The Norfolk Terrier dog breed from England is a small working terrier, traditionally used for hunting small game such as foxes and rabbits. Despite their small size, they are bold enough to take on prey larger than them. These easy going dogs get along famously with other dogs and are friendly to all types of pets in the household. They have a strong pack sense that makes them great family pets and companions.
The breed name indicates its place of origin in the County of Norfolk in England, but they were originally called Norwich Terriers after the city of Norwich within that county. This small terrier breed was developed in the 1880s by crossbreeding some red terriers used in the county as ratters with short-legged Irish Terriers.
Interestingly, these dogs had several name changes over the years. They were very popular with Cambridge University students and came to be known as Cantab Terriers and later as Trumpington Terriers. They were first exported to the United States by an Irishman named Frank Jones, which caused these dogs to be known in the country as Jones Terriers.
Norwich Terriers were recognized by the Kennel Club in 1932, but there were both drop-eared and prick-eared dogs within the same breed. Both types were similar in all other aspects, but due to some unknown reason, the prick-eared dogs increased in numbers while the drop-eared dogs became nearly extinct during the World War II.
However, a dog enthusiast Miss Macfie took interest in the drop-eared dogs and encouraged breeders to bring them back. As a result, these dogs increased in numbers, and came to be recognized in 1964 as a separate breed with the name Norfolk Terrier. The American Kennel Club too accepted this separation in 1979. Today, these dogs have breed characteristics that are quite different from those of Norwich Terriers.
There are not many Norfolk Terriers around in the United States, partly because of their small litter size. Since the demand is greater than supply, those who want to have this breed usually have to wait awhile.
The Norfolk Terrier dog breed, along with the Norwich Terrier breed, is among the smallest of English working terriers. They typically measure 9 to 10 inches at the withers and weigh less than 12 pounds. They have a relatively long body supported on short yet sturdy legs. The whole body is covered by a double coat that consists of a wiry topcoat, and an undercoat of soft fur. The color can be any shade of wheaten or red or can come in black and tan combination and with grizzle pattern.
The Norfolk Terrier is bold and self confident, carrying its head and tail high. Originally used as ratters and hunters of small game, they still have a strong prey instinct. However, they are considered safe to other household pets if they are introduced early. Since these dogs were used in packs, they are especially friendly with other dogs and become very attached to their human family.
Even though they look like toy dogs, Norfolk Terriers are not for sitting on the laps. Full of life and energy, they are happiest when busy, and may show destructive behavior if bored. They are one of the best behaved among terriers though, but are known to become barkers and diggers if left alone for extended periods.
Grooming and exercise
The wiry coat of Norfolk Terrier dog breed requires a thorough brushing at least 2-3 times a week. Trimming the coat spoils its unique texture and color. During the shedding seasons in Fall and Spring, hand stripping is ideal.
Norfolk Terriers are high-energy dogs and require quite a bit of exercise and activity to expend their energy stores. However, being small in size, they can run around within the yard to get quite a bit of exercise. Taking them out for brisk walks and playing games will keep them happy and healthy. These dogs love to explore the surroundings and chase small animals. Free run of a secure yard during the day is highly desirable.
Norfolk Terriers do best in moderate climate. They are out suitable for outdoor living though. Since they become extremely attached to their human pack, they should live in the house with the family.
Common health issues of Norfolk Terrier dog breed
The Norfolk Terrier dog breed is quite sturdy and has very few health problems, even though hip dysplasia is commonly seen. Some dogs may have patellar luxation. Mitral valve disease is occasionally seen in this breed. These dogs are prone to allergies too. The average life expectancy of Norfolk Terriers is 12 to 14 years, but with good care, many dogs live up to 17 years.