Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier

Posted in Terrier Group


A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.  Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

Like all other terriers, this small tough breed had to hunt badgers and foxes, and to keep the rat population to a minimum. Now he is a gentle and docile family dog.

Like many dogs in the Terrier group, not really appreciated by gentlemen sportsmen before the middle of the 19th century, the Irish Glen of Imaal is an old breed which was simply ignored for a long time, rather than the result of later breed experiments. He is very much a local dog, confined to the bleak area of the Glen of Imaal. The farmers of this area, who were descended from soldiers given land in the 16th and 17th centuries as payment for service rendered to the British Crown, had to utilise their natural cunning and dexterity to survive in this harsh terrain. A dog, who could not pull his weight in the day-to-day struggle for existence would not be tolerated. So he had to spend long hours propelling dog wheels and was often pitted against other dogs in the dubious sport of dog fighting, customs now disappeared. Before the Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier became known at dog shows, he had evolved through generations of hard work into the strong sturdy dog we know today. The Irish Kennel Club gave official recognition to the breed in 1934 and a club to promote its interests was soon formed.


Medium sized with medium length coat, great strength with the impression of maximum substance for the size of the dog.

Body longer than high and low to the ground.


Active, agile and silent when working. Game and spirited with great courage when called upon, otherwise gentle and docile, who oozes personality; his loyal and affectionate nature makes him a very acceptable house dog and companion. The Irish Glen of Imaal is said to be less easily excited than other terriers, though he is always ready to give chase when called on.
Cranial Region
Skull:  Of good width and of fair length.
Stop:  Pronounced.
Facial Region
Nose:  Black.
Muzzle: Foreface of power, tapering to the nose.
Jaws/Teeth:  Strong. Teeth sound, regular, strong and of good size. Scissor bite.
Eyes:  Brown, medium size, round and set well apart. Light eyes should be penalised.
Ears:  Small rose or half pricked when alert, thrown back when in repose. Full drop or prick undesirable.


Very muscular and of moderate length.


Deep and long, and longer than high.
Topline:  Level.
Loin:  Strong.
Chest:  Wide and strong, ribs well sprung.


Docked. Strong at root, well set on and carried gaily. Pups tails docked to half length. A natural tail (undocked) is allowed for in countries where docking is banned by law.

[*refer note below] 


Shoulders: Broad, muscular and well laid back.
Forelegs: Short, bowed and well boned.

Feet: Compact and strong with rounded pads. Front feet to turn out slightly from pasterns.

General appearance: Strong and well muscled.
Thighs: Well muscled.
Stifle: Well bent.
Hock Joint: Turned neither in nor out.
Feet: Compact and strong with rounded pads. 


Free, not hackneyed. Covers ground effortlessly with good drive behind.

Hair:  Medium length, of harsh texture with soft undercoat. Coat may be tidied to present a neat outline.
Colour:  Blue brindle but not toning to black. Wheaten, from a light wheaten colour to a golden reddish shade.                                               

Puppies may be born Blue, Wheaten, or Reddish. Lighter coloured pups usually have an inky blue mask and there may also be a streak of Blue down the back, on the tail, and on the ears. The darker markings will clear with maturity.


Height at withers: Dogs: 35.5cm (14in) is the maximum
Bitches: accordingly less.
Weight: Dogs: 16kg (35 lb) Bitches: accordingly less.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

  • Hound ears
  • Undershot bite, overshot bite
  • Too short in body
  • Straight front


  • Aggressive or overly shy dogs
  • Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
  • Black &  Tan colour
  • Narrow foreface    


  • Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. 
  • Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.

*Regardless of the provisions of the current KUSA-adopted standard, docked or formerly docked breeds may be shown at all FCI- and KUSA-licensed shows in South Africa, whether their tails are docked, or natural. Under no circumstances are judges permitted to discriminate against exhibits on the grounds of docked, or natural tails and equal consideration for awards must be given to either. (Fedco 12/2017 amended/DR April 2018)