The Norfolk Terrier has a rich history as a ratter in East Anglia, where it excelled in keeping the rat population down. While hunting was once valued and celebrated in the breed, the emphasis has shifted to being a sweet-natured companion. Despite the change in focus, the Norfolk Terrier retains its hunting instincts and its ability to control vermin. Its natural quarry includes rats, although foxes are mentioned as well. The breed’s ancestors can be traced back to terrier-type dogs that were used for hunting and catching vermin.

The Origins of the Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier originated in England, specifically in the farms of East Anglia. They were bred to hunt and catch small critters such as rats and foxes and to protect the farmsteads. Their small size made them perfect for navigating tight spaces and going underground to chase vermin. The breed’s main role was to exterminate rodents and keep the premises free from vermin. Over time, they also became popular as family pets due to their loving and devoted nature.

The Norfolk Terrier’s origins can be traced back to the terrier-type dogs that were commonly used for hunting and catching vermin. These dogs were highly valued on farms, as they effectively controlled the rodent population and protected the livelihood of farmers. The Norfolk Terrier’s skills in tracking, digging, and chasing made them indispensable in keeping farms free from vermin infestations.

Characteristic Description
Size The Norfolk Terrier is a small breed, typically weighing between 11 and 12 pounds.
Coat They have a double coat consisting of a soft undercoat and a wiry outer coat, providing protection in various weather conditions.
Colors Norfolk Terriers come in different colors, including red, wheaten, black and tan, and grizzle.
Temperament They are known for their playful, intelligent, affectionate, brave, and independent nature.
Training and Exercise Norfolk Terriers require regular exercise, obedience training, and mental stimulation to keep them physically and mentally fit.

“The Norfolk Terrier’s small size, combined with its hunting instincts and protective nature, makes it an ideal breed for farmsteads. They excel in controlling vermin and provide companionship to farmers. However, their affectionate and playful personality also makes them suitable as family pets.”

Physical Characteristics of the Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is a small and compact breed, known for its sturdy and agile body. It typically weighs between 11 and 12 pounds, making it a perfect size for both city and country living. This breed has a double coat consisting of a soft undercoat and a wiry outer coat, which provides protection in various weather conditions. The Norfolk Terrier comes in different coat colors, including red, wheaten, black and tan, and grizzle, adding to its charm and uniqueness.

The Norfolk Terrier has a distinctive tail that may be docked or uncropped. When present, the tail can be carried erect or slightly bent, depending on the dog’s mood and activity level. Additionally, this breed has drop ears that not only enhance its adorable appearance but also help with its excellent hearing abilities. The combination of its compact size, wiry coat, and charming features makes the Norfolk Terrier a truly special and delightful companion.

Temperament and Personality of the Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is a breed known for its playful, intelligent, affectionate, brave, and independent nature. These dogs have a zest for life and a mischievous streak that keeps their owners entertained. They are highly playful and enjoy engaging in activities with their families. Whether it’s a game of fetch or a challenging puzzle toy, Norfolk Terriers thrive on mental and physical stimulation.

Intelligence is another prominent characteristic of Norfolk Terriers. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement, making them relatively easy to train. Their intelligence, combined with their independent nature, can sometimes result in a stubborn streak. However, with firm and consistent training, Norfolk Terriers can excel in obedience and agility activities.

Despite their small size, Norfolk Terriers possess great bravery and fearlessness. They have a strong protective instinct and are not hesitant to take on challenges or defend their families. Their affectionate nature is another endearing quality. Norfolk Terriers form strong bonds with their owners and are known for their love of cuddling and sitting on laps.

“Norfolk Terriers are playful, intelligent, affectionate, brave, and independent.”

It’s important to note that while Norfolk Terriers are generally friendly, they can be wary of strangers and exhibit a cautious nature. Proper socialization from an early age is essential to ensure they grow up well-rounded and comfortable around other animals, dogs, and humans.

The Personality Traits of Norfolk Terriers at a Glance:

  • Playful
  • Intelligent
  • Affectionate
  • Brave
  • Independent

With their charming personality and distinctive traits, Norfolk Terriers make wonderful companions for individuals and families alike. Their playful nature, combined with their intelligence and affection, creates a delightful bond that will bring joy and entertainment to any household.

Training and Exercise Needs of the Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is an energetic and intelligent breed that requires regular exercise and mental stimulation to thrive. Their active nature and hunting instincts make it crucial to provide them with outlets for their energy and engage their minds. Here are some important considerations for training and exercising your Norfolk Terrier:


  • Provide daily walks or play sessions to meet their exercise needs.
  • Engage them in interactive games that challenge their agility and problem-solving skills.
  • Consider agility training or participating in dog sports to keep their bodies and minds active.
  • Ensure they have a secure outdoor space to run and explore, as they enjoy exploring their environment.


“Training is crucial for Norfolk Terriers. They are intelligent and quick learners, responding well to positive reinforcement techniques.”

  • Start training from a young age to establish good behavior and obedience.
  • Use positive reinforcement methods such as treats, praise, and rewards to motivate and encourage them.
  • Be consistent and patient in your training sessions, as Norfolk Terriers can be independent-minded at times.
  • Focus on basic commands like sit, stay, and come, as well as leash training to ensure their safety during walks.


Socialization is vital for Norfolk Terriers to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded and friendly dogs. Expose them to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age to help them develop good social skills. Here are some tips for socializing your Norfolk Terrier:

  • Arrange playdates with other dogs of different sizes and temperaments to familiarize them with different canine interactions.
  • Expose them to different environments such as parks, busy streets, and public places to help them feel comfortable in various situations.
  • Introduce them to different people, including children, to ensure they are friendly and well-behaved around all age groups.
  • Supervise interactions with small animals, as Norfolk Terriers have strong hunting instincts, and early socialization can help mitigate any potential issues.

Providing Mental Stimulation:

Norfolk Terriers are intelligent dogs that thrive on mental stimulation. Keeping their minds engaged helps prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Here are some ways to provide mental stimulation for your Norfolk Terrier:

  • Use interactive puzzle toys that require problem-solving skills to get a reward.
  • Teach them new tricks or enroll them in advanced training classes to challenge their intelligence.
  • Rotate their toys regularly to keep them interested and engaged.
  • Introduce scent games or hide treats around the house or yard for them to find and enjoy.

By incorporating regular exercise, training, and mental stimulation into your Norfolk Terrier’s routine, you’ll be ensuring their physical and mental well-being. Remember to adapt the intensity and duration of exercise to suit your individual dog’s age, health, and energy levels.

Grooming and Care for the Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier grooming

The Norfolk Terrier’s wiry coat requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and looking its best. Regular brushing is essential to prevent tangles and mats from forming. Use a slicker brush or a comb with wide-spaced teeth to gently remove any loose hairs. Pay special attention to the areas behind the ears, under the legs, and around the tail, as these are prone to matting.

Bathing should be done as needed, using a mild dog shampoo. Avoid overbathing, as it can strip the coat of its natural oils and lead to dry skin. When bathing your Norfolk Terrier, make sure to thoroughly rinse off all shampoo to prevent any residue from irritating the skin.

In addition to coat maintenance, regular ear cleaning is important for Norfolk Terriers. Check the ears weekly for any signs of redness, discharge, or odor. Use a dog-specific ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball or pad to gently clean the inner ear. Avoid using cotton swabs or inserting anything deep into the ear canal, as this can cause injury.

Grooming Task Frequency
Brushing Several times a week
Bathing As needed, usually every 4-6 weeks
Ear Cleaning Weekly

Grooming sessions are also an excellent opportunity to check for any signs of skin issues, such as dryness, rashes, or lumps. If you notice any abnormalities or changes in your Norfolk Terrier’s skin or coat, consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Proper grooming not only keeps your Norfolk Terrier looking good, but it also helps maintain their overall health and wellbeing. Regular brushing, bathing, and ear cleaning are essential tasks that ensure your furry friend stays comfortable and happy.

Health Issues and Concerns for the Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is generally a healthy breed, but like any dog, they can be prone to certain health issues and concerns. It’s important for potential owners to be aware of these conditions to provide the best care and monitor their Norfolk Terrier’s health closely.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects the hip joint, causing instability and joint degeneration. It can lead to pain, lameness, and mobility issues. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia. Responsible breeders often screen their breeding dogs for hip dysplasia to reduce the likelihood of passing on this condition.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and difficulty walking. It can range from mild to severe and may require surgical intervention. Regular veterinary check-ups and appropriate exercise can help detect and manage patellar luxation in Norfolk Terriers.


Some Norfolk Terriers may develop allergies, including skin allergies and food sensitivities. Common symptoms include itching, redness, rashes, and gastrointestinal issues. Identifying and eliminating allergens from their environment and diet, with guidance from a veterinarian, can help alleviate allergic reactions and improve their overall well-being.

Dental Problems

Due to their small size and crowded teeth, Norfolk Terriers are prone to dental issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tartar buildup. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth, providing dental chews, and scheduling professional cleanings, is essential to maintain good oral health.

Eye Conditions

Norfolk Terriers can be susceptible to various eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian can help detect any early signs of these conditions and prevent or manage them appropriately.

Health Issue Description Prevention/Management
Hip Dysplasia Affects the hip joint, causing pain and mobility issues Regular exercise, healthy weight management, screening breeding dogs
Patellar Luxation Kneecap displacement, leading to difficulty walking Veterinary check-ups, appropriate exercise
Allergies Skin and food sensitivities, causing itching and gastrointestinal issues Identification and elimination of allergens, veterinary guidance
Dental Problems Gum disease, tooth decay, tartar buildup Regular dental care, including brushing and professional cleanings
Eye Conditions Cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy Regular eye examinations, early detection, appropriate management

Although these health issues can occur in Norfolk Terriers, it’s important to remember that not all individuals will develop them. Regular veterinary care, a nutritious diet, exercise, and attention to their overall well-being can greatly contribute to the health and longevity of your Norfolk Terrier.

Living with a Norfolk Terrier: Tips and Advice

Welcoming a Norfolk Terrier into your life can be a joyful experience. These charming dogs make excellent companions and bring delight to their owners. To ensure a harmonious life together, it’s important to consider their specific needs and provide them with proper care, training, and socialization.

Exercise Routine: Norfolk Terriers are active dogs that require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They enjoy daily walks and active playtime, so make sure to incorporate these activities into their routine. Engaging them in interactive games like fetch or agility training can also provide mental stimulation and help burn off excess energy.

Grooming: Norfolk Terriers have a wiry double coat that requires regular maintenance. Brush their coat at least once a week to prevent matting and remove loose hair. You should also schedule regular professional grooming appointments to keep their coat in top condition. Additionally, pay attention to their nails, ears, and teeth, and address their grooming needs accordingly.

Socialization: Early socialization is crucial for Norfolk Terriers to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded and friendly dogs. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments from a young age to help them develop positive associations and reduce the likelihood of fear or aggression. Enrolling them in puppy socialization classes can also be beneficial.

Living with Children and Cats: Norfolk Terriers generally get along well with children and can be great family pets. However, it’s essential to teach children how to properly interact with the dog and supervise their interactions to prevent any accidental harm. When introducing a Norfolk Terrier to cats or other small animals, do so gradually and under controlled conditions to ensure everyone’s safety.

Training: Training is an important aspect of living with a Norfolk Terrier. They are intelligent dogs and thrive with consistent, positive reinforcement training methods. Start training them from a young age, focusing on basic obedience commands and appropriate behavior. Consider enrolling them in training classes to enhance their skills and strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion.

Table: Norfolk Terrier Care Summary

Aspect Care Requirements
Exercise Regular daily walks, active playtime, mental stimulation
Grooming Weekly brushing, professional grooming, nail trimming, ear cleaning, dental care
Socialization Early exposure to people, animals, and environments, puppy socialization classes
Living with Children and Cats Supervised interactions, teaching children appropriate behavior, gradual introductions to cats and small animals
Training Consistent positive reinforcement training, basic obedience, training classes

By following these tips and providing your Norfolk Terrier with the love, care, and attention they need, you can create a happy and fulfilling life together. Remember, each dog is unique, so it’s essential to observe and understand your Norfolk Terrier’s individual personality and adjust your approach accordingly. With patience, consistency, and a lot of affection, you can build a strong bond and enjoy a wonderful life with your Norfolk Terrier companion.

Breeding and Reproduction of the Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is a breed that requires careful breeding and reproduction practices to ensure the production of healthy puppies with desirable traits. Breeding Norfolk Terriers involves the selection of individual dogs that possess the desired characteristics and are free from genetic diseases or disorders. It is important for breeders to research the pedigrees of potential breeding dogs and perform health tests to minimize the risk of passing on inheritable conditions.

Mating in Norfolk Terriers typically occurs during the female’s fertile period, which typically happens every six months. Proper timing is crucial for successful reproduction. Once the mating is successful, the gestation period for Norfolk Terriers lasts approximately 60 days. During this time, the mother should receive proper nutrition and veterinary care to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and the developing puppies.

The litter size of Norfolk Terriers is relatively small compared to larger breeds, with an average of three puppies per litter. However, it is essential to note that not all breeding attempts will result in successful pregnancies. Infertility and difficulties conceiving can occur, so breeders must be attentive and take necessary precautions to ensure the best possible outcome for the breeding process.

Overall, breeding and reproduction in Norfolk Terriers require careful planning, genetic screening, and proper care for the mother and puppies. Responsible breeders prioritize the health and well-being of the breed, working towards maintaining and improving the breed’s qualities with each generation.

Famous Norfolk Terriers in History

If we delve into the history of Norfolk Terriers, we come across two remarkable individuals who left an indelible mark on society: Rags and Laddie Boy.

Rags, a Norfolk Terrier, played a crucial role during World War I as a messenger dog. In the midst of treacherous conditions, Rags fearlessly delivered vital messages, saving countless lives. His unwavering loyalty and determination made him an esteemed hero of the war.

Rags was a true embodiment of the Norfolk Terrier’s spirit – brave, intelligent, and fiercely dedicated to his duty.

On a lighter note, Laddie Boy holds a special place in history as the first dog to reside in the White House. During President Warren G. Harding’s administration, Laddie Boy became a beloved member of the First Family and captured the hearts of the nation with his charm and playful nature.

Laddie Boy brought joy and companionship to the White House, leaving an unforgettable impression with his delightful antics and loving temperament.

These notable Norfolk Terriers exemplify the breed’s incredible abilities and the lasting impact they have had throughout history, both in times of war and in the heartwarming context of family life.

Table: Famous Norfolk Terriers

Name Claim to Fame
Rags World War I messenger dog
Laddie Boy First dog to live in the White House

Tail Docking and Regulations

Tail docking, the removal of dogs’ tails, is subject to regulations and laws in different regions. It is important for Norfolk Terrier owners and breeders to be aware of and comply with the regulations in their respective regions regarding tail docking.

In England and Wales, tail docking is banned except for therapeutic reasons or for working Norfolk Terriers. Dogs born after a specific date cannot be shown with docked tails at fee-paying shows in England and Wales, including overseas exhibits.

In Scotland, tail docking for non-therapeutic reasons has been banned. Dogs born after a specific date cannot be docked when crossing borders.

Region Tail Docking Regulations
England Banned except for therapeutic reasons or working Norfolk Terriers. Dogs born after a specific date cannot be shown with docked tails at fee-paying shows, including overseas exhibits.
Wales Banned except for therapeutic reasons or working Norfolk Terriers. Dogs born after a specific date cannot be shown with docked tails at fee-paying shows, including overseas exhibits.
Scotland Banned for non-therapeutic reasons. Dogs born after a specific date cannot be docked when crossing borders.

Note: It is always recommended to consult local laws and regulations to ensure compliance with tail docking restrictions in your specific region.

Conclusion – Welcoming a Norfolk Terrier into Your Life

If you are considering adding a Norfolk Terrier to your life, you will gain a delightful companion. Norfolk Terriers are known for their loyalty, spirited personalities, and affectionate nature. They make wonderful family pets and form strong bonds with their owners.

By providing them with the necessary care, training, and socialization, you can establish a lifelong bond with your Norfolk Terrier and enjoy the joy and companionship they bring into your life.

Source Links