Norfolk terriers are small, strong dogs belonging to the working terrier family. This breed is energetic and intelligent and makes a good companion dog, as well as a working dog, due to its hardiness, sociability and loyalty. The Norfolk terrier was first recognized as its own breed by the American Kennel Club in 1979.
The American Kennel Club breed standard for the Norfolk terrier requires that the breed be between 9 and 10 inches tall at the withers. The coat of the Norfolk terrier is wiry and straight and lies close to the body, with a ruff of fur around the neck. Norfolk terriers can be red, grizzle (gray), black and tan, or wheaten.
The body of the Norfolk terrier should be small and stocky, with a level topline and wide chest. The face should be rounded, and the dog's eyes should be clear, dark, black-rimmed and evenly spaced. Norwich terriers have dropped, triangular ears that sit close at the cheek.
Developed originally in England in the 20th century, Norfolk terriers were considered to be the same breed as the Norwich terrier until 1979, when the American Kennel Club recognized these dogs as two separate breeds: Dogs with the distinctive dropped ears became known as Norfolk terriers, while pricked-ear dogs became known as Norwich terriers.
Norfolk terriers were originally bred to control rats around the farm and to bolt foxes during foxhunts.Their small size made them ideal for getting into fox dens.
The American Kennel Club labels Norfolk terriers as alert, fearless, sociable, friendly and loyal. They should never demonstrate aggression against humans or other dogs. Norfolk terriers are intelligent and easily trained, though they can be possessive of their owners. These dogs are good with families.
Norfolk terriers are high-energy dogs and fare best when given plenty of opportunities to exercise and play. Norfolk terriers are prone to barking, which may make them a good fit for those seeking a guard dog.
Norfolk terriers are generally healthy and are known for their hardiness. They do occasionally experience back problems, and some are genetically prone to eye problems. Occasionally Norfolk terriers will also have heart and hip problems, as well as sensitivity to anesthesia.
Norfolk terriers have an expected lifespan of between 12 and 15 years.
Norfolk terriers typically fare well in apartments and homes with small backyards, though they require daily exercise to remain healthy, both mentally and physically.
Grooming requirements for Norfolk terriers are moderate: Their mid-length coat needs to be brushed at least once a week and detangled daily; the hair only needs to be clipped occasionally. Norfolk terriers, when groomed regularly, are a low-shedding breed.