Norfolk Terrier: Fearless Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Norfolk Terriers are often called a 'big dog in a small package,' although they are standing no higher than 10 inches at the shoulder. Read on to discover more about the breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
11 to 12 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The famous Norfolk Terrier is a big dog in a small package. That’s the best way to describe this dog’s energy, playful nature, and level of loyalty.

Are you thinking about welcoming Norfolk Terrier into your home? If yes, here is what you should know about this amazing breed.

Quick Facts

Real name: Norfolk Terrier
Origin: Great Britain
Breed type: Terrier Group
Weight: 11 to 12 lb (5.0 to 5.4 kg)
Height: 9 to 10 in (23 to 25 cm)
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Litter size: 1-3
Color: Red, Grizzle, Black and tan, Red Wheaten, Brown, Wheaten, can have black markings
Coat: Wire-haired

Norfolk Terrier History

In the early 20th century, an English dog breeder, named Frank “Roughrider” Jones, developed little red terriers as fox bolters and ratters.

At the time, two different breeds, the Norwich and the Norfolk, were considered one breed. However, the most significant difference between these two was actually in their ears.

  • The Norwich keeps the ears up
  • The Norfolk has ears that fall down

Initially, these two breeds were classified as Norwich Terriers. They were also called Jones Terriers. Over time, the two types eventually diverge.

After numerous debates and countless hours on breed, the Kennel Club in England recognized the Norfolk as a distinct breed.

They also explained: “Actually, there is nothing new about the Norfolk Terrier, but simply the name under which it is registered. The Eastern counties have always produced these principally wheaten, red, and otherwise black-and-tan or grizzle good-ribbed short-legged terriers. … They go to ground readily and are famous ratters.”

Two years later, in 1977, the Canadian Kennel Club officially accepted the Norfolk and Norwich as separate breeds.

As you may guess, the names of both breeds refer to their place of origin – the East Anglia town of Norwich in the county of Norfolk that lies just north of London.

Norfolk Terrier Physical Appearance

The Norfolk Terrier is the smallest of the working terriers, with expressive dropped ears. This dog is active and compact, with good bone and free-moving. Some would say this small dog is a perfect demon in the field, with its short legs and weather-resistant coat.

This breed can be independent while working alone or can be part of a pack. Overall, this is a small size dog, with small and dark eyes, with black rims.

Ears are dropped and small carried close to the cheek.

The muzzle is strong and wedge-shaped, while the jaw is strong and clean. For a small size dog, the Norfolk Terrier has surprisingly large teeth and a scissor bite.

The neck of medium length and strong, while a tail is medium docked, and set straight. Elbows are close to ribs, while legs are short and powerful.

The coat has a protective role, and its wiry and straight, about 1½ to 2 inches long. There is an undercoat so brushing is mandatory.

Legs are covered with harsh texture, and hair on the head and ears is smooth and short.

Norfolk Terrier Personality

Norfolks are simply described as fearless, due to their independent nature. This breed has the softest temperament when it comes to Terrier Group. They love spending time with either their family members or other animals.

They are great with other dogs, and they will behave around children as well, as long as you educate children on how to behave around dogs. Children must understand that small size dogs aren’t toys.

Overall, Norfolks are fantastic pets, and they are eager to do fun activities and please their family. They thrive on human contact so they shouldn’t be kept outside, or left alone for an extended period.

If you must leave your Norfolk Terrier alone for a few hours, make sure that you provide proper indoor activities. They aren’t natural diggers, but if the left is extra-long time alone, they will dig out of boredom. They are great watchdogs so that you can expect barking from time to time.

If you want to learn how to teach your dog to bark less, read more here.

Outside, they should be kept on a leash, because they have a strong hunting drive, so they can quickly run off chasing a squirrel or any other smaller animal.

Norfolk Terrier Grooming

When new dog owners see a small dog, they usually believe that the grooming process will be short and sweet. However, they don’t know that it’s not about the dog’s size, but about the dog’s coat.

The smooth and silky coat is much easier to maintain than a coat that’s weary and has a thick undercoat.

Since Norfolk Terrier has a double coat, you will have to invest some time in brushing him, at least once a week.

If you don’t have the time for it, you should take your Norfolk to the groomer. With this breed, hand-stripping is a must, so you can remove old outer hairs and excess undercoat so that new hair can grow in.

Wire coats should be adequately maintained, and properly hand-stripping can maintain vibrant color and beautiful shine. If you don’t know how to hand-strip, find a groomer who is familiar with this technique.

Grooming is an important process of the dog’s health and well-being and should be taken as a serious criterium when it comes to choosing the breed. Just like any other dog breed, everything else is basic maintenance:

  • Regular eye check
  • Weekly gums cheek
  • Ears cleaning
  • Bathing only when needed
  • Nails clipping

Of course, vaccination and regular veterinarian check-ups are mandatory.

Norfolk Terrier Training

Norfolks were bred to hunt in packs, which makes them be more gregarious than the typical independent terrier. They are highly intelligent, and they love spending time with their family members.

Obedience training is a must because they will try to challenge the owner’s limits. They also have a strong prey drive, so training should be conducted in a safe and distraction-free environment.

It’s essential to start training as soon as you welcome Norfolks to your home. Early socialization is mandatory is you want to have a well-behaved dog. Expose your puppy to new smells, people, and places, as soon as the veterinarian permits you.

Since Norfolks have a strong prey drive, you should keep your dog on a leash whenever you are walking, especially in the areas that aren’t securely fenced.

Since this dog is highly adaptable to various circumstances, you could easily travel with this small size canine.

Norfolk Terrier Exercise

Dogs love being outside. That’s how they get to explore the world around them. Plus, outdoor activity means that your dog can enjoy the fresh air and make his body stronger.

Regular walks are mandatory so the dog can do his business and keep those joints active – this is especially important if you are a dog owner of a breed that’s prone to hyp dysplasia.

This small dog is active, and he will demand regular and active walks. They are active by nature, so the yard should be fenced.

You don’t want any possible accident when Norfolk’s strong prey drive kicks in. Also, learn how to keep your active dog indoors.

Norfolk Terrier Health

Norfolk Terriers are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders will always screen puppies for the most common health issues. Also, responsible breeders will always present you with medical documentation and the history of the dog’s parents.

Norfolk’s teeth should be brushed often. You can use a specially designed toothpaste for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasites control are mandatory.

Don’t forget that your dog’s teeth are an indicator of his overall health.

Recommended Health Tests from the Offical Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Once you have Norfolk Terrier under your roof, you are directly responsible for your dog’s feeding habits. Nutrition is vital if you want to have a healthy dog.

Norfolk Terrier Nutrition

The Norfolk Terrier should do fine on high-quality food. Learn how much you can feed your dog and learn what bloat in dogs is and why it’s dangerous.

Feed your Norfolk as recommended. With so many options of commercially manufactured food, doing the research is a must. If you are thinking about raw feeding, talk to your veterinarian first.

Some dogs are prone to overweight, especially small-sized dogs, so watch your dog’s calories and weight level. If your dog gets a few pounds, learn how to conduct the proper diet, and help him lose weight.

Treats are an essential aid in training but don’t overuse them, because treats usually lead to obesity. Also, learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not.

This knowledge could save your dog’s life. If you have any concerns about your dog’s weight, diet, or eating habits, talk to your veterinarian.

In the meantime, always have a bowl of freshwater easily accessible.

The Bottom Line

The Norfolk Terrier is one of the smallest terriers around today. This breed is often described as one of the most lively terriers of today. This breed is an excellent choice if you don’t have experience with dogs yet.

Plus, if you love spending time outdoors, this dog will follow you through the woods.

In lonely nights this breed will give it’s best to chat with you. Moreover, your Norfolk Terrier will even be super vocal when a stranger approaches your home.

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