- The Norfolk has a rectangular build, small dark eyes that sparkle with anticipation, small drop ears, a wiry coat, and a docked tail.
- The rough coat of the Norfolk can be any shade of red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle . Sometimes a grizzle coat looks bluish gray or iron gray.
- The Norfolk and Norwich Terriers became separate breeds instead of two varieties of the same breed in 1979.
AKC group: Terriers
UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan: 13-15 years
Average size: 11 to 12 pounds
Coat appearance: wire-haired coat
Coloration: shades of red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle
Best Suited For: Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
Temperament: Bold, stubborn, clever, affectionate
One of the reasons there are so many Terrier breeds is because many were custom-created for a particular area or population. The Norwich hails from England’s East Anglia, home of Cambridge University. Like college students of any era, the Cambridge students of the 1880s thought it was good fun to bet on sporting events, including the ratting abilities of their dogs. Terriers, including Yorkshire
and Irish Terriers
, were crossed to develop small red or black and tan dogs with a game spirit.
They were known as Trumpington Terriers, and they came in several sizes, colors, coat types, and ear shapes. When a breed standard was eventually written for the dogs, it included both prick-eared and drop-eared varieties.
In 1964, England’s Kennel Club separated the two varieties, calling the drop-eared dogs Norfolk Terriers. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1979. Today the Norfolk ranks 117th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The Norfolk has personality plus. Though small, he makes up for it with a buoyant, lively approach to life. He is active, alert, good natured, and always ready to play.
The Norfolk is tireless in his pursuit of fun-which can be exhausting for you. Don’t expect the Norfolk to sit around when there’s something to investigate. This dog thrives on action so be prepared to provide it for him–or he’ll be bored and unhappy.
The Norfolk is a typical terrier, meaning he’s independent and always ready to give chase. He’s prone to dig and bark, too-behaviors that come naturally to breeds bred to chase vermin that live in dens.
These traits can be frustrating to owners who are either unprepared for the terrier personality, or just don’t enjoy it. If you’re okay with terriers, you’ll be delighted with the Norfolk’s lively, plucky attitude, and his devotion to family.
The average life span of the Norfolk Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include mitral valve disease, luxating patellas, lens luxation, cataracts and glaucoma.
This terrier can live outdoors in warm and temperate climates, but as it is more of a family-oriented dog, it is suited for indoor living. Daily exercise, in the form of a boisterous game session or short leash-led walk, is necessary to keep the dog calm and fit. If you do allow it to remain outdoors, be wary that it does not escape to hunt an animal.
The dog’s wire coat requires combing every week, in addition to stripping the dead hair at least three times a year.
Norfolks will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Even though this is a terrier, Norfolks are easier to train. This is an intelligent dog, so be sure to keep training sessions up-beat and interesting – repetition can bore them. As with most breeds, you need to use positive reinforcement to train the Norfolk Terrier. If you are harsh with this breed, you’ll only get defensive behavior in return.
You’ll find that your Norfolk Terrier will fly through basic obedience. At this point, it’s time to move to something more challenging. Consider advanced training, agility or Earthdog activities. All of these activities will keep your dog on his toes. They will be able to exercise their minds and bodies. Earthdog competitions allow these dogs to put their ratting instincts to the test. They hunt and dig for vermin, which are kept out of reach of the dogs.
Norfolk Terriers need moderate exercise to maintain health and happiness. Daily walks and some active ball-chasing will meet his activity requirements. The Norfolk’s compact size makes them fine apartment dogs, and they are generally easier to handle than other noisy terrier breeds. These little dogs are not couch potatoes.
Even indoors they are eager to engage in activity that works both mind and body, so make sure that your Norfolk has lots of toys to keep him occupied, especially when you are gone for the day. If left alone too long with nothing to do, they will occupy themselves by barking, chewing and digging.
Norfolks should never be left off leash or in an unfenced area for exercise. They still maintain a strong desire to chase, and will take off like a shot after small animals and they aren’t likely to respond to calls home.
The Norfolk Terrier has a hard, wiry, straight coat with a heavier amount of hair on the neck and shoulders forming a protective mane. Trimming isn’t necessary, but the coat does need to be hand-stripped twice a year, a time-consuming process of pulling out loose hair with a tool called a stripping knife. In the meantime, brush or comb the coat weekly.
If you choose not to strip the coat, the Norfolk will have a scruffy appearance, which some people like. The drawback to this is that the coat will shed more, especially as the dog matures. Stripping the coat has other benefits as well. A stripped coat sheds dirt and is water resistant. Terriers whose coats are stripped need fewer baths.
For a neater look, you can have your Norfolk clipped by a professional groomer, but it’s not the perfect solution. When you cut a Norfolk’s hair, it lightens the color because part of the pigment is removed, and it softens the texture, making the coat less protective.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Norfolk Terriers are known to be very good around children of all ages although playtime might get a bit boisterous. As such any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too rough and tumble which could end up with someone being knocked over and hurt.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Norfolk Terrier would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care should be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.
Did You Know?
The main differences between the Norfolk and Norwich Terriers are that the Norfolk has drop ears and a slightly longer back.