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Posted 12/18/97



A wise breeder once said: "Norwich say, 'Look, what I've done,' while Norfolk think, 'What shall I do?'"

Although Norfolk and Norwich Terriers share the same ancestry, there has been little interbreeding of ear types since ring competition resumed after World War II. Despite their similar Standards, 40 years and more of selective breeding have subtly differentiated the shape and character of the Norfolk from the Norwich since 1932, when Norwich Terriers received breed recognition in England. Even then, most of the pendant (drop ear or D.E.) and erect ear (prick ear or P.E.) devotees were divided into separate camps. This rift deepened after the War, with the determined Miss Marion Sheila Scott Macfie leading the charge for the drop ear cause. Convinced the more prevalent drop ears were the original breed, "Mac" did not like seeing them defeated in the show ring.

During the 1930s, six Norwich Terriers became champions--three of each ear type. Yet the decade following the War found the prick ears winning most of the honors in both England and America. This caused further tension, as the breed clubs in both countries were dominated by drop ear enthusiasts. At that time the prick ear winners led in showmanship, eyes, bites, and presentation, although it was generally conceded the drop ears excelled in coats, toplines, and movement.

Pedigrees reveal that drop ears have a broader base through a variety of lines back to Ch. Biffin of Beaufin, while the prick ear gene pool appears more limited. Informing a canine columnist about the breed's origins in 1936, the first English Norwich Terrier Club secretary wrote:

There is what might be called a different branch but with the same root bred in the Midlands. These are longer on the leg having less weight for size, usually with dropped ears and without the true Norwich coat and foxy, keen expression so typical of the dogs bred in Norfolk.

Two decades later Leo Wilson, a noted judge, observed:

If it were merely a matter of ear carriage there would be no difficulty, but the variations of type between the two varieties is most marked.

In America the terrier authority William Ross Proctor suggested separate classes for each ear type in 1962; and this division was used in American Club sponsored shows and matches until 1979.

Though the breed Standards were changed twice in the U.K. and six times in the United States before separation, this tinkering failed to produce an equalizing effect among show winners. In the end it was Miss M. S. S. Macfie's perseverance that finally achieved Norfolk recognition. After repeated refusals to divide Norwich Terriers into two varieties, the English Kennel Club agreed to separate breed names and Standards. On October 4, 1964, an emergency meeting of the Norwich Terrier Club was held for the "creation of the Norfolk Terrier." A club was then formed, and Miss Macfie was elected its first lifetime president.

That year F. Warner Hill wrote:

In 1931 the Kennel Club recognized . . . the Norwich Terrier including . . .the type we now call Norfolk as an integral part. Naming of breeds by town, county or area has long been maintained. The Norwich has a prick ear, foxy face, and rather short body on general working terrier lines. The Norfolk, a drop ear, squarish muzzle and longer body. Why should they be split over such a simple thing as ear carriage? Actually, there have always been two breeds, perhaps the originals mistake was classifying them as one.

Fifteen years after separation of Norwich and Norfolk in England, the American Kennel Club finally recognized the Norfolk Terrier and transferred all Norwich Terrier drop ears to the new breed stud book. Unlike England, where each breed has its own active parent club, a series of artful maneuvers here allowed the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club in America to cling tenaciously to both breeds. (this misguided precedent was later used to continue both Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers under one parent club after these were split into two breeds by the American Kennel Club in 1986.)

In 1979 the American Norfolk Terrier Association (ANTA) was formed exclusively for Norfolk breeders and fanciers, reaching its members through its own quarterly publication, ANTIC (American Norfolk Terrier Information Circular). Today ANTA schedules grooming and Obedience clinics, provides educational tapes, holds matches and sporting competitions, and rewards Norfolk breeders' achievements. With separate membership from the parent club in half the states and six foreign countries, the universal appeal of this group is enthusiastically recognized. The purpose of ANTA is to recognize, develop, and promote the unique characteristics of the Norfolk Terrier and to put aside forever that misguided old saw: "The only difference between the breeds is ears."

Vive la Différence!

Ear carriage is not the only breed difference between the Norfolk and the Norwich. Norfolk have small eye rims, while Norwich appear to wear mascara. Norfolk have more generous feet, better rear angulation in stifle and hock, and tend to have flatter muscles on shoulders and hindquarters. In outline, though similar to the Norfolk, the Norwich is broader, usually shorter in neck and coupling, and lower to the ground. In general, Norfolk are angular, Norwich more round. Norfolk go through more changes while growing and are generally slower to mature, but are precocious leg lifters.

Norfolk are more apt to suffer from jealousy than Norwich, and they frequently become hunting or racing addicts with great powers of concentration. Norwich adapt more easily to urban life, preferring the company of humans over other dogs. Norfolk are more "back to nature," easier to breed, and more independent. Norfolk tails quiver; Norwich tails wag. Norfolk can have high, squeaky barks, overbites that correct, and early tooth loss--all rare in Norwich. In the show ring a Norwich defies you to put him down, while a Norfolk says, "Please put me up!"


From The Norfolk Terrier, 2nd Edition, by
Joan R. Read. © 1994 by Joan R. Read. Excerpted
with permission of the estate of Joan R. Read


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