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Glen of Imaal Terrier Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Dogster Team

Glen of Imaal Terrier dog standing in the garden

Glen of Imaal Terrier Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & More

The Glen of Imaal Terrier or Wicklow Terrier is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. Furthermore, the United Kingdom’s Kennel Club considers them a vulnerable native breed. Only a few hundred Glen of Imaal Terriers are registered per year.

Glen of Imaal Terriers is an Irish breed with origins as a badger hunter in Glen in County Wicklow. With a short stature and courageous temperament, Glen of Imaal Terriers make great working dogs or loyal companions. Keep reading to find out more about this small but mighty rare dog breed.

Breed Overview


12.5–14 inches


32–40 pounds


10–15 years


Blue, brindle, and wheaten

Suitable for:

Families with older children, and those looking for a loyal and spirited small breed


Hardworking, loyal, resilient, independent, laid-back, spirited

Ancestors of the Glen of Imaal Terrier have likely been around since the 17th century. Possible ancestors of the breed include the Kerry, Wheaten, and Irish Terriers. Glen of Imaal Terriers are equally hardworking, loyal, and spirited, and these desirable traits have been preserved in the breed.

According to their AKC breed standard,1 Glen of Imaal Terriers have an “antique” appearance resembling their early Terrier ancestors. Although they stand low to the ground at only 14 inches tall, Glen of Imaal Terriers have a sturdy build and courageous nature.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Glen of Imaal Terrier Puppies

Glen of Imaal Terriers are a rare breed, so they are not commonly up for adoption or rehoming. Your chances of finding a purebred Glen of Imaal Terrier puppy in a shelter or rescue are very low, so a reputable breeder is usually the way to go. However, Glen of Imaal Terriers aren’t widely distributed in the United States, so finding a reputable breeder can be challenging.

You may need to search for international breeders instead. You could also contact different clubs and associations for the breed on where you can find a Glen of Imaal Terrier puppy in your area.

Glen of Imaal Terrier puppies are playful but have a calm disposition. They will enjoy cuddling up to you on the couch just as much as they do play with you. It’s important to start training and socializing these dogs from a young age so they can learn good habits as adults. Plus, early socialization can help Glen of Imaal Terrier puppies adjust to other pets they may share their home with.

Glen of Imaal Terrier puppy at the park
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Glen of Imaal Terrier 🧠

Glen of Imaal Terriers have incredible temperaments that differ from most terrier breeds. They have a strong work ethic and are always eager to impress their owners during training. Their high intelligence makes them easy to train with the right methods and consistency.

Glen of Imaal Terriers are not as feisty as many other terriers and are more laid-back and independent. Their resilience and adaptability are proof of their working background as earthdogs. This breed isn’t known to bark much, which is the opposite of most terriers. They tend to have a calm demeanor around people and other pets they have bonded with.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is the ideal family dog. This breed gets along great with people, sometimes more than they do with other animals. They can form close bonds with their family members and make perfect furry companions for older children.

Although small, Glen of Imaal Terriers are well-muscled and can easily knock over small children in a bout of excitement. It is easy for most families to fall in love with the breed’s gentle yet courageous nature and adorable appearance.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Proper socialization is essential if you want these dogs to get along with cats and dogs. Glen of Imaal Terriers are reserved and alert around unfamiliar dogs. Plus, they aren’t very tolerant of cats they haven’t been introduced to. You will need to carefully supervise these terriers in a dog park or on a walk.

Small animals like hamsters, rats, or rabbits will not get along well with this breed. Glen of Imaal Terriers see small animals as prey and with a history of hunting vermin, small animals are not safe around them.

Glen of Imaal Terrier dog standing on the grass
Image Credit: pltnv_a, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Glen of Imaal Terrier

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Glen of Imaal Terriers require a healthy and balanced diet suitable for their age and lifestyle. Their ideal should consist of high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A few good protein options for these dogs include chicken, fish, beef, or eggs.

The rest of the food should contain a blend of vegetables, fruits, grains, and starches. Glen of Imaal Terriers accepts most commercial dog foods and isn’t picky about whether it’s in a kibble, wet, or raw form.

You can either feed these dogs once or twice a day depending on their energy needs and weight. It’s best to consult with a veterinarian or certified canine nutritionist about any concerns or questions about your Glen of Imaal Terriers diet.

Glen of Imaal Terrier dog with harness lying on grass
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

Glen of Imaal Terriers are not very energetic dogs, so a moderate level of exercise is usually good enough for them. Some Glen of Imaal Terriers prefer to nap more than they want to exercise. However, exercise is important for these terriers and offers several benefits. You should plan to exercise them at least once a day for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

This breed doesn’t need much strenuous exercise, as a jog or walk along with playtime is enough to keep them happy. Most Glen of Imaal Terriers love a game of fetch and enjoy activities that encourage them to hunt or dig.

Training 🦮

Training Glen of Imaal Terriers is fairly simple as their temperaments and high intelligence are easy to work with. You can begin training this breed from as early as 8 weeks old. It’s best to begin training them when they are still young and don’t have any difficult habits to break.

Their training sessions should be short and consistent with efforts to engage their interest. Otherwise, they may lose focus during training and become bored. Positive reinforcement is a recommended training method for most dog breeds, including Glen of Imaal Terriers.

The Glen of Imaal Terriers’ high trainability makes them suitable for agility and obedience competitions. Although they are not a high-energy breed, these dogs enjoy participating and being trained in various canine sports.

Glen of Imaal Terrier dog walking outdoor
Image Credit: DejaVuDesigns, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Glen of Imaal Terriers have medium-length double coats. Their harsh outer coat has a wiry texture, while their undercoat is soft. This breed has moderate grooming requirements and benefits from being brushed at least once a day. Slicker brushes work well to manage this breed’s coats.

Other than regular brushing, Glen of Imaal Terriers should have their nails trimmed, ears and eyes, cleaned, and oral hygiene maintained.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Despite being a relatively healthy breed, Glen of Imaal Terriers have some breed-specific health conditions to be aware of.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Eye abnormalities (cataracts, eyelashes, blindness)

Serious Conditions
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Heart disease
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Rod-cone dystrophy

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Male vs Female

Male Glen of Imaal Terriers are usually larger than their female counterparts. However, both sexes can weigh up to 40 pounds. Female Glen of Imaal Terriers generally have a more pronounced abdomen, while males appear taller and leaner. There are few differences in their personalities as it is usually dependent on the individual dog rather than their sex.

Hormone-related behaviors are dependent on their sex though and can show up when they begin puberty.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Glen of Imaal Terrier

1. There are approximately less than 2,000 Glen of Imaal Terriers currently registered in the United States

2. Glen of Imaal Terriers nearly became extinct during the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Glen of Imaal Terrier dog standing on the lawn
Image By: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

3. A Glen of Imaal Terrier named Winston is currently the first and only dog of his breed to earn various performance distinctions and titles

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Final Thoughts

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a rare dog breed developed from Ireland. This breed differs from other terriers with their ancient appearance, resilient temperament, and strong work ethic. Glen of Imaal Terriers are small yet mighty and tend to be more silent than other Terriers.

If you are lucky enough to find a Glen of Imaal Terrier in your area, you will find they are relatively easy to care for. Furthermore, this breed is known to get along well in households with older children. They do need plenty of socialization to get along with other dogs and cats, as they can be reserved around unfamiliar pets.

Thanks to their high intelligence and trainability, Glen of Imaal Terriers can excel at agility and obedience competitions. Aside from being a dedicated working dog, Glen of Imaal Terriers can make loving companions for families and individuals.

Featured Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

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