The Norfolk Terrier is a small earth dog with a high energy level and a big attitude. It’s a pretty fearless working Terrier when it comes to catching vermin or chasing off foxes. It looks like the Norwich Terrier dog, but with drop-ears instead of having upright prick-ears, a scruffy, wiry coat, and loving dark eyes.
This dog breed has been referred to by many different names over the years and confused with other Terrier breeds, such as:
- The Norwich Terrier,
- Cantab Terrier,
- Cambridge Terrier,
- Trumpington Terrier,
- Jones Terrier,
- Border Terrier,
- Cairn Terrier,
- Irish Terrier
- Dropped-Ear Norwich Terrier dog
A Norfolk Terrier is an affectionate little dog that when trained and properly socialized will be playful and friendly with children, and adapt well into family life.
Norfolk Terrier puppies are very cute and quite rare, with only around 300 born each year, and would make a loyal little companion, if you could find one.
A brief history of the Norfolk Terrier dog breed
The Norfolk Terrier was a variety of the Norwich Terrier, that originated in the County of East Anglia, in England, Great Britain
The Norwich Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier are now recognized as separate purebred dog breeds.
FACT: The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia was established in the 6th century; consisting of the 3 modern English Counties of – Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire.
Norwich is a city in the County of Norfolk, and Cambridge is a city in the County of Cambridgeshire, England.
The Terrier Breed
Terriers are a specific group and type of dog that was originally bred to dig and hunt for prey like foxes or rats and other vermin.
In the early 20th Century, Frank Jones, a horseman with livery stables, in the area of Norwich, East Anglia, Great Britain, needed a skilled ‘ratter’ (vermin catcher) so he started breeding Terrier dogs.
It’s believed he crossed Irish terriers with Yorkshire terriers, to produce a lively but smaller working Terrier, with a prey drive that would make a superior ratter and fox watchdog, for farms and stables.
These quick little prey chasers also became popular with Cambridge University students living in student accommodation around Trumpington Street, Cambridge.
These students liked to gamble and place racing bets on such sporting dogs, and they also kept these friendly small pets, the Trumpington Terrier, as dormitory companions; presumably, as well as being a loving companion, and small portable size, they kept the vermin population under control.
At this time, around Cambridge University, they were also known as the Cantab Terriers or the Cambridge Terriers.
When did they move to the United States?
In 1914, Frank Jones introduced this Terrier dog, nicknamed as the ‘Jones Terrier’, into the United States, but it was known as the Norwich Terrier after the area it had originated.
The Norwich Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a purebred dog breed in 1936, before World War II.
The Norwich Terrier and the Norfolk Terriers were considered the same breed until 1964 when the Kennel Club of England (UKC) acknowledged their differences; ear types (the Norfolk Terrier has drop ears and the Norwich Terrier is prick-eared), also the Norfolk Terrier has a longer length back.
The Norfolk Terrier was finally recognized as a separate breed by the following Kennel Clubs:
- 1964 – United Kennel Club of England (UKC)
- 1977 – Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
- 1979 – American Kennel Club (AKC)
The Norfolk Terrier is now also recognized as a separate breed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
FACT: The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is the World Canine Organization. It is an international federation comprising a number of national kennel clubs for dogs across the world.
What does a Norfolk Terrier dog look like?
The Norfolk Terrier is a small-sized pack dog that has a wedge-shaped strong muzzle, a compact and robust body with short legs.
This little dog looks cute and delicate but don’t be fooled it is an expert ratter with great determination and energy. It is equally happy ratting (hunting vermin) around farmyards and barns, or snuggling up with its family.
Norfolk terriers are strong for their size and very hard-working and determined.
This little pooch has an adorable face with small alert dark eyes and a scruffy-looking wiry coat. The Norfolk Terrier has a short double coat and the color is typically Wheaten, Red, Black and Tan or Grizzle; all of these colors are breed standard.
This is a natural earth dog with a high energy level and loves to dig, so don’t be surprised if your pooch comes back even scruffier than normal and filthy, but one happy little dog!
What are the main characteristics of a Norfolk Terrier dog?
Small but strong, this little dog inherits the prey instincts of a working Terrier and is not a lap dog.
Terriers were originally bred to work in packs, for the hunting of burrowing prey, such as rats, foxes, rabbits, etc.; basically any small animal that creates burrows in the earth.
So you can expect this little dog to be lively and alert. Its small size does not look like it would make a good watchdog, but this pooch will be very watchful over its family and sense intruders, human or vermin, and bark to let you know.
Loyalty and companionship:
The Norfolk Terrier was bred to work in packs to chase off unwanted vermin. It is reliable and happy to work alone or within a pack.
With proper socialization, a Norfolk Terrier will become a loyal and trusted companion and as a pack animal, it will want to be part of your tribe.
The Norfolk Terrier is a genuine Terrier dog; bred with a prey instinct, determination and instinct to dig to find burrowing prey or to hunt and chase off other unwanted vermin.
This small dog is agile, quick, and has a high energy level for working or playing.
They have a powerful bite and grip which is useful to catch prey and their small size is an advantage if they need to hunt into the earth. That’s why they’re sometimes referred to as an earth dog.
The Norfolk Terrier was a variety of the Norwich Terrier, and only recognized as a separate breed in England in the 1960s, and in North America in the 1970s.
This dog breed is not known to be aggressive, but it is active with sharp senses and will watch out for intruders and then its hunting instincts will kick in.
But remember it is important to treat any dog with a prey drive with respect otherwise it might feel challenged and react in a negative or aggressive way.
The Norfolk Terrier is slowly gaining in popularity but is not well-known as a Terrier dog.
After this breed was recognized, with its own breed standard, by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1979, it has slowly gained in popularity but still only ranks 126th in the list of most popular dogs in the United States.
Any Terrier dog needs to be trained as a puppy regardless if it is to be used as a working dog or kept as a family pet.
The Norfolk Terrier is cute and cuddly looking, but it has the typical characteristics of a Terrier dog; a working pack animal that loves to, hunt, chase, and dig. This breed learns quickly and enjoys being around others.
The trainability of this dog should be very easy for anyone with enough energy; to train it to follow orders and exercise control in its behavior. This type of Terrier is livelier than most other Terriers and will need careful socialization and discipline training.
As a pack dog, the Norfolk Terrier needs to understand who the master is, early in the training, and understand its role in the hierarchy. Norfolk Terriers can be very active, agile and independent This is not a dog for a sedentary dog owner as it can be willful, stubborn, and very active.
Leash training is strongly recommended for this busy little ratting dog, to remind it of the limits. Leash walking will teach it control, road, and danger awareness and stop it suddenly darting off to chase some small animal it views as prey.
Harsh training tactics are not recommended for any terrier dog as it might rebel and snap, bark or simply refuse to cooperate. Positive reinforcement with little food-based treats works wonders with this dog breed. This dog will enjoy a fenced yard with lots of earth and space to run around in and burn off its energy.
Power and intelligence:
Norfolk Terriers are clever little dogs that have a compact and strong body.
They are strong-willed, alert, and aware of anything around them that might pose a threat or need removing. They have good senses and can act on instinct quickly to prevent or avoid danger.
The Norfolk Terrier is not destructive or an aggressive dog.
They are nimble when chasing prey and their determination gives them a ‘not give up until the job is done’ attitude.
The Norfolk Terrier was bred to chase and catch vermin on farmyards, stables, and barns in the rural counties and farming communities of East Anglia, England.
They are reliable, quick, and robust, and love to hunt and dig, so they made a perfect ratting dog.
They are more commonly kept as family dogs today but they still have that prey instinct that will keep them alert to the presence of unwanted small animals in the area they roam.
They are vigilant and wary of pending danger and always ready to protect.
When a Norfolk Terrier puppy dog is socialized and obedience trained properly it will fit into family life easily and form a strong protective companionship. It will always be wary of other small pets so it must be trained not to chase the family cat or hamster, to go digging or bring little live presents from the garden!
These puppies are friendly and have an outgoing personality. Once socialized, they will love to play with their companions. Their daily routine should be a mix of exercise and playtime with their loved ones.
This breed will suit any type of family set up or lifestyle; with or without previous dog ownership experience. They could even adapt to apartment living providing they get enough daily exercise, outside in the open air.
Norfolk Terriers are naturally obedient pack dogs. They will challenge for lead dog position so the master must demonstrate their ‘leader of its pack’ status as early on in the relationship as possible.
This includes when leash training, the Norfolk Terrier will want to show its independence and could try to wander but must be kept on a tight leash and trained to walk behind its master to show it who is the boss.
They are naturally suspicious of strangers and small animals. They are wary in new situations or circumstances and may bark if suspicious; this makes them a good little watchdog for any home.
This dog will bark, but it’s not a yappy dog.
They are very active and get bored easily so it’s important to make sure this small dog gets enough exercise. A long walk each day is recommended; up to one hour of daily exercises and playtime.
Physical Characteristics of a Norfolk Terrier dog
A Norfolk Terrier Dog is a charming, small-sized purebred dog with a double coat; its outer coat is short, dense, and scruffy, while the undercoat is soft and will keep it warm in cold weather conditions.
This dog is agile, nimble with a fit and compact build, and usually a docked tail.
Size: Small sized dog
Height: 9-10” (23-25cm) for both Male and Female
Weight: Up to 11-12lb (5-5.4kg) for both Male and Female
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Litter size: 2-5 puppies/litter
Coat: A short-haired, dense, double coat; the undercoat is soft for warmth in the cold season.
Color: The breed standard covers a variety of coat colors: Wheaten (from pale beige to a shimmering gold color), all shades of Red, Black and Tan, or Grizzle (a bluish or dull grey color).
There are no other breed standard colors for the Norfolk Terrier dog.
Eyes: Small, round, Dark Brown/ Black color eyes, rimmed with Black color; with a kind and expectant look.
Ears: Drop ears that fold–over forward.
Temperament: This is a playful little dog that likes lots of attention. It is good with children if raised with them, but it still has the instinct of a Terrier and needs to be supervised around children and other smaller animals.
It can be gentle and loving but could chase smaller animals, pets, or wild animals, like rabbits, hamsters or rats, given the chance.
How should you train a Norfolk Terrier puppy?
A Norfolk Terrier puppy is a courageous pack animal with a fairly high energy level. It should be trained early, as a puppy, as the inherited prey instincts may present themselves in this dog.
Whoever trains it must show it who the pack leader is during training to have respect and success.
This puppy could be stubborn so it will need ongoing positive reinforcement and praise for good behavior, with possibly some doggie food treats as a reward; as this little dog just loves its food. Not too many though as this dog breed puts weight on easily.
It should be given gentle reprimands for not behaving, that is consistent and fair, but no harsh treatment as this dog may refuse to cooperate further.
There are various types of recommended training: obedience, discipline, agility, and socialization.
So, if you are not going to use a professional dog trainer:
1) Develop your basic command words: Find keywords such as Stop, Sit, and Wait etc. and be consistent each time you use them.
2) Crate – Buy a crate and get this determined puppy used to going into it. This will eventually become its nest and it will sleep there. You will have to lock the cage in the early days so it knows it has to sleep there and it’s useful to experience for bladder control and when transporting this breed.
3) Potty training – This is a very clean dog and easy to house train. It will become a creature of habit quickly. However, should you need help there are products available, such as mats and odor sprays to attract puppy go to the same spot each time.
4) Walking on a leash – Voice commands and road awareness is important for this puppy’s safety, as it has a strong hunting instinct and it might just dash off.
Health problems and health issues
Any purebred dog breed, like the Norfolk Terrier, can inherit certain genetic health problems. This breed is relatively healthy but it can suffer from joints and heart problems:
Hip Dysplasia – an abnormality where the ball and socket of the hip joint are not a neat fit. Excessive movement can lead to further damage to the limbs, extreme pain possible bone disease such as arthritis. Dogs with known Hip Dysplasia should not be bred.
Mitral valve disease (MVD) – Mitral valve disease (MVD) is a condition where, over time, the dog may develop a heart murmur from a leaking mitral valve, causing poor blood flow which reduces the efficiency of the heart.
Luxating Patella – Patellar Luxation – is a dislocation of the kneecap, from the Greek language Patella (kneecap) and luxation (dislocation). The hind legs can be affected with dislocation of the joint. It can happen several times over the lifespan of the dog.
Caring for your Norfolk Terrier – what’s needed?
This breed is very clean, easy to house train and self-sufficient.
An active dog needing 40 minutes to one hour of exercise a day; combined walks, activities, and playtime. They would suit a fenced yard to exercise themselves, but not where they can dig and escape!
Feed as a small-sized dog, with ½ cup to 1 cup of good quality dry dog food (Kibble) per day, over two meals; the exact amount depends on size, build, metabolism, and activity level.
This dog breed is low maintenance, sheds moderately but is known to matt if not groomed regularly. It should be brushed about once a week, to remove debris and dirt.
This breed is not hypoallergenic.
This double-coated dog only needs to be bathed when needed as it does not have a smelly coat, and its natural coat oil can be stripped with over-bathing.
Certain dog formulated shampoos have a double effect of cleaning the dog coat and protecting it against fleas and insect bites.
Cleaning teeth, nails, and ears
Check teeth to prevent a build-up of plaque and avoid gum disease. Nails need to be trimmed regularly and ears checked for dirt that can lead to infection.
Positives and Negatives of owning a Norfolk Terrier
- A loyal, playful and loving companion
- Alert and obedient
- Intelligent and easy to train
- Low shedder
- Adaptable, non- aggressive
- Good for first-time owners
- Child friendly when trained and socialized
- Very active needs stimulation
- Strong prey drive may chase small pets
- Not for inactive owner
- Wary and suspicious of strangers
- Likes to dig and escape
- Must be leash walked, could suddenly dart off
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does a Norfolk Terrier puppy cost?
A. Budget approximately $1,100, from a reputable breeder, or consider adopting one, but do your research though as this is not a commonly available breed.
Q. Why is a Norfolk Terrier puppy so expensive?
A. They’re not a common breed as each litter only produces on average 2-5 puppies, and only around 300 are born each year. Costs should include full vaccinations, chip and passport and name registration. This all adds to the overall cost.
Q What other costs should I expect?
A. A good quality dry dog food, Kibble, Vet’s fees, regular vaccinations, medications and accessories and toys, collar, leash, grooming equipment.