Breed Group: Terrier
The AKC Standard calls the Norwich Terrier “game and hardy… a ‘perfect demon’ in the field…gregarious, fearless and loyal”. Additionally they are full of fire and assertiveness, but are also agreeable and make good companions; in short, they are what any terrier should be. Never aggressive, the Norwich Terrier, along with the Border Terrier and their Norfolk Terrier brothers are the gentlest and most sociable of the Terrier Group. They get along about as well as an average dog with all members of their family including children, although they do best with older, considerate youngsters with whom they will gladly play. His response to strangers varies from wary to accepting. They get along with other dogs better than many other terrier breeds, but can still be scrappy if pushed. But with a typical terrier prey drive, trusting them around hamsters or ferrets would be foolish. A very busy little dog whether inside or out, he is alert and watchful making him an outstanding watchdog. But his tendency to bark when anything is amiss can become excessive in some individuals. Although they may try, they make below average guard dogs. His exercise needs can be reasonably met by responding to his interest in playing or a brisk walk. But when outside he must be leashed or confined to thwart his interest in adventure. Adaptable, they do well in an apartment if adequately exercised. But they can be possessive of their food and toys and is able to dig tirelessly for hours. He may not be as easy to housebreak as his Norfolk Terrier brother.
The Norwich Terrier is a small dog, one of the smallest working terriers. He stands 9 to 10 inches tall and their average weight is a mere 10 pounds. But their stout, stocky little bodies are sturdy and muscular. Their coats are about 2 inches long and come in the colors of red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle. They shed little if at all. Brush them once a week to keep their coat in good condition. The breed does well in any reasonable temperature. Many people can’t remember how to tell the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers apart when it is quite easy to do. The Norwich has triangular ears that stand up straight and the Norfolk has ears that fold over. To remember which is which, look at the first letter not common to both names, the “w” in the Norwich and the “f” in Norfolk. The center of a “w” shows the front of an erect, triangular ear and the top of an “f” shows the profile of a folded ear.
Norwich Terriers need an average effort dedicated to socializing them, certainly less than his Norfolk Terrier brother. Smarter than most dogs but with a terriers obstinance, training a Norwich is usually more of a challenge than most dogs. With a mind of its own, it is important to provide them with consistent rules to follow. But use only positive training methods (food rewards work well) as the Norwich is a sensitive breed. Even being one of the mildest terriers, he is still not recommended for a first-time owner.
A reasonably healthy breed, the Norwich Terrier with 14% affected by Hip Dysplasia exhibits less than half the incidence as the Norfolk Terrier. But with 1 in 20 dogs affected, the Norwich Terrier has a greater incidence of Patellar Luxation. Their average life expectancy is 12-15 years of age.
Average in popularity among the 27 terrier breeds, Norwich Terriers are ranked 89th in popularity by the American Kennel Club, with roughly 700 registered each year.
Bred in England as ratting terriers, the breeds known as both the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers rose out of relative obscurity in the 1880s when they became trendy to own by students at England’s Cambridge University. In 1936 the American Kennel Club recognized the Norwich Terrier. It was then realized that some Norwich Terriers had erect pointed ears while others had ears that folded forward. Finally, in 1964, the English Kennel Club reclassified the drop-ear variety as its own breed, the Norfolk Terrier. The AKC followed suit, recognizing the Norfolk in 1979. In addition to ridding the farm and home of vermin, they worked in fox hunts. Once hounds forced a fox to take refuge underground, these terriers were released to dig the fox out of its den so the hunt could continue. Today both the Norwich and the Norfolk Terriers serve mostly as a show dog and as companion animals. The patriarch of the modern Norwich Terrier was a Trumpington Terrier named Rags, who worked as a ratter in a stable near Norwich, England. Rags sired a large number of offspring, one of which was brought to America. This first-generation Norwich was owned by an American named Jones, and to this day, a number of people still refer to the breed as the “Jones” Terrier.
Norwich Terrier owners of note include comedian Lilly Tomlin and clothing designer Oscar De La Renta. The National (U.S.) Breed Club is the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club.