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Norfolk Terrier


The Norfolk Terrier, also known as the Drop-Eared Norwich Terrier and the Norfolk, is one of the smallest of the working terrier breeds. Farmers, hunters and families alike value the Norfolk's gameness, loyalty, adaptability and great charm. Norfolk Terriers were bred to hunt in packs or alone as ratters. They go to ground readily to seek and bolt their prey and have been referred to as a "perfect demon" in the field. Today, the Norfolk remains more sociable and agreeable than many other terriers, although it retains its feistiness and "full of itself" attitude. Norfolk Terriers tend to be barky and love to dig. They can be bossy, stubborn and difficult to housebreak.

The adult height of a male Norfolk Terrier is 9 to 10 inches at the withers, with bitches tending to be slightly smaller. The mature Norfolk typically weighs 11 to 12 pounds in fit working condition. The Norfolk Terrier's coat is hard, wiry and straight, lying close to the body with a distinct undercoat. Their coat normally is 1½ to 2 inches in length and comes in all shades of red, wheaten, black-and-tan and grizzle. Dark points are permissible under the American breed standard, but white markings are undesirable. The Norfolk Terrier's coat requires regular brushing and should be hand-stripped several times a year. The Norfolk's ears should be neatly dropped and small, with a distinct break at the skull line which permits them to be "perked" when the dog is at attention. The tail is typically docked, but many owners increasingly prefer to keep it natural.

History & Health


The Norfolk Terrier originates from the east-central part of England called East Anglia, just north of London. The town of Norwich is in the county of Norfolk. At the start of the 20th century, an Englishman named Frank "Roughrider" Jones - who had Glen of Imaal Terriers and a dark red brindle Cairn-type bitch - bred his dogs to a working terrier from Norwich named Rags. He crossed the offspring with working terriers from Norwich, Cambridge and Market Harborough to develop a small, sturdy and fearless breed later recognized by The Kennel Club (England) in 1932 as the Norwich Terrier. Contributing breeds probably included the Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier and possibly unnamed red terriers from Ireland.
Early in the breed's history, there was substantial variation and fancier controversy over appropriate breed size, color, coat, ear set and overall type. The original Norwich Terrier standard encompassed both the up-ear (prick) and the down-ear (drop) varieties. Mating a drop-eared dog with a prick-eared one produced an unattractive intermediate ear which neither stood nor dropped reliably. The drop-eared Norwich declined in popularity and nearly disappeared during World War II. In 1957, Norwich breeders in England decided that the up- and down-eared varieties should be treated as separate breeds, so that they would not have to compete against each other at dog shows. The Kennel Club (England) thought this distinction too trivial and at first refused to make the change. Eventually, The Kennel Club relented. It officially separated the Norfolk and the Norwich Terriers into two distinct breeds in 1964, with the prick-eared dog retaining the name Norwich Terrier and the drop-eared dog being renamed the Norfolk Terrier.
In America, the Norwich Terrier was commonly called the Jones Terrier (after Frank Jones) for generations. In 1936, due largely to the efforts of Mr. Gordon Massey (who registered the first Norwich in the United States) and Mr. Henry Bixby (then the executive vice-president of the American Kennel Club), the Norwich Terrier was accepted by the American Kennel Club as a distinct breed – still encompassing both the up- and down-eared types. Over time, subtle differences developed in the conformation of the two types, and in 1977 the Canadian Kennel Club officially recognized them as separate breeds. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1979, recognizing the drop-eared Norfolk Terrier and the prick-eared Norwich Terrier as distinct members of the Terrier Group. The Norwich Terrier Club of America was renamed the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club of America. In 2007, the club's membership voted to have separate breed clubs for the Norwich and the Norfolk Terrier. The parent club of this breed became the Norfolk Terrier Club of America.
The Norfolk and Norwich Terriers are remarkably similar in appearance. Simple tricks are used by dog fanciers to differentiate the breeds, such as: 1) the Norwich Cathedral has a tall spire that sticks up into the air, like the ears of the Norwich Terrier; and 2) the Nor-wich has ears that stick up like a witch's hat. Norfolks (and Norwich Terriers) make fabulous house and traveling companions and are competitive in the show ring.


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.

Temperament & Personality


Norfolks are a classic terrier breed: fearless, strong, loving and independent. They are a bit more social than other terriers, as they were bred as pack dogs. They are still standoffish towards new people and other dogs, but they aren't as apt to bark their little heads off when they see something new. Norfolks make excellent family dogs as they consider their family to be their "pack" and will want to be included in as many group activities as possible. They never tire of playing ball, and many owners report that their Norfolks chased balls with the vigor of a puppy well into their older adult lifetimes. This breed has a zest for life, approaching new tasks and situations with vigor, and make an excellent family pet. Their trainability and generally even temperament makes them a good choice for first time dog owners.

Activity Requirements

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.


Norfolks are easier to train that other terrier breeds. They are incredibly smart, and repetition can bore them, so make sure sessions are mixed up and kept lively to maintain interest. Positive reinforcement and treats are the best method for training this breed, as treating a terrier harshly will only lead to defensive behavior.
When basic obedience has been mastered, Norfolks can graduate on to advanced training, agility or Earthdog activities. Agility courses allow Norfolks to exercise their minds and bodies, and Earthdog allows them to hunt and dig for vermin (who are kept safely out of reach of the dogs). They will enjoy the exercise, appreciate the time to use their sharp minds, and will eat up the extra time spent with you.

Behavioral Traits

Though they are less yappy than other terrier breeds, Norfolks are still prone to barking, especially if left alone for long periods of time with nothing to do. Walking your dog before leaving the house, and leaving him with interesting toys to play with can cut down on the barking. Companion dogs also help. Norfolks are pack animals and when raised together, bond well with other canines.

Norfolks have the urge to dig in their DNA. They were originally used to chase foxes and other animals out of their dens, and modern Norfolks are still champion diggers. If left alone in a yard, they can make quick work of flower beds. Enrolling your Norfolk in Earthdog activities can give him a constructive outlet for digging.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Norfolk Terrier, game and hardy, with expressive dropped ears, is one of the smallest of the working terriers. It is active and compact, free-moving, with good substance and bone. With its natural, weather-resistant coat and short legs, it is a "perfect demon" in the field. This versatile, agreeable breed can go to ground, bolt a fox and tackle or dispatch other small vermin, working alone or with a pack. Honorable scars from wear and tear are acceptable in the ring.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Height at the withers 9 to 10 inches at maturity. Bitches tend to be smaller than dogs. Length of back from point of withers to base of tail should be slightly longer than the height at the withers. Good substance and bone. Weight 11 to 12 pounds or that which is suitable for each individual dog's structure and balance. Fit working condition is a prime consideration.

Eyes small, dark and oval, with black rims. Placed well apart with a sparkling, keen and intelligent expression. Ears neatly dropped, small, with a break at the skull line, carried close to the cheek and not falling lower than the outer corner of the eye. V-shaped, slightly rounded at the tip, smooth and velvety to the touch. Skull wide, slightly rounded, with good width between the ears. Muzzle is strong and wedge shaped. Its length is one-third less than a measurement from the occiput to the well-defined stop. Jaw clean and strong. Tight-lipped with a scissor bite and large teeth.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck of medium length, strong and blending into well laid back shoulders. Level topline. Good width of chest. Ribs well sprung, chest moderately deep. Strong loins. Tail medium docked, of sufficient length to ensure a balanced outline. Straight, set on high, the base level with the topline. Not a squirrel tail.

Well laid back shoulders. Elbows close to ribs. Short, powerful legs, as straight as is consistent with the digging terrier. Pasterns firm. Feet round, pads thick, with strong, black nails.

Broad with strong, muscular thighs. Good turn of stifle. Hocks well let down and straight when viewed from the rear. Feet as in front.

The protective coat is hard, wiry and straight, about 1½ to 2 inches long, lying close to the body, with a definite undercoat. The mane on neck and shoulders is longer and also forms a ruff at the base of the ears and the throat. Moderate furnishings of harsh texture on legs. Hair on the head and ears is short and smooth, except for slight eyebrows and whiskers. Some tidying is necessary to keep the dog neat, but shaping should be heavily penalized.

All shades of red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle. Dark points permissible. White marks are not desirable.

Should be true, low and driving. In front, the legs extend forward from the shoulder. Good rear angulation showing great powers of propulsion. Viewed from the side, hind legs follow in the track of the forelegs, moving smoothly from the hip and flexing well at the stifle and hock. Topline remains level.

Alert, gregarious, fearless and loyal. Never aggressive.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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