What are the distinctive features of the Glen of Imaal Terrier

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Here’s an interesting fact. Glen of Imaal terriers are the only dwarf breed in Ireland. They may appear long and low but they’re not. Glens are medium-sized dogs with very short limbs, just like human dwarves.

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“Glens are dispatch dogs capable of engaging, dragging and killing a large European badger without assistance.”

Glens are not minis. Their disproportionately large heads and deep chests are traditional characteristics of this breed. Glens are supposed to have short, bowed, heavily boned legs. That’s what makes them stand apart from most other terriers.

Unlike other terriers, Glens’ feet are turned out—more like the Basset Hounds or the Cardigan Welsh Corgis. It all makes sense. When engaging and pulling a badger out of its setts (badger burrows), Glens had to ensure they were not going to get buried inside with their victims. So, they had to make bigger holes—much bigger. That’s why they dug by throwing dirt to the side rather than behind. Which explains why their turned-out legs played such a crucial part.

Most terriers are known for their persistent barking, which would alert hunters to their presence underground. This is important because it helps hunters locate them above and below the ground. In fact, Terrier comes from the Latin word ‘terra’, which means earth. But Glens are larger and stronger than other terriers. They are dispatch dogs capable of engaging, dragging and killing a large European badger without assistance. So, they do not need to bark as much.

The Irish Kennel Club used to require native terrier breeds to earn a ‘Teastas Mor’ or certificate of gameness. The strong and brave Glen of Imaal Terrier was required to be both silent and deadly in dealing with the badger. And to this day, Glens have kept their quietness. They do not bark as much as other terriers even though this somewhat barbaric terrier test was banned years ago.

Other unique features of these dogs with achondroplasia dwarfism include:

  • a prominent fore chest—with a wrap front,
  • powerful and muscular shoulders and hips, and
  • a slight rise towards the rear.

Quite a list of unique physical traits, isn’t it? In fact, it’s these unique physical traits that make some people consider Glens to be an old-fashioned and unrefined breed. Sadly, this has also mistakenly driven some breeders to correct the traits they consider ancient.


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