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Norfolk Terrier - Fun Facts and Crate Size

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Norfolk Terrier - Fun Facts and Crate Size

Norfolk Terrier

Quick Facts:

  • AKC recognized in 1979
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Size: Small
  • Energy: High
  • Recommended Crate Size: 24" dog crate*

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Cute and cuddly with a pleasingly perky personality, Norfolk Terriers are a small dog with a big presence.  He made quite a name for himself hunting rats and other rodents in the days of old in England and since then has put himself all over the map as a loveable lap and companion dog all around the world.

The Norfolk is known to be one of the smartest breeds in the Working Terrier group.  If you think bringing this pup into your life is a wise move, read on to find out all the information you need to know to put that idea to the test.  Is it a pass or a fail?  Let’s find out...


The creation of Norfolk Terriers dates back to East Anglia in the 1880s with the Norwich Terrier that was developed by British sportsmen to be a working dog.  They were often used for ridding farms of vermin and performing other such needed tasks. 

While the Norwich's’ prick ears are one of his most notable physical features, Norfolk Terriers were bred to be drop-eared.  The breed design was achieved by crossing local dogs of the Terrier group that were short-legged and small - like Irish Terriers and little red Terriers the Gypsy ratters often used within the county of Norfolk which is where the city of Norfolk lies. 

Initially, the dogs were called Cantab Terriers because it became a fad for students at England’s Cambridge University to keep the dogs in their rooms.  The name eventually changed to the Trumpington Terrier after the breed went through some refinishing at the Trumpington Street livery stable.

Yet a little more development was put into action.  When a horseman named Frank “Roughrider”  Jones sold a quantity of the dogs to the United States shortly prior to World War l, the name Jones Terrier came into play. 

The Norwich Terrier became a proud member of the English Kennel Club in 1932 and the very first official standards were written for the dog breed.  He was inducted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) shortly thereafter in 1936. 

But the drop-eared Norfolk had taken on features and a look all his own through the refining years and was distinguishably different than the Norwich.  So, finally, in 1964, the Norfolk was reclassified into a breed standard all his own. 

It wasn’t until 1979 though that the AKC, the Canadian Kennel Club, and the United Kennel Club followed suit and gave the dashing drop-ear recognition as being a separate dog breed from his Norwich cousin. 

He had finally earned his very own status with all the major breed organizations and authorities on the planet.  He was officially dubbed the Norfolk Terrier by all.  It is a common admission now that the Norfolk and the Norwich have always been two separate breeds although they do share a number of similarities.

Because the Norfolk fetches a hefty price tag, breeders have been known to get greedy and not check out the pup’s parents or, check them out and go with quantity over quality.  There is generally a long waiting list that goes along with getting this breed. 

There are, however, rescue resources you might check into.  Many have acquired Norfolk Terriers only to find out they were too much for them to deal with for one reason or another.

The feisty, sharp pooch has seen his share of difficulties, not only in establishing his identity, and his name, but because he almost became extinct during World War ll.  But, he didn’t.  He survived and later...even thrived.  He is now the 134th most popular dog breed in the United States and in England, there’s even a “Norfolk Dog” day.  It seems that the dog with many names if finally earning a real name for himself.


Norfolk Terriers are the smallest of all the working breeds.  He stands about 9 to 10 inches at the shoulders and weighs in around 11 to 12 pounds.  Females have a tendency to run a bit smaller than the males.  An NT weight should be proportionate to his height and be just a little longer than he is tall.

This dog is a cutie with large, dark brown expressive oval eyes that are outlined in black around the rims.  His head is round muzzle is shaped like a wedge and is slightly tapered.  He sports a scissor bite and has extremely powerful jaws, no doubt a great asset for the breed when they were ratters.  One of his most distinctive characteristics is his drop ears.

The Norfolk tail is carried straight and proud and is set high.  It is customarily docked but isn’t always.  His coat is wiry and usually thick and long around the base of his ears, throat, and his neck and then becomes shorter on his head.  His whiskers and eyebrow hair are long.

Norfolks have a weather-resistant coat that is shaggy and looks like he just rolled out of the sack.  His undercoat is downy and soft in contrast to his harsh, wiry topcoat.  He doesn’t shed much which is a trait that is much sought after by dog lovers who suffer from allergies.

The coat coloring for a Norfolk Terrier is grizzle, wheaten, red, or black and tan.  He’s allowed to have dark points for showings but no white markings.  Many excellent companion Norfolks have white markings though.

Although the Norfolk Terrier looks a lot like the Norwich Terrier, they are not the same as mentioned before.  The Norfolk is known for his dropped ears while the Norwich has pricked ears.  He has a stout body and short legs that carry his body close to the ground and is much stronger than you might expect for such a small dog.


It is recommended to provide dog food formulated to small-sized breeds. It is also highly advised that you discuss your dog’s feed with your veterinarian and/or breeder in order to determine the exact size and frequency of his meals in order to ensure a healthy, long life for your best buddy. 

Initially, it may be suggested for you to feed him several small meals per day when he’s a puppy due to his tiny tummy and small appetite.  He’s a breed that is bounding with energy so he’ll probably use up his protein very quickly.  Your vet or breeder can advise you on the best nutritional route to take with him. 

Be sure to limit his snacks so he eats his regular food as he should.  This dog is small but he usually loves to eat...and snack.  He can even become obese which can be very bad for his health and leave him open for heart problems or Diabetes. 

As with all pets, it is important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available.  If you feel he is not drinking enough, encourage him to drink more.  In the event that he won’t and he seems to be dehydrated, speak to his veterinarian.


The Norfolk Terrier doesn’t require an awful lot in the grooming department.  Since he has a longer wiry coat that looks out of control in the first place, it’s really not necessary to try to make him look all prim and proper. 

But, his undercoat is soft and therefore he does need some brushing to prevent the undercoat shedding onto his top coat and to prevent problematic skin from erupting.  Once a week is generally enough except in the spring and fall when you’ll want to give him a double dose of brushing his double coat.

A regular bath every month or two is sufficient unless he gets dirty or has an encounter with a stinky critter, like a skunk.  Be sure to use a hypoallergenic dog-friendly conditioning shampoo that is made for sensitive skin because this breed tends to have skin allergies.

Trimming will be a requirement as needed.  He’s actually designed to look on the shaggy, shabby side but he doesn’t have to be so much so that he looks ridiculous. 

Some groomers believe that he should be stripped once or twice per year but others argue that it is too time consuming and involved and that it simply isn’t necessary.  Those who feel he should be stripped argue that frequent trimming makes his coat too soft.  As the pet parent, that will be a decision you’ll get to make yourself.

With ears that hang down, it’s easy for dirt, debris, and bacteria to lurk so clean his ears often and keep them dry.  If he paws at them, check for redness or swelling and if he has any such indications, make an appointment at the vet clinic to have him examined.  Ear infections that are left untreated can warrant surgery and can lead to deafness.

Keep his nails trimmed short.  This dog is an inside dog except for times you accompany him on a walk or for playtime outside.  While he once was a self-sufficient hunter of small creatures, times have changed and he has become used to being inside most of the time and will doubtfully wear his nails down enough naturally.  Tend to any splitting, cracking, or chipping too.

At least once per week, you’ll want to give his teeth a good brushing to prevent dental decay and gum disease.  Use a doggie toothbrush and an enticing dog-friendly toothpaste and he shouldn’t mind too much.  The main problem you may run into is keeping this lively guy still long enough to get a good brushing in.


The breed is known as a high energy pup.  He simply must have his exercise time or he’s apt to become hyper and a bit on the mischievous side.  He’s just got too much energy in him to leave it all pent up inside and still ask him to be a good boy (or girl).  It’s not going to happen.

A 40-60 minute walk, every single day, is a must.  Be sure to use calm yet assertive walking techniques like leading the way rather than allowing him to.  This breed can be a little stubborn and independent if you let them be.  The willfulness dates back to his creation as a hunting dog so be understanding but firm.

When on your walks, keep a sharp eye out for larger or aggressive dogs that might come upon you.  The Norfolk Terrier doesn’t have a wicked bone in his body when it comes to other dogs but...he is not one to back down either so...beware. 

Also, know that he will give chase if given the opportunity.  He will go after a mouse, hamster, kitten, or anything that runs from him, so keep his leash on him at all times when he’s outdoors unless he’s behind a fence.

This dog is bursting at the seams to play.  It’s a great idea to engage him in some fun game time in between his walks.  He’ll chase anything you throw and with a little luck, he might even bring it back for you to throw again.

Don’t skip the Norfolk’s brain exercise time.  He is highly intelligent and needs to be mentally stimulated.   He’s usually up for some brain games and will love showing off his talents for you.

Pet Crate Size

Are you looking the correct size for Norfolk Terrier crate? The recommended standard is a 24 inch dog crate*.

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Norfolk Terrier dog crate size


It’s just in the genes of the Norfolk Terrier to be fearless. They have a strong prey drive. While this strong trait can land him in trouble at times (like not backing down from a big bad dog), it is also one of their best.  They aren’t wimpy little dogs.  Don’t expect yours to lounge around all day.  He’s a busy guy with places to go and people to see.

Although the Norfolk is busy, he’s not really noisy like some other Terrier breeds are.  He does love to chase balls and small critters but he’s got a huge heart and at the end of the day, providing he’s had his fair share of exercise, he’ll snuggle up with you on the sofa and all night in your bed too...if you’ll let him.

He’s not given to like being alone for too long of a stretch of time.  But, he is less separation anxiety-driven than some other small dogs because he’s a self-assured fellow.  And...he should be.

The Norfolk Terrier is social.  He was bred as a pack dog so he’s inclined to be around both dogs and humans.  If a leadership role is established, he’ll also do quite well with training.  Oh, by the way, that is if the leadership role is not only established, by designated...YOU are the pack leader or at least are supposed to be.

The family is the NT’s pack.  He adores them and is loyal beyond belief.  He won’t mind other dogs and, if brought up with one, can be alright with a cat.  If he’s older and a kitten shows up, it will take some conditioning to make sure he doesn’t chase the cat...or, worse.

While this dog, when properly socialized and trained, can definitely do fine in a household with children, it is not usually recommended that he go to one where there are very young ones. 

If the baby comes along and he is already in the family, such can be a totally different story because the chain of command has already been set up.  But otherwise, he is a bit snippy, bossy, and reactive to warrant being overly tolerant of children who are too young to know not to get in his face or his space. 

He’s quite territorial by the way, a naughty characteristic to be worked on as he matures.  Never tolerate food aggression or any other form of aggressive behavior from him.  Nip it in the bud and all will be fine. 

Another note about this dog being around extremely young children is that, especially when he’s a young puppy, he is so tiny he might get hurt himself. 

You’ll probably find out right off the bat that the NT is a digger by nature.  He’ll wreck your flower bed and your lawn if you don’t teach him not to.  Don’t ever leave him unsupervised in the backyard.  You might come back to find him gone with nothing to show of him but a tunnel dug under the fence.

This breed has a tendency to retain his puppy vigor on into his adult years when it comes to fun things like chasing the ball or showing off his antics.  He’s got a real zest for life and makes an excellent therapy dog...if he is exercised fully.

You’ll need to stock his toy box up.  This dog isn’t a fan of boredom.  You’ll get a kick out of watching him entertain himself and will probably find yourself jumping in for some fun too.

Besides his dropped ears, there are several other attributes that set this dog apart from his counterpart, the Norwich Terrier.  He is feistier, for sure.  He is also more energetic.  Some say he’s smarter and some say he’s not.  Both the Norfolk and the Norwich are pretty intelligent though so, who’s to say?

Terriers aren’t always a great pick for first-time pet parents.  Once again, the Norfolk is the exception to the rule.  He’s a good all-around dog and any negative traits can usually be yielded and corrected fairly easily.


Developing a tight, unshakable bond with your Norfolk Terrier ensures the best chance of great training sessions.  You’ll need to establish your role as his pack leader too.  Think back to his days as a hunter.  He worked for his owners, keeping barns, fields, and home clear of rodents. 

That is how he earned his keep.  Now, he’s more domesticated.  His place in the house has replaced his spot in the barn.  But the rule still remains.  You are his pack leader.  Once that is in order, it’s time to rock and roll.

Do keep in mind that this breed is especially receptive to praise, a few treats every now and then, and other positive measures of training.  He is also exceptionally opposed to being talked to harshly.  You will never win him over with scolding or even with disappointment.  He will buck defensively.  Keep it positive and you’ll have an excellent student on your hands.

Housebreaking the Norfolk is usually a smooth and easy task.  He is all about pleasing you and he is sharp enough to understand what you are wanting him to do.  He is a small dog though, so you’ll need to take him out quite frequently.  It’s always good to have a backup plan too like a doggie pee pad or kitty litter box indoors.

Socialization is a must.  This breed takes well to people and to other animals but he will possibly turn out on the shy or skittish side if you don’t expose him to a number of scenarios early on in his life.  Take him around noisy, busy places.  Let him meet other dogs and some cats too.  Be sure to introduce him to people of all ages and temperaments.  With a good variety of settings, this dog will be a social butterfly.

Obedience training cannot be overlooked.  It is for his safety as well as for the safety of other animals and humans too.  With a little patience and a lot of love, this little guy will shine.  You’ll want to make sure he stays, sits, and lays when told. 

It is imperative that you be able to control this breed when you’re out where small critters could cross his path.  It’s wise to always have him on a leash but that may not always be possible.  Plus, he’s a giant dog in a small dog body so if you see a larger, aggressive dog coming, he will need to be obedient when you call him.

Trick training is super fun with this dog.  He will love entertaining you and will be apt to be quite proud of every new antic he learns.  Remember, he’s a smart fellow so go big and he’s sure to master the calling.  He thrives on challenges which also has a lot to do with his hunting heritage.

Earthdog activities go over amazingly with the Norfolk.  They bring out the hunter in him and stimulate his being physically and mentally.  You can find out more about these activities online.

Agility is not to be missed with this athletic Terrier. He will excel because he has the flexibility to do so, physically.  And, he will master the intelligence needed to perform them as well.

Brain game training is perfect too.  This little guy is quite smart so he will love being in class.  You’ll be shocked at his skills.


The Norfolk Terrier is a healthy breed in general.  Like other pure breeds though, there are ailments that are common to the Norfolk.  Some are due to his genes and others are caused due to the environment or for unknown reasons.  All the same, here are some conditions to watch out for:

An astounding 35% of all Norfolk Terriers suffer from Hip Dysplasia during their lifetime.  Hip Dysplasia can be due to a birth deformity or from environmental factors.  It is a condition that entails the hip not fitting into its socket correctly. 

It can cause limping and lameness and can be quite painful in nature.  If you suspect your NT has this ailment, have him checked by his vet immediately.  There are treatments available that the vet can discuss with you.

Luxating Patella is another joint and bone condition that Norfolks are apt to get.  In this issue, the knee cap is involved.  In fact, it is sometimes referred to as a “slipping knee cap” and it can be both debilitating and painful.  If left untreated, limping, lameness and osteoarthritis can develop.  There is s surgical procedure your dog’s veterinarian may suggest if he is diagnosed with Luxating Patella.

Heart disease is a problem seen in the breed too.  Most commonly is Mitral Valve Disease which is a leakage of the valve.  This condition generally shows up around 4 to 6 years of age.  It is likely to initially develop as a heart murmur. 

This very serious illness begins without obvious outward signs (other than perhaps a slight or pronounced murmur) but then, over time, a regurgitation becomes more serious as more of the blood flows back into the atrium of the heart and the efficiency of the heart is impaired. 

Coughing, wheezing, gagging, hacking, and loss of stamina are signs of this disease.  If you think your dog is showing symptoms of this or any other heart disease, have him check out immediately. In the event that he tests positive for Mitral Valve Disease, there are medications and perhaps other treatments your vet may recommend.

Cataracts is an issue a good number of Norfolk Terriers come down with over time.  It involves a film over the lens of the dog’s eye.  His vision will begin to be affected and you may notice him running into things like the sofa, other furniture, or even people or trees.  You will also probably see a film covering anywhere from a dot of his eye to the entire area.  If not treated, Cataracts can lead to blindness.

Glaucoma is also a condition of the eye that Norfolks are susceptible to.  This eye issue is caused by tear ducts that drain liquid out of the eye are blocked which makes pressure build up.  Glaucoma can be painful and can lead to blindness.  There is a simple test your vet can conduct to determine if your dog has it or not.

Chronic allergies marked by itchy, flaky, or irritated skin are certainly not uncommon in NTs.  They may be sensitive to everything from grass to the laundry soap film that is left on their bedding.  Carpet, doggie clothing, and many other culprits may bring on swelling, itching, redness, irritation, and flakiness too.  If your pup has this, your vet can recommend ointment.

Just because there are medical issues that tend to plague this breed does not mean your Norfolk Terrier will get any of them.  Starting off by acquiring your pup from a reputable and responsible breeder is a step you can take to help assure your NT will have a happy and healthy life ahead of him. 

It is wise to ask for health certificates proving that your pooches’ parents were free from such ailments as heart disease, orthopedic conditions, and eye ailments.  Even if his bill of these hereditary health problems is clean, there’s no guarantee he won’t suffer from any of them but there will be more hope that he won’t.  If you do notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention will also help his chances.

Is a Norfolk Terrier a Good Choice for Me?

Do you think you need a spunky little guy to put a little more life into your life?  Are you willing to do what this guy needs in order to have the best life possible?  He is the type to give his all to you, so be sure you are willing and able to do the same.

If you are not into being active and don’t have anyone else available to make sure this energetic dog gets his energy out every day, unless you like your sofa in shreds, you might want to pass, for kindness’ sake. 

But, if you are all about taking walks and maybe an occasional jog, hiking, playing toss in the backyard, and taking your Norfolk out to the lake or beach every now and then, you may have just met your soul pup. 

This dog is very adaptable.  He’ll do fine down on the farm if you keep him inside at night and he’d do well in an apartment or small condo setting too.  Where he won’t do good is being left in a backyard by himself because he is likely to dig his way underneath the fence and be gone.  He also won’t fare well if he’s going to be by himself most of the time.

Now that you know a bit more about the dog who is revolutionizing the Terrier reputation, you may feel the two of you are meant to be.  If so, how exciting!  This sweet, energetic, smart pup has finally put his name on the map and will gladly put his mark on your heart as well.

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