Norwich Terrier

Norwich Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The origins of Norwich Terrier are associated with rat-chasing dogs, usually living on smaller or bigger farms. Later on, they were used to chase off foxes from their hiding dens during hunt seasons. However, in today’s world, the Norwich Terrier is the perfect animal companion, fun and amusing, while still being protective of its home. And yes, they still chase smaller animals away.

Breed specifications

Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Terrier Dogs
Height:Up to 10 inches tall both males and females at the shoulder
Weight:Generally up to 12 pounds both for males and females
Life Span:10 to 14 years

Considering the size of the Norwich Terrier, it is one of the smallest breeds of the Terrier family. His size is small, but the individuals of the breed show high levels of personality. They are pretty active and suitable for families that practice an active and healthy life.

You might think that the Norfolk and the Norwich might be the same breed but with different names. Yet, this is not really true. The main difference between the Norwich Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier is the breed’s name. And the name was given after their ears: the way the ears stand resembles the form of a witch’s hat.

Like mentioned before, the breed was used purposely for chasing both foxes, rats and other vermin, and they can be used for those things even today. As any other working breed, they won’t make the training process a hustle as they would be happy to obey orders and practice different sports suitable for them. The Norwich Terrier can be successfully trained to take a competent role in Earthdog, agility and obedience trials, as well as rallies.

The breed has a specific drive noticeable in their delight when digging up holes, barking for fun, pushing doors and gates, and chasing rodents and squirrels. Even though they are small, they can make a great watchdog with a sense of noticing suspicious situations and alerting when such occur. The Norwich Terrier will do perfectly well in families that make sure to keep his drives on normal levels.

Even though they show a lot of courage for their size, aggressive behavior isn’t one of their characteristics. They strive to be gentle, loveable, loyal and human-connected.

Always motivated and athletic, they will ensure their owner has a fun and enjoyable day in the park.

Main Highlights
  • Because of their drive for smaller animals, Norwich Terriers should be off the leash only in areas that are fenced and well secured.
  • Walking them twice per day is very important in giving them the opportunity to fulfill their athletic nature, keep them healthy and fit and spend the needed energy. It shouldn’t be a problem as they are a great walking companion.
  • Electronic fencing is a bad idea because the Norwich Terriers ignore the shock, so it won’t have a big effect. Proper fencing above the ground is required to keep them off the hunt.
  • Even though it is possible to train them at home, the amount of patience the owner should have is grand. The nature of Norwich Terriers is to obey and please their owners, but if they lack motivation then the process will go downhill. For every good deed they should be praised and rewarded and if you do that, it is expected from them to show good results from the training.
  • If you own a different dog already, and even a cat, the Norwich Terrier will do just fine with them and won’t cause problems. But other types of animals such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs will attract the Terrier’s hunting drive. So it’s not advisable to keep one if your home is also a home or a passing terrain for smaller animals.
  • As a breed, it’s not usual for them to bark unnecessarily but there are always exceptions. Too much barking can indicate that your Norwich Terrier has seen something suspicious, isn’t played with enough or hasn’t spent enough energy outdoors. Regarding the exercise, if done properly they will be very suitable for living even in an apartment.
  • Don’t try to make your dog withstand from digging holes in the yard as it is in his nature to do so. Rather than that teach him to express his gene in places you chose him to dig in. A terrier is a terrier.
  • Since the breed is quite rare, expect a higher purchasing price for one. When choosing a place from where you will buy your new Norwich Terrier puppy, pick a breeder who is responsible and has the proper certificates and documents showing that the puppies are free from any inheritable diseases. Also, a breeder who understands this dog’s temper is advised.
Breed History

As a breed, they can be considered as one of the youngest breeds recognized. The official year when the recognition occurred is 1964. This is also the year when the British Kennel Club decided to separate the Norfolk and the Norwich Terrier into two different breeds. Before 1964 there were no specific descriptions of the Norwich Terrier.

The American Kennel Club followed the example of their colleagues from England and split the Norfolk (dropped ears) and the Norwich (pricked ears) in two different breeds 15 years later, in 1979.

England is considered to be the country of origin for the Norwich Terrier as one of the main contributors and predecessors of the breed is the Irish Terrier.

The deeper history of the Norwich Terrier takes us back to 1899 when puppies mixed between Cantab Terrier and female in mixed breed came to life. The new breed was named Trumpington Terrier. Later on, the Trumpington mixed genes with Glen of Imaal Terriers in what became Jones Terriers (named after Frank Jones who introduced them to the USA), or Norwich Terriers as we know them today.

In the US, people used them on farms for chasing away rodents and tracking foxes in the wilderness. Because of their size, the Norwich Terriers would fit inside a fox’s den and chase them out. But they weren’t working alone and had Foxhounds as companions in the hunting. After they became quite popular, many of them were imported in the USA and used mainly by hunters for foxhunts.


The breed is one of the smallest of all Terriers. Both males and females stand up to 10 inches in shoulder height with a body weight of 12 pounds. You can call their body form stocky, but not overweight.

Personality and Character

Norwich Terriers are loveable pets that gladly receive and give love. They do really well with other pets, such as dogs and cats and are very happy being around children. The emotional intelligence of the Norwich Terrier will always alert if something suspicious occurs and therefore they make great guard dogs.

Usually, they won’t show too much stubbornness, but they might. Even in those situations, they will be eager to please their owners, but also please themselves and their own needs. They are small, but don’t like to be treated less respectable because of that, and such things can be a trigger for behavior problems.

The Norwich Terrier will become a constant member of the family quite easily. He will participate in every activity and gladly do sports with the rest of the family. Any types of toys and especially rubber balls are their delight.

It is very important to socialize your dog early in life in order for him to be comfortable with different people, different animals, environments, surroundings, nature, sounds, and sights. That’s why kindergarten classes for puppies are a great opportunity for them to start understanding life and socialize properly. Also, his socials skills will shine if the dog is taken regularly to dog parks, stores, neighbors and when friends or family come for a visit.

Health and Potential Problems

Generally speaking, the Norwich Terrier is a healthy breed, but certain diseases are more common for them to get. Of course, it doesn’t mean that your Norwich will get one of the following we are about to mention, but as an owner, it’s quite important to be aware of the potential risks for your dog.

  • Tracheal Collapse: This type of disease appear more frequently in smaller breeds of dogs, such as the Norwich Terrier. In this case, the strong rings of the trachea start to weaken and lose form, until finally flatten. With the flattening, a total obstruction of the airways happens and potentially suffocation. The major symptoms and signs of the disease are goose-like coughing, lacking activity and fainting. The treatment is based on antibiotic treatment, suppressants for the coughing and steroids, and in some cases surgery. Walking the dog with a collar is not a good idea in this situation.
  • Elongated Soft Palate: Again, a disease that directly impacts the airways. With elongation of the soft palate the entrance to the trachea is obstructed and therefore the breathing is hardened. The best solution, in this case, is surgical removal of the excessive tissue.
  • Epilepsy: This sickness does not have a cure, however, with proper medications and caring owner the dog can have a normal and healthy life. The Norwich Terrier is somewhat prone to epilepsy and the symptoms are aggressive seizures. This disorder is hereditary. Avoiding the Epilepsy can be managed by choosing a dog from a breeder who had documents and clearances on the health status of the dog’s
  • Health clearances for Norwich Terriers include health clearance for hip dysplasia, health clearance for elbow dysplasia, thrombopenia, eye problems, von Willebrand’s disease, and hypothyroidism. All of these clearances are issued by OFA and CERF.
Care Features

Like we said before, as the Norwich Terrier is a working dog, you can expect for him to be happiest when he’s active. They are intelligent, hard working and need constant amusement. Whenever you provide certain rules and conditions of training, then it would be very easy to train an individual of the breed. Keeping them motivated can be a challenge, and that’s why repetitive and monotonous training should be replaced with fun things from time to time.

Training them at home is always harder and time-consuming, but achievable. While they spend time at home alone, it’s not smart to let a Norwich Terrier free, in means that a crate is necessary for avoiding accidents at home. But always keep in mind that they are dogs that are quite connected with humans, therefore a full day spent inside a crate can be stressful and shocking for them.

Like all Terries, their excessive amount of energy should be spent on a daily basis on different outdoor activities. They require a couple of walks per day which will last 10-15 minutes. Playing fetch and giving them toys to play with is also advisable. Whenever the owner wants to let them loose should be aware of their hunting drive. That’s important because in an open, unfenced area their drive can lead them running for something and potentially being hit by a car. Barking at home won’t represent a big problem as long as the owners meet their needs for daily activity.

Feeding Schedule

Norwich Terriers should eat high-quality food and of dry consistency. Depending on the individual character, the daily amount is half to one full cup of food, divided into two separate meals. The individual characteristics are always present so the idiopathic metabolism, age, gender, and activity will have an impact on the daily nutrition needs of the dog. Just like people, dogs eat differently as well so there isn’t a specific rule to be followed. The more you know your dog, the more you will know what and how much to give him.

The results of feeding won’t be the same if you are using low-quality and high-quality food. Many people claim that the breed is prone to being overweight. For that matter, a regular eye and hands-on test should be performed to keep track of your dog’s condition. First looking at the dog from above, and afterward touching him in the abdominal area should do the trick. The ribs should be palpable but not visible in normal dogs.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Norwich Terrier carries two layers of coat. The upper coat seems hard, with straight hair and kind of wiry, while the undercoat is insulating, quite soft and downy. There is a protective layer on the neck and the shoulders. The dark eyes can sometimes be barely visible because of the long eyebrows. On the other hand, places like the muzzle, parts of the head and ears have shorter hair.

Talking about color, the variations and shades are grizzle, black, tan, red of wheaten. The shading isn’t that frequent but twice or three times weekly is good for the dog in removing dead hair. Twice per year stripping or removal of the coat must be done, if not in time the dog will lose the normal texture. For that matter, you can strip it either with hands or specials tools for the occasion. Avoid clipping the hair instead of stripping it. Bathing should be performed only if the dog gets really dirty.

Like any other dog, dental hygiene is very important and brushing of the teeth should be performed twice or three times per week; yet the best would be every day. That’s because the Norwich Terrier is a breed known for potentially having severe gingivitis. Nail trimming is advised only when really needed, done by the owner or a professional.

All of the aesthetics have a big impact on the dog’s health as well, so the procedures should be performed while the Norwich Terrier is still a puppy, thus getting used to it and maybe enjoying it.

Whenever you brush the dog’s teeth make sure you check the gums and inner teeth visually for any sign of diseases, inflammations etc. The same goes for the skin when the dog has a brushing or bathing session.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

If they are raised with a child or other pet, there won’t be a problem further on in life regarding the mutual interaction. If a Norwich Terrier is brought in a home with a baby, while the dog is mature it’s not a great idea to leave the baby with the dog without supervision.

Every child should receive a lesson how to properly approach and treat a dog, and show a certain amount of respect for it in order to prevent negative situations.

Other dogs will receive great treatment from Norwich Terriers, as well as cats, as long as the dog had experience with socialization early in life.

So there you have it! A breed that is fun, cute, lovable and able to love — the perfect companion for both younger and older people. Because they are a smaller breed it’s less time consuming to keep them instead of a larger breed, especially if your living conditions are limited and have no extra time to clean fallen hair every day.

Perfect for families with children and anyone else that enjoys walking in the park, running with his dog or sitting under a tree in the park reading a book, while the Norwich digs his third hole in a row.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.