breed as far as diet concerns. A meat first ingredient formula will suffice their dietary needs. Plenty of nutrients like veggies, fruits, Omega 3 and Omega 6 will help keep them ultimately healthy. It will also strengthen their joint, coat and heart.

Most breeders seem to recommend 1.5 cups to 2 cups. Again, every dog is different. You can, however, reduce the chances of Bloat by feeding them two to three times per day. Bloat is an excruciating ailment that distends the dog’s stomach and can be fatal.

As always, you should provide your Glen of Imaal Terrier with fresh drinking water.


You may take one look at the Glen of Imaal Terrier and have second thoughts about their coat. However, the breed’s coat is rather easy to care for. If you stay current with their coats by brushing at least once a week for this seasonal shedder, the coat will be healthier and easier to care for.

They do have a double coat. The American Kennel Club and UKC maintains the breed has a medium length coat that has a harsh texture with a soft undercoat.

Blue brindle and wheaten are the two acceptable coat color options for the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

Fun Glen of Imaal Terrier Facts

  • Glen Terriers are technically an “Achondroplasia” breed. This means they suffer from dwarfism usually meaning short legs due to a genetic disorder like the Dachshund, Basset Hound and Corgi to name a few.
  • According to expert, Ria Horter, the Glen of Imaal Terrier’s ancestry may come from the Irish Terrier, Irish Wolfhound, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Important to note, that there is no written proof on lineage.
  • Writer and historian Clifford Hubbard back in 1948 maintains that the Glen of Imaal Terrier was once a dog fighting breed. Luckily, the sport of dog fighting became illegal putting an end to that sordid experience.
  • The Kennel Club of England puts the breed on their “vulnerable list.” For the Glen Terrier to be on that list, the breed must have less than 300 registrations. According to their stats, in 2016, the breed had only 70 plus registrations. 
  • They are one of nine native Ireland breeds. That list includes Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Irish Terrier, Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, and the Kerry Beagle.

Closing Words

Some would say that the Glen of Imaal Terrier should be kept for nothing but killing vermin. Others would have the breed as effective kitchen helpers. Although they are rare, the breed is important. They represent a lot of culture since the breed is well over 350 years old.

With that said, there is so much that makes this breed such a wonderful addition to any dog lover’s home. In true terrier fashion, they can turn it on and be a tenacious working dog. And when they are home, they are easy to care for and calm, loving, affectionate pets.

All in all, they may be rare, they may be one of nine Irish breeds, but the Glen of Imaal Terrier, above all, is unique, tough, effective and a great family dog.





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