Choosing a Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk terrier is one of the smallest of the working terriers. These dogs are little dynamos and love their families.

History and Origin

The Norfolk terrier originated in the county of Norfolk in England in the late 1800s to control the vermin population and hunt foxes. It is thought that hunters in England bred small red gypsy dogs with the Yorkshire terrier, cairn terrier and some small Irish dogs. Eventually, the breed became a popular companion for students at Cambridge University.

Originally, the Norwich terrier and Norfolk terrier were two varieties of the same breed, one with erect ears and one with drop ears. In 1964, the drop ear version was recognized as the Norfolk terrier by the English Kennel Club. Eventually, other differences developed between the breeds and it is no longer true that the only difference between the breeds is the ears.

In 1979, the Norfolk terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the terrier group.

Appearance and Size

The Norfolk terrier and the Norwich terrier have a very similar appearance, except for the ears. The ears of the Norfolk terrier are drop ears. The Norwich terrier has erect ears. There are additional differences such as overall body shape and personality.

The Norfolk terrier is one of the smallest working terriers. The breed is compact with a wedged shaped head, droop ears and a docked tail. The coat is wiry and straight, less than 2 inches long. The hair on the neck and shoulders is longer, forming a ruff. The Norfolk terrier can be red, wheaten, tan, black and tan or grizzle.

The adult Norfolk terrier stands around 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 10 to 12 pounds.


The Norfolk terrier is a fearless and playful little dog. Loyal family companions, this dog is known as a demon for his size due to his seemingly constant activity. These dogs are quite courageous and will hunt small vermin with abandon.

Home and Family Relations

The Norfolk terrier is a great family dog that does well in the city or country. The breed can do well with children if introduced to them at an early age. This terrier is very protective of his family and will bark when strangers approach.

The Norfolk terrier can live happily in an apartment as long as he is taken on daily walks. This breed can live with other pets but may chase household cats.


The Norfolk terrier is easy to train and can excel in obedience but can be difficult to housetrain.

Special Concerns

The Norfolk terrier does not like to be left alone with nothing to do. They are intelligent dogs and need mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors. As with other terriers, this breed tends to dig and bark if bored. This dog should not be allowed to roam off leash since he may chase small quick little creatures.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Norfolk terrier is a hardy breed that has few known diseases.

The most common diseases or disorders include heart murmurs, atopic dermatitis , cataracts, glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy, a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate, leading to blindness.

Life Span

The average life span of the Norfolk terrier is approximately 12 to 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.