Norfolk Terrier

Written by: Jamie
Updated: October 6, 2020

This shaggy looking pooch is renowned as being one of the calmer Terriers. Find out why they can make a great companion and family addition to your home!

Typical Norfolk Terrier in the garden

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: Approximately 5 kilos
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Check out the positives and negatives on the Norfolk Terrier’s traits:


  • Good breed choice for allergy suffers
  • Highly affectionate and friendly
  • Easy to train
  • Suited to apartment living, easily adaptable


  • Prone to weight gain
  • Norfolk Terrier puppies are expensive
  • May wander off to explore
  • Not an intelligent breed


Norfolk Terriers are thought to be the ideal representation of how a Terrier should act. They are a great choice for first time owners, thanks to their friendly and loveable personality. The breed isn’t as dominant or talkative as the other members of the Terrier family, but they still have a fearless nature.

This canine gets along with everybody! From strangers, kids, dogs, and cats, a Norfolk Terrier will be friends with just about anyone! Sure they have that stubborn side like most Terriers do, but their ability to be a kind and loving family dog makes them one of the most ideal Terriers to own.

The portrait of pair Norfolk Terrier dogs

A Norfolk Terrier’s small size allows them to adapt to a range of different living conditions. They won’t necessarily need a garden so long as their exercise needs are being met. This pooch is an ideal choice for an older owner!

Their cousin the Norwich Terrier shares distinctly similar looks. The only difference is the ears. Norfolk Terriers have ears that fold over slightly, whereas their Norwich cousin has a pointy pair. It is quite easy to get confused between the two.

Weight gain can be a serious issue for this dog. Overfeeding and lack of exercise can be seriously detrimental to this dog’s health. If you are interested in purchasing or rehoming a Norfolk Terrier, you must have the time to take them on their daily exercise each day.

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In East Anglia (Eastern England) during the 1880s, English sportsmen decided to develop a new working Terrier breed. Both the Norfolk and Norwich Terrier were created by cross-breeding small Irish Terrier breeds, red Terrier breeds (used by the Romani’s), and other local Terrier-like pooches.

It took a variety of names before the Norfolk Terrier was finally settled on. Previous names for this breed include the Cantab Terrier, Trumpington Terrier, and the Jones Terrier. The Norfolk Terrier became established as its own breed in 1964 by the UK Kennel Club.

The breed was originally bred as a barn hunter where they would hunt rats and other vermin. Norfolk Terriers would also hunt game in packs. Their job was to flush out badgers and foxes an animal their size, if not bigger! So naturally, the breed is fearless by nature, and size to them means nothing!

Nowadays the Norfolk Terrier is known as a family companion. In some parts of Europe, they still work and hunt in packs, but generally, they are adopted as a four-legged companion! The breed is proudly shown off and competed against at some of the most popular dog shows.


Norfolk Terrier Temperament:

Norfolk Terriers are one of the calmer members of the Terrier family. They’re loving and completely devoted to their owners, but do be careful as this could turn into jealousy. Naturally, the breed is courageous, and may still have a strong prey drive.

They are alert and make great watchdogs. Training will be needed to curb their barking. Yet they aren’t as mouthy as other Terrier breeds. Norfolk Terriers aren’t as dominant either.

Norfolk Terrier Dog standing on Grass

Are Norfolk Terriers Good With Strangers?

No, this canine isn’t the best when around people they don’t know. They are watchdogs by nature and will automatically be wary of strangers. Socialize this breed with new people and environments from an early age and this behavior won’t become the norm.

Are Norfolk Terriers Good With Children?

Yes, the Norfolk Terrier makes a fantastic companion for children! Naturally energetic and perfectly gentle, this pooch will make a great playmate. Especially when it comes to interactive games like rope and ball play! Thanks to their small size they won’t accidentally injure a child.

Norfolk Terrier puppy beside its owner

Are Norfolk Terriers Ok With Other Dogs?

Norfolk Terriers have been trained to hunt game in packs, so they can get along with other dogs in the same household. They may however, be suspicious of dogs they don’t know, so early socialization is key. They are cat friendly and will happily live side by side in the same home.


Exercising a Norfolk Terrier should always be done on a lead. The breed has a tendency to wander off an explore which could land them in trouble. They can also be wary of dogs they don’t know and as Norfolk Terriers are fearless things could go very wrong.

This pooch is hyperactive and will need roughly an hour of exercise each day. Norfolk Terrier puppies may require a little longer. It is preferable to split the daily requirements into multiple walks each day. If a dog doesn’t get its daily exercise requirements met it could lead it to pick up bad habits.

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Below are the following health issues related to the Norfolk Terrier:

Two Norfolk Terrier dogs

  • Hip Dysplasia- Poor development of the hip joint will lead to swelling, inflammation, lameness, and eventually arthritis.
  • Cataracts- An obscurity in the lens of the dog’s eye will cause blurry vision. It may not be an issue at first but could become a problem if it gets any bigger. Blindness occurs in the most severe cases.
  • Glaucoma- A build-up of fluid and pressure in the eye will cause damage to the optic nerve and retina. This will eventually lead to blindness.
  • Luxating Patellas- A common condition amongst smaller breeds where the kneecap moves in and out of position temporarily.
  • Lens Luxation- Lens Zolunes are fibres that hold the lens of the eye in place. When these begin to break the lens becomes loose in the eye. This is Lens Luxation.

Intelligence & Training

It’s been debated as to whether the Norfolk Terrier really is smart. They pick up on training quite quickly and make an outstanding working dog. Yet some feel their occasional stubborn streak may be the reason as to why this pooch isn’t seen as smart.

Like all of the members of the Terrier family, fearlessness and courage come as a norm! Socialization is so important in a Norfolk Terriers’ early years. It can make a huge difference in how they interact with other dogs and strangers.

Respect training is one of the better methods for small breeds like the Norfolk Terrier. Any types of bad behaviors from growling, possessiveness, stealing food, barking back, etc all need to be dealt with promptly. Once your dog has established a clear level of respect for you, command training will be so much simpler.

Be clear on the behavior you expect from your pooch. A Norfolk Terrier can fall into a downward spiral if their bad habits aren’t corrected. It can be frustrating getting your dog to listen to you, but clarity and consistency is the only way forward. If you let things slide it will become a much bigger issue later down the line.

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Norfolk Terriers have a hard, wiry coat that doesn’t shed on its own. It is weather-resistant and requires extra care and attention. This is good news for allergy suffers but it means this canine will need a brush up to three times a week. Professional help may be required occasionally throughout the year.

A Black Norfolk terrier is a popular color choice in coat. Other colors include red, wheaten, grizzled, and tan. If you don’t keep up with daily brushing a Norfolk Terrier’s coat will quickly become matted. The tools you will need are as follows: Bristle Brush, Slicker Brush, Pin Brush, Grooming Comb, Stripping Knife.

Norfolk Terrier Dog standing on Grass

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This dog will blow their coat twice a year so hand stripping will be required. It helps your dog maintain its fur texture, promotes re-growth, and removes loose strands to prevent matting. The shaggy look is a key feature of the Norfolk Terrier, so their fur can’t be trimmed with normal clippers.

Some Norfolk Terrier owners benefit from a professional groomer. If you choose to groom your dog at home, a grooming table will be needed.

Norfolk Terriers should be bathed monthly. Their ears will need a weekly clean and their nails filed fortnightly. Vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth every day. It is the key to preventing gum disease. Grooming your dog doesn’t have to be a stressful process. It can be a relaxing experience for your pet and a great way to bond with each other.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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