Health and grooming


The charismatic Glen of Imaal Terrier is not just a highly intelligent and agile dog. He is also strong and healthy with a life span of 11 to 14 years.

One of the biggest health issues affecting the Glen of Imaal terriers now has a DNA test which allows breeders to prevent a late onset blindness called Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Retinal degeneration may begin as early as 2 years. But many Glens do not show symptoms until they reach 7 years.

Ten years ago, the only way to diagnose this inherited disorder was eye testing. This made it impossible to breed out PRA from the gene pool as many dogs showed symptoms after their breeding period was over. But in 2010, scientists shed light on this degenerative disease. They discovered the crd3, the gene responsible for Glen PRA.

It seems an affected Glen developed PRA if he inherited 2 copies of the crd3 gene, one from each parent. Now, there’s a simple blood test breeders can use to make sure this never happens and that no Glen will ever go blind again. As long as breeders test breeding stock and avoid at risk pairings they can avoid this form of blindness in their Glens.

As efforts to erase crd3 from the Glen gene pool are increasingly successful, you don’t need to worry about your canine friend going blind at an old age. That is if your Glen came from a responsible, certified breeder. However, you should get your dog eye tested at regular intervals, just to make sure there’s no other eye issues.

Another health problem is Canine dysplasia. This is an environmental and inherited condition that can cause the joints to develop improperly and results in arthritis. Although common in larger working dogs, it also affects Glen of Imaal Terriers.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals estimates that 30% of Glens have abnormal radiological findings on hip screening. But there’s also some good news! It seems that Glens rarely get the severe symptoms that affect larger breeds because of their low stature and strong loin area.

Word of advice though: if you notice your dog is having difficulty getting up, or if he shows lameness in his legs, make an appointment with a vet. And keep in mind that extra pounds will put unnecessary strain on your Glen’s joints, causing needless pain.

Like many terriers, Glens are prone to allergies that usually manifest as itchiness and other skin problems. Glens tend to be particularly sensitive to flea bites but they can also have problems with pollen, grasses and some food sensitivities. Furthemore scratching can lead to secondary skin infections – and many dogs are allergic to bacteria like staph and fungus that are simply complications of the original cycle.  This can set up a cycle of increasing itching, scratching, biting and scooting (to scratch tail and bum.)


When it comes to grooming Glens are relatively low maintenance. A well-bred Glen of Imaal Terrier will have a double coat consisting of a soft, insulating undercoat that keeps glens warm or cool depending on the temperature and a hard outer coat that tends to stay relatively free of mats and doggy smell. Glens don’t shed and can be a good choice for those with allergies to dog hair or fur.

Although the coat is LOW maintenance it is not NO maintenance. Glens need to have the dead hairs plucked out periodically to keep their skin and coat in healthy condition. For show dogs, this means a few minutes every week or so and for pets at home hand stripping once or twice a year is necessary. Glens should NEVER be clipped as it ruins the texture and function of the coat and makes routine grooming much more time consuming. It can also cause skin issues with the root of the dead hair left in the follicle (like a weed).

Routine maintenance for a glen of Imaal terrier means weekly comb or brushing to make sure there are no mats – especially in the armpits and pads of the feet. Glens have very hard nails with an extra-long quick or blood vessel. It is extremely important to trim or dremel nails regularly because long overgrown nails tend to put a lot of extra strain on the joints.

One of the unique characteristics of glens is that with minimal coat care most glens have very little smell or odor. Many owners find that the dogs rarely need a bath. The important thing to remember is that the stripping and combing or brushing and of course a good diet is what will keep the Glen of Imaal Terrier coat in healthy condition.

Make sure to check our blog for more tips and tricks about grooming Glens.