Description & History

The Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier is named after the glen from which it originates in south-west Wicklow. Although well-known and popular in its own country, it has yet to receive the same following as the three other Irish breeds outside its native land.

The ancestors of the Glen, as he is known to his friends, are as obscure as the ancestors of these three other breeds. Manuscripts tell us that terriers played an important part in the lives of the Irish people, but that they were of no particular variety until improved breeding gradually produced distinctive types during the nineteenth century. Until then, they varied in size, shape and in colour and often looked like mongrels. Gradually they were developed along separate lines, with strains from English and Scottish terrier breeds helping to define the four Irish breeds as they are known today.

The Glen of today is a docile and gentle character although it still possesses its sporting instincts. The breed were silent hunters of underground game, the badger and the fox. Although badger hunting is now illegal in Ireland, there are still plenty of vermin that need reducing in numbers, so the Glen is never idle for long.

Formally all Irish terrier breeds could only become champions in Ireland providing they reached the accepted standards in both the showring and in the field. In order to accomplish full championship status they had to win the 'Teastac Misneac' – the certificate of dead gameness – to prove they were true working terriers as well as show champions. These criteria lasted until 1966, after which the rules changed.

The Irish Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1933 but the British Kennel Club did not grant them a separate register until 1975.

Rosamund Walters.

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