The Norfolk Terrier: All You Need to Know

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no cost to you.

The Norfolk TerrierThis small, yet powerful breed is famous for its spunky and lively personality, while its expressive eyes and wiry coat are sure to catch everyone’s attention. Norfolk Terriers are compact dogs that are always on the lookout for adventure; whether they’re cuddling up to their owners or exploring the outdoors, they’re sure to bring excitement and joy every day. If you’re after a spirited and loyal furry friend, then these courageous and determined pups might be for you. 

Read on to find out more about the Norfolk Terrier. 

What is the Norfolk Terrier? 

This compact breed is charming, lively, and known for its small size and big heart. Despite being one of the smallest terriers, they have a feisty and fearless nature that allows them to become good watchdogs. They’re known for their sociable and affectionate disposition and will form deep bonds with their chosen family; they will also be a great choice for families with older children.

Norfolk Terriers come with high energy levels and can be good companions for active families and individuals. They also come with a strong prey drive, so they may chase after small animals which is why it’s important to supervise them during certain situations. But when given proper training and early socialization, these pups can be adaptable and well-behaved dogs that can bring new life into your home.      

Norfolk Terrier History

The history of the Norfolk Terrier goes back to the 19th century when they were originally developed in England to help hunt down small animals like foxes and rats. Their small stature made them the perfect candidate for sneezing into tight spaces and underground chases, where their determination was unmatched. Once called Norwich Terriers by the Kennel Club of England, the Norfolk, and the Norwich became separate breeds during the 1800s, where they were used for hunting and farming purposes.   

Many experts believe that these dogs were created by combining many different terrier breeds such as Irish Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Border Terriers. By the early 20th century, these small terriers gained a reputation for being great ratters. Students from Cambridge University even bought some to assist with rat problems and the dogs were eventually called Cantab Terriers and then Trumpington Terriers. 

Frank Jones was among the first to refine this breed and was responsible for naming the breed Norwich. He then sent some of these dogs to America, where they were called Jones Terriers until 1904 when they were named Norwich Terriers. Over the next years, the breed was perfected and it was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club during the 1930s, where their devotion and love for their humans made them a favorite among households.

Norfolk Terrier Appearance

These dogs are known to have a unique look; they have vital characteristics that distinguish them from other dog breeds. They are small breeds that usually stand between 11 to 12 pounds with agile and sturdy bodies and a double coat made from a soft undercoat along with a wiry outer coat. This weather-resistant coat helps them withstand all kinds of harsh conditions and can come in different colors such as black and tan, wheaten, grizzle, and red. 

Their tails can be uncropped or docked, and could be slightly bent or fully erect — another distinct trait they have is their drop ears which add further charm to these dogs. Their small and dark eyes sparkle with mischief, while their scruffy coat makes them so endearing to their humans. Even though they have such short legs, they’re very strong and are always ready for a chase, whether it’s for a fox or a rodent. 

Norfolk Terrier Temperament 

Dogs of this breed love to clean, are self-sufficient, and can be easily house-trained — their small bodies carry a good, active, and alert nature. Their high levels of energy mean that they will always be in the pursuit of fun, and may not always be a good thing but they’re great for equally energetic owners. Just keep in mind that they love to bark and dig too, which are behaviors typical of chasing breeds; as such, these traits can be frustrating for unprepared owners. 

However, this lap dog will bring more fun and joy into your home, along with these unique personality traits: 

  • Intelligent: Because these little pups are quick learners, they can pick up tricks and commands quickly.
  • Playful: This purebred dog loves participating in family activities, so be sure to play tug-of-war or go ball chasing with them. 
  • Brave: Because they’re so small, they can fit into small spaces such as fox dens and will do so without any fear. They’re more than willing to protect their family no matter what.
  • Affectionate: This little dog will form strong bonds with its owner and will happily sit on laps or enjoy a cuddle. 
  • Independent: These little terriers value having independence and will be content to spend time on their own — they’ll also be entertained with toys and exploration.   

Caring for Your Norfolk Terrier

These working terriers need plenty of love and care, and it’s up to you to keep them safe and healthy by following the guide below. 

Feeding Your Norfolk Terrier 

Be sure to feed your small pets with high-quality kibble every day; around ½ cup to 1 cup will do and it should be split into 2 meals. Just like humans, dogs are individuals too and they won’t all need to eat the same food portions; the exact amount of food to give them will depend on their build, size, activity level, and metabolism. Unfortunately, these dogs will keep eating as long as there’s food on the table, so they can be prone to obesity. 

If you’re unsure if your pooch is overweight or not, perform the eye and hands-on test; first, look down on your pup — you should be able to see its waist. Next, run your hands along its back with your thumbs over its spine and your fingers spread around its body. Even if you don’t see its ribs, you should be able to feel them without the need to press hard but if you can’t, your dog may need more exercise and less food.   

Grooming Your Norfolk Terrier 

The double coat of the Norfolk Terrier consists of a downy and soft undercoat as well as a wiry top coat. This weatherproof coat will shed minimally — they will have longer fur around the neck and shoulders and will have hair around their head and ears. Because of these features, they will need regular brushing once or twice a week to keep their coat neat while monthly bathing is also needed. 

Giving them more baths than this may soften their coarse coat — be sure to use a mild shampoo, and make sure to rinse them thoroughly to avoid skin irritation. It’s also important to trim their toenails regularly while checking and cleaning their ears weekly; look for any signs of discharge, redness, or odor. Moreover, these dogs will need frequent brushing for their teeth using a soft toothbrush and canine toothpaste to protect them from gum disease.   

It’s also a good idea to learn about stripping when you’re doing their regular grooming; their coat isn’t usually trimmed using clippers just as you would with other breeds. Instead, they’re shaped and shortened using a stripping knife which is a comb-like tool that’s sharp. Stripping is commonly done on show dogs but it’s not necessary for family pets.  

Exercising and Training Your Norfolk Terrier 

These wonderful companions will need to be given consistent training and exercise to ensure their well-being and overall health. The Norfolk Terrier is an active dog that will need at least 40 minutes to an hour of physical exercise each day; to reach this quota, you can combine playtime with walks and activities. They’ll do well inside a fenced yard where they can entertain themselves but make sure that it’s well reinforced because these guys are escape artists. 

It’s important to remember that these pups will flourish in environments that can help them meet their mental and physical needs. Apart from giving them regular exercise, they will also need training that’s tailored to their behavior and temperament. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical activities; engage them with interactive games and puzzle toys that will stimulate them intellectually. 

Providing regular obedience training is essential for these dogs and it helps to teach them good behavior and will keep their strong hunting instinct at bay. Getting them started with socialization at an early age will ensure that they’ll grow up into well-rounded adults who will be comfortable around other dogs, animals, and new people. It’s also crucial that they get positive reinforcement during training; make sure that you reward desirable behaviors using praise and treats to help them build associations with commands.  

Housebreaking is also vital for these dogs, so establish a consistent routine to help keep them safe from indoor accidents which will make life more enjoyable. As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to carry out these tasks; failing to do so may lead to behavioral issues or restlessness in these dogs. Make sure that you invest some time and effort into their training needs; giving proper care will lead to a joyful and fruitful relationship with your furry friend. 

Norfolk Terrier Health

While the Norfolk Terrier is generally a healthy dog, they’re still prone to a few conditions, like all dogs. Understanding their potential health issues will let you take proactive measures to give your beloved pet the care and love it deserves. Below are a few health problems you should know about these dogs. 

  • Patellar Luxation: The patella refers to the kneecap and luxation means the dislocation of a particular body part (such as a bone from a joint). It occurs when the knee joint (often from a hind leg) slips in and out of its socket which causes pain. When left untreated, it may lead to mobility problems but many dogs can lead relatively comfortable lives with this condition. 
  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a condition that can be inherited from the parents; it occurs when the hip joints fail to develop properly, leading to discomfort, pain, and mobility problems. When the femur doesn’t snuggly fit in the pelvic socket, friction between the bones can cause lameness on both legs. It can exist with or without any signs. 
  • Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): Is a life-threatening disease that causes abnormalities in the heart; many breeders are looking to reduce and completely eradicate it in this breed. While research is already underway, it could still take years to complete, so dogs with MVD shouldn’t be used for breeding. Dogs used for breeding should also be tested. 
  • Vaccination Sensitivity: Unfortunately, some Norfolks will be sensitive to routine vaccines. Symptoms of this condition include soreness, hives, lethargy, and facial swelling. There are reports that some dogs that are sensitive to vaccination can develop complications, and in severe cases, death may occur. Be sure to watch your pup carefully in the following hours after getting vaccinated and call your vet if you see anything unusual. 
  • Allergies: This pooch can be prone to food sensitivities and skin allergies, so contact your vet if you see an allergic reaction; they can help to identify and address this issue. 
  • Dental Problems: Their small heads make them prone to tooth decay and gum disease, so make sure you give them regular dental care.  
  • Eye Conditions: These dogs can develop glaucoma or cataracts; regular vet check-ups can help to detect these issues early on. 
  • Bronchitis: Because they have shorter noses, these dogs are more likely to develop this condition. As such, it’s essential that they have a clean environment to help them cope better. 

Apart from a balanced diet, responsible pet owners will provide their pets with daily exercise and routine visits to the vet to ensure healthy dogs. 

Norfolk Terrier Costs 

Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to find Norfolk Terriers in the market because fewer breeders are making them and very few ever think about developing the next generations. Luckily, there are still a few breeders around but you will need to wait in line — these pups will usually cost between $2,500 to $3,500. While it does seem more expensive than many other dogs, this price will ensure that you get a dog that’s been screened for temperament and health issues, and may even come with pedigree papers. 

If you decide to purchase one of these pups, be sure to look for a reputable breeder by conducting comprehensive research that confirms they follow ethical practices that prioritize their dog’s health and well-being. They will also prioritize their dogs’ temperament and health, perform all necessary health screenings, and give them a safe environment. This ensures that you’ll have a happy and healthy pup while preventing the unethical breeding of these dogs.    

Adopting a Norfolk Terrier

You can also look for rescue organizations that may have these pups, or you can visit the local animal shelter around your area.  Adopting one of these dogs can be a better option than buying one; not only will you save a lot of money through adoption, but you’ll also be giving a loving dog a new home. Rescuing is also a rewarding experience; they’re loyal, loving, and smart dogs that can be a terrific companion. 

Looking for a reputable dog breeder is one of the most critical things you can do when you want to bring home a dog for the first time. Responsible breeders will be committed to providing well-socialized and healthy puppies to join your family. They will socialize and train their pups at a young age, screen for health problems, and provide support when you need it. 


If you’re an active person looking for an energetic breed that will serve as a loyal, loving, and fun companion, then the Norfolk Terrier could be the right dog for you. They’re relatively low-maintenance and can quickly adjust to your lifestyle at home, making them as versatile as they are cute. Just remember to look for the right breeder, because they can give you a pup that’s as healthy as can be, or one that may come with inherited conditions.