The Glen of Imaal Terrier (also called Wicklow Terrier or sometimes “Glen” for short) is a small vulnerable native breed originally used to hunt badgers. It originated in County Wicklow in Ireland and is one of four Irish Terrier breeds. This low to ground terrier is described as a fearless and tenacious breed and is thought to have a mix of the Soft Coated Wheaten, and Kerry and Irish Terrier blood. It is one of the quietest terriers we have today, owing to the fact that it was bred to hunt silently rather than barking. Its physical appearance shows a dog that is longer than it is high, typically 35 – 36cm in height at the shoulder and an approximate weight of 16kg. It is accentuated by a medium-length, hard-textured coat that comes in blue, brindle and wheaten colours, a large head, rose or half-pricked ears and short, slightly bowed legs. It is one of the slow-maturing dog breeds, typically taking up to 4 years to reach full maturity.
The exact origin of the Glen of Imaal Terrier is not known in fine details but it is reportedly said that the breed’s history began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The soldiers who helped put down the rebellion in Ireland settled in County Wicklow after the conflict together with their low-slung hounds. These dogs were eventually bred with local terriers that gave rise to the distinctive breed that we now know as the Glen of Imaal Terrier. The original purpose of the Glen was to hunt for rats, foxes, badgers, and otters. It was also originally used for herding farm animals in addition to being a well-behaved family pet. The breed almost became extinct before breed fanciers in Ireland helped revive the population during the early 20th century. Today, it is still one of the vulnerable native breeds and remains the least-known Irish terrier.
This breed is described as alert, courageous, lively, loyal, and outgoing. The Glen was bred to work and hunt silently rather than barking at the quarry and for this reason, it is among the quietest terriers we have today. Though it is active and determined, it also tends to be more placid and more laid-back than most terriers. It has the uncanny ability to sit on its behind and hold its entire body vertical, a posture known as the “Glen sit.”
The Glen typically has a stubborn streak like most terriers but it generally responds well to an owner with a firm hand. Positive reinforcement training will benefit the breed the most. It is intelligent, a quick learner and usually gets along well with other dogs very easily. Some Glens can be dog-aggressive but early socialisation is the key to correcting this behaviour. It will do well in a few dog sport such as earthdog trial which tests the working ability and instinct of the Glen, as well as barn hunt and dog agility.
The Glen of Imaal Terrier has a unique wiry topcoat with a soft undercoat. Grooming requirement is on the lighter side because this breed does not moult or shed much. Brushing or combing can be done on a weekly basis or twice a month to keep the coat in good, healthy condition. Excess or dead hairs should be stripped every three months to help lessen hair fall even further.
It is a generally healthy breed with a median lifespan of 14 years but it is likely to suffer from a few health issues including:
Heart problems are non-issues in Glens but they are susceptible to growth plate injuries so owners are advised not to let their Glens jump off from high places such as beds, sofas, and chairs until the dog is more than one year of age. A low-protein diet should be given to a Glen at the age of one year and older.
Exercise is on the lighter side. It is typically less excitable than other terriers but as a working dog, it still needs daily exercise, usually a 30-minute walk around the block. It will also be happy with some playtime in the yard or in the park, typically when the weather is cool. A Glen that is not properly exercised has a tendency to develop behavioural problems.
The Glen is a fearless but loyal breed and gets along very well with children. It goes well with other dogs especially if it is socialised at an early age, although some Glens can be dog-aggressive especially when provoked. It has a high prey drive and will go after cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mouse, and other similar pets if not well socialised at an early age.