Traits & Characteristics of the Norfolk Terrier

by Catherine Troiano
    The Norfolk terrier eagerly serves as a playful and devoted companion.

    The Norfolk terrier eagerly serves as a playful and devoted companion.

    81a/Photolibrary/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Early in their history, the Norfolk terrier and the Norwich terrier were shown as the same breed, and went by the name of Norwich terrier. It was not until 1979 that the Norfolk terrier took his own name and spotlight when the American Kennel Club recognized the drop-eared little dog as a separate breed in the terrier group. Although not as popular as his cousin on the American Kennel Club breed registry, the Norfolk terrier makes a loyal and playful companion.

    The Norfolk terrier looks similar to the Norwich terrier, with one notable exception. While the Norwich terrier’s ears stand erect, the Norfolk terrier’s ears drop down. The Norfolk terrier has short legs, giving him a small stature of 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder. His compact, sturdy, rectangular body weighs 11 to 12 pounds. He is clad in a wiry, weather-resistant double coat. The coat colors may be wheaten, red, grizzle or black and tan in color. The coat forms a mane around the shoulders and a ruff around the throat. A Norfolk terrier’s tail is docked to a medium length, and it stands straight up. His dark-colored eyes sparkle and exude alertness and intelligence.

    In true terrier fashion, the Norfolk terrier is a fearless and tenacious hunter. The Norfolk terrier originated in England during the 1800s, and he was bred to hunt vermin and to flush out foxes. The dog has retained many of his hunting traits. Because these dogs were developed to hunt either alone or in packs, they get along with other dogs. Their strong prey instinct prompts them to hunt backyard mammals and small mammal pets; many feel compelled to chase cats. During a romp in the yard, Norfolk terriers may follow their hunting instincts and dig in search of quarry. Norfolk terriers are loyal, obedient and social, and they are happy to spend time with their owners.

    The Norfolk terrier may be one of the smallest dogs in the terrier group, but he is courageous, self-confident, intelligent and determined. The breed is curious and strong-willed. Housebreaking can be a challenge, but they are easy to train when it comes to obedience and learning tricks. Norfolk terriers are happy and playful pets, and they interact well with children. Like most terriers, Norfolk terriers are active bundles of energy. They thrive on daily walks, and they excel on agility courses. They are adaptable to living in a variety of home structures, including apartments as long as daily opportunities to expend some energy are provided. They make excellent alarm systems, barking to alert the family of intruders. The gregarious and charming Norfolk terrier is a faithful and fun family member.

    Norfolk terriers are a hardy breed, living an average of 14 years. One major health condition that is seen in Norfolk terriers is mitral valve disease, which can result in heart failure. A reputable breeder should furnish documentation to prove that a puppy has received a cardiac screening from a veterinarian. Other health conditions that have been noted in Norfolk terriers include portosystemic shunts, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and skin allergies. Some eye problems seen in Norfolk terriers include glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts.

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    About the Author

    Based on Long Island, Catherine Troiano has been writing pet-related articles since 2011. As a former veterinary technician of more than 10 years, she has amassed extensive knowledge and is versed in an array of health topics pertaining to cats and dogs.

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