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Glen of Imaal Terrier Temperament: Unconditional Companionship

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Have you ever wondered what sharing your life with the spirited Glen of Imaal Terrier is like? As you explore the Glen of Imaal Temperament, get ready to uncover the unique characteristics and history that define this captivating breed.

Delve into the annals of time to understand its origins and journey through the ages. What makes the Glen of Imaal Terrier truly stand out is not just its adorable appearance but also its distinctive temperament.

In this blog post, we'll unravel the temperament intricacies, address critical questions about health, and explore whether this breed aligns with your lifestyle. By the end, you'll gain valuable insights to determine if the Glen of Imaal Terrier is the perfect canine companion for you.

Get ready for a journey into the heart and soul of this remarkable breed, and discover the answers you've been seeking about their temperament and suitability for your life.

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Glen of Imaal Terrier History: Where are Glen of Imaal Terriers from?

The little and stoic Glen of Imaal Terrier originates from Ireland. This breed is believed to have been created in a sheltered region called Knockanarrigan in County Wicklow. The Glen of Imaal is one of four Terriers originating in Ireland: The Kerry Blue Terrier, the Soft Coated Wheaten and the Irish Terrier are the other ones. They are also the only Irish breed Terrier that stands low to the ground.

Initially prized for their versatility and fearlessness, Glen of Imaal Terriers earned their keep as reliable farmhands. Their stout build and keen instincts made them invaluable in controlling pests, showcasing their resilience and determination in challenging terrains. Crawling into badger coves with their short little legs was their speciality.

The Glen of Imaal diligently patrolled cottages and farmland, adept at hunting badgers, exterminating vermin, and safeguarding crops. Their compact size rendered them ideal for poorer farmers aiming to minimise maintenance expenses. However, their diminutive stature did not diminish their tenacity, as numerous vermin soon discovered.

The precise origins of the Glen of Imaal Terrier are not extensively documented. Historical accounts propose that the breed evolved during the 16th or 17th centuries through the collaboration of Hessian and Lowland troops, incorporating a trace of Irish Wolfhound ancestry.

The soldiers introduced Hounds, which subsequently bred with indigenous terriers, giving rise to the distinct Glen of Imaal Terrier. The presence of dwarfism hints at a potential link to the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, a fellow farm-focused hunting dog from France.

Enduring the rugged landscapes of their native Glen, these Terriers forged a distinct temperament marked by courage, independence, and unwavering loyalty to their human companions. Their Irish roots have woven a delightful tapestry of hardiness and charm, endearing them for their work ethic and individualistic personalities.

Glen of Imaal Temperament
The Geln is a happy go lucky dog.

The Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier debuted in the spotlight at the Lisburn Dog Show of 1870, a trailblazer in Irish terriers—a mixed breed class, unlike today's recognised Irish terrier breeds. The winning dog, described as "not high on leg, longer than tall, not straight in front, turned-out feet, and a slatey-brindle colour," marked the inception of their presence in the show ring.

These Glens shine in Earthdog trials, captivating audiences with their instinct-driven prowess in hunting and tracking underground prey.

Recognised by the Irish Kennel Club in 1934 and the Kennel Club of England in 1975, the breed faced extinction in the 20th century, but dedicated enthusiasts ensured its survival.

In the modern era, Glen of Imaal Terriers carry forward the spirit of their Irish heritage. While their roles may have evolved, their love for adventure, playful demeanour, and unwavering loyalty persist, making them cherished companions for those who embrace the distinctive charm of this remarkable breed.

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Now that we have learned about their history, let's look at the temperament of the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

What is the Temperament of the Glen of Imaal?

This unique canine is often likened to a hound wrapped in the compact body of a small Terrier. While they display tranquillity at home, these dogs can immediately shift into full protection mode. Unlike some more yappy Terriers, Glens are remarkably quiet, a trait ingrained in their working heritage where silent efficiency was crucial.

Fearlessness and tenacity are hallmarks of the Glen of Imaal Terrier, which define their unmistakable strength. The breed standard captures their essence, describing them as "Game and spirited with great courage when called upon, otherwise gentle and docile."

In the historical context of Ireland, before the prohibition of badger trials in 1966, Glens had to earn a working certificate to demonstrate their courage and gameness. Only then could they attain the esteemed title of Champion, ensuring the preservation of the breed's working characteristics.

It's a testament to the breed's rich history and the enduring spirit that has made the Glen of Imaal Terrier a genuinely exceptional companion.

The Glen of Imaal Temperament is marked by bravery, often making these dogs perceive themselves as larger than their actual size—fearlessly facing the world, even cars. Despite their compact build, Glens are comfortable in tight spaces, requiring vigilant ownership to prevent injuries.

Proper socialisation transforms them into bold and curious companions, though their loyalty keeps them close to their owners, distinguishing them from more sporting hunting dogs like Vizslas or German Pointers.

Surprisingly, the Glen doesn't demand excessive exercise but thrives on a daily 45-minute walk, complemented by playtime for mental stimulation. Their short legs have a muscular build and impressive stamina, making them well-suited for longer walks and hikes.

Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Temperament is often "stoic," diverging from the typical Terrier excitement in other breeds.

As task-oriented hunting dogs, Glens excel in activities like Earthdog trials, agility, and coursing, showcasing their problem-solving skills.

Their laid-back temperament at home contrasts with their dynamic nature during activities, and they don't crave constant attention.

Many vets commend their easygoing nature, with some Glens exhibiting a food-oriented disposition, adding a delightful quirk to their temperament.

The Glen of Imaal Temperament is often "stoic," diverging from the typical Terrier excitement in other breeds. While not as outwardly exuberant, Glens may exhibit a stubborn streak when their independent instincts clash with commands—this is all down to them being bred to make their own decisions.

Building trust with your Glen, a crucial aspect of their training requires consistent, positive reinforcement but will help your Glen of Imaal understand the sense in your commands.

Training sessions will require understanding the Glen of Imaal Temperament and should be ongoing and consistent. Glens, with their laid-back disposition, are generally biddable and eager to please. Keeping training sessions dynamic, varied and enjoyable prevents boredom and ensures more accessible learning.

Socialisation is pivotal in shaping how well your Glen interacts with others. Protective of their owners, Glens may display aloofness, but their inherently polite nature typically prevails.

Despite their small size, Glens possess the tenacity of true Terriers, capable of self-defence. This can lead to a casual row in a park, especially with same-sex dogs.

Early socialisation with diverse environments, people, and dogs guides the Glen in discerning appropriate reactions. Known for their mellow demeanour, Glens are not inherently aggressive, emphasising the importance of a well-rounded socialisation process for this unique and adaptable breed.

Nonetheless, they exhibit a robust prey drive, delighting in chasing, hunting, and digging, necessitating the fortification of your garden to make it "Glen-proof." Erecting a sturdy fence is essential, as their prey drive enhances their wanderlust potential.

The Glen of Imaal is an undemanding dog compared with other high-energy hunting dogs and can be managed through consistent training and socialisation. Balancing independence with affection, they prove loyal and loving, readily assuming the role of a protective companion. While not traditional guard dogs, Glens can serve as capable watchdogs.

Choosing a Glen will undoubtedly enhance your life if you seek a steadfast companion capable of self-sufficiency yet always ready for a heartfelt cuddle.

Do Glen of Imaal Terriers bark a lot? 

Glen of Imaal Temperament
Glen of Imaal Terriers, although belonging to the Terrier group, are notably quieter and more docile around the house than other Terrier breeds.

Glen of Imaal Terriers, although belonging to the Terrier group, are notably quieter and more docile around the house than other Terrier breeds.

While they bark considerably less, it's essential to note that their mischievous nature remains intact. These Terriers may occasionally bark when alerting you to unusual occurrences, showcasing their keen awareness.

Early socialisation and training are crucial in managing barking tendencies in Glen of Imaal Terriers.

It's essential to recognise that individual dogs within the breed may still exhibit varying levels of vocal behaviour. Providing mental stimulation and ensuring they get regular exercise are critical elements in fostering a well-behaved Glen of Imaal Terrier, contributing to their physical health and overall contentment and demeanour.

Are Glen of Imaal Terriers hypoallergenic?

While no dog breed is entirely hypoallergenic, Glen of Imaal Terriers are often considered a more hypoallergenic option than other breeds. They have a rugged outer coat with a perfectly weather-resistant soft undercoat.

The low-shedding coat and minimal dander of Glens may reduce the likelihood of triggering allergic reactions in individuals with sensitivities, making them a fitting choice for those with allergies.

However, individual reactions can vary, and allergy sufferers should spend time with a Glen of Imaal Terrier before deciding.

Consistent grooming and maintaining a tidy environment can also minimise potential allergens.

It is recommended to hand-strip the coat twice a year for dead hair and to keep it well-maintained and free from mats. Glens not shown in the ring can also be shaved or cut.

Are Glen of Imaal Terriers rare?

Yes, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a rare breed. It is classified as a "Vulnerable Native Breed" by the UK Kennel Club. The list includes a list of groups of dog breeds that have originated in Ireland or the UK with fewer than 300 registrations per year. In 2022, there have been only 115 registrations in the UK.

These breeds are often promoted at Crufts and Discover Dogs, and owners need to be prepared to take responsibility for mating the dog instead of spaying them.

A breed with 300 to 450 registrations moves to the "At Watch" list. 

As with any breed, popularity can vary by region, but Glen of Imaal Terriers are generally recognised as a unique and less widespread canine companion.

Gift ideas for Glen of Imaal Terrier Lovers

Embark on a delightful journey of gift discovery as we unveil five perfect presents that capture the hearts of Glen of Imaal Terrier enthusiasts, celebrating the unique charm of these spirited companions.

Gift ideas for Glen of Imaal Terrier Lovers #1: Glen of Imaal Necklace

Elevate the joy for Glen of Imaal enthusiasts with a sterling silver necklace, intricately crafted to showcase the distinctive charm of these terriers, making it a cherished and elegant gift for any devoted Glen of Imaal Lover.

glen of imaal temperament

Gift ideas for Glen of Imaal Terrier Lovers #2: Glen of Imaal Glass Figurine

Bring the enchanting presence of Glen of Imaal Terriers into their space with a beautifully crafted glass figurine, capturing the unique essence of these terriers and providing a stunning display piece that any Glen of Imaal lover would cherish.

glen of imaal temperament

Gift ideas for Glen of Imaal Terrier Lovers #3: Glen of Imaal Terrier Greeting Card

Send warm wishes to the Glen of Imaal Terrier enthusiast in your life with a delightful greeting card adorned with charming illustrations, perfectly capturing the spirit of these terriers and making it a thoughtful and heartwarming gift.

glen of imaal temperament

Gift ideas for Glen of Imaal Terrier Lovers #4: Glen of Imaal Ornament

Deck the halls with joy for Glen of Imaal Terrier aficionados with a finely crafted ornament, featuring intricate details that capture the whimsical charm of these terriers, creating a cherished and festive gift for the holiday season.

glen of imaal temperament

Gift ideas for Glen of Imaal Terrier Lovers #5: Glen of Imaal Sign

Personalise their space with a custom Glen of Imaal Terrier sign, beautifully crafted to showcase the breed's distinctive charm and create a unique and cherished gift for any Glen of Imaal lover's home or office.

glen of imaal temperament

Glen of Imaal Temperament in a Nutshell

Glen of Imaal Temperament
While not typically guard dogs, they are alert and watchful, making them excellent watchdogs for alerting to changes in their surroundings.
  • Affectionate and Loving: Irish Red and White Setters are known for their strong bond with their owners and their affectionate nature.

  • Energetic and Playful: They are highly energetic and love to play, making them great companions for active individuals or families.

  • Intelligent and Trainable: These dogs are intelligent and respond well to training, particularly when using positive reinforcement methods.

  • Social and Good with Other Pets: They typically get along well with other animals, earning a reputation as "social butterflies."

  • Alert and Watchful: While not typically guard dogs, they are alert and watchful, making them excellent watchdogs for alerting to changes in their surroundings.

Top 10 Female Glen of Imaal Names

Top 10 Male Glen of Imaal Names

Potential health issues in the Glen of Imaal breed

Glens are a sturdy and healthy breed, displaying strength and robustness. Their typical lifespan ranges from 10 to 13 years, with some exceptional individuals reaching 14 or as much as 18.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is an Achondroplastic breed or a dwarf, as are Corgis and Bassets, so they have short legs and a large body and head.

When hunting for a suitable breed for your lifestyle, you must be aware of any health issues that may arise and must be covered by vet expenses. The more you are aware of dangers to your dog and see the signs, the quicker you will be able to react if your dog shows any symptoms.

The below health issues have been linked to the Glen of Imaal.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia in Glen of Imaal Terriers refers to a condition where the hip joint doesn't fit into the hip socket properly, potentially leading to discomfort or mobility issues.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) in Glen of Imaal Terriers is a progressive neurological disorder affecting the spinal cord, leading to hind limb weakness and, eventually, paralysis.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in Glen of Imaal Terriers is an inherited degenerative eye condition that leads to the gradual deterioration of the retina, potentially resulting in blindness over time. Cone Rod Dystrophy is an autosomal recessive form of PRA and has been observed in Glens.

Glen of Imaal Fun facts

The origin of "The Glen Sit" remains a delightful mystery—a charming quirk that has endured through the ages. Whether inspired by their human companions or driven by centuries of wanting to please us, it seems as if Glens have seamlessly incorporated this endearing gesture into their repertoire. While the exact genesis remains elusive, one thing is sure: Glens have been perfecting "The Sit" for years, showcasing yet another distinctive aspect of their charismatic breed.

The unique physical proportions of the Glen of Imaal Terrier, with a low centre of gravity and a ratio of 3 in height to 5 in length, enable them to achieve the remarkable "Glen Sit." This ability, uncommon in dogs, adds to the breed's distinctive charm.

A true Glen Sit involves a self-supported, bolt-upright seated position on their not-so-insignificant backsides. Some incredibly clever Glens even add a brilliant touch: a high-five, showcasing their intelligence and charm.

Is the Glen of Imaal the right dog breed for me?

In conclusion, anybody who has cherished the Glen of Imaal Terrier throughout their life can attest to the unparalleled joy and unwavering companionship they bring to one's existence. If you seek a dog that mirrors your resilient spirit, thrives on genuine connection, and embraces each day with an endearing mix of courage and charm, the Glen of Imaal is more than a pet—it's a kindred spirit.

The ideal owner for this extraordinary breed appreciates the delicate balance between independence and loyalty and understands that Glen's unique temperament is a symphony of strength, intelligence, and affection.

While Glens are not the right fit for those seeking an aloof or overly submissive companion, they are a perfect match for those who value a dog that can hold its own yet revel in the warmth of shared moments.

Owning a Glen requires more than providing food, water, and shelter—it demands an investment in a lifelong partnership. Consistent training, socialisation, and a commitment to understanding their unique needs are crucial to fostering a thriving bond. This breed excels when surrounded by owners who appreciate their quirks, understand their instinctual behaviours, and reciprocate the loyalty they unconditionally offer.

In the life journey with a Glen of Imaal Terrier, you'll find a devoted friend, a source of endless laughter, and a confidant who intuitively senses your moods. The bond you forge will not be ordinary; it will be a tapestry of shared adventures, quiet moments of reflection, and a deep connection that transcends the ordinary.

So, to those considering inviting a Glen into their lives, be prepared for a transformative experience that transcends the traditional notion of pet ownership. Embrace the journey, relish the quirks, and revel in the enduring love of a Glen of Imaal Terrier—the extraordinary canine companion that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul.

Owners voices in three words

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Breed box Glen of Imaal Terrier



Dog Size

31cm - 36cm

Dog Weight

14kg- 18kg

Bitch Size

30cm - 35cm

Bitch Weight

14kg- 18kg



Feeding Need


Tendency to drool


Energy level


Tendency to bark


Tendency to dig


Attention need



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