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Origins of the Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen may be a newcomer to the exhibition dog world but he is not a newcomer to
the world of dogs. Every indication is that he is an old breed that was simply ignored
for a long time. He is certainly not the result of later breed experimentation and
As early as the sixteenth century there is mention of a “sort of terrier...and they have crooked legges and are short headed most commonly”.
Rawdon Lee, in his Modern Dogs, contains many references to a “variety of Irish terrier”. The following are very relevant to Glen Fanciers:
“There is a Glen, Imaal, in the Wicklow mountains that has always been, and still is justly celebrated for its terriers. It would be hard to specify their colour in particular-the wheaten in all shades to that of a bright red”
“County Wicklow lays claim to a breed of what were so called Irish Terriers; they
frequently showed a blue shade on the back, were long in body and rather short in
A further example mentions “Long in leg, short on leg, long in body & crooked in leg-red, black, blue, brindle & those with tan legs often have the best coat.
Jowett, in his honoured work, the Irish Terrier, also mentions the Glen of Imaal.
“There was also another strain of Irish Terriers, kept in the Glen of Imaal, in the
Wicklow Mountains, which still exists, being mostly blue and tan, short of leg, long
in body & not straight in front”.
Jesse in his Research Into The History of The British Dog speaks of a dog that is the “size of a Scottish terrier, with long back and very short legs. Many of them a reddish brown and black”.
Undoubted mention of a breed though seemingly a little unclear about the colour and appearance. This is hardly surprising as the 1803 Sporting Dictionary stresses that “terriers of even the best blood” were bred of all colours, red, black with tan faces, feet and legs, brindled rough and smooth. A Glen was maybe not considered “of the best blood” but it certainly had to be of the best ability
People native to the Glen of Imaal in West Wicklow wouldn’t have tolerated an animal incapable of doing its job. The terrain they lived in was harsh & every available resource had to be utilised & this included dogs. A Glen was expected to hunt badger and fox, keep rabbit & rats down & in the sport of dog fighting maybe even earn its master the odd copper or two.