Norfolk Terrier

Canis lupus

Last updated: February 16, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Niwiko/

Fearless but not aggressive!


Norfolk Terrier Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Norfolk Terrier Conservation Status

Norfolk Terrier Locations

Norfolk Terrier Locations

Norfolk Terrier Facts

Common Name
Norfolk Terrier
Fearless but not aggressive!

Norfolk Terrier Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
15 years
5kg (12lbs)

Norfolk Terrier as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Dog group
Male weight
11-12 lbs
Female weight
11-12 lbs

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The Norfolk terrier is a loyal, affectionate dog with a lot of energy packed into their tiny frame.

They have an independent streak and a stubborn persistence that are hallmark qualities of the terrier breed. These pups are protective of their family and always up for a game of fetch or a lively walk!

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Though a Norfolk terrier is happy to curl up beside its owner on the sofa, it won’t stay still for long. This dog belongs to the terrier group, so it is always anxious to find its next digging mission! This is a high-energy dog that loves activity in all forms.

History and Origin

These dogs date back to the 1880s in England. A British dog owner named Frank Jones bred these terriers to drive rats and foxes out of their holes. Their persistence and courage made this appealing (and easy) work for this dog. They were sometimes used in sporting contests to see which terrier could drive out all of the rats from a burrow in the shortest amount of time.

This breed actually was a folded-ear version of the Norwich Terrier until there was a call to have them developed and recognized as their own breed. After several years of argument, the Norfolk terrier was recognized by The Kennel Club in 1964 as a separate breed apart from the Norwich terrier. The different names come from the British county and town where they were bred. While the Norfolk terrier has ears that fold down, the Norwich terrier’s ears stand up. This is about the only difference between these dogs besides their names.

3 Pros and Cons of Ownership

A loyal watchdog
This small dog has a big bark that is effective at alerting a family that someone has entered the property. Though they’re too small to be a threatening guardian, their bark can definitely get an owner’s attention.
Difficult to train
Though they are alert, Norfolk terriers have a stubborn streak that can be a challenge during obedience training.
Because this dog sheds very little it is categorized as hypoallergenic. It doesn’t drop much dander from its fur.
A digger
These dogs were bred to dig holes to scare out rats, foxes, and other rodents. Furthermore, they were perfect for sporting events focused on driving out rodents. However, this digging behavior can sometimes result in a messy backyard.
A playful nature
This dog is always ready for a walk in the neighborhood, a run around the yard, a game of fetch and more. The kids in a family have a ready-made playmate with this pup.
Requires special grooming
Grooming the coat of a Norfolk or Norwich terrier requires a technique called hand-stripping to get rid of loose or dead hair. Unless an owner learns this technique, the dog will need professional grooming.
Norfolk Terrier sitting in grass

Norfolk Terriers are always ready for a walk in the neighborhood, a run around the yard, a game of fetch, and more.


Health and Entertainment for your Norfolk Terrier

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Size and Weight

The Norfolk terrier is a small dog with a short-haired, wire coat. A male grows to be 10 inches tall while females grow to be 9 inches tall at the shoulder. Both male and female Norfolk terriers weigh up to 12 lbs. At 7 weeks old a Norfolk terrier puppy weighs 4lbs. This dog is fully grown at one year old.

Height10 inches tall9 inches tall
Weight12lbs, fully grown12lbs, fully grown

Common Health Issues

As with any canine, Norfolk terriers have some health issues that are common to their breed. For example, hip dysplasia is a common health issue for Norfolk terriers. Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the dog’s hip joint is not fitting in the way it should. It can cause lameness and pain. A second common health issue is heart disease. This condition affects older Norfolk terriers and usually comes in the form of a weakened heart valve. Obesity can increase the odds that this dog develops heart disease. A liver disorder called a portosystemic shunt is another health issue for these dogs. Essentially, this condition deprives a dog’s liver of proper blood flow. When there’s not enough blood flowing through the liver, this organ can’t take toxins out of the bloodstream.

The most common health issues of Norfolk terriers are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart disease
  • Portosystemic shunt (PSS)


Feisty is one of the best words to describe the personality of a Norfolk or Norwich terrier. Despite their small size, these dogs are fearless. That’s part of the reason why they are successful at digging up the holes of rats and other rodents to scare them out of the area. They are quick to bark at strangers on their owner’s property.

One of the most notable traits of a Norfolk terrier is its loyalty. Instead of sleeping in a dog bed or crate, this dog is much happier sleeping on the bed of its owner. In short, Norfolk terriers love to be with their owners, tagging along both inside and outside the house. Some owners think of their Norfolk terrier as a pint-sized guardian!

Their behavior is high energy. These dogs like to run, dig, jump and play. They can be rough and tumble at playtime and are tougher than they look. Norfolk terriers are good with children especially when they join a household as a puppy.

Norfolk terrier lying on pathway

Norfolk terriers love to be with their owners, tagging along both inside and outside the house.


How to Take Care of One

Having a Norfolk terrier as a pet means giving it the right kind of care so it will lead a long, healthy life. For instance, feeding this breed the right type of food can prevent some of the common health issues mentioned above. Consider these important factors related to its care.

The Best Dog Food for Them

It’s important to note this breed’s propensity for heart disease. Consult your vet about your Norfolk Terrier’s health and diet, and do a little research on the connection between legumes in dog food and heart failure in dogs. There is a variety of legume-free dog foods on the market.

Not surprisingly, a Norfolk terrier puppy needs a different type of diet than an adult dog. Look at some of the main ingredients:

Norfolk terrier puppy food: Protein should be the main ingredient in food for a Norfolk terrier puppy. This gives them energy they can burn with all of their activities. Calcium is important for strong bone and teeth development. Strong bone development helps to prevent hip dysplasia. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids contribute to a puppy’s strong immune system and healthy organs including its liver.

Norfolk terrier adult dog food: Protein is also an important ingredient for adult Norfolk terriers. The right amount of protein and fat gives them the energy they need without adding extra weight. Vitamin A is essential to a dog’s eye health and antioxidants boost the immune system. Keeping calcium in the dog’s diet contributes to continued bone health and may help prevent hip dysplasia. Avoid fillers and go with whole grains and vegetables in an adult dog’s food to maintain its energy and metabolism.

With all this in mind, A-Z Animals selects Wellness CORE Small Breed Dry Dog Food with Wholesome Grains, High Protein Dog Food as the best dog food for Norfolk Terriers.

That’s because of the no-nonsense recipe with turkey and chicken, which both provide natural glucosamine for a better chance at mobile, pain-free joints for life. Plus, this formula includes taurine, an important nutrient for heart health.

Take a look at Wellness CORE Small Breed Wholesome Grains High Protein dog food on Chewy and Amazon.

Best High Protein for Small Breeds
Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Small Breed Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food
  • Chicken and turkey meal, deboned chicken recipe for small dog breeds
  • Levels of taurine for heart health
  • Promotes lean muscles and lean body mass
  • No legumes, potatoes, fillers, artificial colors or flavors
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Maintenance and Grooming

How much does a Norfolk terrier shed? Norfolk terriers shed very little. In fact, they’re classified as hypoallergenic dogs because they’re light shedders and leave behind a small amount of dander.

These dogs have a double coat that needs to be groomed twice a year by a professional. A groom trims and hand strips the coat removing dead and loose hair. This process also gets rid of tangles and mats.

An owner should brush their terrier’s coat once a week using a soft brush with boar’s hair bristles or a slicker brush. This removes dirt and minor tangles. It’s best to give this dog a bath just once a month. Ichthyosis, which is itchy, dried out skin is a common ailment of this breed. Bathing this dog more than once a month can bring on this condition.

Norfolk Terrier on a white background

Norfolk Terriers are classified as hypoallergenic dogs because they’re light shedders and leave behind a small amount of dander.



A Norfolk terrier can be challenging to train. This is due to its stubborn streak. It can be easily distracted by birds or rodents in the training area. A Havanese is about the same size as the British-born Norfolk terrier but is easier to train. This is another smart dog but isn’t as easily distracted as a Norfolk terrier. Using treats and praise can help a Norfolk terrier learn its lessons more quickly.

Once a Norfolk terrier works through obedience training, it is a perfect candidate to train for a sporting event. Earthdog is a non-competitive event in which Norfolk terriers and other small dogs test their digging skills to find rodents.

Norfolk Terrier dogs playing outside

Norfolk Terriers can be easily distracted by birds or rodents in the training area.



These high-energy dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy. Unless they are trained to stay with an owner, they should remain on a leash when walked. Otherwise, they are likely to take off after squirrels, cats, and other animals during a neighborhood walk. They need 20 to 40 minutes of exercise per day. Playing hide and seek and chase are great activities for a family to play with their Norfolk terrier.

This dog is suitable for apartment life and can be a good guardian. But it needs space to exercise. An apartment dweller should be willing to take their Norfolk terrier on walks.

These dogs need exercise to burn energy. A Norfolk terrier that doesn’t get enough exercise outdoors can become destructive of items in a home.


One thing to keep in mind with Norfolk terrier puppies is to avoid overfeeding them. Obesity is an issue with all small dogs including this breed. So, taking steps to feed puppies the right amount of protein and fat can help them to avoid excess weight.

Puppy Norfolk Terrier standing in grass

Obesity is an issue with all small dogs including this breed, so try to avoid overfeeding them.

©Maite M. Senosiain/

With Children

These dogs are a good choice for families with children. They are playful and affectionate. It’s ideal to introduce a puppy to a family with young children. Consequently, the terrier becomes used to interacting with little kids from the start.

Similar Dogs

Other breeds similar to the Norfolk terrier include the Cairn terrier, Australian terrier, and Affenpinscher.

  • Cairn terrier – A fellow member of the terrier group, this dog loves to dig and has high energy like the Norfolk terrier. However, they grow to be a little bigger than Norfolk terriers.
  • Australian terrier – Another friendly, alert, and intelligent member of the terrier group. One difference between them is this dog has a much simpler grooming routine than the Norfolk terrier.
  • Affenpinscher – This dog belongs to the toy group, not the terrier group. However, it has the same loyal nature and outgoing personality as the Norfolk terrier.

Some popular names for Norfolk terriers include:

  • Chico
  • Bunny
  • Dinky
  • Midge
  • Coco
  • Twiggy

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?
About the Author

Heather Ross is a secondary English teacher and mother of 2 humans, 2 tuxedo cats, and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing about all the animals!

Norfolk Terrier FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does it cost to own a Norfolk terrier?

The initial cost of a Norfolk terrier ranges from $1500 to $3500. The vet costs for this dog range from $200 to $400 for a regular checkup. Grooming costs are around $100 per visit and food costs range from $10 to $40 a month.

Are Norfolk terriers good with kids?

Yes, both Norwich and Norfolk terriers are good with children.

How do you groom a Norfolk terrier?

An owner should brush their Norfolk terrier once a week with a soft brush or slicker brush. Twice a year, the dog should be professionally groomed to remove tangles and mats from its double coat. Bathing this dog can be done once a month by an owner.

How big do Norfolk terriers get?

Norfolk terriers can weigh up to 12lbs. A male gets to be about 10 inches tall at the shoulder while females grow to be 9 inches tall.

Are Norfolk terriers good pets?

Yes. They are loyal, affectionate, and intelligent.

Are Norfolk terriers easy to train?

They can be challenging to train due to a stubborn streak. But, with patience and lots of treats, it can be done!

Are Norfolk terriers aggressive?

No, this is not an aggressive dog.

How long do Norfolk terriers live?

Norfolk terriers have a lifespan of 13 to 15 years.

Are Norfolk Terriers herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Norfolk Terriers are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Norfolk Terriers belong to?

Norfolk Terriers belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Norfolk Terriers belong to?

Norfolk Terriers belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Norfolk Terriers belong to?

Norfolk Terriers belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Norfolk Terriers belong to?

Norfolk Terriers belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Norfolk Terriers belong to?

Norfolk Terriers belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of covering do Norfolk Terriers have?

Norfolk Terriers are covered in Hair.

What genus do Norfolk Terriers belong to?

Norfolk Terriers belong to the genus Canis.

What is an interesting fact about Norfolk Terriers?

Norfolk Terriers are fearless but not aggressive!

What is the scientific name for the Norfolk Terrier?

The scientific name for the Norfolk Terrier is Canis lupus.

What are the differences between Norwich Terriers and Norfolk Terriers?

Norwich Terriers and Norfolk Terriers have different physical appearances in terms of ear carriage, coat texture, exercise needs, yappiness or barking, and costs.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  5. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. American Kennel Club, Available here:
  7. Wisdom Panel, Available here:
  8. Vetstreet, Available here:

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