The Norwich Terrier: Everything You Need to Know

Named for its English hometown, the Norwich Terrier is an adorable and spunky little dog with a curious and gregarious personality. 

In this article, we explain everything you need to know about the Norwich Terrier, so you can decide if it is the right breed for you. 

A Brief History of the Norwich Terrier

Origins of the Breed

The Norwich Terrier can trace its origins back to the late 19th century when it was bred for hunting vermin. It is believed that the breed was created by crossing small red terriers with other native terrier breeds in the Norwich area of East Anglia, England.

The breed was specifically designed to be small enough to fit into the narrowest of spaces, such as fox dens, and to be agile and quick enough to catch and dispatch rodents and foxes.

The Breed’s Popularity

The Norwich Terrier gained popularity in the early 20th century when it became a favorite of British royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II.

The breed was also popular among farmers and rural communities, who valued the dog’s ability to keep vermin under control.

Breed Decline and Revival 

During World War II, many breeders were forced to give up their dogs due to food shortages and the need to conserve resources for the war effort. The breed’s numbers decreased drastically, and it was in danger of extinction.

However, with the help of dedicated breeders, the Norwich Terrier was saved from extinction and eventually gained recognition from the American Kennel Club in 1936. Today, the Norwich Terrier is a beloved family pet. 

Physical Characteristics of the Norwich Terrier

Size and Weight

The Norwich Terrier stands at around 10 inches tall and weighs 12 pounds, making it a perfect lap dog. Despite its small size, it is a robust and muscular breed that can handle rough play with children and other pets.

Due to its small size, the Norwich Terrier is an excellent choice for apartment living. It does not require a large yard to run around in, and can get enough exercise indoors. 

Coat and Colors

The Norwich Terrier has a distinctive wiry coat that requires regular grooming. The coat comes in several color options, including: 

  • Black and tan
  • Red
  • Wheaten
  • Grizzle 

The coat is waterproof and insulating, making it an excellent choice for colder climates. However, it is crucial to keep the coat clean and free of tangles, as it can become matted and uncomfortable for the dog.

Distinctive Features

The Norwich Terrier has prick ears, which stand upright and give it a charming and alert expression. Its eyes are large and dark, radiating an inquisitive and lively look.

The Norwich Terrier’s tail is also distinctive, as it is docked to a length of two-thirds of its original length. This practice was originally done to prevent injury to the tail while hunting rodents and other small prey.

Personality and Temperament

The Norwich Terrier is a small breed that packs a big personality. It is known for being courageous and confident, despite its small size. It loves to play and is always up for a new adventure.

General Temperament

The Norwich Terrier is a confident and independent breed that is always up for a new adventure. They are playful and energetic, making them great pets for active families.

However, they can also be quite vocal, so be prepared for some barking if your Norwich Terrier gets excited. Despite their small size, Norwich Terriers make great watchdogs.

Socialization and Training

Early socialization is essential for Norwich Terriers and includes exposing them to different people, animals, and environments from a young age. This will help your Norwich Terrier develop into a well-adjusted and well-behaved adult.

Training your Norwich Terrier is also important to ensure that they understand their place in your family’s hierarchy. This breed can be quite stubborn, so it’s important to be patient and consistent with your training.

Compatibility with Kids and Pets

The Norwich Terrier is an affectionate dog and makes an excellent companion for children and other pets when socialized properly. It loves to play and is always up for a good snuggle session.

However, as with any breed, constant supervision is crucial to prevent any accidents or injuries. When introducing your Norwich Terrier to other pets, do so slowly and in a controlled environment.

Health and Lifespan of the Norwich Terrier

Common Health Issues

The Norwich Terrier can be prone to certain health issues, including: 

  • Orthopedic Issues: Luxating patella and hip dysplasia are painful, widespread joint conditions in the breed 
  • Tracheal Collapse: The cartilage rings of the trachea are too weak and collapse causing breathing difficulties 
  • Cataracts: A progressive clouding of the dog’s eye that impairs vision and culminates in complete blindness 
  • Allergies: The breed is sensitive to food/environmental allergens, developing skin irritation or stomach issues 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

To keep your Norwich Terrier healthy and happy, it is essential to provide regular check-ups with your veterinarian and maintain good preventative care. This also includes providing a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of the Norwich Terrier is between 12 to 15 years, although some breed members have been known to live up to 17 years with proper care.


The Norwich Terrier’s intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature make it an excellent companion for families and individuals willing to put up with the dog’s feisty personality. 

Whether you’re looking for a dog to keep you company on long walks or a loyal friend to curl up with on the couch, the Norwich Terrier is a breed that is sure to steal your heart.

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