The Norwich Terrier is among the seemingly endless variety of terriers bred to control Britain’s rodent population. In addition to being ratters, Norwich were used in packs on fox hunts, and so were bred to be more sociable than the usual independent-minded terrier.
The breed’s American history began in 1914, when a Brit named Frank Jones used descendants of Rags, the original Norwich Terrier, to breed a dog named Willum. Willum was exported to Philadelphia, where he became the breed’s cornerstone sire in the United States. Norwich and Norfolk terriers are so closely related that the AKC did not recognize them as separate breeds until 1979.
Norwich Terrier Appearance
The Norwich Terrier is up to 10 inches tall and weighs up to 12 pounds. Norwich are among the smallest working terriers. Beneath the hard, wiry coat is a stocky, substantial dog. Norwich are toy-sized but are not satin-pillow dogs. They are distinguished from their doggy twin, the Norfolk Terrier, by their erect, pointed ears.
They have a double coat consisting of a harsh, nearly weatherproof outer coat, and a soft undercoat that insulates the body from heat and cold. Hand-stripping removes old outer hairs and excess undercoat so that new hair grows in. Wire coats that are cared for properly by hand-stripping have a beautiful shine and rich colors. Because clipping or scissoring cuts the colored tips off, the natural color will fade, and the texture will soften. The breed requires regular grooming. Learning to hand-strip, or finding a groomer who will hand-strip, is an important consideration in choosing this breed.
Norwich Terrier’s life expectancy is 12 to 15 years. Happy and go-lucky, fearless, and sometimes even bossy, Norwich are energetic enough to play fetch all day but affectionate enough to enjoy hours of lap time with their favorite human. He generally loves everyone and will do well in households with multiple pets and children, but they will generally classify any rabbits, gerbils, or other small rodents as prey. They are not a good match for homes where small pets are allowed to roam free.
They must have a fenced yard because they will chase any animal they deem as “prey.” Underground electronic fencing is not adequate for Norwich Terriers because they will ignore the shock. They can live in apartments as long as they’re given enough exercise.
Norwich Terriers can be difficult to housetrain and although they’re eager to please, training can be difficult when not properly motivated. Be patient, stick to a regular schedule, reward them with praise and treats when they potty outdoors, and crate them when you can’t supervise them indoors.
Barking is often an indicator that your Norwich Terrier sees something suspicious, is bored, or hasn’t had his exercise needs met. The breed is not known for being overly yappy but there are exceptions to every rule and every Norwich Terrier will bark if the above occurs.
The Norwich Terrier enjoys digging; it’s easier to train a dog to dig in a specific area then it is to break him of his digging habit.
Caring for a Norwich Terrier
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Norwich Terrier.
The Norwich Terrier does well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Although the breed standard gives an ideal weight of 12 pounds, because Norwich vary in height, bone structure, and muscle mass, there is no one correct weight. Some will require fewer calories than others, and metabolism tends to slow down with age. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Norwich Terriers require daily exercise and like many terrier breeds, they have an ample supply of energy. They make wonderful walking companions, and their exercise requirements can be met with a couple of vigorous 10 to 15-minute walks per day or playtime in a fenced area. It’s important that a Norwich remains on a leash when he’s not in a fenced area or his strong desire to chase can cause him to run right in front of a car. Although the Norwich Terrier is known to bark, he can live in an apartment if his stimulation and exercise needs are met.
Norwich Terriers are happiest when he has a job to do. Training can be fairly easy as long as you provide clear and consistent rules and interesting rather than repetitive training. Housetraining can be a challenge and may take a significant amount of time and patience. Crate training can ensure that the Norwich doesn’t have accidents in the house. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Never leave your Norwich in a crate all day long; they are people dogs and aren’t meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.
Norwich Terriers are a healthy breed although they can be prone to the following health conditions:
- Hip Dysplasia: Malformation of the hip joint causes gradual deterioration, leading to loss of function.
- Epilepsy: The condition of recurrent seizures and has many causes including toxins, metabolic conditions and primary conditions such as a brain tumor.
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Is a neurological disorder that is incurable, progressive disease of the canine spinal cord causing progressive paralysis.
- Upper Airway Syndrome (UAS): A complex respiratory condition that is quite variable in its presentation in the Norwich Terrier. Symptoms range from noisy breathing to severe distress, and even death if not treated.
- Neurologic Disorders: Encompassing diseases of the brain, spine and the nerves that connect them.
- Patellar Luxation: When the kneecap pops out of its normal position in the groove of the femur.
- Reproductive Problems: Failure to conceive, resorption of puppies, difficult whelping
Because Norwich are prone to develop plaque and tartar, diligent dental care is essential. Bacteria in the mouth causes plaque which sticks to the surface of the teeth and is hardened by minerals in the saliva to form tartar. This causes periodontal disease which can damage the heart, liver, and kidneys as the dog ages.