Breed review: Norfolk Terrier puppies and dogs

Posted by Argos, 28 April 2016, last updated 22 September 2023.

Norfolk Terriers are small dogs with big personalities. They are well known for being alert, lively, fearless and loyal, making the scruffy-looking dogs hard not to love.

Their affectionate personality makes them a loving family dog, but they also have the spirit of a hunter and love to chase rabbits, foxes and vermin.

Despite their scrappy, tenacious nature they can live happily in a family with children and other pets, especially if they have been raised with them.

Unlike other terriers, Norfolks are not overly yappy but will still bark when something attracts their attention.

Norfolk Terrier puppies are a popular breed

Norfolk Terrier breed history

As the name suggests, the breed was developed in East Anglia, where, in the 1800s, it was bred to work on farms to hunt and kill vermin.

It is thought the breed stems from crossing Border, Cairn and Irish Terriers. In the latter stages of the 19th century, Norfolks has become well known for ratting and were used by students at Cambridge University to help solve their rodent problem. Then, the breed was referred to as Cantab Terriers and Trumpington Terriers, which most of them had similar appearance and were red in colour. 

Several influential dog owners began to refine the breed and Frank Jones was the man responsible for handing out the name Norwich Terrier. The Norwich Terrier was then accepted into the English Kennel Clun in 1932 but did not reclassify the droopy-eared version as a Norfolk Terrier until 1964.

What does a Norfolk Terrier look like?

The average male and female are about equal in size, between 9ins and 10ins tall, weighing up to 13Ibs. Norfolk Terrier puppies and dogs have strong legs with short bodies, and rounded heads with a short muzzle. They look a lot like Norwich Terriers but were recognised as a separate breed in the 1960s. The main discernible difference is the ears – Norfolk’s have slightly rounded ears that drop.

The Norfolk Terrier has a double-layered coat, which consists of a soft undercoat and an outercoat made up of wiry hair between 3cm and 5cms long. Their coat comes with and without white patches and appears in various shades, from deep reds, to light browns and blacks. 

Norfolk Terrier temperament

Their heritage as working dogs gives Norfolk Terriers a tenacious and independent streak, but they are among the softest of the terrier group, along with Norwich and Borders. This makes them good companion dogs and they love being part of a family. Norfolk Terrier personality traits are good natured, alert and always ready to play. They are always on the lookout for something to investigate, which keeps the owners on their toes.

Norfolk’s will instinctively chase small animals such as rabbits so should be kept close by when out in open spaces. It is also common for them to initially bark at strangers but will soon calm down when it becomes clear there is no threat.

Norfolk Terrier Dogs are a friendly breed

Norfolk Terrier grooming & care

Norfolk Terriers are among the easiest breeds of dog to take care of.

They can adapt easily to most living conditions, from flats to farms, and they require little grooming. Their hair must be brushed regularly and trimmed a couple of times each year. A bath every few weeks will suffice but because of their love of digging and chasing, owners might find more frequent washing is necessary.

A good half-hour walk or play session each day will be enough but they will happily do more. Norfolk Terriers are intelligent and love to learn new tricks and like most dogs, they benefit from consistent and positive training.

Their sensitive nature means Norfolk Terrier puppies and dogs do not respond well to being shouted at – this may cause them to become nervous and apprehensive. Like most terriers, they will bark but can usually be calmed down with a simple instruction.

When it comes to feeding Norfolk Terriers, the recommended the daily amount is two meals of high-quality dry food a day but the specific amount your dog needs will depend on their size and how active they are.

It’s also important to keep monitoring your dog’s weight – you should be able to feel but not see the ribs and a slender waistline should be visible. Don’t give out too many treats and don’t be tempted to feed your Norfolk leftovers from your own meals.

Norfolk Terrier health

Norfolk’s are a generally healthy breed but are prone to some conditions, including mitral valve disease (MVD). MVD can be a life-threatening heart issue. Reputable breeders will test for the condition and dogs with the syndrome should not be bred.

Like many breeds of dogs, Norfolk’s are also susceptible to minor allergies and seizures, and more major conditions such as, hip dysplasia, which is a problem with the joints that limits movement.

How long do Norfolk Terriers live?

The average life span of a Norfolk Terrier is between 8 and 14 years and they are well renowned for their hardy nature. Depending on factors such as their size and general health, many Norfolk’s often live through to their late teens.  


Recently added a Norfolk Terrier to the family? It’s important to help protect yourself from unexpected vet bills should your new family member become injured with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our Norfolk Terrier insurance policies today.

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