Glen of Imaal Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier

Temperament and Behavior

The Glen of Imall (E-MAHL) Terrier, although retaining the stubborn independence typical of terriers, is milder than most other breeds in the terrier group. They are usually calm, gentle, and peaceful in situations that do not involve another dog. With his terrier hunting roots, he should not be trusted around rodents or rabbits. He may or may not accept cats. Polite with visitors he knows, his quick surprisingly deep bark alerts everyone to almost all strangers who should take his bark seriously. Unlike most terriers, indoors a Glen of Imaal Terrier is no more active than most dogs. He wants to be near you, often resting his head on your foot or lap. This gives him a reputation for being underfoot but he is not demanding of attention. Spirited and exceptionally playful, he gets along well with all family members, especially children he is raised with who he will seek out as playmates. More active outside than in, this heavily muscled terrier is fast and agile. He enjoys a vigorous walk but must not be let off leash because his hunting instincts will compel him to chase any small animal he sees. But unless trained to walk on a leash his unusual strength will make you feel like he is walking you. With his moderate exercise needs, he is well suited to life in an apartment. But overindulged, he can become spoiled and bossy; and true to his terrier heritage, he loves to dig.

Physical Characteristics

Medium sized, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a stocky dog with bowed front legs. Their average height is between 12 and 14 inches, and their average weight is anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds. Their colors are brindle, blue or wheaten. Their rough coat is of medium length that rarely sheds and is easy to keep groomed. Their coat protects them from any low temperature that is not extreme but the breed does less well in heat.

Trainer's Notes

Glen of Imaal Terriers benefit from strong socialization with dogs to counter the dominance and aggression they show towards other canines. Easily trained but sensitive to correction, a gentle but consistent owner will have the best results. Food rewards counter their stubbornness. Even with all their positive traits, they do not make a good choice a first-time dog owner.

Photo © by Scoo available under the CCSA
Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal Terrier


Glen of Imaal Terriers is prone to Hip Dysplasia with 1 in 3 dogs affected. Another 20% suffers from Elbow Dysplasia. PRA, which causes blindness, also affects a relatively significant number of dogs. The breed’s lifespan is typically 12 to 14 years.


The American Kennel Club ranks the breed 150th in popularity. With fewer than 75 dogs registered each year, the Glen of Imaal is the rarest terrier both in the United States and around the world. Finding a pup can be challenging as their litters tend to be small and most breeders have long waiting lists. The National (US) Breed Club has a list of only 13 breeders when this breed description was written.

Breed History

Possibly the oldest Irish Terrier, the breed derives its name from the Glen (valley) of Imaal. They were originally bred to remove vermin from houses and farms as well as to silently hunt fox and badger. As an additional indication of his toughness, he was also used in dog fighting and as a turnspit dog who used his bowed legs and strength to turn a rotisserie over a hearth, often for hours at a time. A recent addition in the United States, the national breed club was not formed until 1986 with the American Kennel Club fully recognizing the breed in 2004.

Additional Information

The National Breed Club is the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America.

Is A Glen of Imaal Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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