Articles Index/Standard
Posted 12/18/97



Excerpted from Marjorie Bunting's Norfolk Terrier column, DOG WORLD, December 13, 1985.

As a start to the year an American dog paper [CANINE CHRONICLE] has done a special feature on the breeds, much as DOG WORLD did in our Golden Jubilee year. What most interested me was the publication of the American Standard in this supplement. I had always known that our Standards are not the same, but had not realized that slightly different looking dogs are the actual result.

Take for instance a vital point to the overall look of the dog, the length of back. We in the UK (the home of the breeds) ask for our Norfolks to be short in back, these words appear under 'General Appearance' as well as under 'Body'. Under 'Body' in the American Standard are the words, "Length of back from point of withers to base of tail should be slightly longer than the height at withers." Add to this short legs (which are asked for in both Standards) and you have the outline of different dogs. In the UK a square, compact appearance, in the USA an oblong, slightly Dachshundy look. There is another clause on length in the USA Standard, "It is active and compact", the last difficult to achieve with a slightly longer back I would have said.

Under 'Ears', the UK Standard asks for medium size, the USA small. The USA Standard also asks for a higher drop to the ears, saying they shall not fall lower than the outside corner of the eye, while the UK Standard only asks for them to drop forward to the cheek. In this respect I would suggest that very few Norfolks have ears which drop not lower than the corner of the eye in either country. Indeed, all the Norfolks shown in the Norfolk/Norwich supplement had the point of the ear lower than the eye corner.

The American Standard surprises me too in that it asks for "good width of chest". This Standard places great emphasis on the hunting capabilities of the breed. Surely a good width of chest is not ideal for a breed which the Standard says can go to ground after fox and other vermin. In some places where Norfolks could be asked to go after rats in East Anglia for instance, a dog with a "good width of chest" would be likely to get stuck! The USA Standard goes on to ask for "chest only moderately deep", completing the wrong shape for an earth dog.

Forelegs, say the USA Standard, should be "as straight as is consistent with the digging terrier." Having seen terriers digging, I can only say that I personally have seen no difference in the competence of short legs which are straight and short legs which are bandy. Indeed a very bandy terrier I once knew used to get sores on the inside of his leg just above the pad when he had been digging. Of course, if you are asking for a good width of chest, straight legs would not fit as easily round the chest.

Straight legs are not easy to breed on short legged breeds, but they are possible as the breed's top winner this year, Ch. Jaeva Matti Brown, has shown. His straight forelegs come from well angulated shoulders, with a well sprung, long, deep ribcage. Exactly the requirement for a terrier into narrow places.

The USA Standard has a great deal more to say on size than the UK, which only asks for an ideal height of 10" at withers, thus making variations acceptable. The USA Standard has a definite height not an ideal one, of 9" to 10" at maturity. An exact height is difficult to achieve with our conglomerate background of breeds varying in height from a Yorkie to an Irish Terrier!

I don't at all like the clause, "Bitches tend to be smaller than dogs." Why? This has never been the case in this breed, indeed it has never been asked for. Then there's the weight clause of 11 lbs - 12 lbs, which is qualified by "or that which is suitable for each individual dog's structure and balance." So why ask for a particular weight at all? Asking for a weight as low as 11 lbs is inconsistent with "good bone and substance" plus a 10" height. But I do find much of the American Norfolk Standard ambiguous.

To my mind, their Norwich Standard is much better in most points. Take for instances under 'General Appearance and Character'. It says, "This sturdy descendant of ratting companions, eager to dispatch small vermin alone or in a pack..." Whereas the Norfolk Standard says, "This versatile, agreeable breed can go to ground, bolt a fox and tackle or dispatch other small vermin, working alone or with a pack."

Personally, it fills me with horror to imagine a 9" terrier weighing only 11 lbs being put to ground to face and bolt a tough, over-yeared dog fox! Apart from which there is no proven evidence that in their original habitat they were asked to go to ground to fox at all.

I know of three Norfolk specialist judges going to the USA to judge. My sympathy is with them. To which Standard do they judge? If they go by the Standard they have always known (which was founded on the original for both breeds in 1933), in theory most of the Norfolks the judges will see will not fit it. But if they attempt to judge to the American Standard (having had to learn it first, of course, as it varies so much from the UK one), they will be going against all they have ever known of the breed.

Surely there's something wrong somewhere when Standards vary so much from country to country.

The American Norfolk Standard is only of recent origin, as the breeds weren't separated there until 1979.


ANTIC, Winter 1986


Back to Articles Index
Back to Home Page