Monday, April 14, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Glen of Imaal Terrier

Image from
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a tough and small terrier breed native to Ireland, stemming back to the 16th century. They were originally bred to keep homes and farms free from vermin, and to hunt badgers and foxes.

Besides the hunting tasks, these dogs had one more important job, and they are the only dogs in the world specifically bred to perform it: they were turnspit dogs.

What's a turnspit?

A turnspit is a large wheel that the dog would paddle, and the wheel turned a spit over the hearth. It's a dog-powered rotisserie! The Glens have developed strong legs, and performed this paddling chore for hundreds of years without the world outside of Ireland knowing much about them.

These dogs are considered a "big dog on short legs" and weigh around 36 lbs. They're known to be active, agile, and intent on whatever they're doing, and as many other terriers, they can have a mind of their own. However, they don't bark much. They love activity, but can relax indoors, and do well in families with older children.

The Glens are generally strong and healthy with an average life span of 15 years.

The first Glens to arrive to America came with their owners in the 1930s. Today there is a breed club, and the breed is recognized by the AKC.

~ Maria Sadowski ~


  1. So I have to wonder if they still paddle when there is something really yummy on that rotisserie?

    1. I wonder that too, and I would love to see one paddle. Hmm, I wonder if I can get the Border Collies to paddle a wheel? They have a lot of energy...