Norfolk Terrier Breed Information Guide: Quirks, Pictures, Personality & Facts

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

September 14, 2019

Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.

Intro / Overview

(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)

The Norfolk Terrier: the smallest of the working terriers. But who’s keeping track? These little pups pack a big dog punch with their fearless and adventurous spirit, and their hard-working, confident nature. But they The Norwich is also one of the more even-tempered Terrier breeds, and make charming and loyal companions.

But don’t ignore those dark, mischievous eyes. These feisty and tenacious rascals will create work where there isn’t any and are known to let their intelligence inspire stubborn and mischievous streaks.

Also Known As…

Norfolk. Cantab Terrier. Trumpington Terrier. “It’s like if a Yorkshire Terrier could fit in the palm of your hand!”


The Norfolk was once grouped in with its close cousin the Norwich Terrier which has pointed ears as opposed to the folded ears of the Norfolk. Developed in the 1800’s in the towns of Norfolk and Norwich in England, they were bred to hunt and kill barn vermin and developed a reputation as good ratters.

After a century of breeding adjustments in both England and, later, North America, the Norwich Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier diverged culminating in the 1964 recognition of the Norfolk as its own distinct breed.


The average height for Norfolk Terriers is 9 – 10 inches.

Weight Range

The average weight for Norfolk Terriers is 11 – 12 pounds.


A Norfolk Terrier is a liver and lover of life, and as such they need action and adventure. Like any terrier The Norfolk is always ready to chase, dig, or bark if something seems amiss. Tenacious and gregarious, this breed thrives on interaction with its humans. They are loyal and affectionate companions who are happiest when they’re at work, whether the job be hunting vermin or charming humans.

Intelligence / Trainability

These intelligent pups are hyper aware of everything their humans are up to and want to be included. If not given something to do, they’ll find their own fun, which probably means trouble. Earth dog and agility trials are great opportunities for activities they can excel at. Keep training interesting as these pups can become bored with repetition. Socialization starting as early as possible will help develop their natural even-temperment.

Like many small breeds, can be difficult to house train. Along with their intelligence can also come stubbornness, however they the Norfolk is highly sensitive to negative treatment and should only be trained using positive reinforcement.

Ideal Environment

These small pups are fine in apartments although boredom can lead to barking, so activity and engagement is key. They are great adapters making them a good fit for any sized home. Due to their strong desire to hunt and investigate, the Norfolk must remain leashed when not in a secure area, as instincts to chase can kick in at any time. They are also passionate diggers, so fencing should run deep and be checked often.

Good For Families And Kids?

A great family pet, the Norfolk does well with children, although it is recommended to monitor contact with younger children who can accidentally step on or harm these small dogs. These energetic and adventure-seeking dogs need to be included in activities whenever possible, and do not do well left alone and bored for long periods of time. They also make excellent watch dogs, though their size prevents them from being effective guard dogs.

Average Lifespan

The average life expectancy for Norfolk Terriers is 12 – 16 years.


The Norfolk is generally healthy, but as with any breed, there are certain health issues to be aware of and proactively discuss with your veterinarian, including Canine Hip Dysplasia, Patellar Luxation, and vaccination sensitivity, which can result in hives, swelling, or much more serious complications including death. Discuss the safest options for vaccination including titer testing to see if previous vaccinations are still protective.


Like all terriers, the Norfolk is energetic and thrives on a lot of activity. They want to be involved in your day as much as possible, and are seemingly tireless when it comes to fun. Long walks, socialization, and games of fetch will keep them from finding their own mischief to get into.

Friendly With… (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)

Bred to work in packs, the Norfolk does very well with other dogs, though they can be reactive or dominant toward strange dogs. Cats that they grow up and are socialized with should not be a problem, but Norfolk Terriers should probably be kept away from other small pets and animals that they will most likely view and treat as prey.

Coat & Grooming

The Norfolk’s double coat consists of a soft undercoat that insulates from hot and cold weather, and a scruffy, hard, wiry top coat that is weather-resistant. While their shaggy appearance is part of their charm, a Norfolk’s coat is best served by a hand-stripping; a technique that, if not learned, requires a groomer’s touch. Though not a requirement, hand-stripping will not only remove loose outer hair and excess undercoat, but will also help maintain the natural shine and color of the coat. Those colors can include red, wheaten, black and tan, black and gray, or red and white.

Nails should also be clipped about 3 times a month, and teeth should be brushed 3 times a week at the very least with a soft toothbrush and dog-friendly tooth-paste in order to avoid gum disease and other dental issues in those small mouths.

Toys Norfolk Terriers Would Like Best

Norfolk Terriers were bred to dig for vermin and catch fox, so give them something to chase! Games of fetch are always a hit, while plush toys can be fun prey for you to hide and them to seek. These super smart pups will enjoy daily puzzles as well.

Check out our “5 Toys That Terriers Can’t Resist” and “What Are The Best Toys For Small Dogs?” posts for more recommendations.

Recommended Diet Or Supplements

Feeding your Norfolk Terrier (or any dog) the freshest whole food diet you can afford (trying to eliminate fillers, grains, or inflammatory proteins such as chicken), can go a long way to decrease health issues and increase longevity.

Coconut oil can also help to prevent inflammation, and can help protect the nervous system, while locally-sourced, season-appropriate honey can help with allergies.

Fish Oil Skin & Coat Supplement

These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)

Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil

BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)

Recommended Products

All dogs deserve a place to rest after a long day of…playing! Or whatever! Enter: the dog bed.

Orthopedic Ultra Plush Memory Foam Bed

A supportive bed is one of the most beneficial products you can provide for your dog. Made with high-quality orthopedic foam and cooling gel foam, Bark’s ultra plush orthopedic bedding cradles your Norfolk’s joints as they sleep.

They’ll wake up well-rested, pain-free and ready to tackle the day!

Notable Rescues To Find The Norfolk Terrier Of Your Dreams

  • Norfolk Terrier Club is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to improving the lives and welfare of displaced or homeless Norfolk Terriers. Their mission is to ensure that all Norfolk Terriers have a home, to mentor new owners, and to educate the public about the breed. NTC is affiliated with the AKC and serves the entire US through a network of members and friends.
  • Adoptable Norfolks on Petfinder

Notable Instagram Norfolk Terriers


This beautiful 2-year-old from the Netherlands loves horses and people, and, it appears, cows as well! But cats? Not so much. Watch her hilariously interact with all of them, as well as swim, sleep, and hi-five her way through each adventurous day!


Hetty is a Norfolk from Northhamptonshire who loves to smile, snuggle, and chew on toys (and shoes!). Follow to catch her drinking from the kitchen faucet, scooting her way down the stairs, and snuggling like a boss.


This 3-year-old cutie loves to swim and can’t stop eating. When she’s not doggie paddlin’ at the beach, you can find her helping around the house, licking the dishes clean and keeping the best snuggle spots warm.

BarkBox vs Super Chewer BarkBox

***Looking for a gift to blow your Norfolk Terrier’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

Feature image via Noffelycka/Instagram

Want More Terrier Breed Guides Like This?

Norwich Terrier Breed Information Guide

Yorkshire Terrier Breed Information Guide

Cairn Terrier Breed Information Guide

Silky Terrier Breed Information Guide

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

September 14, 2019


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.