The breed known today as the Norwich Terrier originated in the late 19th century in East Anglia, a rural region of England encompassing the town of Norwich in Norfolk County. Early breeders sought to produce small, predominantly red, hunting terriers with amiable dispositions. Compact and sturdy, Norwich have a hard double coat that is nearly weatherproof. They were bred to bolt foxes and to kill rats in barns and in Cambridge University dorms, and were most of all working terriers, but were also valued for their affable temperament.
While today’s Norwich are mostly family companions, the breed retains its original hunting instincts, small size, and jovial temperament so prized by early huntsmen on both sides of the Atlantic. Norwich are inquisitive and energetic, and they should be in fit condition for the day’s activities. They are happy and confident and should not be aggressive or quarrelsome with other dogs.
Is the Norwich Terrier the Right Breed for Me?
A Norwich Terrier makes a wonderful pet but should never be purchased without careful consideration. Buying a Norwich is a commitment for the life of a dog that may live 14 years or more. When selecting a canine companion for yourself and your family, make sure you are getting a quality pet that has been carefully bred and socialized to insure a good temperament and sound body. Do your research. Talk with breeders and other Norwich owners, discuss the varied characteristics of Norwich. Attend a dog show where you can see Norwich of various ages.
Norwich thrive on human attention! Puppies must be properly socialized to develop the outgoing, amiable personality characteristic of the breed.
The Norwich Terrier is fearless, loyal, and affectionate. Adaptable and sporting, they make ideal companions. Along with their alert intelligence, they have the drive of a working terrier. Many have a high prey drive and should be kept on a leash because they will run off after squirrels, rabbits, or other game. The Norwich is happy in either a country or city setting – as long as his family is near and daily exercise is provided. They are good with well-behaved children if the process of socialization is continued early in the puppy’s life once the puppy leaves the breeder’s home.
Most Norwich will bark an alarm at the sound of a doorbell or a stranger’s knock, but generally they are quieter than some other breeds. They must be fenced or walked on a lead since they are known to chase prey if allowed to run loose. They are quite trainable, but it takes dedication and consistency on the part of the owner.
Why are Norwich Difficult to Find?
There are relatively few breeders of Norwich Terriers in the United States. In addition to that, the number of litters produced each year is quite low in comparison to other breeds. According to the American Kennel Club there were only 201 registered Norwich litters in 2019 with the average number of pups per litter to be about three. If a Norwich Terrier is what you want, please be patient.
The popularity of Norwich Terriers, combined with small litter sizes, can make it challenging to find a puppy. Breeders often have waiting lists, so be patient and flexible about sex and color. Norwich puppies are not ready to leave home until 10 to 12 weeks old, and some breeders keep the puppies longer, in order to observe growth and development before determining the best placement for each puppy.
Grooming and Coat Maintenance
The Norwich Terrier is a high-maintenance breed if you wish to maintain the correct coat. The Norwich have a weather resistant double coat, the undercoat is soft and fluffy while the harsh wiry outer coat lies straight and flat. The outer coat grows to about two inches in length and then dies. To maintain the correct coat, dead hairs must be stripped/pulled out to maintain the color and texture of the coat – to do this one would use their fingers, a pumice stone, or a stripping knife. Clipping/cutting the coat as one would groom a poodle will destroy the weather resistant quality and harshness of the outer coat, remove the undercoat, and the resulting color of the coat will be diluted.
Although shedding is minimal with the harsh coat, left ungroomed the coat will become unruly and start to shed. The coat needs to be combed out thoroughly several times a week and hand stripped about every 8-10 weeks. Stripping is necessary to keep the harsh texture and rich color of the coat and preserve the terrier image. Nails should be trimmed weekly.
Finding a groomer who is willing to do hand-stripping is difficult. It is labor-intensive and few groomers want to spend 2-3 hours grooming one dog. Some owners choose to learn the technique of stripping a harsh coat, it is not difficult if one is willing to spend the time required to train a dog to stand on a table for grooming and tolerate being handled.
What If I Am Allergic to Dogs?
Because they do not shed like many other breeds Norwich are often advertised online as hypoallergenic. Many people with dog allergies can and do own Norwich with no adverse effects, but no dog is hypoallergenic for every person; it is not only dog hair, but also dander, or even saliva that most people are allergic to – so it is possible you may have an allergic reaction to a Norwich. You should spend time with a Norwich before bringing one home if you or family member has suffered an allergic reaction to any animal.
Health Issues in the Norwich Terrier
The Norwich Terrier is basically a healthy dog that, when bred by a well-informed and conscientious breeder, will live a long and active life. All breeds have certain health problems, and the Norwich is no exception. Norwich Terrier Upper Airway Syndrome (NTUAS) is a complex respiratory condition. Symptoms range from noisy breathing to severe distress, and even death if not treated. This condition affects the larynx, which is the structure that controls the amount of air that enters into the trachea and lungs. If the larynx is obstructed in any way, respiratory distress will ensue. The true prevalence of the condition is unknown because even dogs with no apparent symptoms may be affected. Because the condition appears to be breed-specific, a genetic basis seems likely. It is our most pressing health concern – read more about this health issue and others that may affect our breed at Norwich Health – so you are well informed when discussing the purchase of a puppy with any breeder.
Adopting an Older Norwich / Rescue & Rehoming
A puppy may not always be the best fit for an individual or family. Puppies are a great joy, but also a great deal of work. You may want to consider looking for an older Norwich Terrier that could better suit your lifestyle. Breeders occasionally have a Norwich that they are retiring from their breeding program, or a young adult that they have kept a bit longer, but ultimately decide to place. These dogs are often past the antics of puppyhood, likely to have some training, and may even be a finished breed champion. If you are open to bringing home an older Norwich, please communicate that information to breeders that you contact.
The NTCA Rescue and Rehoming Committee coordinates the Club’s efforts to rescue and re-home purebred Norwich Terriers in need from public animal shelters, commercial breeding kennels, and import brokers. Assistance also can be provided to family members and friends of owners in situations where the owner can no longer care for their Norwich Terrier(s) due to illness, incapacitation, or death. The goal is to place healthy and happy Norwich Terriers into forever homes.
NTCA member-breeders are dedicated to taking back any Norwich Terrier they breed, and for that reason, it’s not often that we have a Norwich in need of rescue or rehoming, but occasionally we do. If you are interested in being contacted if one of these dogs becomes available, check out NTCA Rescue & Rehoming.
You’ve made up your mind—life would be merrier with a Norwich Terrier! You’ve fallen in love with the standup prick ears, the jovial attitude, the compact body on short legs, and the affectionate look in their eyes that melts your heart. Now, how do you acquire one that lives up to your dreams, and is a good match for you and your family?
To find a Norwich Terrier Club of America member-breeder in your area, visit our Breeders List. The breeders are listed by state of residence.
Norwich Terriers are in great demand and short supply. It will require patience and perseverance to find a puppy. Breeders receive so many inquiries, it can be difficult to answer them all in a timely fashion. One strategy that helps is including a short bio of why you would like a Norwich, where you live, information about your family such as ages of children, and your experience with dogs. Breeders are more likely to answer an inquiry if the buyer is a responsible pet owner who has done research on the breed.
A word of caution, there are many unscrupulous breeders advertising Norwich Terriers on the internet and Facebook. Many times the puppies are mixed breed. More information about these “Faux Norwich” can be found here: Buyer Beware.
A quality puppy is worth the wait!