Norfolk Terrier

Table of Contents

The Norfolk Terrier, originating in England for vermin hunting, is a small yet robust breed. Standing 9-10 inches tall and weighing around 11-12 pounds, they are distinguished by their wiry, weather-resistant coat in colors like red, wheaten, and black and tan. These dogs are characterized by their expressive eyes, small ears, and a muscular build, reflecting their spirited and adventurous nature.

Known for their lively and playful temperament, Norfolk Terriers are excellent companions for active individuals or families. They possess a strong prey drive and enjoy activities like digging and chasing. Affectionate and sociable, they form strong bonds with their owners and are known for their adaptability to various living environments. Early training and socialization are important for managing their independent streak. Regular exercise and grooming are essential to keep them happy and healthy, making them ideal for those who appreciate an energetic and engaging small dog breed.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 16 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

Norfolk Terriers are best for active individuals or families who can provide them with regular exercise and engagement, as their energetic nature thrives on activity. They are well-suited for those who appreciate a sociable and affectionate companion and are willing to commit to their grooming and training needs. Their adaptability also makes them a good fit for various living environments, including apartments.

Norfolk Terrier Traits

Breed Characteristics

Norfolk Terriers are small, sturdy, and energetic, standing around 9-10 inches tall and weighing 11-12 pounds. They are known for their wiry, weather-resistant coat, strong prey drive, and affectionate, sociable nature, making them lively and engaging companions.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

Norfolk Terriers are compact and robust, with a distinctive wiry, weather-resistant coat in shades like red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle. They feature expressive eyes, small, perky ears, and a sturdy build, standing about 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder.

1. Ears
Small, V-shaped, and drooping forward, giving them an alert and keen expression.
2. Eyes
Dark, oval-shaped, and set well apart, conveying intelligence and a lively temperament.
3. Nose
Black and well-defined, complementing their keen sense of smell.
4. Height
Typically stands about 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat Length
Medium length with a wiry texture, providing weather resistance.
6. Coat Color
Common colors include red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle.
7. Tail
Medium length, set high and carried erect, showcasing their energetic personality.
8. Weight
Generally weighs around 11 to 12 pounds, reflecting their compact and sturdy build.

Norfolk Terrier Temperament

Norfolk Terriers are known for their spirited, affectionate, and sociable temperament. Despite their small size, they exhibit a remarkable level of energy and enthusiasm for life. These terriers are playful and adventurous, often displaying a strong curiosity and eagerness to explore their surroundings.

They are intelligent dogs, which makes them relatively easy to train, but they also have an independent streak that can sometimes manifest as stubbornness. This breed thrives on human interaction and forms strong bonds with their family members, often seeking to be involved in all aspects of family life. Their sociability extends to other dogs as well, and they generally get along well with other pets, especially when socialized from a young age.

Norfolk Terriers are also known for their courage and tenacity, traits that stem from their history as working terriers. They can be alert and make good watchdogs, often vocalizing to alert their owners of anything unusual. However, they are not typically aggressive.

Overall, the Norfolk Terrier’s affectionate nature, combined with their lively and resilient character, makes them a delightful companion for those who can match their energy and provide them with the companionship and stimulation they crave.

How to Care for a Norfolk Terrier

Caring for a Norfolk Terrier involves regular grooming of their wiry coat to prevent matting, providing daily exercise to match their energetic nature, and engaging in consistent training and socialization. It’s also important to maintain a balanced diet and regular veterinary check-ups to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Grooming a Norfolk Terrier, known for its wiry coat, requires a consistent routine:

  1. Brushing: Regular brushing, at least twice a week, is needed to prevent matting and to keep their coat neat. Use a slicker brush and a metal comb for best results.

  2. Stripping: Their coat should be hand-stripped several times a year to maintain the proper texture and color. This involves plucking out the dead outer coat.

  3. Bathing: Bathe your Norfolk Terrier every 2-3 months or as needed, using a dog-specific shampoo to keep their coat clean without drying it out.

  4. Ear Care: Check and clean their ears regularly to prevent wax buildup and infection, which can be common in breeds with folded ears.

  5. Nail Trimming: Trim their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth, which can be uncomfortable for the dog.

  6. Dental Hygiene: Brush their teeth several times a week to maintain oral health and prevent dental issues.

  7. Eye Care: Regularly wipe around their eyes to remove any dirt or discharge and keep the area clean.

This grooming routine not only keeps your Norfolk Terrier looking good but also helps in early detection of any skin or health issues.

Training a Norfolk Terrier, a breed marked by its playful and independent nature, involves a strategic approach that leverages their intelligence and energy. Early socialization and consistent, positive reinforcement are crucial in shaping their behavior and harnessing their natural tendencies.

Early Socialization and Training:

  • Begin training and socialization during puppyhood to take advantage of their natural learning ability.
  • Expose them to a variety of people, places, and other animals to develop a well-rounded and confident temperament.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques:

  • Use treats, praise, and toys as rewards to encourage desired behavior, as Norfolk Terriers respond well to positive reinforcement.
  • Avoid harsh corrections, as they can be counterproductive with this breed.

Consistent Routine and Commands:

  • Establish a consistent daily routine and use the same commands during training for clarity and better learning.
  • Regular, short training sessions are more effective than infrequent, long ones.

Leash and Recall Training:

  • Teach leash manners early to prevent pulling, essential due to their strong prey drive.
  • Practice recall regularly in a safe, enclosed area, as they can be prone to chasing small animals.

Managing Barking and Alertness:

  • Train them to respond to a ‘quiet’ command, as they can be alert and vocal.
  • Reinforce calm behavior and use distractions to manage excessive barking.

Crate Training for Safety and Comfort:

  • Introduce crate training as a positive and safe space, not as a punishment.
  • Use the crate for short periods, ensuring it’s a comfortable and positive experience.

Challenging Activities for Mental Stimulation:

  • Engage them in mentally stimulating activities like puzzle toys and scent games.
  • Agility training can be a fun way to exercise both their mind and body.

Patience and Persistence:

  • Be patient and persistent, as Norfolk Terriers can have an independent streak.
  • Celebrate small achievements and stay consistent with your training approach.

Overall, successfully training a Norfolk Terrier enhances the bond between dog and owner. With patience, consistency, and a focus on positive reinforcement, these spirited dogs can become well-mannered and delightful companions, reflecting the time and effort invested in their training.

Proper diet and nutrition are fundamental for the health and well-being of a Norfolk Terrier. This involves providing a balanced diet tailored to their small breed characteristics and high energy levels, alongside careful monitoring of portion sizes to prevent obesity.

Balanced Diet:

  • Ensure a well-balanced diet that includes appropriate proportions of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Choose high-quality dog food suitable for small breeds with high energy levels.

Portion Control and Feeding Schedule:

  • Monitor portion sizes to prevent obesity, a common issue in small breeds.
  • Establish a regular feeding schedule, typically twice a day for adult dogs.

Treats and Snacks:

  • Use treats judiciously during training; they should not exceed 10% of the dog’s total caloric intake.
  • Opt for healthy treats to avoid weight gain and health issues.

Fresh Water:

  • Ensure constant access to fresh, clean water.

Special Dietary Needs:

  • Be aware of any specific dietary needs or allergies your Norfolk Terrier may have.
  • Consult a veterinarian for personalized dietary advice, especially for puppies or senior dogs.

Avoid Human Food:

  • Avoid feeding human food that can be harmful to dogs, such as chocolate, onions, and grapes.

Regular Health Check-ups:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups can help monitor their diet and overall health, adjusting as needed for age and activity level.

In conclusion, maintaining a nutritious diet for a Norfolk Terrier is about balance, moderation, and awareness of their specific dietary needs. Regular veterinary consultations can ensure their diet supports their health and vitality, keeping these spirited companions healthy and active throughout their lives.

Caring for the exercise needs of a Norfolk Terrier is crucial due to their energetic and adventurous nature. These small yet active dogs require regular physical activity to maintain their health and happiness, and to channel their energy positively.

Exercise Requirements:

  • Daily walks are essential for their physical and mental well-being.
  • Incorporate play sessions, as they enjoy interactive games that stimulate their mind and body.
  • Given their high prey drive, activities like fetch or agility can be particularly enjoyable.

Safe Environments for Exercise:

  • Off-leash play should be in a secure, enclosed area to prevent them from chasing small animals.
  • Monitor their activity, especially in extreme weather, to avoid overexertion.

Balancing Indoor and Outdoor Activity:

  • Indoor play is important, especially on days when outdoor activity is limited.
  • Puzzle toys and indoor games can keep them engaged when they’re not exploring outdoors.

In summary, regular exercise tailored to their size and energy level is key to a Norfolk Terrier’s well-being. By providing daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation, you can ensure your Norfolk Terrier remains healthy, happy, and well-behaved, fully enjoying their spirited and lively nature.

Creating an ideal environment for a Norfolk Terrier involves understanding and catering to their specific needs as a small, energetic, and sociable breed. These dogs thrive in environments where they can receive ample stimulation, both physical and mental, alongside the companionship they crave.

Safe and Stimulating Space:

  • Ensure they have a safe indoor space where they can relax and play, as well as a secure outdoor area for exercise.
  • The environment should be free from hazards that a small, curious dog might encounter.

Regular Social Interaction:

  • Norfolk Terriers enjoy being around people and other pets, so regular social interaction is important for their well-being.
  • They are well-suited to family environments where they can participate in daily activities.

Access to Exercise:

  • Easy access to areas where they can walk and play is essential, as regular exercise is vital for their physical and mental health.
  • Indoor play areas and toys can help keep them entertained when outdoor activity is not possible.

Comfortable Living Conditions:

  • Provide a comfortable bed and living space, as they appreciate having a cozy spot to rest.
  • Maintain a stable and comfortable indoor temperature, as extreme temperatures can affect these small dogs.

In conclusion, the ideal environment for a Norfolk Terrier is one that balances their need for activity, exploration, and companionship with safety and comfort. By providing such an environment, owners can ensure their Norfolk Terrier leads a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.

Norfolk Terrier Health

Norfolk Terriers are generally a robust and healthy breed, but like all breeds, they have certain health predispositions that owners should be aware of:

  1. Patellar Luxation: A common issue in small dogs, where the kneecap slips out of place, causing lameness or discomfort.

  2. Hip Dysplasia: Although less common in smaller breeds, they can still be prone to hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit together perfectly, which can lead to arthritis.

  3. Heart Conditions: They may be susceptible to certain heart conditions, so regular veterinary check-ups are important for early detection and management.

  4. Dental Problems: Due to their small mouths, they can be prone to overcrowding of teeth and dental issues, making regular dental care essential.

  5. Allergies and Skin Issues: Like many breeds, they can suffer from allergies, which can manifest in skin problems, so it’s important to monitor for any signs of discomfort.

Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and proper exercise are key to maintaining the health and well-being of a Norfolk Terrier. Owners should also be vigilant for signs of these common health issues and seek veterinary advice when necessary. With proper care, Norfolk Terriers can enjoy a long and healthy life.

Norfolk Terrier Breed Comparison and Consideration

When comparing the Norfolk Terrier to other breeds and considering them as a pet, several factors stand out:

Compared to Norwich Terriers:

  • Norfolk Terriers are often confused with Norwich Terriers. The main difference is their ears; Norfolk Terriers have dropped ears, while Norwich Terriers have erect ears.
  • Both breeds share similar temperaments and exercise needs, but the Norfolk may be slightly more laid-back.

Compared to Jack Russell Terriers:

  • Jack Russells are more energetic and may have higher exercise requirements than Norfolk Terriers.
  • Norfolk Terriers tend to be more amenable to training and have a somewhat softer temperament.

Compared to Border Terriers:

  • Border Terriers are larger and have a rougher coat compared to the Norfolk’s wiry coat.
  • Both are active and enjoy digging and outdoor activities, but the Norfolk might be more adaptable to various living situations.

Considerations for Potential Owners:

  • Norfolk Terriers are great for active individuals or families who can meet their exercise needs.
  • Their small size makes them suitable for apartment living, provided they get enough physical and mental stimulation.
  • Early socialization and training are key, as they have a strong personality and can be independent.
  • They are generally good with children and other pets, especially if raised together.
  • Prospective owners should be prepared for regular grooming and health care.

Choosing a Norfolk Terrier means getting an energetic, affectionate companion that fits well into various lifestyles, from city apartments to country homes. However, they do best with owners who understand and appreciate their unique blend of terrier traits.


They can adapt well to apartments if provided with regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Yes, their adaptable and affectionate nature can make them suitable for first-time dog owners, though their terrier traits require consistent training.

Generally, they are sociable with other dogs and can coexist with cats if socialized early, but their prey drive should be monitored around smaller pets.

They require regular brushing and occasional professional grooming to maintain their wiry coat.

Their wiry coat offers some protection against the cold, but they may need extra warmth in harsh winter conditions.

With their adaptable nature, they can be good companions for travel, provided their routine and exercise needs are maintained.

They usually do well with children, especially when raised with them, but interactions should be supervised due to their small size.

They can be vocal, especially when alerting to strangers or unusual situations, but this can be managed with proper training.

They typically have a long lifespan, often living 12-15 years or more with proper care.

They are intelligent and can be trained easily with positive reinforcement, though their independent streak may require patience and consistency.

Top Takeaways

When considering a Norfolk Terrier, here are the top takeaways:

  1. Adaptable to Various Living Situations: Norfolk Terriers are suited for both apartment living and homes with yards, provided they get sufficient exercise.

  2. Regular Grooming Required: Their wiry coat needs regular grooming, including brushing and occasional professional trimming.

  3. Energetic and Playful: They are an active breed that requires daily physical and mental stimulation.

  4. Strong Prey Drive: While sociable, their natural terrier instincts include a strong prey drive, requiring mindful supervision around smaller animals.

  5. Good with Families: Norfolk Terriers generally get along well with children and other pets, especially when socialized early.

  6. Trainable but Independent: They are intelligent and capable of learning quickly, though their independent nature can sometimes challenge training.

  7. Alert and Vocal: They make good watchdogs due to their alertness, but training is necessary to manage excessive barking.

  8. Long Lifespan: With proper care, they can enjoy a long and healthy life, often reaching 12-15 years.

  9. Ideal for First-Time Owners: Their adaptable and affectionate nature can make them a good choice for novice owners ready to engage with their needs.

  10. Health Considerations: Regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor common health issues like patellar luxation and dental problems.

In conclusion, the Norfolk Terrier is a delightful, adaptable, and resilient breed, making them a wonderful choice for a wide range of owners, from families to individuals, and for various living environments. With their friendly disposition, manageable size, and spirited personality, they not only bring joy and activity into a home but also offer companionship and loyalty. As long as their exercise, grooming, and socialization needs are met, Norfolk Terriers can be an incredibly rewarding addition to any household, offering years of happiness and affection.

Top Norfolk Terrier Names

These names are well-suited for the Norfolk Terrier’s lively and affectionate character.

Female Names











Male Names











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