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Ron Willbie, Animal Photography
Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography
This lesser known terrier from Ireland thinks — like most Terriers — that he’s bigger than he is. His coat is easy to groom and sheds little. He doesn’t care much for other dogs and even less for cats.
The Glen of Imaal is named for an isolated valley in Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains where the dogs originated.
Be ready for a thousand “What kind of dog is that?” stops on the sidewalk if you manage to find this, the least-known of the Irish dog breeds. Somewhat similar in look to a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, with short legs, he’s a scrappy little guy who started as a farm and hunting dog and is now primarily a companion and family pet.
The Glen of Imaal Terrier usually weighs under 40 pounds, but he carries himself very much like a big dog on his short legs. When it comes to barking, he’s one of the quieter terriers (remember, that’s a relative term) which, along with his medium size and moderate exercise needs, makes him a great city and apartment dog.
“Moderate” doesn’t mean “low.” If you don’t give your Glen regular walks on the leash and a chance to run and play, he’s going to find ways to amuse himself that won’t be to your liking. He’s not a good candidate for the dog park, as he considers other dogs — as well as cats, small pets and furry wildlife -- the vermin his genes are telling him to eradicate. With those constraints, it can be challenging to give him enough play time, so consider your circumstances carefully before bringing a Glen into the family.
The Glen of Imaal Terrier requires training and limits from puppyhood on. It also helps to have a sense of humor and a lot of patience because: He’ll put both to the test. Make sure that early training includes socialization with children, and you’ll be rewarded with a very kid-friendly dog who can withstand a fair amount of roughhousing. Adult supervision of dog and child interaction is still required, but in most cases kids and Glen of Imaal Terriers make a great match. That said, a rambunctious Glen may be a bit much for a toddler to handle.
While the show dogs require more careful attention to their coats, the grooming needs of pet Glen of Imaal Terriers are modest. The rare bath, weekly combing or brushing to get rid of his dead hair, and the occasional professional or home clipping are all that’s required. They shed very little.
Glen of Imaal Terriers don’t do well if they’re left alone for long periods of time and are not happy as backyard dogs. Let him live as a member of your family, or you might find yourself with a lonely, bored, noisy, and destructive nuisance instead of a happy, well-behaved companion.
This interesting Terrier’s story starts with Flemish mercenary soldiers who were allowed by Elizabeth I to settle in Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains in the 1570s as a reward for helping her to subdue Irish rebels. With them came their dogs, small, rough-coated French hounds that were probably much like the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen or the Basset Fauve de Bretagne. Naturally, the French dogs mated with the local Irish dogs, which were usually Terriers. The result was a dog that was not only a good hunter but also performed another kind of work: turning a spit over a fire by running on a wheel that resembled a primitive treadmill.
The Glen might have remained hidden away in his valley, little known to the rest of the world, if it hadn’t been for the advent of dog shows in the mid-19th century. A number of Terrier types appeared at a dog show in Lisburn in 1870, and one of them was the type of dog we now know as the Glen of Imaal Terrier. The winning dog that day was named Stinger, described as “not high on leg, longer than tall, not straight in front, turned out feet and a slatey-brindle color. The long and useful type of Irish Terrier one associates with County Wicklow.”
It wasn’t until 1933 that the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of Ireland was formed. The Irish Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1934. The dogs are one of four terrier breeds native to Ireland. The breed nearly disappeared during World War II, however, and it took some 30 years before it began to revive.
Glens are known to have been brought to the United States in the 1930s, accompanying immigrant families, but there was no formal interest in them until the 1980s. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2004. The Glen ranks 157th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The Glen is courageous and gentle, strong and docile. Like other Terriers, he is independent. The phrase “large dog in a small body” certainly applies to this Terrier. He is brave and feisty and, although he rarely starts a fight with other dogs, he won’t turn one down, either. The Glen is an intelligent and devoted family companion. He has a deep bark that sounds like that of a much bigger dog, and he will do his best to protect his family if the need arises.
The Glen is all business when on the job, focused and intent on getting that rat or mole. But when he’s not digging for critters or giving chase, he is a docile and happy companion who enjoys relaxing with his family. He’ll enjoy a good walk or playtime but isn’t the best choice as a jogging buddy. They are suited to participating in earthdog tests, and, with patient training, some Glens have become good agility competitors.
The breed’s strong prey drive, propensity to dig, and curiosity require secure fencing to keep him safe. An extra bit of caution around swimming pools is in order -- Glens are not necessarily strong swimmers due to their stocky build and short legs.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk with a reputable, experienced Glen breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a canine companion, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know about your lifestyle and personality. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from birth.
Glen of Imaal Terriers are generally very healthy, but they can be prone to a few genetic health problems affecting the eyes, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and rod-cone dystrophy.
The Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America participates in the Canine Health Information Center, a health database. Before individual dogs can be CHIC-certified, breeders must submit hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and eye test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF), as well as an Optigen test for cone rod dystrophy registered with OFA. University of Pennsylvania (PennHIP) certification of hips is also accepted. Eye exams are recommended annually by CHIC until the dog is eight years old.
Breeders must agree to have all test results -- positive or negative -- published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good, or even passing, scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease. But, all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
Not every visit to the vet is for a genetic problem. Glen of Imaal Terriers can suffer from allergies, itchy skin, and related ear infections. There are no screening tests for these conditions, but your puppy’s breeder should be willing — in fact eager — to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives and to discuss the incidence of those and any other health concerns in his lines.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Glen of Imaal at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Glen is a no-fuss breed. His harsh topcoat coat is medium length with a shorter undercoat. He is a low-shedding breed that is fairly easy to groom. Regular brushing once or twice a week with a slicker brush keeps the coat from tangling. Bathe him only when he’s dirty. Bathing too frequently softens the coarse Terrier coat.
The coat is usually not trimmed with clippers but instead shortened by stripping, a process by which coat is thinned and shortened with a sharp, comb-like tool. The body coat is shortened, and hair on the head and ears is shaped. The coat should be stripped every six to nine months. Your Glen’s breeder is the best person to show you how to do this if you’d like to learn.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails regularly, usually every couple of weeks. Brush the teeth with a soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste keep the teeth and gums healthy and the breath fresh.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a quality breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out as many problems as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Reputable breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with. They will come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you plan to provide. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps were taken to avoid them. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Glen of Imaal Terrier and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the GITCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will clear. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include over-availability, multiple litters on the premises, a choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
The cost of a Glen puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show), and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Glen might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort. An adult Glen may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Glen in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Glen of Imaals available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Glen. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Glens love all Glens. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Glen of Imaal Club of America’s Rescue Network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Glen rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Glen home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Glen of Imaal, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Glen of Imaal to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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