In the 1880’s British sportsmen developed a working terrier of East Anglia in Eastern England. The Norwich Terrier and later the drop-eared variety now known as the Norfolk Terrier, were believed to have been developed by crossing local terrier-like dogs, small, short-legged Irish Terrie breeds and the small red terriers used by the Gypsy ratters of Norfolk.
They were first called the Cantab Terrier when they became fashionable for students to keep in their rooms at Cambridge University in England. Later, they were called the Trumpington Terrier, after a street in the area where the breed was first developed. Then, just prior to World War I, an Irish horse rider named Frank Jones sold vast quantities of the short-legged terriers to the USA, so they were then called Jones Terriers.
In 1932, the Norwich was granted acceptance into the English Kennel Club and the first standard created. In 1964, The Kennel Club reclassified the drop-ear variety as its own breed, the Norfolk Terrier. After many generations these two breeds have developed as two distinct breeds both physically and in temperament.
Norfolk Terriers are the smallest of the working terriers. They are active and compact, free moving, with good substance and bone. The ideal height for a Norfolk terrier is 10 – 12 inches at the withers and weight is roughly 5 – 7 kgs. They have a double coat, soft undercoat with a harsh top coat, which should be hand stripped to keep the colour and texture.
Norfolks are described as fearless, but should not be aggressive despite being capable of defending themselves if need be. They, along with the Norwich Terriers have the softest temperament of the Terrier Group.
Norfolk’s work in packs and must get along with other dogs. As companions, they love people and children and do make ideal family pets. Their activity level is generally reflective of their environment. This breed should not be kept or live outside as they thrive on human contact.
Norfolks can be barkers and are vocal. Introduced properly they live well with other household pets but outdoors they are natural hunters with a strong prey drive for small vermin.
Norfolks are self confident, spirited, happy and carry themselves with presence and importance, holding their tails and heads erect. A shy Norfolk is not typical of this breed. They are however fearless and their courage is incredible for such a small dog. Norfolks generally have small litters. Responsible breeders only breed healthy dogs who are of excellent temperament. The environment in which they are raised directly impacts on the temperament of the puppy for its lifetime.
The life expectancy of a Norfolk Terrier is 12 – 15 years. On the whole the breed is healthy with no real problems to date.