Norwich and Norfolk Terriers

Norwich TerrierNorwich Terrier

Standing just 10 inches (25-26 cms) high, the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers are the smallest of the terrier breeds.With only minor variations, their Breed Standards may appear identical except for the ears. But in reality an in-depth study of these two breeds shows how breeds can develop differently over the half a century, once the gene pool is split.

History of the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk/Norwich RegionNorfolk/Norwich Region

The Norwich Terriers were first developed in England around Cambridge University when a breeder, Charles 'Doggie' Lawrence sold these small ratting dogs to the students. The town of Norwich in the region called Norfolk is situated in the east of England, close to Europe.

Trading Route to BrugesTrading Route to Bruges

In the early 1800's, there were continuous trading routes between Bruges, Belgium and Norwich, England. As Terriers commonly travelled on these trading ships to kill the rats and mice on board, the early development of the Norwich Terrier was probably influenced by the Belgium breed, the rough coated Griffon Bruxellois. This is evidenced by not only the shortened foreface of both breeds, but also the common colours are shared by the Griffon and the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers. The straight legs of the Norwich and Norfolk is maintained by having a body built on top of its legs, rather than hung between its forelegs. This is also typical of a breed specifically bred for ratting rather than being bred to work tunnels made by badgers[2].

Early Norwich TerrierEarly Norwich Terrier

Historically, puppies with both dropped and pricked ears were born in the same litter. During the 1800's, Charles 'Doggy' Lawrence became notorious as a dog dealer, selling these little ratting dogs to some of the Undergraduates at Cambridge University. By the early 1900's, when an intense argument broke out between the owners of those dogs with pricked ears and owners of those whose ears were dropped or button ears, in 1964 the Kennel Club (UK) stepped in. Their decision was to split the breed into two based wholly on ear carriage, and give them separate names. So the concept of the two separate breeds, the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers was born.

Norwich Terriers c 1930Norwich Terriers c 1930

Half a century later the two breed standards have remained almost identical, with only a few minor differences. There are many who still believe the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers are the same breed just with different ears. In reality, once gene pools are split, so the development of the breed separates.

History of the Norwich and Norfolk Terriers in Australia

Norwich Terrier 1978Norwich Terrier 1978

In Australia a couple of Norwich Terriers were first imported here in the 1950's and 1960's. Despite being successfully shown in the 1970's, the breed did not really get going here until Ley and Pat James imported several into Cairns situated in North Queensland. In 1978 they brought out Thrumptons Lord Micka (Imp UK) who  really put Norwich Terriers 'on the map' here in Australia[3].

In Norfolk Terriers it was not until the 1970's when an imported dog and 2 bitches including one in whelp, were obtained by Robert Bartram of Canberra. The progeny of these did very well for Warren Goldsworthy and Liz Hindley. Mrs Iris Tuckett also imported several Norfolk into Victoria, making this breed known throughout the Eastern States[3].

Norfolk TerrierNorfolk Terrier

The Norwich and Norfolk Today

Because breeders select for different features, in reality these the two breeds have more differences than their breed standards reflect. My observation is that the Norwich is usually shorter bodied and showier than Norfolk, while Norfolk usually has a longer neck and better front than Norwich[1]. With this difference in mind, I shall discuss the two breeds together.

Norwich TerrierNorwich Terrier

The head  is wedge shaped, with  a broad skull and so the ears are are set wide apart. The length of the skull is two thirds the length of the muzzle. These measurements are taken from the bottom of the well-defined stop. The teeth on these little terriers deserve special mention as I have seen correctly remarkably large teeth for the size of the dog in the Norwich Terrier. However in the Norfolk Terrier I have found some jaws so narrow, there are only 4 or even 3 small incisors instead of 6 in the lower jaw. As these are ratting terriers, special emphasis should be placed on retaining the scissor bite containing the correct number of teeth.

Norfolk TerrierNorfolk Terrier

Because of their high-set tail, although their body is described as compact one would expect them to be longer than square. The ribcage should not extend below the elbows. This ensures the front legs have no reason to be other than perfectly straight.

Norwich TerrierNorwich Terrier

Although rough coated, modern coats of the Norfolk and Norwich are tidied up for the showring, but trimming must not be excessive. In the Norwich, a ruff to frame the face is called for. But both breeds come in all shades of red, wheaten, black and tan and grizzle.

References and Further Reading

[1] Jane Harvey, "How do Cairn, Norwich and Norfolk Terriers Differ?" in National Dog, the Ringleader Way (National Dog, Menangle Park NSW) Vol 11 No 4 April 2008 supplement Page 4

[2] Jane Harvey, DVD "Terriers Then & Now" (Rangeaire Vision, Melbourne) ISBN 978-0-9804296-4-0

[3] 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997, Norfolk and Norwich Terrier by Mrs Liz Hindley Page 231