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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The spirited Norwich is one of the smaller of the Terrier breeds, but he’s a sturdy companion who fits perfectly into family life. He has the outgoing nature typical to Terriers and is more friendly than many. He may get along well with kids, cats, and other dogs -- only rats and other vermin need fear him.
The Norfolk Terrier and the Norwich Terrier are closely related, although they do have a few key differences. The one people notice most is that the Norfolk Terrier has ears that fold forward, while the Norwich’s ears are erect.
The Norwich Terrier is one of the smaller Terriers, but he’ll never behave that way and wouldn’t believe it if you told him how small he actually is. A Norwich believes in living with great gusto, whether he’s out and about with the people he loves or digging a hole in the flower bed. He’s robust, sturdy, and inclined to be good with children — among the best contenders for a family pet among all the fiery little Terriers.
Although his small size — between 11 and 12 pounds — makes him just right for life as a lap dog, the Norwich Terrier is an active dog with a love of the outdoors. He likes to play with kids and is tough enough to stand up to a fair amount of roughhousing, unlike many other small breeds of dog. Still, adult supervision of the children along with training and socializing of the dog is still required. The Norwich usually gets along well with other dogs and cats, but small pets like hamsters are another story. If yours is a multispecies family, you’ll either have to choose another breed or be very careful.
Norwich Terriers are generally not diggers and are easy to housetrain, but they can be stubborn and independent, so take their training seriously. The Norwich Terrier can also be a bit of a barker, so stop nuisance barking before it becomes a habit.
Norwich Terriers are crazy about people and don’t do well if they’re left alone for a long time, nor are they happy as backyard dogs. Let him live as a member of your family, preferably with the company of another dog, or you might find yourself with a lonely, bored, noisy, and destructive nuisance instead of a happy, well-behaved companion.
One of the reasons there are so many Terrier breeds is because many were custom-created for a particular area or population. The Norwich hails from England’s East Anglia, home of Cambridge University. Like college students of any era, the Cambridge students of the 1880s thought it was good fun to bet on sporting events, including the ratting abilities of their dogs. Terriers, including Yorkshire and Irish Terriers, were crossed to develop small red or black and tan dogs with a game spirit. They were known as Trumpington Terriers.
A Trumpington named Rags, who was a stable dog near the city of Norwich, had such a reputation as a ratter that he had a profound influence on what was to become known as the Norwich Terrier. Rags and his descendants were crossed with other Terriers, including a small Staffordshire Terrier, and became known for a new ability: bolting foxes from their dens.
One of those later dogs, named Willum, was bred by Frank Jones in a town called Market Hatborough. Willum became the first Norfolk (although they weren’t yet known by that name) to be brought to the United States after being purchased by a Philadelphia dog fancier named Robert Strawbridge in 1914. Willum sired a number of offspring but died in 1928, eight years before the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, calling it the Norwich Terrier. The Norwich ranks 100th among the dogs registered by the AKC.
The outgoing Norwich loves people. He’s eager to meet everyone he sees and loves getting attention. His affectionate and happy-go-lucky nature combined with his small size make him suited to any home as long as someone will be there to keep him company. He likes children, seniors, and most other pets, with birds, rabbits, and rodents being notable exceptions. The Norwich is a fearless hunter who will view them as easy prey.
This is a curious and observant dog. Not surprisingly, he’s a very effective watchdog while being one of the most easygoing members of the Terrier group. He’s less likely than many to be yappy, as long as he’s not bored.
The Norwich might be small, but he’s sturdy. He is best suited to homes with children who are at least 7 or 8 years old. Together they can be active playmates with no worry a clumsy toddler wil accidently hurt the Norwich. In homes with younger children, supervision is important. Remember that no dog is automatically good with kids. An adult Norwich who is not experienced with children needs time to get used to their quick movements and shrill voices. Teach children never to tease or mistreat a dog. As with any dog, never leave a Norwich alone with young children, no matter how well he knows them or how friendly he seems.
Housetraining is not difficult as long as the Norwich puppy is taken out on a regular schedule. Limit opportunities for him to make mistakes in the house. Use a crate, exercise pen, puppy pads, or a canine litterbox to prevent housetraining accidents and ensure that he has acceptable options when you aren’t home.
A Norwich has a moderate activity level. Two or three 15-minute walks or playtimes daily will satisfy his exercise needs. If you’d like to try some dog sports, he’s good at agility, earthdog tests, obedience, rally, and tracking.
Be sure to always walk him on leash or play with him in a fenced yard. The Norwich is an inveterate hunter with quick reflexes and he will be off after a rabbit or squirrel before you know it. Never let him off his leash in an area with traffic or other dangers. Don’t think that an underground electronic fence will contain him. He’s a determined little dog and getting a shock may not stop him if he really wants to chase something.
The Norwich doesn’t like being left alone for hours on end. If you travel frequently or work long hours and can’t take him to the office, he’s not the dog for you.
Train the Norwich with positive reinforcement techniques such as praise and food rewards. He learns quickly and needs little more than tone of voice and expression to determine whether you are happy or displeased by what he’s done.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Norwich Terriers are relatively healthy. Among the problems seen in the breed are luxating patellas, eye problems like corneal dystrophy and lens luxation, and breathing problems caused by collapsing trachea. Your puppy’s breeder should be willing — in fact, eager — to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives, and discuss how prevalent those and other health concerns are in his lines.
In the hope of controlling the genetic diseases that affect the breed and preventing new ones from emerging, the Norwich Terrier Club of America participates in a program operated by the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). Before a Norwich can be CHIC certified, the breeder must submit hip and knee evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and eye test results from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). PennHip certification of hips is also accepted.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live good lives.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Norwich at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of diet and exercise to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Norwich Terrier has hard, wiry, straight coat with a heavier amount on the neck and shoulders forming a protective mane. Trimming isn’t necessary, but the coat does need to be hand-stripped twice a year, a time-consuming process of pulling out loose hair with a tool called a stripping knife. Between strippings, you should brush the dog’s coat weekly.
If you choose not to strip the coat but only brush it, the Norwich will have a scruffy appearance, which some people like. The drawback to this is that the coat will shed more, especially as the dog matures. Stripping the coat has other benefits as well. A stripped coat sheds dirt and is water resistant. Terriers whose coats are stripped need fewer baths.
For a neater look, you can have your Norwich clipped by a professional groomer, but it’s not the perfect solution. When you cut a Norwich’s hair, it lightens the color because part of the pigment is removed, and it softens the texture, making the coat less protective.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. And remember that breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical.
Look for more information about the Norwich Terrier and start your search for a good breeder on the website of the Norwich Terrier Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the NTCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores, calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them, and advises breeders to submit positive and negative health test results to open health registries such as CHIC, CERF, and OFA.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Norwich Terrier puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Norwich Terrier might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dogs of your dreams. An adult Norwich Terrier may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy.
With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Norwich Terrier in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Norwich Terriers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Norwich Terrier. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Norwich Terriers love all Norwich Terriers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Norwich Terrier Club of America can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Norwich Terrier rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Norwich Terrier home for a trial to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Norwich Terrier, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with puppy lemon laws, be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Norwich Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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