Norfolk Terrier

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norfolk terrier portrait
Get ready to meet the Norfolk Terrier, a big-hearted bundle of joy packed into a small package! With their boundless energy, irresistible charm, and unstoppable zest for life, these pint-sized pooches are proof that great things truly do come in small packages.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

If you’re an active individual or family who loves a lively companion, the Norfolk Terrier is your perfect match! With their fearless spirit and insatiable curiosity, they’re ideal for those seeking an adventurous pet. Plus, their affectionate nature makes them great buddies for children too.


OFFICIAL NAMENorfolk Terrier
ORIGINUnited Kingdom
BREED GROUPTerrier Group
HEIGHT9-10 inches
WEIGHT11-12 lbs
LIFESPAN12-16 years
norfolk terrier sitting on a stone
Photo: robbinsbox/Getty Images


The Norfolk Terrie is a small but mighty breed that’s as charming as it is hardy. Standing no taller than 10 inches at the shoulder, they might be among the smallest working terriers, but don’t let their size fool you. These compact dogs carry themselves with an air of presence and importance, their heads and tails held high with confidence.

Weighing in at a light 11 to 12 pounds, Norfolk Terriers are incredibly nimble. Their bodies are slightly longer than their height, giving them a sturdy, well-balanced appearance. Despite their diminutive stature, these dogs are built for action, with a physique that speaks to their working terrier heritage.

One glance at a Norfolk Terrier and you’re likely to be captivated by their expressive eyes. Sparkling with curiosity, their eyes reflect the fearless, adventurous spirit that defines this breed. Their ears, set well apart on the sides of their round head, drop forward close to the cheek, adding to their alert expression.

Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of the Norfolk Terrier is its coat. Hard, wiry, and straight, the coat is designed to withstand the elements – a testament to their roots as working dogs. While their fur might be rough to the touch, it contributes to their overall charm, giving them a sort of rustic elegance.

Their short legs may seem at odds with their energetic nature, but make no mistake: these dogs are quick and agile, capable of impressive feats of speed and endurance. Whether they’re tearing around the yard or snuggling up on your lap, their lively nature and undeniable charm are all part of the Norfolk Terrier package.

Finally, let’s not forget about their tails. Held erect, the tail of a Norfolk Terrier is like a flag that signals their readiness for adventure. It’s a fitting trait for a breed that’s always eager to explore and discover new things.

In short, the Norfolk Terrier is a small dog with a big personality. Their physical characteristics, from their wiry coat to their expressive eyes, are a reflection of their bold, adventurous spirit.

norfolk terrier in a forest
Photo: robbinsbox/Getty Images


The Norfolk Terrier is brimming with personality and spirit. These small dogs are big on charm, winning hearts wherever they go. They’re the embodiment of the saying, “small but mighty,” with a temperament that’s as lively and energetic as their physical appearance suggests.

Norfolk Terriers are often described as fearless and self-confident. They carry themselves with an air of importance that belies their small size. This isn’t a dog that will shy away from challenges or adventures. Instead, they’re always ready to explore, discover, and make the most of every moment. Their curiosity is infectious, inspiring those around them to see the world through their eager eyes.

Despite their bold nature, Norfolk Terriers are incredibly affectionate. They form strong bonds with their families and are known for their unwavering loyalty. When they’re not out exploring, they’re happiest snuggling up with their favorite humans. They thrive on companionship and enjoy being part of family activities. The Norfolk Terrier is not just a pet; they’re a family member, a confidant, and a friend.

One of the most endearing traits of the Norfolk Terrier is their cheerful disposition. These dogs have a happy-go-lucky attitude that’s truly infectious. They tend to see the glass as half full and approach life with a positive, can-do spirit. Whether they’re chasing a ball or simply lounging in the sun, they do so with a wagging tail and a joyful spirit.

But don’t mistake their cheerful nature for complacency. Norfolk Terriers are alert and vigilant, always keeping an eye on their surroundings. They’re quick to sound the alarm if something seems amiss, making them excellent watchdogs. But while they’re protective, they’re not aggressive. They prefer to use their bark rather than their bite.

Norfolk Terriers are sociable dogs who generally get along well with other animals. They enjoy playing with fellow dogs and can even coexist peacefully with cats if properly socialized. They’re also good with children, showing patience and affection towards younger members of the family.

At the same time, Norfolk Terriers are independent and somewhat stubborn. They have a mind of their own and aren’t afraid to show it. This can sometimes lead to amusing antics as they try to assert their will. But even when they’re being headstrong, they do so with such charm that it’s hard to resist their whims.

norfolk terrier standing on top of a hill
Photo: robbinsbox/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Norfolk Terrier thrives in an environment filled with adventure, affection, and companionship. They’re adaptable dogs that can settle into various living situations, but there are some conditions they prefer.

Ideal Owner

Firstly, Norfolk Terriers love being part of the action. They’re sociable dogs who enjoy the company of their human family. Whether it’s a game of fetch in the backyard or a cozy movie night on the couch, they want to be included. So, an ideal pet parent for a Norfolk Terrier is someone who can offer plenty of interaction and engagement.

Keep in mind that Norfolk Terriers are born diggers. They love to exercise their terrier instincts by burrowing into soft earth. So, if you have a prized garden, you might need to take precautions to protect your plants!

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Norfolk Terriers are generally amicable and can coexist peacefully with fellow dogs. They can also get along well with cats when properly socialized. However, their strong prey drive means that smaller pets like hamsters or birds might not be the best roommates for them.

Physical Environment

In terms of physical environment, these dogs are quite versatile. They can comfortably live in both urban apartments and suburban houses, provided they have access to regular mental and physical stimulation. A home with a secure yard where they can safely explore and play would be a bonus, but it’s not a necessity.

Climate Adaptability

As for climate adaptability, Norfolk Terriers are hardy dogs with a thick, wiry coat that offers protection against the cold. They can handle chillier climates quite well. However, they’re not as tolerant of extreme heat. In hot weather, it’s crucial to provide them with plenty of shade and fresh water, and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day.

norfolk terrier puppy smiling at the camera
Photo: mariakbell/Getty Images


Grooming a Norfolk Terrier isn’t just about keeping them looking their best; it’s also an important part of their overall health and well-being. With their hard, wiry coats and active natures, these dogs have specific grooming needs that every prospective owner should be aware of.

Coat Care

Let’s start with the coat – a distinctive feature of the breed. The Norfolk Terrier’s rough, weather-resistant fur doesn’t shed excessively, but it does require regular attention to keep it in tip-top shape. Brushing them once or twice a week with a slicker brush or a comb can help remove loose hair and prevent matting.

Every few months, their coat needs to be hand-stripped. This process involves plucking out the dead hairs to allow new ones to grow. It might sound harsh, but it’s actually painless for the dog and helps maintain the coat’s color and texture. If you’re new to hand-stripping, your vet or a professional groomer can show you how to do it correctly.

Bathing your Norfolk Terrier doesn’t need to be a frequent activity. These dogs are naturally clean, and their coats repel dirt quite well. A bath every 2-3 months (or when they get particularly dirty) is usually sufficient. Remember to use a dog-friendly shampoo to protect their skin’s natural oils.

Dental Care

Next up: dental care. Like all breeds, Norfolk Terriers can be prone to dental issues if their teeth aren’t cared for properly. Regular brushing with dog-specific toothpaste can help keep their pearly whites healthy. Start this habit early to get your pup used to the routine.

Nail Trimming

Don’t forget about their nails! Norfolk Terriers are active dogs, and while regular play can help keep their nails short, you’ll likely need to trim them every couple of weeks. Use a specially designed dog nail clipper, and be careful not to cut into the quick, as it can cause discomfort.

Ear Care

Lastly, keep an eye on their ears. Clean them gently with a damp cloth and a vet-recommended cleaner if needed. Be on the lookout for signs of infection like redness, swelling, or an unusual smell.

norfolk terrier standing on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images


Norfolk Terriers are energetic little dynamos who love to be on the move. They may be small, but they’re packed with vigor and vitality! Regular exercise is crucial for these lively dogs, not just to keep them fit, but to satisfy their natural curiosity and zest for life.

Exercise Amount & Types

Typically, a Norfolk Terrier will need at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. This can involve a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a game of fetch in the park, or a fun play session in the backyard. They’re adaptable and will happily adjust to your lifestyle, whether that means joining you for a morning jog or accompanying you on a leisurely evening stroll.

But physical exercise isn’t the only thing these intelligent little dogs need. They also thrive on mental stimulation. Training sessions, puzzle toys, and games like hide-and-seek can challenge their minds and help keep them happy and engaged.

Don’t forget, though, that Norfolk Terriers are terriers through and through, which means they have a strong instinct to chase and dig. A secure, fenced-in yard is ideal for them to romp around without getting into trouble. If you don’t have a yard, regular visits to a local dog park can also do the trick.

Dog Sports

If you’re into dog sports, your Norfolk Terrier will be right there with you, ready to take on the challenge. They excel in activities like agility, obedience, and earthdog trials, where their speed, agility, and keen senses can truly shine. Participating in such competitions can provide a fantastic outlet for their energy and intelligence.

norfolk terrier in a forest at dusk
Photo: robbinsbox/Getty Images


Training a Norfolk Terrier can be an adventure in itself. These small dogs are intelligent, eager to please, and full of energy. However, they also have a streak of independence that can make training an interesting challenge.

Norfolk Terriers respond best to positive reinforcement methods. Praise, treats, and play can motivate them to learn new commands and behaviors. It’s important to be patient, consistent, and firm without being harsh. Remember, these little dogs have big hearts, and they thrive on affection and approval.

Socialization should start early for Norfolk Terriers. Exposing them to different people, environments, and other animals can help them grow into well-rounded dogs. Puppy training classes can be a great way to kickstart this process, as it offers both socialization and basic obedience training.

Training a Norfolk Terrier to walk well on a leash is essential. They have strong prey drive, which means they might be tempted to chase after squirrels, birds, or even leaves blowing in the wind! Teaching them to walk calmly by your side can ensure walks are enjoyable for both of you.

One area where Norfolk Terriers may need extra attention is with recall. Because of their curiosity and love for exploration, they may not always come back when called, especially if something more intriguing has caught their attention. Training them to respond to recall commands can help keep them safe during outdoor adventures.

Remember, Norfolk Terriers are natural diggers. While this behavior can’t be entirely eliminated, you can manage it by designating a specific area in your yard where it’s okay for them to dig.

Lastly, don’t forget about mental stimulation. Training sessions, puzzle toys, and interactive games can keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom.

two norfolk terrier sitting in a garden
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Norfolk Terrier isn’t just about filling their bowl with food. It’s about providing the right kind of nutrition to fuel their energetic lifestyles and keep them healthy.

What to Feed & How Much

When it comes to choosing what to feed your Norfolk Terrier, quality is key. Look for high-quality dry or wet food that meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

This ensures the food contains the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Some owners also opt for a raw food diet, but it’s crucial to consult with a vet to ensure it’s balanced and safe.

The amount of food your Norfolk Terrier needs will depend on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies usually require more frequent meals – up to four times a day – to support their growth. As they mature, this can be reduced to two meals a day.

However, Norfolk Terriers are prone to weight gain, so it’s important to monitor their portion sizes and adjust accordingly. Your vet can provide specific guidance on how much to feed your dog based on their individual needs.


Treats can be a useful tool for training, but they should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Opt for healthy options like pieces of fruits and vegetables or specially designed dog treats.


And let’s not forget about water. Fresh, clean water should always be available for your Norfolk Terrier. Regularly refill their water dish and make sure it’s accessible, especially during hot weather or after exercise.

norfolk terrier standing on green grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images


Norfolk Terriers are generally a healthy and hardy breed, known for their long lives with an average lifespan of 12-16 years. But like all dog breeds, they’re susceptible to certain health conditions. Here are common health issues associated with Norfolk Terriers:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint, which can cause pain or mobility issues.

Patellar Luxation: Also known as ‘slipped stifle,’ this condition involves the kneecap slipping out of place, leading to lameness.

Heart Problems: Norfolk Terriers can be prone to various heart conditions, including Mitral Valve Disease, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.

Eye Conditions: These can include cataracts and glaucoma, both of which can affect the dog’s vision.

Obesity: Norfolk Terriers love their food and can easily gain weight if not monitored closely. Obesity can lead to a host of other health problems, from diabetes to joint issues.

Remember that not every Norfolk Terrier will get any or all of these conditions. Regular vet check-ups and preventative care can go a long way in ensuring your furry friend stays healthy.

A balanced diet plays a significant role in maintaining their health. Feed them high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs and monitor their portion sizes to prevent obesity.

Regular exercise is also essential. Norfolk Terriers are active dogs that need daily physical activity to keep them fit and healthy.

Lastly, make sure your Norfolk Terrier is up-to-date with their vaccinations. Vaccines protect them from various diseases and are an essential part of their healthcare routine.

norfolk terrier walking on snow
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The history of the Norfolk Terrier is a tale steeped in English tradition, rural landscapes, and the companionship between humans and dogs.

Originating from East Anglia in England, Norfolk Terriers were initially bred to control the local rat population and occasionally assist in fox hunts. They were highly valued for their tenacity, courage, and compact size, which allowed them to chase vermin into their burrows.

The breed we know today as the Norfolk Terrier started life as the drop-eared variety of the Norwich Terrier. Both breeds were often born in the same litter, with only the position of their ears differentiating them.

However, they were officially separated into two distinct breeds by The Kennel Club (UK) in 1964, with the drop-eared variety becoming the Norfolk Terrier. The American Kennel Club (AKC) followed suit and recognized the Norfolk Terrier as a separate breed in 1979.

In terms of popular culture, Norfolk Terriers haven’t had quite the same level of fame as some other breeds. But that’s not to say they haven’t made their mark! These dogs are known for their spirited personalities and hardworking nature, traits that have earned them roles in movies and TV shows. In fact, a Norfolk Terrier named “Winky” became a canine celebrity after appearing in the movie “Best in Show.”

As of now, the Norfolk Terrier ranks 138th on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds. While they might not top the popularity charts, those who have had the pleasure of sharing their lives with a Norfolk Terrier know just how special these dogs truly are.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Norfolk Terrier in the United States is The Norfolk Terrier Club. This organization was established in 2009, and it serves as a platform for events, education, research, and the sharing of knowledge among Norfolk Terrier enthusiasts nationwide.

Visit the club’s website to learn about resources on the breed, upcoming events, and more on the club.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Norfolk Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

norfolk terrier lying on the floor
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Bringing a Norfolk Terrier into your home is an exciting journey! Preparation is key – ensure you have the right supplies like a dog bed, leash, food, and toys. If you opt to buy, do thorough research to find reputable breeders. Ask questions about the puppy’s parents, health screenings, and socialization experiences. Remember, a good breeder prioritizes the well-being of their dogs over profit.

However, buying isn’t your only option. Rescuing a Norfolk Terrier can be a rewarding experience. You provide a loving home for a dog in need, and in return, receive a loyal companion. The American Kennel Club and The Norfolk Terrier Club can guide you towards rescue organizations.

Whether you buy or rescue, what matters most is providing a caring, nurturing environment for your new furry friend. Welcome to the Norfolk Terrier family!


Are Norfolk Terriers good pets?

Absolutely! Norfolk Terriers are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They’re great with families and get along well with other dogs. Their size makes them suitable for both apartment living and houses with yards.

Do Norfolk Terriers bark a lot?

As with many terrier breeds, Norfolk Terriers can be vocal. They may bark to alert you of something unusual or if they’re bored. Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help manage excessive barking.

Are Norfolk Terriers calm dogs?

Norfolk Terriers are energetic and active, but they also enjoy relaxing with their human companions. They’re not as hyperactive as some terrier breeds, but they do need daily physical activity.

What is the Norfolk Terrier known for?

Norfolk Terriers are best known for their fearless and hardworking nature, traits that made them excellent ratters on English farms. Today, they’re cherished for their loyalty, friendliness, and distinctive drop ears.

How big do Norfolk Terriers get?

Norfolk Terriers are small dogs, typically weighing between 11-12 pounds and standing about 9-10 inches tall at the shoulder.

Are Norfolk Terriers easy to train?

Norfolk Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, which can make training a rewarding experience. However, they also have an independent streak, so patience and consistency are key.

Do Norfolk Terriers need a lot of grooming?

Norfolk Terriers have a wiry coat that requires regular brushing to prevent matting. They’re considered low shedders, and professional grooming can help maintain the health and appearance of their coat.

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