Articles Index/Description
Posted 12/18/97


One of the smallest of the working terriers, Norfolks are known to be "demons for their size." This observation is reinforced by the feverish activity of the Norfolk, a tiny dynamo who seizes every opportunity to tackle the seemingly impossible. A natural ratter and spunky hunter, he displays courage so awesome that "honorable scars from fair wear and tear shall not count against" him in the show ring.

Although an outgoing, energetic terrier, the Norfolk is not quarrelsome, is a sensitive dog, and can become stubborn without an understanding owner.

British sportsmen developed the breed around 1880, using the small red tykes favored by the Norfolk gypsies, and crossing these with Yorkshire, Cairn and small Irish stock. These sturdy red or black and tan ratting terriers were known to be congenial, fearless and uncommonly intelligent!

The Norfolk has variously been called the "Cantab," after Cambridge University where he enjoyed his first vogue; the "Trumpington," after a street from the area in which the breed first developed; the "Norwich" when granted acceptance in 1932 by the English Kennel Club; and the "Jones," after a Norwich huntsman who helped introduce the short-legged terriers into the United States prior to World War I. In 1964, the drop-eared Norwich was recognized as the Norfolk Terrier by the English Kennel Club. Fifteen years later, in 1979, the American Kennel Club granted official status to the Norfolk Terrier as a separate breed.

Neatly dropped, expressive ears distinguish the Norfolk Terrier from the Norwich Terrier, giving him a kindly, determined expression, very different from that of his prick-eared cousin.

The Norfolk Terrier's most attractive attribute, though, is temperament. His steady, easy-going personality is largely due to inheritance and maternal training. The little dams take great care to coach their puppies in terrier skills, teaching courage and stamina in the field, yet instilling in them a calm reserve around the house and yard. The mothers are very protective when the pups are young, making it unwise for a stranger to reach into a Norfolk nest, and as they have small litters, few are kennel raised.

The Norfolk Terrier, game and sturdy, is a compact, free moving terrier with good substance and bone. Height at the withers is not to exceed 10 inches at maturity; weight should be about 12 pounds; the skull is broad, slightly rounded, with good width between the ears, which should be medium sized, V-shaped and darker than the coat. When alert, the tips of the ears abut the outside corners of the eyes, which are small, dark, and placed well apart, giving him an intelligent expression. The tail is medium docked, straight and carried erect, but not over the back. The Norfolk's protective coat is hard, wiry and straight with a definite undercoat. Though sometimes black and tan or grizzle, his coat is usually red or wheaten, collects no dirt and requires no trimming, characteristics that make this sagacious, loyal terrier an ideal house pet.

This is an adaptable, family dog, equally at home in the city apartment as he is in the country. A reliable child's companion, Norfolks seem to have an affinity for children when properly introduced. Even those who are unaccustomed to toddlers, instinctively respond to their needs or tidy up the strewn crumbs. Not a yappy dog, Norfolks can, however, be counted on to sound off when the need arises.

Finally, these affectionate little dogs are notably healthy and hardy. It is not unusual to see a Norfolk that is well into his teens, still active and alert, exuberantly sharing the joy he finds in living with the people that love him.


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