The Norfolk Terrier has a wire-haired coat which, according to the various national kennel clubs’ breed standards, can be “all shades of red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle”.
They are the smallest of the working terriers. They are active and compact, free moving, with good substance and bone. Good substance means good spring of rib and bone that matches the body such that the dog can be a very agile ratter or earth-dog.
Norfolk terriers are moderately proportioned dogs. A too heavy dog would not be agile. A too refined dog would make it a toy breed. Norfolks generally have more reach and drive and a stronger rear angulation, hence cover more ground than their Norwich cousins. Norfolk have good side gait owed to their balanced angulation front and rear and their slightly longer length of back.
These breeds have a double coat: a harsh, wiry topcoat and a soft, warm undercoat. Colors can be “all shades of red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle.
Ideally, the coat is combed daily with a steel “greyhound” comb, but all that is really necessary for grooming a companion dog is a good combing once a week to remove the loose, dead hairs and prevent matting. As a minimum, the coat is hand stripped once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Clipping or cutting ruins the coat’s colours and harsh texture. A Norfolk Terrier can be washed with a dog shampoo when it’s dirty.
Norfolks are described as fearless, but can be aggressive. They, along with Norwich Terriers and Border Terriers, have the softest temperaments of the Terrier Group. Norfolks work in packs and must get along with other dogs. As companions, they love people and children and do make good pets. Their activity level is generally reflective of the pace of their environment. This breed should not be kept or live outside since they thrive on human contact.
Generally, Norfolks are not given to digging but, like any dog, will dig out of boredom when left alone for too long a period. Norfolks can be barkers and are very vocal. They generally cohabit well with other household pets when introduced as a puppy. Outdoors, they are natural hunters with a strong prey drive for small vermin.
Norfolks are self-confident and carry themselves with presence and importance, holding their heads and tails erect. A Norfolk that is shy or that carries its tail between its legs is atypical, as it is hot-tempered and aggressive with other dogs; these traits are not the standard. A Norfolk’s typical temperament is happy, spirited, and self-confident.
Norfolks do have incidences of mitral valve disease, luxating patellas, and incorrect bites. Norfolks most often have shallow hip sockets and many breedlines are dysplastic. Therefore responsible breeders are testing for hip dysplasia. Breeders that do not radiograph hips and have them evaluated by either OFA or PennHip, cannot answer questions regarding hip dysplasia in their breeding program.