Norfolk Terriers are little, cute, and loyal, and they will gladly curl up in your lap, but don’t dare call them lapdogs. Norfolks, despite their toyish qualities, are genuine terriers’¿feisty, confident, sturdy, and game for adventure. Norfolk Terriers are among the smallest working terriers, standing no higher than 10 inches at the shoulder. The coat is hard, wiry, and straight. They share many traits with their close cousins, Norwich Terriers. To tell them apart, look at the ears: The Norwich has erect, pointed ears; Norfolk ears are neatly folded over. Bred to work in packs, Norfolks are more gregarious than a typical terrier, but they have plenty of the old terrier pep. Few Norfolks these days earn their living hunting rodents, but a good one will fearlessly do so when given a chance. Norfolks bond closely, sometimes jealously, with their owners and make nice watchdogs. They have a reputation as a good traveler: portable, adaptable, and up for anything.
Frank “Roughrider” Jones, an English dog breeder and horseman of the early 20th century, developed little red terriers as ratters and fox bolters. In the beginning, the Norwich (ears up) and Norfolk (ears down) were considered one breed. In England and North America both dogs were first classified as Norwich Terriers, sometimes called Jones Terriers.
Over time, the two types diverged. In 1964, after much debate among fanciers, the Kennel Club (England) recognized the Norfolk as a distinct breed. But, as a British authority of the time explained, “Actually, there is nothing new about the Norfolk Terrier, but simply the name under which it is registered. The Eastern counties have always produced these principally wheaten, red, and otherwise black-and-tan or grizzle good-ribbed short-legged terriers. … They go to ground readily and are famous ratters.” The Canadian Kennel Club officially accepted the Norfolk and Norwich as separate breeds in 1977, as did the AKC two years later.
The names of both breeds refer to their place of origin, the East Anglia town of Norwich in the county of Norfolk that lies just north of London. Among the older terrier breeds thought to factor into the fearless and fun-loving Norfolk’s development include the Border, Cairn, and Glen of Imaal terriers.
Temperament: alert / fearless / fun-loving
Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 11-12 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-16 years
Norfolk Terriers are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders test their stock for health conditions such as heart and eye issues and patellar luxation. A Norfolk’s teeth should be brushed often using a toothpaste formulated for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure your dog will have a long, healthy life.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Patella Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Exam
- Cardiac Exam
A Norfolk Terrier should have a double coat consisting of a hard outer coat and a soft undercoat that insulates the body from heat and cold. Hand-stripping removes old outer hairs and excess undercoat so that new hair can grow in. Wire coats that are cared for properly by hand-stripping have a beautiful shine and rich color. Learning to hand-strip, or finding a groomer who will hand-strip, is an important consideration in choosing this breed.
Long walks, socializing, and games of fetch with his owner will expend some of the Norfolk’s boundless energy. With his active nature and extremely high prey drive, the Norfolk should be on leash while on outings, and his yard should be fenced.
Created to hunt in packs, Norfolks are geared to be more gregarious than the typical independent terrier. They are very smart and bond closely with their families, but they may challenge their owner’s limits, so obedience training is a must. They have a very strong prey drive and pose a danger to small pets in the home, such as ferrets and hamsters. For this reason they should not be allowed off leash in areas that are not securely fenced. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended to ensure that the dog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. A Norfolk travels well: He’s portable, adaptable, and up for anything.