A Brief History of the Norfolk Terrier Breed PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Dowdle   
Monday, 25 January 2010 20:48

See a more complete history by Eileen Needham www.norfolkterrierclub.co.uk/history.htm


The origin of the Norfolk breed dates back to the 1800s, but little is truly known about the origin. The breed was developed in East Anglia, SW England, probably by crossing small Irish terriers, large Yorkshire Terriers and other short-legged terrier breeds. These tough, active little dogs were originally bred for ratting, bolting foxes and digging out badgers. Their short legs were perfect for going to ground to flush out prey, their large teeth got the job done and their double-coats protected them against the elements.


 In the 1880s Charles “Doggy” Lawrence sold these trendy little terriers, called Cantabs, to Cambridge University students as companions and ratters. They later became known as Thrumpington Terriers, named for the street in Cambridge where many students lived. ‘Roughrider’ Jones eventually sold his game little terriers to the sporting crowd in the US where they became known as Jones Terriers. Until one day in 1904 he was asked the name of his terriers and on the spur of the moment "having just come from Norwich, I answered Norwich Terriers" and Norwich Terriers they became.


Norwich and Norfolk Terriers were originally one breed, called Norwich Terriers - but distinguished informally as "prick-ears" or "drop-ears". The original Norwich Terrier (covering both ear carriages) was registered in 1932. But tensions rose between the prick and drop ear enthusiasts in the ring. Prick ear winners led in showmanship, eyes, bites and presentation, while drop ears excelled in coats, toplines and movement at the time. In England in 1964, the (British) Kennel Club separated the breed into two, with the drop-ears taking the name of Norfolk Terrier and the prick-ears retaining the name of Norwich Terrier. The American and Canadian Kennel Clubs followed suit in 1979.


The Norfolk and Norwich Terriers have evolved into two distinct breeds over the years, not only in physical appearance but in health issues and temperament as well.


NORFOLK TERRIERS                                      NORWICH TERRIERS                              


- drop ears                                                           - prick ears 

- softer look                                                         - foxy expression 

 - coat is harsh but closer to the body                    - coat coarser, grows away from the body

 - more generous feet                                            - small cat paws                                                    

- more angulation, slightly longer in body               - broader, lower to the ground                        

- more prey driven                                               - prefers company of people over dogs

- problem solvers, focused attention                     - intelligent, eager to please                              

- more independent but affectionate                      - dependent, needy of attention                              

- tails quiver                                                         - tails wag                                                                 

- high pitched barks, not yappy                             - gutteral squeal, not yappy                                     

- says “what’s in it for me?”                                  - says "what can I do for you?"                                           

- “what shall I do?’                                               - "look what I have done!"                


                 ‘big dogs in little bodies’ with strong personalities


note: There can be some crossover in these traits as these breeds were the same 45 years ago.








The first actual champion in the breed, Ch. Biffin of Beaufin, was owned by Mrs. E. Mainwaring, who preferred her terriers to have their ears dropped. As Biffin wanted to prick his ears, it is said she weighted them to keep them down.  Biffin has had an influence on the breed as a whole, both Norfolk and Norwich Terriers being able to trace back lines to him.



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