Norwich Terriers are plucky little earthdogs named for their hometown in England. The old cliche big dog in a small package’ as coined for breeds like the Norwich, who can be oblivious to the fact that they are just 10 inches tall. Standing no more than 10 inches at the shoulder and weighing about 12 pounds, Norwich are among the smallest working terriers. Beneath the hard, wiry coat is a stocky, substantial dog. Norwiches are toy-sized but are not satin-pillow dogs’ they were originally bred as tough and fearless ratters. They are distinguished from their doggy doppelganger, the Norfolk Terrier, by their erect, pointed ears. Happy-go-lucky, fearless, and sometimes even bossy, Norwiches are energetic enough to play fetch all day, but affectionate enough to enjoy hours of lap time with their favorite human. Short, positive training sessions work best with this clever but sometimes stubborn breed. Three words convey the overall dog: cute, cuter, and cutest.
The Norwich Terrier is among the seemingly endless variety of terriers bred to control Britain’s rodent population. In addition to being ratters, Norwiches were used in packs on foxhunts, and so were bred to be more sociable than the usual independent-minded terrier.
The Norwich is famously associated with Cambridge University, where, in the 1870s and ’80s, Norwich ownership became a fad among undergraduates. The students acquired the dogs as pets and dorm-room ratters from a livery stable on nearby Trumpington Street, and the breed became known as Trumpington Terriers. One of these dogs, named Rags, came into the possession of a stableyard owner in the town of Norwich. Rags was bred, sired several litters of admirable quality, as is today considered the granddaddy of today’s Norwich.
The breed’s American history began in 1914, when a Brit named Frank “Roughrider” Jones utilized descendents of Rags to breed a dog named Willum. Willum was exported to Philadelphia, where he became the breed’s cornerstone sire in the United States. So closely was Roughrider Jones associated with these cheerful, prick-eared terriers that the breed came to be known among American fanciers as the Jones Terrier. Long after the breed was recognized by the English and American kennel clubs in the1930s as the Norwich Terrier, American breed devotees referred to their charming little dogs as Jones Terriers.
Norwich and Norfolk terriers are so closely related that the AKC did not recognize them as separate breeds until 1979. Perhaps the Norwich with the highest pop-culture profile of recent times was Winky, from the movie “Best in Show,” who was played by a real-life show champion.
Temperament: Affectionate / Loyal / Alert / Curious / Gregarious
Height: 19 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Overall, Norwich Terriers are a healthy breed. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, degenerative myelopathy, and upper airway syndrome, a respiratory condition that is quite variable, and its prevalence and mode of inheritance are poorly understood. Norwich are prone to developing plaque and tartar, so diligent dental care is essential.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Patella Evaluation
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
A Norwich Terrier should have a double coat consisting of a harsh, nearly weatherproof 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 grows in. Wire coats that are cared for properly by hand-stripping have a beautiful shine and rich colors. Because clipping or scissoring cuts the colored tips off, the natural color will fade, and the texture will soften. The breed requires regular grooming. Learning to hand-strip, or finding a groomer who will hand-strip, is an important consideration in choosing this breed.
The Norwich retains its original hunting instincts and jovial temperament. They are inquisitive and energetic, and they should be in fit condition for the day’s activities. They require ample exercise to benefit their mental and physical health. Because of their innate hunting instincts, they must be walked on a leash or let out only in a securely fenced area.
Norwich are spirited little terriers, and they are usually eager to please and respond well to training. Puppies should be properly socialized to develop the amiable, outgoing personality that is characteristic of the breed. They’re successful in performance and companion events such as earthdog, barn hunt, obedience, and agility.
The Norwich Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Although the breed standard gives an ideal weight of 12 pounds, because Norwich vary in height, bone structure, and muscle mass, there is no one correct weight. Some will require fewer calories than others, and metabolism tends to slow down with age. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.