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Norwich Terrier Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Norwich Terrier puppy

Height: 8-10 inches
Weight: 10-12 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years
Colors: Black and tan, tan, red, wheaten
Suitable for: Families, singles, urban living, apartments
Temperament: Affectionate, active, bossy, playful, intelligent, curious

Originally bred as a ratting dog in the United Kingdom, the Norwich Terrier is one of the smallest of the Terrier breeds. But what these little pooches lack in size, they make up for in an abundance of personality and character. They are expert hunters, used for hunting vermin and small mammals on farms to this day. These dogs are robust and stocky for their size, with pricked-up ears, a coarse, wiry coat, and the appearance of a classic lap dog. But don’t let their adorable appearance fool you — they are hardy, tough dogs with a powerful prey drive and a fearless demeanor.

The Norwich Terrier is often confused with their close cousin, the Norfolk Terrier, but can be quickly distinguished by their upright ears. They are stubborn and hardheaded at times, with a character that is often described as bossy, but they also love affection and lap time as much as they do hunting and playing. Indeed, even with their rich hunting history, they make great pint-sized pals and are most commonly kept as companion animals today. They were recognized as the “official breed of England” in 1932 but are still fairly rare dogs that can be difficult to find.

If this pint-sized pooch sounds like the ideal companion, read on below for more about this adorable breed.
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Norwich Terrier Puppies

Norwich Terrier puppy
Image: Helene Gisin, Wikimedia CC 4.0 (cropped)

The Norwich Terrier is a rare breed, and puppies can be a challenge to find. While they are generally a healthy breed, they have relatively small litters — only two or three puppies on average – and often need Caesarian sections to give birth.

They can be assertive and dominant at times, as many small dogs are prone to be, but this rarely translates into aggression. That said, they will need a firm hand in training from the moment you bring your puppy home in order to immediately establish the correct hierarchy. They are courageous, sometimes irrationally so, and usually have a bark far bigger than their bite. Naturally, this trait can get them into trouble at times, as they may start a fight they cannot finish, so good obedience training and consistent socialization are key.

Due to the high price and small supply of these dogs, there are plenty of fraudsters that will attempt to sell you a Cairn Terrier or mixed breed with a docked tail and pass them off as Norwich Terriers. We highly recommend purchasing from a reputable breeder with all the relevant paperwork.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Norwich Terrier

1. The Norwich and Norfolk Terrier used to be one breed

The Norwich Terrier and Norfolk Terrier are difficult to tell apart and are often confused with one another. The only distinguishing feature that separates the two is the ears: The Norwich has upright ears, while the Norfolk has dropped ears. The two breeds share a similar heritage and background, being developed in the Eastern parts of Britain, and were long recognized as one breed. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s in England that they were recognized as two separate breeds, and the AKC followed suit about a decade later.

Today, they are both named after the regions of their origin, the town of Norwich that is situated in the county of Norfolk, just north of London

2. Norwich Terriers are one of the smallest Terrier breeds

Along with their cousins, the Yorkshire Terrier, and their doppelganger, the Norfolk Terrier, the Norwich Terrier is one of the smallest Terrier breeds in the world, reaching a maximum height of only around 8-10 inches. They will usually reach their full height by around 8 months old. For comparison, the smallest dog ever recorded was a chihuahua named Milly that stood at just under 4 inches tall.

3. They have several different names

Other than its breed standard name, the Norwich Terrier is also commonly known as the Jones Terrier, Cantab Terrier, and Trumpington Terrier. Trumpington refers to the area where most university students lived in 19th century Cambridge, and they kept these dogs to keep rat infestations at bay, leading them to become the unofficial mascot of the university.

The Jones name comes from a British man named Frank “Roughrider” Jones, who took a Norwich Terrier to Philadelphia in the early 1900s, where they soon became popular. He was so well associated with the breed that the name “Jones Terrier” soon took hold.

The source of the name, “Cantab,” is slightly more difficult to trace, but it is also thought to originate from students at Cambridge University. The word “Cantabrigian” was used to describe a student of the university and was often shortened to “Cantab.” This eventually made its way to naming the students’ dogs too.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Norwich Terrier 🧠

Norwich Terriers are intelligent pooches with an alert, curious, and energetic nature. Although they are commonly kept as companion pets to lounge on their owner’s lap, these small dogs need plenty of exercise. Granted, they will enjoy dozing your lap or next to you on the sofa, but only after they have been sufficiently tired out. They have a hunting heritage with a powerful prey drive, and while they are the ideal size for small apartment homes, they need to have this drive and high energy satisfied. These dogs will swiftly revert to chewing and barking to show their frustration if they are not thoroughly exercised. This strong prey drive means they should always be kept on a leash in an unfenced area, as they will usually take off running at any small animal they deem as prey, even when well trained.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Owing to their pint-sized stature and friendly, playful temperament, Norwich Terriers make great family dogs. They generally love children, are not aggressive, and are highly playful and fun-loving animals. They are independent animals that are happy to amuse themselves in the back yard, but they will not appreciate being left alone for long periods.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Norwich Terrier has a strong prey drive that is triggered easily, and it will be difficult to get them to view small family pets like hamsters or rabbits as friends and not food. Most of the time, the temptation will be too much for the Norwich Terrier, and it’s best to keep them separated at all times if possible. That being said, they are easily trained to get along with cats and other dogs and will love the social aspect of living with other dogs.

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Things to Know When Owning a Norwich Terrier

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Norwich Terriers have developed as hunting animals, likely feeding on small rodents. They will consequently do well on a diet that is high in protein, preferably obtained from lean meats. Good-quality, high-protein kibble is also great, and they’ll need only around a cup a day. Quality always trumps quantity, and high-quality kibble occasionally mixed in with lean meat or wet food will be an ideal combination.

These dogs have a tendency to overeat and should not be freely fed. Any table scraps should also be avoided to avoid your Norwich Terrier from getting overweight. Grains are also not ideal for these dogs or any dogs, for that matter. Wheat, corn, and soy are often used as filler ingredients in commercial dog foods, and your dog’s body doesn’t respond well to the daily intake of grains. Not only are they not nutritionally beneficial to your dog, but they can also quickly lead to weight gain.

A good rule of thumb when buying dry kibble is to check the first three ingredients listed. Meat should be at the top and can include beef, poultry, or fish. While dogs are omnivores and can eat vegetables often, they need the protein from meat to make up most of their daily diet.

Exercise 🐕

Norwich Terriers require around 30-60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. They have an ample energy supply, but due to their short legs, they can be tired out fairly quickly with a brisk walk or session of fetch. Two small sessions a day of walking or jogging is plenty of exercise and stimulation for these curious dogs, followed by a small session of play. Exercise is the number-one method to reduce or prevent any bad behavior like barking or digging, which these littles pooches can be prone to getting in the habit of.

Training 🦮

The strong prey drive of these dogs makes good training essential from the day you bring your puppy home. Leash training is most important, and they need to be on a leash in unfenced areas to avoid them running after small animals and potentially into traffic. Leash training can begin early on, and soon, just the sight or sound of the leash will send your dog into an excited frenzy.

They are intelligent dogs that are easy to train and will excel at agility training and even performing tricks. They are highly food motivated, so using reward-based methods with treats is a great way to get them obeying commands. It’s important to make training as fun and entertaining as possible to get your dog sufficiently motivated, which will make the process far quicker and easier. Short sessions are also recommended to prevent boredom and distraction.

Norwich Terriers are comparatively difficult to house train and may take a while longer than other breeds to get them to do their business outside. Patience, consistency, and a gentle hand will eventually result in a house-trained Terrier.

Grooming ✂️

The Norwich Terrier has a short, wiry coat that is easy to look after and doesn’t require much grooming apart from an occasional brush to remove dead hair. They have a double coat, which means that underneath the harsh wiry coat is a softer undercoat. Proper maintenance of their coat may require “stripping,” which is a process of pulling the older hair using a stripping knife — a specialized grooming comb. This does not need to be done often but will aid in the appearance and general health of your dog’s coat.

Apart from that, brush their teeth regularly to mitigate any dental issues, and trim their toenails every 2-3 weeks to keep them short and free from injury.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Norwich Terriers are an expensive and rare breed, and breeders will usually perform preventative genetic health screenings regularly, reducing the incidence of genetic health issues. They are thus a fairly healthy breed that is relatively free from any major genetic health concerns. However, there are a few concerns to take into consideration.

Cataracts are fairly common in these dogs and may be inherited from the parents. You must also watch out for epilepsy, collapsing trachea and supernumerary teeth (common in most small dogs), and more rarely, luxating patella and hip dysplasia.

Dental issues, obesity, skin allergies, and bloat are also fairly common issues but can easily be avoided through a healthy diet.

Norwich Terriers have very small litters of puppies, typically two to three, and may often need a Caesarean. This is something to take into consideration if you are planning on breeding these dogs.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Bloat
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Dental disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Supernumerary teeth
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Luxating patella
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Collapsing tracheae
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Male vs. Female

Male Norwich Terriers are known to be slightly more difficult to house train than females. They will mark their territory by spraying, and once they get started, this habit can be difficult to break. We recommended addressing this as early as possible, or neutering them may help avoid the problem. It is still best to get the procedure done before they start this habit, as if it is engrained in them, they may continue after the operation as a force of habit.

Other than that, there is little difference between males and females, especially if they have been spayed or neutered. These dogs can be domineering at times, and dogs of the same sex may be more prone to fighting, but again, neutering and spaying will mostly resolve this issue.

Good training and a calm, stable upbringing will, by far, have the largest impact on your dog’s personality.

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Final Thoughts

Norwich Terriers are a rare and difficult-to-find breed, and if you do manage to get your hands on one, there is little chance that you’ll be disappointed. There is plenty of character built into this pint-sized package. They are ideal family pets that children will adore, and they will love cuddling on the sofa as much as they will playing games outside. They are low maintenance, fairly easy to train, and ideal for apartment or urban living, as they only take up the smallest amount of space. They will take up a big space in your heart, though, and in your home. These tiny pooches have big energy that is difficult to ignore, and it is no wonder that they are such a sought-after breed.

Featured Image Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

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