Norfolk Terrier Breed Guide

Loyal | Fearless | Mini JCB's | Norfolk's are a relatively rare breed, often mistaken for their more populous relative the Norwich. Whilst an easy mistake to make, calling a Norfolk Terrier a Norwich is essentially the same as calling a Northerner a Southerner, or a Canadian an American. Done either way, and each will likely be a little offended. Just kidding... but the two do have a somewhat terse history, so we'll cover what makes them unique. As well as everything you need to know about their characteristics, appearance and how to care for one. As someone who's grown up with five of them, hopefully, I have a little personal experience too...

Table of contents:

  • Origins of Norfolk Terriers
  • What does a Norfolk Terrier look like
  • Norfolk Terrier Puppies
  • Physical Appearance & Temperament
  • How much is a Norfolk Terrier
  • How to groom a Norfolk Terrier
  • What to feed Norfolk's

From Norwich's to Norfolk's

Norfolk's started their lives being considered as the "drop-eared Norwich Terrier", gaining their independence in 1964 when the Kennel Club accepted them as their own breed. Therefore to uncover Norfolk's origins, we're really also looking at Norwich's history too.

Like all great things in life, they really came about by mistake. The foundation breeds were likely a mix of the terriers used on farms and in sporting communities from around The Fens in East Anglia. This interbreeding ended up resulting in a reddish terrier called Rags, who had several litters with a lovely lady called Ninety. Their adorable red bebés became hugely sought after by the local sporting community due to their plucky and "game" nature. Then soon enough, they were being exported as far and wide as America, where they were known as "Jones Terriers". They continued being bred true to that type, and the Norwich terrier was born...

Their Eary Origins Continued...

So yes, they share the same origins but how did Norwich's and Norfolk's deviate from each other? Really, Norfolk's existed all along, as the original breed consisted of both pointy up and pointy down eared doggies. The first champion of the breed, however, had dropped down ears - a Mr Biffin Ear type, therefore, became all-important to the breed standard. So much so, that breeders began to develop a strong penchant for either pricked or dropped ears, subsequently only interbreeding those of the same ear type. Eventually, this divide became so pronounced a Miss Macfie started a campaign to give them a separate register within the one breed. After 7 years the Kennel Club finally gave in, and not only gave them a separate register but recognised them as separate breeds with different names. The more dominant of the two (the prick-eared) kept their name as Norwich Terriers, and drop-ears were named Norfolk Terriers.

Norfolk Terriers

Source: Norfolk Terrier Club "Ch. Biffin of Beaufin (left), and Little Jane (right).[/caption]


What does a Norfolk Terrier look like?

Norfie's are one of the smallest terriers, around 25cm in height. Built compactly, they have little legs which means their tums lay pretty low to the ground. Aka any muddy puddle and they'll need a wash. Whilst small, their little paddles are incredibly powerful, especially the front two diggers.

They have chocolatey brown to black coloured eyes, matching their black little snoot. Their coat colour can come in a few different mixes, including red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzled, occasionally with splodges of white too. The most typical colorations you'll see are these two:

norfolk terrier

norfolk terrier

Then finally, as we've learnt, their most differential characteristic is their silky flopped down ears, which lie trim close to their cheeks.

If you have a male Norfolk, the Norfolk Terrier Club also adds that they should have "two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum." We're going to save you by not sharing any snaps of what this should look like... and instead, share this illustration we made:

norfolk terrier

Norfolk Terrier Puppies

Now, I might be biased, but Norfie puppies deserve a whole own segment they're that cute. As puppies, they have totally different colouration, with a hint of red, but predominantly brown and speckles of white and grey.

Small Floof Syndrome

Norfolk's brilliant temperament was one of the main reasons the breed even came about. They're all three L's - loyal, loving and lionhearted.

They're easy to train, get on well with other dogs and cats (if introduced early), and make great family companions too. Depending on their specific personality, some can be a little jealous or possessive, especially when it comes to biscuit time. However, this isn't a typical breed trait and easily solved by having lots of biscuits 😉

As they were originally bred for sporting purposes, they love to exercise, dig and catch ratties. This also helps explains why, much like other small terrier breeds, they suffer from small floof syndrome. There's never a doggy too large to not give a little bark at, or for that matter car. This can be one of their slight inabilities, as they struggle to understand that cars (or even tractors) aren't to be chased after. Learning this will be a key part of their training as young pups to keep them safe!

How much is a Norfolk Terrier?

This cuteness does come at a cost though. They don't breed particularly well, with most being born via cesarian and a typical litter of just 3-4 pups. This combined with the impact of Covid means you should expect to pay around £2,000 for a Kennel Club registered Norfolk Puppy.

How to Groom A Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk's coat requires a little TLC in order to keep it tip-top. Their coat doesn't shed naturally, so will continue growing until they look like a moving ball of fluff. Not the most comfortable of affairs if it's snowy, or summertime!

To prevent this, their coat can just be trimmed, however, this will cause their coat to turn a more blonde colour, as well as making it downier. Therefore hand stripping is the recommended option, which needs to be done twice a year. This involves removing the thicker brown hairs, to allow the new coat to come through. With so much floof, this can take up to half a day, so best to leave it to a professional and experienced groomer. Although you can help make the job easier by giving it a go at home using a stripping brush.

For the majority of Norfolk's, this process won't cause them to bat an eyelid, as the hairs come out extremely easily. Especially if you have some tasty dog treats to hand! However, some can be more sensitive, so if they don't enjoy it, just get them clipped. Pain is certainly not beauty when it comes to our beloved pets!

What to feed Norfies

Norfolk's don't have any specific nutritional requirements and can be fed dry or wet complete dog food. Choose one that contains high-quality ingredients and all the proteins, fats, carbs, fibre, and vitamins/minerals they need. You can refer to the FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines if you’re unsure. And don’t forget to always check the ingredients list, as that’s the only way to tell the quality, rather than pretty packaging or clever marketing terms!

Of course, we'd love you to consider Scrumbles. We offer a range of gut-friendly recipes, designed for pretty poops, healthy digestion, and immune function. All are suitable for Norfolk Terriers, so take your pick from our range of wet dog food or dry dog food. The salmon and potato food and chicken and rice dog food are particular favourites at the moment!

Whilst you're here, why not read:

  1. Puppy training classes in the UK
  2. Irish Terrier Breed Guide
  3. 6 benefits of Slippery Elm for dogs

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