Norfolk Terrier Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Norfolk Terrier Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
True representatives of what a terrier is supposed to be, Norfolk Terriers are full of fire and stubborn assertiveness, yet are also more agreeable and companionable than some other terriers.
The Norfolk Terrier can adapt to any home with moderate exercise (brisk walks and active play sessions) and lots of companionship. These sociable dogs like to be with their owners and demand full participation in all activities.
Their reaction to strangers may be friendly, but is more often a bit reserved. Because of this, Norfolk Terriers do need more socialization than some other terriers, so their natural caution doesn't become exaggerated. These alert dogs make excellent watchdogs.
Norfolk Terriers usually get along (though can be a bit jealous, possessive, and bossy) with other dogs and cats in the family. Being true terriers, they tend to be feisty with strange pets, and trusting them around rabbits or rodents would be foolish. They are inquisitive and independent dogs, with strong chasing instincts. They require a leash or fence at all times.
To the casual eye, the Norfolk Terrier is virtually identical to the Norwich Terrier, with the most obvious difference being ear carriage -- the Norfolk has drop ears and the Norwich has prick ears. In temperament, some terrier enthusiasts say the Norfolk Terrier has a feistier temperament and is "busier" than the Norwich, but it's really a matter of individual personality.
If you want a dog who...
- Is small, yet sturdy and tough -- not a delicate lapdog
- Has a natural appearance
- Needs only moderate exercise
- Makes a keen watchdog
- Doesn't shed too much
- Co-exists with other pets more willingly than some other terriers
A Norfolk Terrier may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- The dynamic terrier temperament (see full description below)
- Providing enough exercise and activities to keep them busy
- Timidity when not socialized enough
- Aggression toward other animals -- chasing instincts
- Digging holes
- Regular brushing and clipping of the wiry coat
- A considerable number of potential health problems
- Waiting lists (hard to find) and a high price tag
A Norfolk Terrier may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Norfolk Terrier
If I was considering a Norfolk Terrier, I would be most concerned about...
- The dynamic terrier temperament. Most terrier breeds are remarkably similar. The same words are used over and over -- quick to bark, quick to chase, lively, bossy, feisty, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, intense. Terriers cannot be trusted off-leash -- they are too likely to "take off", oblivious to your frantic shouts, after anything that runs.
- Possible animal aggression. Norfolk Terriers are often more tolerant toward other dogs and cats than many other terriers are, especially dogs and cats who belong to their own family. However, many Norfolk Terriers are still dominant or aggressive toward strange dogs and have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures.
- Providing enough socialization. Norfolk and Norfolk Terriers need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise they may end up shy or suspicious, which are difficult to live with.
- Barking. Terriers are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.
- Mind of their own. Norfolk Terriers must be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach them anything. Norfolk Terriers can be stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
- Grooming. Without regular brushing, combing, and trimming/clipping, Norfolk Terriers become a matted mess. On the plus side, their shedding is on the low side of average. (They are NOT hypoallergenic or light-shedding, however.)
- Finding a healthy one. Norfolk Terriers can suffer from joint problems, cataracts, epilepsy, skin problems, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system, and more.
I do NOT recommend Norfolk Terriers if you have small children. Many terriers will not tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many terriers are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of whiskers or stepping on their paw). Many terriers are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.
To learn more about training Norfolk Terriers to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Norfolk Terrier the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether a Norfolk Terrier might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Norfolk Terrier home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need. Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Norfolk Terrier...
When you're acquiring a Norfolk Terrier PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Norfolk Terriers who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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