Breed Type:  Terrier
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Size:  Small
Also known as:  Norfolks, Jones Terriers
Males: Height: 23-25 cm, Weight: 5-5.5 kg
Females: Height: 22-24 cm, Weight: 4.5-5 kg
Exercise Requirements: Medium
Care Requirements: Medium
Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Best Suited as: Family Pet

Smallest of the working terriers, this scrappy, high-energy dog makes a loyal pet. Closely related to its cousin, the Norwich Terrier, it is distinguishable by its longer body and floppy ears.

While this loving pooch stands on small, short legs, it should not be mistaken for a gentle lap dog. All personality, and strong-willed, this wiry breed is compact and extremely agile.  Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall, with a level topline. Their fur is waterproof and it comes in a variety of coat colors – from shades of wheaten, red, black, tan, grey and grizzle. The hair on their neck, throat and at the base of their ears is longer and thicker than the rest of their coat and their eyebrows and whiskers are long.  Norfolks’ tails are high-set and usually docked (although docking is illegal in England and optional in Australia).

Norfolks have small, dark eyes that sparkle with mischief.  Their muzzle is wedge-shaped and tapered and their eyes are dark and oval, with black rims.  If they conform to the breed standard, their teeth will form a scissor bite.

The Norfolk Terrier loves to be part of the pack, and hates isolation. When treated well, this breed is happy, spirited and self-confident. Full of spunk, and never boring, they are a high- energy pet and all terrier.  Other words that capture this breed’s personality are intelligent, feisty, scrappy, stubborn and independent.

The Norfolk Terrier, like most terriers, will bark as a way to signal to their owners that something is awry. They do not tend to be yappy like some other smaller dogs. Standoffish around new people and other dogs, they prefer being with you than getting to know newcomers.

An identical early history is shared between the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier, and they were both originally referred to as the Norwich Terrier.  Around the turn of the 20th century, Frank “Roughrider” Jones developed the breeds from other working terriers in the stables of Norfolk, England.They were bred as barn dogs to chase away vermin and were nicknamed “Jones Terriers” after their originator.

The only way to determine the difference between Norfolk Terriers from Norwich Terriers is to look at their ears. The Norfolk has floppy ears while the Norwich has prick ears.  Breeders wanted to separate these two varieties so they could ensure which variety would be born. Therefore, they stopped cross breeding the two ear types in the 1930’s. In 1932, the Norwich was registered in the English Kennel Club and in 1936; it was added to The American Kennel Club.

Soon after, during World War II, the floppy eared variety dropped greatly in numbers. Thankfully, for Miss Macfie of the Colansays, the floppy eared terriers were resurrected. Through the 1940’s breeders began to visit Miss Macfie and helped to make this floppy eared breed as popular as their prick-eared cousins. The English declared these two to be completely separate breeds in 1964 and in 1979, the United States followed suit.  In 1979, they earned their new name, The Norfolk Terrier.

Care and Grooming
The Norfolk Terrier, because of their double coat, needs daily brushing. Owners recommend using a steel “greyhound” comb to remove dead hair and to prevent matting. Their undercoat is soft while their topcoats are harsh and wiry. Using clippers on this dog is not recommended and they only need to be bathed occasionally. They are only a light shedder and hand stripping is only required for show dogs twice a year.

Your Norfolks ears should be checked often, as they are prone to wax build up and infection. Likewise, your dog’s teeth need to be brushed consistently to prevent tarter buildup and bad breath.

The Norfolk Terrier has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. It is susceptible to several health issues such as allergies, hip dysplasia and luxating patellas (dislocation of the kneecap).  It is best for a veterinarian to do early testing of the hips and knees to detect potential issues.  Some Norfolks also have incorrect bites (teeth not aligning correctly) but this is more of an aesthetic concern for those who wish to show their pet.

Suitability as a Pet
Being part of the family makes this dog the happiest and they get along nicely with all family members, including other dogs. Because of their long history of hunting vermin, they should not be trusted alone with hamsters, mice or guinea pigs.  Norfolks love to play games and need either a walk or a play session daily.  Games that include hunting and chasing are their favorite and if you can supply at least a small yard for these investigative games, they will be in doggie heaven.  Beware of tunnels under your fence, though – this dog loves to dig.  Fences are best placed 30 cm underground. Do not force your Norfolk to live outside – her rightful place is inside with you.

Norfolks are easy to train and need human leadership to show them the ropes. If not properly trained, they can develop what some have dubbed “small dog syndrome” where the dog is confused about their order in the pack. When there is not a strong human leader in charge of them, they may exhibit behavior problems like separation anxiety and jealousy. Like all terriers, Norfolks should be kept on a leash in public because of their strong desire to hunt. Seeing another animal such as a squirrel, chipmunk or rabbit, may lead them to dash across a busy street and into danger.

The Norfolk is best trained with positive reinforcement and treats.  Negative reinforcement will bring out the stubborn streak many terriers exhibit.  Easily bored your Norfolk will thank you for coming up with new games and can easily graduate to advanced training and agility training.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.