Norwich Terrier

Breed At A Glance


Alert, cheerful and confident

Life Expectancy
13-15 years

Average Height
9-10 inches

Average Weight
11-12 lbs

Coat Color
All shades of red, grizzle, wheaten, black and tan

Coat Length/Texture
Medium-length, shaggy and water-resistent outer coat, with softer undercoat (requires grooming)

Shedding Propensity
Little, but consistent

Also known as Jones Terrier, Cantab Terrier

General Temperament

The hardy Norwich Terrier is an intelligent and courageous breed, without the quarrelsome nature that many other Terriers possess. This breed is often fearless and assertive but is not prone to inciting arguments with other dogs. They are energetic little dogs that love to be in the middle of the action and need to live inside the home with their owners.

Affectionate and well-balanced, Norwich Terriers are great companions for children, as long as the kids are taught to not tease or roughhouse with the dog. They thrive on attention from their humans, often preferring human company to that of other dogs, although they usually get along well with other canines. Due to their hunting ancestry, they may see smaller household pets – such as cats or rabbits – as prey. Socialization from puppyhood will help control this natural tendency.

The Norwich is intelligent and eager to please, but like most Terriers, they often have a mind of their own. They can also be somewhat difficult to housebreak. But with consistency and firmness, this breed can be a well-adjusted and obedient member of the family.

Without proper stimulation and exercise, Norwich Terriers can be mischievous little dogs. They are prone to digging and barking if left alone in the backyard for long periods. As such, be sure that their fenced enclosure is well-secured and buried deep in the ground. This breed can do well in an apartment if sufficiently exercised (just be sure to keep this dog on a leash during walks, otherwise they are prone to bolt after a sited prey).

Breed History

The Norwich Terrier was originally developed late in the 19th century as an expert ratter in East Anglia, England, largely by sporting fanatics at Cambridge University. The Norwich is thought to be a cross between various local breeds, including the Yorkshire and Irish Terriers, or possibly the now extinct Trumpington Terrier. A small Terrier named “Rags” is commonly accepted to be the original sire for the modern Norwich Terrier. Over his lifetime, Rags was bred to other terrier types, including the Staffordshire Terrier; from this line came a fox “bolters” who were used to drive out foxes that had gone to ground during hunts. A member of this line, bred by Frank “Roughrider” Jones was the first Norwich Terrier introduced to the United States in 1914 (hence the alternative name “Jones Terrier”).

The Norwich and Norfolk Terriers started off as one breed, but in 1964, the two were classified separately in England, the most obvious difference being ear type – the Norwich having erect ears and the Norfolk having drop ears, although the behavioral differences go much deeper. The American Kennel Club made the same distinction in 1979, although both breeds (under the collective name “Norwich Terrier”) had already been registered with the AKC since 1936.

Body Structure and Composition

One of the smallest working Terriers, the Norwich is a short-legged and squarely-proportioned breed. The head carries a fox-like expression and the pointed ears are set far apart on the head and held erect. The muzzle is shorter than the length of the skull and has a distinctive wedge-shape. The neck and chest are moderately thick, and the topline level. The tail is customarily docked in the U.S. for show purposes, although tail docking has been banned in many other countries. (Tail docking originally served the dual purpose of protecting the dog from potential injury while still being long enough to grasp, giving the handler the ability to pull the dog out of a fox or rat hole if necessary.) The Norwich Terrier has a parallel, driving gait.

Medical Information

According to the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club of America, the most common medical issues affecting the Norwich Terrier are epilepsy (recurring seizures) and various breathing problems. There are no current genetic tests available for breeding stock to identify carriers of epilepsy, but luckily, most cases are easily controlled with medication. Dogs who have shown signs of this disease should not be bred, so it is essential to find a reputable breeder who is willing to have an open, honest discussion about their stock. The most prominent breathing abnormalities are elongated soft pallets and collapsing tracheas. Like epilepsy, there are no current screenings available, so the best way to help prevent the spread of these conditions is to not breed individuals who have exhibited the signs.

Hip Dysplasia and Patellar Luxation have been found in this breed, although neither appears to be a particularly prolific issue. Hip Dysplasia occurs when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits into the cup provided by the hip socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. The term Patellar Luxation, or “slipped stifle” or “trick knee,” describes the condition in which the kneelike joint above the hock slips out of place, often requiring surgery to correct. Certification of breeding stock is available for both of these diseases (among others) from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

The coat of the Norwich Terrier is easy to care for, although they may need to be professionally stripped two or three times per year. They should be brushed on a daily basis, but only bathe them when absolutely necessary.

Anecdotal Information

In the film Best in Show, the winner of the Mayflower Dog Show was a Norwich Terrier named Winky.

Despite their predisposition as excellent family and companion pets, Norwich Terriers are still relatively uncommon in the United States. According to 2007 registration statistics provided by the American Kennel Club, the breed ranked 95th out of 157 accepted dog breeds.

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