Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a breed of one of the four Irish terrier breeds category. It is also called the Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier or sometimes the Wicklow Terrier. The fanciers often shorten its name to just the Glen.
This breed originated in the Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, Ireland and so is named after that. The Irish Kennel Club was the first one to recognize it in the year 1934 and recently in the year 2004, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Glen came into existence during the time of Elizabeth I, when the French and Hessian mercenaries were hired to put down the unrest going on in Ireland. After the situations became normal, these soldiers settled in the Wicklow area itself. They started breeding their low-slung hounds with the local terrier breeds, which resulted in the development of another new breed, called the Glen of Imaal Terrier.
This breed was developed for the removal of vermin like rats, badger, otter and the fox. These strong dogs were also used for herding and were bred to work mute, going silently after the quarry, rather than barking to alert them. This breed was actually disqualified in the hunting trials for championship, if they barked at the quarry.
There have been few evidences which show that the Glen was even used as the turnspit dog, which used to turn the meat over fire while cooking. This breed started disappearing after its revival in the early 20th century and now is one of the rarest and least known breeds of dogs.
The Glen is a dwarf breed and is more substantial than the expectations. Normally, a Glen giant weighs about 36 pounds and its height is around 14 inches tall at the withers. The AKC standards specify a height of around 12 in to 14 in and the weight of a male Glen to be 35 pounds with a “somewhat less” for the females. The length to height ratio of this breed is given as 5:3. There can be found many Glens, who are larger than the standards, even exceeding 40 to 45 pounds in weight.
Glens have a large head with rose or half-prick ears, short and bowed legs and a topline from the shoulders to the tail. It has sturdy and muscular shoulders, hips and chest and its feet are turned out. The Glen takes around four years to grow to its full maturity. Glens have a unique double coat on their back which is wiry along with a soft undercoat. The head, legs and the sides have only the undercoat. The colour of the coat may vary in the shades of the blue or the wheaten colour. There may be few other combinations of blue and wheaten possible, like grizzle but their acceptance mostly depends on the Kennel Clubs.
The Glen does not shed too frequently and requires the grooming every one or two weeks to keep their coat free from matting. They even require stripping of the dead hair from the hard coat around two to four times in a year. These dead hairs come out easily and without causing any pin using the right tools. Earlier, their tails were docked up to such a length which made it possible to pull them out of the badger hole. Many countries have banned docking of tails, while it is still standard in the United States. Ireland banned showing of the dogs with docked tails, who were docked after March 6th, 2014. In the UK, working terrier dogs can have docked tails but the dogs kept as pets are not allowed to have one.
Glens are generally very healthy and strong and have their life expectancy of about more than 15 years.
There is a genetic test available to check for the progressive retinal atrophy, which is a congenital disorder that results into the blindness eventually. It was difficult to completely eliminate the defective gene, because the blindness does not become apparent before the breeding years.
There are no existing heart diseases found in this breed. Skin diseases are also very rare and that too due to the improper diet or by the reactions to mite bites or the flea. Sometimes the hip dysplasia can be seen but it cannot result in lameness because of the muscular and strong build of this breed. Owners are advised to avoid their Glens form jumping off the chairs and sofas until a year, as it may cause growth plate injuries.
Temperament and Behaviour
Glen of Imaal Terriers is energetic, tenacious, even-tempered and less vocal as compared to other terriers. They are highly active but not demanding and find themselves relaxed by the side of their owner. They have a deep and dominating bark just like some larger dog.
They are quick learners but can be stubborn too, but mostly respond well to a firm hand. They are mostly loyal, fearless and friendly especially to the children, but can be aggressive, if provoked.
Most of the Glen have a high prey drive in them and would readily go for vermin like rats, so they should be made familiar with household pets at an earlier stage which they might mistaken as prey. In spite of their short legs, some of the Glens work in water and other are trained to drive cattle.
Relationship with other breeds
There is no such precise information in the history about the origin of the Glens; some say that they are related to the Irish terrier breed, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. It also bears a resemblance to the Dandie Dinmont terrier of Scotland, and also is available in the two colours of the Dandie, but still it is not particularly related to that breed.
The DNA proofs have made clear about their relationship with other breeds and state their strong relationship with the Molossers.