What Is a Norfolk Terrier?

by Naomi Millburn
    Norfolk terriers need to move their wee bodies every day.

    Norfolk terriers need to move their wee bodies every day.

    Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Norfolk terriers are nimble and lively doggies native to eastern England. Their canine ancestors include Irish terriers, and they might have Cairn and border terrier heritage, too. Norfolk terriers are distinctive due to their ears, which point downward, in stark contrast with their Norwich terrier cousins.

    History

    Before Norfolk terriers were officially declared a breed, they were nameless terriers with notably rough coats -- a blend of various different types of terriers, notably crimson ones from Ireland. Toward the end of the 19th century, dog breeders offered these pooches to pupils at nearby Cambridge University to eliminate rodents from the students' sleeping quarters. Said breeders also provided farms with terriers, as they were handy for vermin control. These dogs were classified as a breed -- the Norwich terrier -- in the United Kingdom in 1932; in the United States, in 1936. In 1964, the Norwich was divided into two separate breeds based on ear stance. Norwich terrier ears point upward, while Norfolk terriers' ears point downward. The division was recognized in the United States in 1979.

    True Terriers

    These hard-working pooches, in history, have lots of job experience on farms, specifically in chasing after foxes for hunting pursuits. Running after tiny vermin is the specialty of Norfolk terriers. They are capable both of hunting all by themselves and of hunting in groups with other canines.

    Exterior

    Adult Norfolk terriers usually weigh roughly 12 pounds. When measured from the shoulder region, they are generally about 10 inches tall. Their straight fur has a coarse feel to it and is usually yellowish-brown, black or reddish. Other noticeable physical traits of Norfolk terriers are oval eyes, tiny ears and short overall physiques, with short limbs to boot.

    Temperament

    Norfolk terriers typically are sweet and gentle doggies, whether they're with their owners or with other household pets. Be careful when it comes to small animals, however, as Norfolks have strong hunting instincts. Never allow them to be close to little animals such as rabbits, hamsters and gerbils. They are people-focused canines who revel in lots of attention. They adore the companionship of children, but it's essential to always keep an eye on them when they're together. In doing this, you help keep children safe -- and the pooches, too. Norfolk terriers tend to have brave, friendly and exuberant basic dispositions.

    Grooming Requirements

    Norfolk terriers' double coats call for consistent grooming. Brushing -- at least once weekly -- is imperative for these dogs. Hand-stripping at a pet grooming salon is also a major component to their maintenance. The stripping process is important for getting rid of any stray hairs that are lingering from their upper layer of fur. Shedding does occur, but not in excess.

    Health

    Norfolk terriers have average life expectancies of upwards of 16 years. Individual specimens might be vulnerable to various medical issues such as patellar luxation, glaucoma, cataracts, mitral valve disease and cardiomyopathy.

    Fitness

    All dogs require some form of exercise, and Norfolk terriers are far from the exception. They generally flourish with extensive outdoor walking excursions once a day. Playtime also can be a beneficial bonus physical activity for them, whether fetch or hide-and-seek.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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