Dog Breed Review

Norwich Terrier




While they may be one of the smallest working terriers, the Norwich Terrier has a personality and work ethic as large as any breed.

Once upon a time, this breed was a reliable source for controlling rat populations. Indeed, that is largely due to their low to the ground and compact bodies. 

Aside from being fearless and persistent ratters, the Norwich also has a sweet and soft side. They make for wonderful and loving, loyal companions.

So where does the breed come from? Will they make a good addition for your family?

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


Once upon a time, dog owners of England would show the Norfolk and Norwich Terrier as one breed. Indeed, there was two types of the same breed. The pricked ear type would become the Norwich, while the drop eared breed became the Norfolk.

And during that time, both breeds would undergo different names and name changes. In fact, you may have heard a few references like the “Jones Terriers,” “Cantabs,”  and “Trumpington Terriers.” Eventually, the breed would settle upon  the name, Norwich, in reference to their origin location.

The marshy lands in East Anglia had a huge problem. That problem being an infestation of rats. And like most of England, the locals would employ and call on different Terriers to handle the rising rat population. One of those breeds that would receive a call to duty was the Norwich Terrier.

Bred to control vermin and work with packs hunting fox, the Norwich Terrier, then the Cantabs, began to surface in England during the late 1800’s. During dog shows, their close relative, the Norfolk, and the Norwich, would be shown as two types of one breed.

Their rise to fame, or distinction, began to surface after the breed was sold to students at Cambridge University. The students, at the time, found the breed to be great companions. Additionally, rat infestation was a problem for the students on Trumpington Street as well. As a multi-purpose breed, the Norwich Terrier and its abilities began to spread throughout the dog community.

The star appeal of Roughrider, Frank Jones, who the breed would take its name from for a period of time, likewise, would help promote the breed. In the United States, enthusiasts knew the breed as the Jones Terrier. The breed began to appear in the states around the early 1900’s, and was sold to someone in Philadelphia.

It wouldn’t be until 1979, that the breed would receive distinction and recognition as the Norwich Terrier. That year, the AKC would make it official and the United Kennel Club would also give the breed its own recognition.

Due to the rise in technology, the breed’s true role from the 20th century and on was that of a companion and show dog. Today, the breed is rather rare and losing its popularity where they originate from, England. In the United States, the news isn’t too much better, as the American Kennel Club lists the Norwich Terrier as the 103rd most popular breed out of 194.


The Norwich Terrier is about the size of a Toy breed on the bigger end. As a small breed, the Norwich should stand at ten inches, with females ten inches or a bit smaller.

With regards to weight, both male and female Norwich Terriers can weigh 12 pounds. 

Personality and Temperament

Little dog, big personality. Something like that, right? The Norwich Terrier is a dog with grit, with a lot of spunk. They are a happy and go lucky breed, that enjoys, seemingly, to the fullest. It’s a common sight to come home and see your Norwich engaging in a romp in the backyard. And, to top it off, most experts, who follow this breed, say they are not your typical terrier when it comes to other dogs. Perhaps, that has something to do with their historic role as a fox hunter and working with packs. 

As fun as this breed can be, they can be just as stubborn as well. Although they are eager to please their humans, they may make you sweat a bit for their cooperation. This is an intelligent dog, with an above average working I.Q.

Clearly as a ratter, there are some traits that come with this dog’s tool belt. They are explorers and fearless ones at that. They may give the neighborhood squirrels a true run for their money. The breed is rather quick. Not only on their feet but mentally as well.

When it comes to family, this fierce and fearless ratter is a peach. They are loyal, love being close to their master and will form a great relationship with children and other household pets. In fact, the neighbors will enjoy the breed as well. 

All in all, this is an instinctive breed, that is cute, clever and affectionate. Children adore the Norwich Terrier thanks to their playful manner. They should never be aggressive and shy. This breed is all business at work, and all play at home.


The Norwich Terrier appears to be a relatively healthy breed. Much like other breeds, however, their are some areas of concern a responsible dog owner should be privy about. For starters, if you buy from a breeder, make sure you purchase from someone with a good reputation. Do your homework! Read the reviews online or ask around. This breeder should be able to provide you with the basics –health clearances and the proper documents you need to make the best decision possible. In addition, you’ll want to schedule regular visits with the veterinarian to ensure and maintain your Norwich Terrier’s health.

If you do that, then there is no reason not to expect your Norwich Terrier living between 12 to 15 years.

Upper Airwave Syndrome is a respiratory condition affecting the larynx of your Norwich. This condition manifests by disrupting the breathing and reducing the amount of air flow to the trachea. Typically, if you hear your Norwich Terrier breathing loudly, then it is a good indicator there is a problem. Upper Airwave Syndrome can result in death and is considerably the most pressing issue facing the breed.

Patella Luxation is a big concern for the breed. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals lists the Norwich as the 22nd worst breed with the condition. Patella Luxation is when the knee cap slips out of place causing it to rub and cause discomfort, pain and possibly Osteoarthritis. With over 1,000 evaluations, the breed has a dysplastic rating of 5.3, which puts them in the company of the French Bulldog and Chihuahua.

The Norwich Terrier has a 13.1 dysplastic rating when it comes to Hip Dysplasia. Like Patella Luxation, this malformation of the hip joint can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain. With over 1200 plus evaluations, the breed ranks a modest 81st along with the Leonberger and Akita.

Peridontal Disease is an issue to some Norwich Terriers. This is a result of bacteria due to tartar buildup, which may cause inflammation around the gums. Once that enters into the bones and tissue around the teeth, it can spread and impact the dog’s liver and kidney.

Degenrative Myelopathy is a progressive spinal cord condition affecting this breed, Boxers, Corgis and German Shepherd, to name a few. This can result in complete paralysis.

Primary Lens Luxation is also prevalent in Norwich Terriers. This is a genetic eye complication common among Terriers. This can cause blindness, but the good news is that PLL is preventable just as long as your breeder is responsibly breeding.

Finally, other issues may include; epilepsy, complications during birth resulting in c-sections and certain forms of allergies.


To prevent your Norwich Terrier from boredom, which can result in destruction, you should give this small breed a role or task. These are working terriers, which means they prefer to stay busy. If a job isn’t on the radar, then sufficient contact with their people will do. They will need companionship or attention to prevent those destructive traits.

If you do have smaller animals, from mice, birds to even your goldfish, you’ll want to supervise your Norwich around them. This is a breed with a strong prey drive. Knowing that, you’ll want to invest in a leash and put up a fence. These dogs will selectively hear when they see something they want to chase.

This is an indoor breed that should obviously have access to the outside. Regular exercise, plenty of mental stimulation is necessary. Early socialization and training is a must to raise a friendly dog. Include your Norwich into canine sports they thrive at such as; earthdog, agility, barn hunt, and obedience. Two short walks or one long walk per day will suffice their medium energy needs.

Finally, due to their proclivity to Peridontal Disease, you’ll want to brush their teeth two to three times a week. If not, you should do it regularly. You’ll also want to trim their nail to protect from overgrowth, check their erect ears and watch for bacterial buildup and unpleasant odor, which can be a sign of an infection.


The Norwich Terrier is a 12 pound dog, that should eat accordingly. Of course, how much your dog eats depends on their activity rate, age and metabolism. For a 12 pound dog, with a typical energy level, you want to make sure they get around 450 calories a day. For a 12 pound , moderately busy dog, you’ll need to ensure 700 to 800 calories. Watch this breed’s weight, as they may be prone to obesity.

They will require a high quality, meat as the first ingredient diet. Most Norwich Terrier owners feel comfortable providing a half cup to one cups of top quality kibble a day. You can break that up into two meals throughout the day as well. This will help prevent a deadly condition, Bloat.

As always, you should provide your Norwich Terrier with fresh drinking water.


A Norwich Terrier has a soft undercoat, weather and waterproof outer coat. The coat should be hard, straight, wiry, and close to the body. Weekly grooming will be necessary for this seasonal shedder. You may also need to hire a professional groomer to handle the regular stripping of the coat. 

According to the breed standard, there are four acceptable coat color options: Wheaten, black and tan, grizzle, and red.

There are no acceptable markings.

Fun Norwich Terrier Facts

  • The Norwich Terrier is on the Kennel Club’s native vulnerable breed list: In 2017, there were only 91 registrations, which was down from 145 in 2016. To be on the list, there has to be less than 300 annual registrations of the breed.
  • In 1994, a Norwich by the name of Chidley Willum the Conqueror won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. In 1998, another Norwich Terrier would win again.
  • The breed is the 61st most intelligent breed on Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs.” This makes them above average working dogs that obey commands 70 percent or better of the time.
  • Many speculate the bloodline that went into this breed in the 1800’s. Some say the Cairn Terrier is the most likely progenitor and possibly the Border Terrier

Closing Words

There’s a lot to like about the Norwich Terrier. They are charming, easy to get along with, friendly and engaging. Anyone that is familiar with the breed knows how hard of a worker they are out in the field. 

But at the end of the day, they can put their gear in the locker, go home and cuddle up next to their people, where they are to remain as a faithful and loving companion for years to come.






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