Dog Breed Review

Norfolk Terrier




Once upon a time, the Norfolk Terrier went by the name, Norwich, until Kennel Club’s around the world would agree the breed was deserving of distinction.

Bred as a badger hunter and ratter, the Norfolk, is one of the smallest working terriers around. They may be tenacious out in the field, but at home, they are otherwise.

Loving, loyal, and very affectionate, the Norfolk loves to be the center of attention. 

But will the breed make the right fit for your household? Where does the breed come from?

Here is what you need to know about the Norfolk Terrier.


Under the name Norwich Terrier, the Norfolk Terrier and its story begins in England. Moreover, sportsmen in the East Anglia region, had a pressing need for exterminators. In the 18th and 19th century, dog owners in Britain would use terriers to do the dirty work. This is where the Norfolk Terrier comes into the picture.

Of course, there is contention as to what breeds make up the Norfolk’s bloodline. Some believe a cross between the Irish Terrier, Border and Cairn Terrier. Furthermore, the FCI believes that the Glen of Imaal Terrier is a possibility along with the Dandie Dinmont. The FCI also believes a red Cairn Terrier could have been part of the breed’s development.

Either way, the Norfolk Terrier was bred to be a multi-versatile breed. Over the years, spanning from the early to mid-1800’s under the name Norwich Terrier, the breed was a fox bolter, a badger hunter and ratter to help curtail England’s rat infestation.

Eventually, the dog would surface at shows, but would be shown as the dropped ear type of the Norwich Terrier. Many people credit Roughrider Frank Jones for his role in promoting the breed and for bringing them to the United States. Others believe Charles Lawrence had a bigger role in the breed’s development. Regardless, the breed began to appear at Cambridge University in England around the tail end of the 1800’s. More specifically, students found the Norfolk Terrier to be an excellent companion and ratter. Before the turn of the 20th century, it was common to hear people refer to the Norfolk as the Cantab, Trumptington, Norwich, and Jones Terrier.

Jones Terrier was more of a North American thing. During the 1930’s, the Kennel Club would give the Norwich Terrier recognition as two types: erect eared and drop eared. Eventually, the drop ears would become the Norfolk, and in 1964, the Kennel Club gave the breed its own distinction of recognition.

The first exposure for the breed in the United States is when Frank Roughrider Jones sold his Cantabs. After a while, the breed would take his name as the Jones Terriers or Norwich Terrier.

As its own breed, the Canadian Kennel Club would initiate the distinction in North America by giving both breeds recognition in 1972. The American Kennel Club would follow suit, just as the United Kennel Club did as well, and in 1979, recognition was given to the Norfolk Terrier.

Today, the Norfolk isn’t as popular as its close counterpart, the Norwich. However, they are still effective working terriers, show dogs, and most of all, great companions.


The Norfolk Terrier is a small breed. Both male and females can stand between 9 to 10 inches, according to the American Kennel Club.

With regards to weight, both male and females should weigh between 11 to 12 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

If you aren’t into a dog that will easily attach itself to you, then the Norfolk Terrier is the wrong breed for you. A Norfolk Terrier wants to be where their people are at all times. They love close contact and need affectionate surroundings. Attention seeking, there isn’t much a Norfolk won’t do to earn your keep and eyes. They are great with children, do okay with other dogs having relative working experience with them, and even enjoy the neighbors.

However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t protective. They will bark when it is necessary, and the Norfolk Terrier is alert and fearless. They are a proud breed, with a big and bold personality despite their shortcomings physically.

The breed enjoys adventure. From digging to playing around the backyard, to chasing the squirrels. You can take this breed for a stroll, a hike, or even a dog park. At home, they will cuddle with you. A Norfolk Terrier is the kind of dog that would prefer to be outside and active, but will surf the couch as well.

Agreeable yet stubborn at times, you’ll need to earn the trickery of this breed. Whether you have experience or a novice, the breed can live in most climates and adapt to most surroundings. Would they prefer a nice big open space? Maybe, but they also enjoy staring at passing objects and people. In that sense, the breed will do fine in apartments.

All in all, this is a breed that is a consummate family companion. Great for a family that lives on a farm — because you can work the Norfolk or keep them indoors as a companion. 


Generally healthy is how many in the Norfolk Terrier community regard the breed. If all goes well, you should expect to get 12 to 16 years of a life expectancy from them. When you buy a Norfolk Terrier, it’s always best to purchase from a reputable breeder. Do your homework, read your reviews and obtain the proper documents or health clearances.

In addition, you’ll want to schedule routine veterinarian visits to maintain your Norfolk’s health.

The proof that the Norfolk and Norwich are different breeds is by taking one good look at their health. 

Like the Norwich, the Norfolk does have issues pertaining to Patella Luxation. When the knee cap dislocates or slips out of place, it can rub against the region causing a great deal of discomfort and pain. Some cases may result in Osteoarthritis. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Norfolk Terrier ranks 30th worst for Patella Luxation. The breed carries a 5.1 dysplastic rating out of only 369 evaluations. This puts them among the Boston Terrier and Pug.

The breed does suffer from Hip Dysplasia as well. The malformation of the hip, which will cause pain and discomfort affects 34.8% of the Norfolk Terrier. This ranks them 18th and among the Boykin Spaniel, AmStaff Terrier, and the American Bulldog.

Intervertebral Disc Disease is another concern to worry about. This is when the spinal column bulges or bursts causing a world of problems and pain. This can also result in permanent paralysis and nerve damage.

Ichthyosis, which is a rare autosomal recessive disorder that causes the top layer of skin to suffer abnormal development. Typical signs are a rough or thick coat, greasy coat and painful swelling. Supplements, shampoo treatment and medication are necessary to help with the treatment.

The cloudiness of the crystalline lens, Cataracts, which can produce night blindness, and at times, complete loss of vision, is found within this breed.

Staying with the eyes, Primary Lens Luxation, which is common for terriers like the Norfolk and Norwich, is a genetic eye complication that may result in blindness. Reputable and ethical breeders can prevent this by obtaining reports of the father and mother.

Other possible issues arising for this breed may be Liver Shunts, Hypothyroidism and possibly allergies.


This is a breed that should be a part of your family endeavors. They don’t do with distance or being alone for long periods of time. You’ll need to provide them with adequate companionship and attention. They should get regular exercise. Two short walks a day, once in the morning and at night should suffice. Or, you can do one long walk. Fetch, dog parks, if they have proper socialization, are also good ideas for the Norfolk Terrier.

Typically, with dogs they grow up with, they are friendly. However, if they are new to another male dog, they may require supervision. The breed should be good with children.

A leash and fence is a good idea when it comes to the Norfolk. For whatever reason, they have selective hearing and when they want to chase something they go for it. That said, the breed does have quite a strong prey drive. You’ll want to avoid leaving them around mice, birds and other smaller animals.

Although the breed likes consistency, it is best to mix it up with the Norfolk Terrier. This is especially true for dogs learning new tricks. You’ll want to introduce new things to this breed as they prefer a good shake up here and there.

Aside from training and socializing them as puppies, you’ll want to check their dropped down ears regularly for bacterial build up. Trimming their nails routinely is helpful in preventing splitting and painful overgrowth. Bathe as necessary.


A Norfolk Terrier should be fed a high quality formula. The formula should have a balance and meat as the first ingredient. Of course, how much your Norfolk Terrier eats will depend on their activity rate, age and metabolism. Most owners seem content feeding their Norfolks half to 1 cup of top quality dry kibble per day. You can help reduce the chances of Bloat by breaking that up into multiple meals. You will want to watch the proclivity the breed has for obesity. Limit snacks and table feeding to a minimum.

For a typical 11 to 12 pound Norfolk, you’ll want to compensate between 421 calories to 450 per day. Conversely, for a moderate working dog, you’ll need to compensate 702 to 750 calories per day. 15 to 30 percent protein value and 10 to 20 percent crude fat for the healthiest dietary regimen.

Of course, you should always provide your Norfolk Terrier with fresh drinking water.


The Norfolk Terrier should have a dense and definitive undercoat. The outside coat should be hard and wiry, straight and close to the body. This is a seasonal shedding breed that will require occasional grooming. Some hand stripping will be necessary for this breed if you are looking to keep the dignity of their coat at its best.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are four acceptable coat color options: Black and tan, grizzle, red, and red wheaten.

There are no acceptable markings, according to the breed standard.

Fun Norfolk Terrier Facts

  • The breed may not be the brightest of the bunch but they are hardworking. The Intelligence of Dogs done by Stanley Coren, puts the Norfolk Terrier as the 106th most intelligent breed. This means they are fair workers that listen to command 30 percent or better of the time.
  • In 2005, a Norfolk Terrier won the Best in Show at the Crufts Dog Show.
  • The American Kennel Club lists the breed as the 134th most popular breed in America.

Closing Words

Regardless of what you call the Norfolk, from the Jones Terrier to the Cantab to the Trumpington… the one thing you can call them is energetic and courageous. This is a dog that may be small but isn’t afraid of a fight nor will they back down from their duty.

Yet, at the end of the day, the breed is best at toning it down, jumping up on their people’s lap, then cuddling and sharing the love and affection they have been saving the whole day.


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