Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier looking forward

Quick Facts


11 to 12 pounds


9 to 10 inches at the shoulder

Average Lifespan:

12-16 years

Known For:

Adventurous, cute, sturdy and confident terriers that make good watchdogs.


Ah, the Norfolk Terrier! This tiny but mighty breed, with its lively spirit and loving nature, has captured the hearts of dog lovers around the globe. Originating from the beautiful countryside of East Anglia, England, the Norfolk Terrier is known for being one of the smallest working terriers, yet one of the most spirited and courageous. 


Its charming personality and adaptable nature have made it a popular companion, particularly for those living in urban settings. Renowned for its loyalty and intelligence, the Norfolk Terrier offers boundless joy and companionship, making it a cherished member of many households.

History and Origin

Delve into the fascinating history of the Norfolk Terrier and you’ll find a tale of courage, companionship, and adaptability. This breed’s story begins in the rural landscapes of East Anglia, England, where it was originally bred to hunt vermin in the barns and stables. 


The Norfolk Terrier, along with its close cousin, the Norwich Terrier, was initially classified as one breed, with the primary difference being their ear types – the Norfolk has drop ears, while the Norwich has pricked ears.


The journey towards recognition as separate breeds was long, but in 1964, the English Kennel Club granted them individual status, with the American Kennel Club following suit in 1979. Throughout history, these little terriers were esteemed for their fearless nature and exceptional hunting skills, often accompanying hunters on horseback to catch foxes – a task they performed with admirable zest and determination.


One famous Norfolk Terrier that deserves mention is “Rags”, a war hero during World War I. Rags served as a mascot and messenger for the US 1st Infantry Division and was credited with saving many lives, showcasing the bravery and intelligence characteristic of this breed.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

When it comes to charm, the Norfolk Terrier has it in abundance! Standing at a petite 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 11 to 12 pounds, this small-sized terrier packs a lot of personality into a compact frame. Their expressive eyes and sweet, fox-like expression make them particularly endearing to all who meet them.


The Norfolk Terrier sports a double coat – a soft, insulating undercoat beneath a wiry, straight topcoat. This coat is designed to protect them from the elements, whether they’re exploring the countryside or navigating city streets. Common coat colors include red, wheaten, black and tan, and grizzle.

Despite their small stature, Norfolk Terriers are robust and well-proportioned, with a level back and strong, sturdy legs. Their drop ears distinguish them from their pricked-eared cousins, the Norwich Terriers. With their lively gait and spirited demeanor, Norfolk Terriers are sure to turn heads wherever they go!

Personality and Temperament

Beneath the Norfolk Terrier’s rugged exterior lies a heart of gold. Known for their spirited and affectionate nature, these little terriers form strong bonds with their human companions, making them exceptional friends and family pets. They are lively and energetic, always ready for an adventure or a playful game, but equally content to snuggle up on a cozy lap.


Despite their small size, Norfolk Terriers possess a robust and courageous temperament. They are fearless when it comes to protecting their loved ones and can be quite vocal, making them excellent watchdogs. However, they are also known for their sociable nature and usually get along well with other dogs and pets, provided proper introductions are made.


One charming quirk of the Norfolk Terrier is its curious and investigative nature. These dogs love to explore and can often be found sniffing around the garden or chasing after interesting scents. Their inquisitive personality paired with their intelligence makes them quick learners and engaging companions.

Health and Lifespan

Every breed has its unique health considerations, and the Norfolk Terrier is no exception. However, with proper care and attention, these robust little dogs can live a fulfilling life, with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Their hearty nature and adaptability contribute to their overall well-being, but being knowledgeable about potential health issues is crucial for any Norfolk Terrier owner.


Some common health concerns in the breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and dental issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and routine dental care can go a long way in ensuring the health and happiness of your Norfolk Terrier. Additionally, they can be prone to gaining weight, so monitoring their food intake and ensuring they get regular exercise is essential.


Despite these considerations, the joy and companionship that a Norfolk Terrier brings far outweigh the challenges. With their hearty constitution and zest for life, these dogs are a delight to have around and can lead active and fulfilling lives with the right care.

Care and Maintenance

Norfolk Terrier grooming

Caring for a Norfolk Terrier is a rewarding experience that brings endless joy and companionship. These adaptable dogs thrive in various living environments, from country homes to city apartments, as long as they receive the love and attention they deserve.


Exercise is a key component of their care, as Norfolk Terriers are active and energetic. Regular walks, playtime, and opportunities to explore will keep them happy and healthy. They are also intelligent and benefit from mental stimulation through interactive toys and training sessions.


Grooming is another important aspect of their care. 


Their wiry coat requires regular brushing to remove loose hair and prevent matting. While they do not shed excessively, a routine grooming schedule will help maintain the health and appearance of their coat.


Diet plays a crucial role in their well-being. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet will support their overall health and help prevent weight gain, which the breed can be prone to.

Caring for a Norfolk Terrier is a delightful responsibility that comes with the reward of unconditional love and loyalty. With the proper care, these charming terriers will thrive as beloved members of the family.

Training and Behavior

Training a Norfolk Terrier is a joyful adventure filled with mutual learning and bonding. Known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, these little terriers can be trained effectively with consistency and positive reinforcement. However, their independent and sometimes stubborn nature means that patience is key!


Norfolk Terriers respond best to reward-based training methods. Using treats, praise, and play as rewards will help motivate them and make training an enjoyable experience for both dog and owner. It’s important to start training early, focusing on basic commands and socialization to ensure a well-mannered and adaptable adult dog.


These lively terriers can sometimes exhibit digging and barking behaviors, which are natural instincts for a terrier breed. Addressing these behaviors through training and providing appropriate outlets for their energy will help manage them. Socialization with other dogs and people is also vital, as it helps to develop their friendly and sociable nature.

Norfolk Terrier and Families

Norfolk Terrier with people

The Norfolk Terrier is a true family companion, bringing joy, laughter, and a touch of feistiness to any household. Their adaptable and sociable nature makes them a wonderful fit for families of all shapes and sizes. 


They form strong bonds with their human family members and are known for being particularly good with children, offering them a playful and loyal companion.


While their small size makes them manageable around kids, it’s important for children to be taught to handle them gently. 


Norfolk Terriers are also generally good with other pets, especially when properly introduced and socialized. Their loving and protective nature makes them a cherished member of the family, providing endless companionship and affection.

Adopting a Norfolk Terrier

Adopting a Norfolk Terrier is a decision that promises to bring boundless joy and companionship to your life. When considering adoption, it’s important to research reputable breeders or rescue organizations to ensure the health and well-being of your future furry friend.


Consider your living environment, lifestyle, and the time you can dedicate to training, exercise, and companionship. Norfolk Terriers are adaptable and thrive in various settings, but they do require attention, love, and care.


Once you’ve done your research and feel ready to welcome a Norfolk Terrier into your home, prepare for a life enriched by the love, energy, and delightful quirks of this charming breed!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the temperament of a Norfolk Terrier?

Norfolk Terriers are known for their bravery, affection, and loyalty. They are among the smallest of the terriers but have a big personality, being energetic and companionable.

How much exercise does a Norfolk Terrier need?

They require moderate exercise. Daily walks and play sessions are sufficient to satisfy their energy levels and prevent boredom.

Are Norfolk Terriers good with families?

Absolutely, they are excellent with children and make for loyal family members. They do well in households with or without other pets.

What health issues can affect Norfolk Terriers?

They are generally healthy but can be prone to genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia, heart issues, and patellar luxation.

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