The Badge(r) of Honor: What was the original purpose of the Glen of Imaal Terrier?
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Back in the day, dogs had distinctive duties to fulfill. They were bred for utilitarian reasons, such as sheep herding and home guarding. The word Terrier comes from the Latin word ‘terra’, meaning earth. So, Terriers were particularly fit for nature-related tasks, such as hunting, digging, and herding. If you’d like to see more, here’s a great Pinterest board with Terrier paintings.
“Like most terriers, the Glen of Imaal was ideally suited for vermin control—especially badgers.”
The Glen of Imaal Terrier made no exception. His dwarf appearance and strength made him ideal for hunting badgers. So, his main job was vermin control. At an unknown time in his long history, the Glen of Imaal Terrier developed into a perfect badger-hunting machine. To this day he is one of the few dog breeds bold enough to hunt down a 45 lbs. badger into its den and drag it out.
A Glen’s badger-hunting gear is made of the same distinctive physical traits we’re fighting tooth and nail to preserve nowadays: short bowed front legs, strong rear and rising topline, powerful tail and strong, muscular low-stature. And let’s not forget about the Glen’s stealth ability to hunt down badgers without excessive barking.
What tasks did a Glen usually perform?
To test their gameness and unique hunting skills, Glens were often put in 6-minute trials against live badgers called Teastas Misneac. But starting 1966, these competitions were banned and live trials were no longer needed to determine a champion dog.
Our tenacious breed had other tasks to fulfill in an Irish household. From fox and rabbit hunting to stock guarding, to eradicating rats and even earning a few coppers in dog fighting competitions for his master, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was always a busy dog. Like many native Irish breeds and farm dogs in general, Glens had to multitask. They were all-rounders.
Fast forward to today
In modern days, Glen of Imaal Terriers make excellent guard dogs and are very good with children. Their exceptional intelligence and comical presence make them perfect entertaining companions. But don’t think for a moment that the hunter instinct has vanished into thin air. A Glen will still chase after pesky birds and mice. He’s always eligible for the badge(r) of honor.