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Norfolk Terrier - History and Health

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Norfolk Terrier


The Norfolk Terrier originates from the east-central part of England called East Anglia, just north of London. The town of Norwich is in the county of Norfolk. At the start of the 20th century, an Englishman named Frank “Roughrider” Jones - who had Glen of Imaal Terriers and a dark red brindle Cairn-type bitch - bred his dogs to a working terrier from Norwich named Rags. He crossed the offspring with working terriers from Norwich, Cambridge and Market Harborough to develop a small, sturdy and fearless breed later recognized by The Kennel Club (England) in 1932 as the Norwich Terrier. Contributing breeds probably included the Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier and possibly unnamed red terriers from Ireland.

Early in the breed’s history, there was substantial variation and fancier controversy over appropriate breed size, color, coat, ear set and overall type. The original Norwich Terrier standard encompassed both the up-ear (prick) and the down-ear (drop) varieties. Mating a drop-eared dog with a prick-eared one produced an unattractive intermediate ear which neither stood nor dropped reliably. The drop-eared Norwich declined in popularity and nearly disappeared during World War II. In 1957, Norwich breeders in England decided that the up- and down-eared varieties should be treated as separate breeds, so that they would not have to compete against each other at dog shows. The Kennel Club (England) thought this distinction too trivial and at first refused to make the change. Eventually, The Kennel Club relented. It officially separated the Norfolk and the Norwich Terriers into two distinct breeds in 1964, with the prick-eared dog retaining the name Norwich Terrier and the drop-eared dog being renamed the Norfolk Terrier.

In America, the Norwich Terrier was commonly called the Jones Terrier (after Frank Jones) for generations. In 1936, due largely to the efforts of Mr. Gordon Massey (who registered the first Norwich in the United States) and Mr. Henry Bixby (then the executive vice-president of the American Kennel Club), the Norwich Terrier was accepted by the American Kennel Club as a distinct breed – still encompassing both the up- and down-eared types. Over time, subtle differences developed in the conformation of the two types, and in 1977 the Canadian Kennel Club officially recognized them as separate breeds. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1979, recognizing the drop-eared Norfolk Terrier and the prick-eared Norwich Terrier as distinct members of the Terrier Group. The Norwich Terrier Club of America was renamed the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club of America. In 2007, the club’s membership voted to have separate breed clubs for the Norwich and the Norfolk Terrier. The parent club of this breed became the Norfolk Terrier Club of America.

The Norfolk and Norwich Terriers are remarkably similar in appearance. Simple tricks are used by dog fanciers to differentiate the breeds, such as: 1) the Norwich Cathedral has a tall spire that sticks up into the air, like the ears of the Norwich Terrier; and 2) the Nor-wich has ears that stick up like a witch’s hat. Norfolks (and Norwich Terriers) make fabulous house and traveling companions and are competitive in the show ring.


The average life span of the Norfolk Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include mitral valve disease, luxating patellas, lens luxation, cataracts and glaucoma.

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