Norfolk Terrier

Very Affectionate and Obedient – When it Wants to Be, Of Course

Norfolk Terrier

As with Most Terriers, this Dog Can Be Very Affectionate and Obedient – When it Wants to Be, Of Course

This spry little Terrier is compact, active, and very hardy. Hunters called it the "perfect demon" in the field because it was so devoted to the hunt. Originally from England, it was once considered the same breed as the Norwich Terrier, and is comfortable working alone or in packs. Today, the Norfolk Terrier and the Norwich Terrier are differentiated by their slightly different breed standards, with the Norfolk Terrier the so-called "drop-eared" variety, while the Norwich Terrier has "prick" ears.


At the turn of last century, the Norfolk Terrier (also then recognized with the Norwich Terrier as the same breed) was developed by one Frank "Rough Rider" Jones from working Terriers in the stables of Market Harborough, Norwich, and Cambridge. The breed was officially recognized as the Norwich Terrier in 1932, with early appearance diversified in size, type, coat, ear formation, and color. The subjects of color and information were greatly-disputed points of argument, since the original Norwich breed standard including both the "drop ear" and "prick ear" types as one breed. In 1964, the English Kennel Club finally recognized the Norwich Terrier as the "prick ear" breed, while the “drop-eared” variety got the designation of Norfolk Terrier.

In the United States, the "roaring 20s" were in full swing when the breed (then Norwich) was called the "Jones Terrier" after Frank Jones, one of the main sources of the breed from whom American sportsmen bought these little "sport Terriers.” Gordon Massey registered the first Norwich Terrier in the United States in 1936, with the help of then Executive Vice President of the American Kennel Club, Henry Bixby. This stayed one breed in the United States, as the Norwich Terrier, until 1979. At that time, the breed was divided into Norfolk and Norwich, again based on ear formation. Today, the Norfolk Terrier has dropped ears, while the Norwich Terrier has prick ears. In addition, the two breed standards have diverged slightly and become further distinct from one another.


Today's show standards require that the Norfolk coat should be groomed but not trimmed. Ears should be neatly dropped, with slightly rounded tips, close to the cheek and not falling below eyes' outer corners.

Although a small dog, the Norfolk Terrier is a sporting Terrier, not a Toy. Short, strong, wide and sturdy, this dog’s rounded head features a muzzle which is wedge-shaped and has a defined stop. Small, dark, oval-shaped eyes are always keen and alert. The tail is high and is often docked, although this is illegal in Europe. The coat is wiry and straight, approximately two inches long, and can be wheaten, red, black, tan, tan and black, or grizzle, with or without white markings and/or dark points. In adulthood, the Norfolk Terrier stands 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs 10 to 12 pounds. This is among the smallest of the Terriers.


A very hardy breed, this dog is intent on the chase (as his ancestry is in vermin hunting), extremely loyal, and very charming. As with most Terriers, this pet can be very affectionate and quite obedient – when it wants to be, of course. Typically very independent, however, you may observe some insolence from your little pet when it is in need of discipline. Keep at it, though, because your dog requires very firm boundaries to avoid its development of the dreaded “small-dog syndrome” – a condition which occurs when your little pet is treated like a child or baby which results in its thinking it is “in charge” and becoming a “little brat.” This is unpleasant to be sure, but it can also be dangerous to some degree. Although your dog is small, this syndrome can encourage a tendency to bite or nip, potentially hurting small children. Always treat your little dog like a dog in need of your leadership, no matter how cute or cuddly its allure to spoil may be.

Properly socialized and trained, the Norfolk Terrier is an excellent dog to have as a family pet, including those with children. In fact, your children may find it difficult to keep up with this feisty little dog, who is unrelentingly playful, courageous, and vigorous. Teach your children not to be too rough with your rambunctious, tough little pet, though, since while indeed sturdy, it is still a small dog and should be treated with care.

Norfolk Terriers comingle well with other pets like cats and dogs, but you should never trust your pet with small animals like rodents, mice, guinea pigs, birds or hamsters. Historically, the Norfolk Terrier is a vermin hunter, a strong instinct which may still be dormant in your breed until inadvertently stimulated. If you have small pets such as those mentioned above, and are not willing to find new homes for them, it's best that you don't adopt a Norfolk Terrier.

Although the Norfolk Terrier needs a lot of exercise and is very energetic, he or she is also perfect for apartment life as long as enough activity – indoors and out – is built into the day.


This is a very robust, healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, sometimes older. Some Norfolk Terriers can develop back and knee problems, and may occasionally be born with incorrectly aligned teeth. Shallow hip sockets and dysplasia can also be a problem. Responsible breeders will check for hip dysplasia, although it should be noted that Norfolk Terriers in general are prone to having this problem. In fact, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has always documented a “less-thanexcellent” rating for a Norfolk Terrier’s hips.


The wirehaired coat is medium length, shaggy, and waterproof. Brush and comb daily; clipping is usually not required and should be discouraged to a large degree if your dog is being shown. The Norfolk Terrier sheds lightly but brushing and combing should control that trait. Dry shampoo or bathe your pet infrequently and only if necessary.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Norfolk Terrier.

Retrieved July 28, 2013.

Norfolk Terrier.

Retrieved July 28, 2013.

Norfolk Terrier.

Retrieved July 28, 2013

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