Norwich Terrier

The ancestral form of this breed was called a Trumpington Terrier or a Cantab Terrier, because of its connection with Cambridge University. In America it was originally known as the Jones Terrier, after the owner of the first example to go there. The primary role of the breed was that of a fox-bolter.


The story of the Norwich Terrier begins at Cambridge University in the 1870s and 1880s, where it was the fashion among young varsity sportsmen to own a small, rough-haired terrier of a particular type. These dogs were obtained from a livery stable in Trumpington Street, which ran past several of the colleges in the centre of Cambridge. They were at this time referred to as Trumpington Terriers and were popular as college ratters. Some undergraduates wanted to rename them Cantab Terriers, but this never caught on.

Around 1900, a tough, sandy-coloured male called Rags was given to the owner of a stableyard near Norwich. There he became established as the prolific sire of a string of litters, and is generally accepted as the founding father of the Norwich Terrier as we know it today. Other kinds of terrier were crossed with Rags and out of this sequence there arose a fixed type of small, compact, harsh-haired, working breed that became renowned as a superb earth dog. Unlike some other terriers, it was willing to work in a pack and was soon in great demand. It was this new breed that was given the official title of the Norwich Terrier.

In 1914, one of Rags's descendants, named Willum, bred by a horse-breaker called Roughrider Jones, was sent to Philadelphia where he, in his turn, became the founding father of the Norwich breed in the US. Because of his connection with Jones, he and his relatives were given the local name of the Jones Terrier. In 1932 the Norwich was officially accepted by the Kennel Club in London and four years later the AKC followed suit. At this point the title of Jones Terrier was dropped in favour of Norwich, although many American breeders ignored this and continued, for many years, to call their dogs Jones Terriers.


Like most terriers this breed the Norwich Terrier is cute, tough and tenacious, but its supporters point out that it is also unusually cheerful as a companion dog, lacking the rather dour attitude of some others. It is a bossy little dog, but despite this is excellent with children. With its pricked ears, it hears well and makes a good watchdog..


Small, hardy and game describes the Norwich Terrier, which stands about 10-12 inches/25-30 cm tall, big for their inches, with good bone substance and body. The Norwich foreface is just a little shorter than its back-skull; the ears are erect, giving a slightly foxy expression. Its neck should be long according to the British Standard, and of medium length in the United States. Whatever the length, the neck should be protected by a longer mane of rough coat; the topline should be strong and straight; the tail well set and carried up with a long enough dock. Its hindquarters are strong with good propelling power. Its expression is alert and knowing, with a dark eye set off by slight eyebrows. Its coat may be various shades of red including wheaten, as well as black-and-tan and grizzle – grizzle being a sort of mixture of black-and-tan and red. The Norwich Terrier was bred to be a companion and friend. The breed fits the bill!


As a general rule, the Norwich Terrier is very hardy and healthy. Some whelping problems do exist. The breed is not known for severe heritable problems, although some dental problems do occur. Stock should be purchased from reputable breeders who will assist the new owner in getting to know and understand the breed.

Special Care and Training

Puppies should be purchased early, by ten weeks, and housetrained immediately since they tend to be very stubborn about this. Puppies must not be overfed. As mature dogs they have a fearsome habit of overeating – they really will try to eat anything that does not eat them first. They are active, need long walks in safe areas off the lead, but are quite happy in cities on a lead. In the United States and Great Britain, they have been known to do well in Obedience. On the whole, the breed will learn tricks, and do anything to make their owners and themselves happy.

Grooming, although not extensive, is needed regularly. A half hour or so each week is all that is required for the show dog to pull out a layer of old coat all over the head, body and tail. Before showing, clean the teeth, nip off a tiny bit on each toenail, and give the dog a good combing and brushing. Its leg coat should not be long and untidy, and stray hairs should be pulled out weekly, as should straggly hairs from the ears. Hair around the feet may be neatened with scissors. Full baths are seldom necessary.


The Norwich Terrier was bred to adapt. The Cambridge boys kept them in their colleges where the breed thrived in drafty halls and was fed on table scraps. These feeding habits are definitely not to be encouraged.

Gallery of Norwich Terrier