The Norwich Terrier
is a breed
. It originates in the United Kingdom and was bred to hunt small vermin
are one of the smallest terriers (11-12 lb, 5-5.4 kg; 9-10 inches (24-25.5 cm) at the withers
), with prick ears and a double coat
, which come in red, tan, wheaten, black and tan, and grizzle.
These small but hardy dogs are courageous, remarkably intelligent and wonderfully affectionate. They can be assertive but it is not typical for them to be aggressive, quarrelsome or shy. They are energetic and thrive on an active life. They are eager to please but have definite minds of their own. They are sensitive to scolding but 100% Terrier. They should never be kept outside or in a kennel setting because they love the companionship of their owners too much. Norwich are not given to unnecessary barking but they will warn of a stranger approaching. Norwich are good with children. If introduced to other household pets as a puppy they generally co-habit peacefully, though caution should be observed around rodent pets as they may be mistaken for prey.
The life expectancy of the Norwich Terrier is 12-16 years. While the Norwich Terrier is considered a healthy breed, there are some health issues for which responsible breeders do preventative genetic health testing, thereby reducing the incidences. For the Norwich, there are instances of epilepsy
, narrow tracheas, luxating patellas
, hip dysplasia
, mitral valve disease
, and incorrect bites (how the teeth meet when the jaws are closed).
Norwich Terriers are tick magnets. If you live in a tick rich section of the world (New England, Northeast, upper Midwest in U.S.) it is important to use measures to prevent tick and flea infestations.
It is also important to give a heartworm preventative.
Like all dogs, Norwich Terriers can have autoimmune reactivity to rabies vaccinations. Rabies-Vaccine-Induced Ischemic Dermatopathy, or RVI-ID, is a non-fatal but potentially serious reaction to chemicals called adjuvants in the vaccine. RVI-ID is often misdiagnosed, but if correctly diagnosed, is treatable. Symptoms may include: symmetrical dark spots or lesions at the tips of the ears; swelling, hard lumps or dark spots in the vicinity of the injection site.
Norwich owners are seeing more dogs with breathing concerns, and the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club (USA) has formed a new "Health and Genetics Sub-Committee for Research on Upper Airway Syndrome in Norwich Terriers" (source: "The Norwich & Norfolk News," Number 93, Fall 2006). Upper Airway Syndrome (UAS) covers all abnormalities that can occur in the upper airway, including: elongated soft palates; too short soft palates; narrow/misshapen tracheas; collapsing tracheas; stenotic nares (nasal passages that are too small); swollen tonsils; everted laryngeal saccules. These upper airway disorders can occur singly or in combination with one or two others. All compromise the airway and the dog's ability to breathe normally; the dog's breathing often sounds raspy or moist. It may be that shorter muzzles may have increased incidence of such issues. Reputable breeders are aware of these issues, and are working assiduously to protect the breed.
Norwich Terriers generally have small litters (1 to 3 puppies), and reputable breeders restrict the number of pregnancies their dogs have. This leads to a much smaller supply of dogs than the current demand, certainly in the US. The small supply and the high price of a pure bred Norwich Terrier - often around US$2,500 in 2006 - has attracted fraud, as unsuspecting buyers pay full price for Cairn Terriers with docked tails, or mixed-breed puppies. It is very difficult to stop this fraud. Sometimes these fake Norwich Terriers are sold over the internet. Buyers can protect themselves from fraud by working only with reputable breeders.
Norwich Terriers are hardy, active dogs, bred for a working life of pursuing vermin and accompanying their farmer owners on horseback. A good daily walk is therefore the minimum needed to meet the exercise requirements of a healthy Norwich Terrier. They are excellent walking companions. They are reasonable joggers for those who like to jog with their dogs, and with appropriate training can even accompany mountain bikes off-lead. Norwich Terriers compete in Earthdog competitions, and are increasingly common in Agility competitions. (Note: US trials are a play trials staged on caged rats. In Europe a real foe, live fox is used). Note that these dogs were bred as working terriers, and thrive best with at least one hour of real activity daily, such as a good walk, run, or working session. Norwich are curious, independent dogs who may become bored by routine, repetitive walks/routes; they need more than access to a backyard for their physical and mental health. While these dogs are the smallest of the working terriers, they are not lapdogs and should emphatically NOT be confused with the toy breeds, which do not have the same need for activity, stimulation, and exercise.
Inadequate exercise and stimulation for your Norwich can result in behavioural problems, ranging from a tendency to over-excitement, to destructive or neurotic behaviours.
The Norwich Terrier has two coats - a harsh, wiry topcoat and a soft warm undercoat. Ideally, the coat is combed and brushed daily to once a week to remove the loose, dead hairs and prevent matting. Proper maintenance of the Norwich coat, like other hard wiry coats, requires "stripping," or pulling the oldest hairs from the coat (using fingers and/or a "stripping knife," a special grooming comb). Stripping results both in the coat retaining its proper appearance, and in the health of the dog's skin and coat. Ideally, owners hand-strip the coat on a weekly or monthly basis to achieve what is called a "rolling" coat, where hairs of all lengths are growing in. Maintaining a rolling coat is easier on the dog's skin and requires shorter grooming sessions, also easier on the dog. At minimum, the coat should be stripped once in the fall and once in the spring. Clipping or cutting negatively affects the appearance of the coat's natural colours and texture, and the impact can be permanent. Note: Elderly dogs' skin sometimes becomes more sensitive to stripping, and so elderly dogs are sometimes clipped instead of stripped.
Stripping can be a positive bonding experience with your dog, if done correctly, and you can learn how to strip a Norwich from the dog's breeder (or sometimes from a knowledgeable groomer). However, this grooming requirement is not for everyone. If you don't want to learn it (or do not like to do it), consider getting a breed of dog without this grooming requirement. Otherwise, you will need to find a groomer or breeder to do it; this is a special skill that can be hard to find, and can be costly. Before purchasing a Norwich as a pet, you should see how stripping is done (and learn it) or, be certain a qualified groomer is nearby. Most local dog groomers (doing poodles, etc.) have no idea how to strip properly. They often trim the ears and maybe do some cutting too. This will damage your Norwich's coat, and result in a strange appearance.
Outside of Canada
and the United States
, the docked-tail profile of the Norwich Terrier is changing. In Australia
tail docking is optional. In the United Kingdom
tail docking is only permitted for working dogs and is banned for dogs bred as pets or showing.
Some countries banned general tail docking for a number of years e.g. Norway
since 1987, Sweden
since 1988. In the last four years Cyprus
have decided to introduce a ban on tail docking. In the United States, a docked tail is currently considered necessary for success in the show ring.
Proponents of docking argue that a docked-tail dog can be extracted from a hole by the tail with less risk to the dog's spine. Opponents of tail docking note that docking severely damages the important canine tail-signaling system, so vital to dogs' social encounters, and also cite the historical basis of docking in the UK to avoid taxation of sporting dogs.
Norwich Terriers are difficult to breed. Many have Caesarean sections
. The North American average litter size for 2005 is two puppies with the total number of puppies for the year at approximately 750.
There are breeding lines with higher average litter size as can be easily traced in pedigrees of Kennel Clubs who include such information, such as for example Dutch Kennel Club. Similar information can be obtained at internet site of Finnish Kennel Club. Breeders are advised to seek and breed from those higher fertile lines.
Recently in the United States, there has been significant pedigree fraud (source: The Norwich & Norfolk News, Number 93, Fall 2006, published by the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club). Because the breed is so popular, and available dogs relatively scarce, unscrupulous people have been selling docked-tail Cairn Terriers or mixed-breed dogs to unsuspecting buyers. Sometimes these fake Norwich Terriers are sold over the internet. Buyers can protect themselves from fraud by working only with reputable breeders recommended by breed societies.
The breed has existed since at least the late 1800s, as working terrier of East Anglia, England. The game and hardy little dogs were useful as ratters in the stable yard, bolters of fox for the hunt, and loving family companions. It was the mascot
of students at Cambridge University
. Small red terriers, descendants of Irish Terriers
, had existed in the area since at least the 1860s, and these might be the ancestors of the Norwich, or it might have come from the Trumpington Terrier, a breed that no longer exists. In its earliest history, it was also known as the Jones Terrier
and the Cantab Terrier
Since its earliest identification as a breed, puppies have had either drop or prick ears, and both were allowed when the Norwich was first recognized in the show ring in 1932 by The Kennel Club (England). Drop ears were often cropped until it became illegal to do so. This intensified a long-standing controversy over whether drop-eared dogs should be allowed in the show ring and whether the primary difference was simply the ears or whether other, deeper, personality and structural differences marked the drop-eared variety. Starting in the 1930s, breeders increased their efforts to distinguish the breeds.
Both ear types continued to be allowed in the ring until The Kennel Club recognized the drop-eared variety as a separate breed, the Norfolk Terrier, in 1964, and the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, and Canadian Kennel Club did the same in 1979.
- In Christopher Guest's movie Best in Show, one of the main characters is a Norwich Terrier named "Winky".
- Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer owns a Norwich Terrier, Bert.
- American anthropologist and author of the Malthus Factor Eric Ross owns a Norwich Terrier, named Roxy.
- Norwich Terriers are featured prominently in advertising for retailer Voscher Home Collection