History of the Norwich

The breed has existed since at least the late 19th century, as working terrier of East Anglia, England. The dogs were useful as ratters in the stable yard, bolters of fox for the hunt, and family companions. It was the mascot of students at Cambridge University.

Small red terriers, descendants of Irish Terriers, had existed in the area since at least the 1860s, and these might be the ancestors of the Norwich, or it might have come from the Trumpington Terrier, a breed that no longer exists. In its earliest history, it was also known as the Jones Terrier and the Cantab Terrier.

Since its earliest identification as a breed, puppies have had either drop or prick ears, and both were allowed when the Norwich was first recognized in the show ring in 1932 by The Kennel Club (England). Drop ears were often cropped until it became illegal to do so. This intensified a long-standing controversy over whether drop-eared dogs should be allowed in the show ring and whether the primary difference was simply the ears or whether other, deeper, personality and structural differences marked the drop-eared variety.

Starting in the 1930s, breeders increased their efforts to distinguish the breeds. While Norfolk and Norwich Terriers were inter-bred for a number of years today they are positively two distinctive breeds. In fact some historical texts indicate that they were distinctive breeds before they were inter-bred.

Both ear types continued to be allowed in the ring until The Kennel Club recognized the drop-eared variety as a separate breed, the Norfolk Terrier, in 1964, and the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, and Canadian Kennel Club did the same in 1979. Until that time the breeds were designated by the AKC as Norwich Terriers, P.E. (prick ears) and Norwich Terriers, D.E. (drop ears).

Appearance

The Norwich 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 one of 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, the function for which it was bred.

Norwich terriers are moderately proportioned dogs. A too heavy dog would not be agile. A too refined dog would make it a toy breed.

The ideal height is 9 to 10 in (23 to 25 cm) at the and weight is about 11 to 12 lb (5.0 to 5.4 kg)

Click on this link for the full Kennel Club Breed Standard,

Tail docking
Outside of Canada and the United States, the docked-tail profile of the Norwich Terrier is changing. In Australia tail docking is optional.But in NSW it is illegal. In the United Kingdom tail docking is only permitted for working dogs and is banned for dogs bred as pets or showing.

Some countries banned general tail docking for a number of years e.g. Norway since 1987, Sweden since 1988. In the last four years Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg and Switzerland have decided to introduce a ban on tail docking.

In the United States, a docked tail is currently considered "strongly preferred" for success in the show ring.
Proponents of docking argue that a docked-tail dog can be extracted from a hole by the tail with less risk to the dog's spine. Opponents of tail docking note that docking severely damages the important canine tail-signalling system, so vital to dogs' social encounters, and also cite the historical basis of docking in the UK to avoid taxation of sporting dogs.

Temperament

These small but hardy dogs are courageous, remarkably intelligent and wonderfully affectionate. They can be assertive but it is not typical for them to be aggressive, quarrelsome or shy.

They are energetic and thrive on an active life. They are eager to please but have definite minds of their own. They are sensitive to scolding but 100% Terrier.

They should never be kept outside or in a kennel setting because they love the companionship of their owners too much.

Norwich are not given to unnecessary barking, but they will warn of a stranger approaching. Norwich are good with children.

If introduced to other household pets as a puppy they generally co-habit peacefully, though caution should be observed around rodent pets as they may be mistaken for prey.

Working style

Norwich were originally bred as barn dogs to rid the barn of vermin. Some literature suggest that they were also occasionally used on the hunt to bolt animals of equal size from their den. To some extent they are still used in that capacity in continental Europe.

Norwich are pack animals and hence expected to get along with other dogs while working or in the home. As a pack dog, they take turns working their prey.

They are fearless and their courage is incredible. Today, of course, they are household companions and must have an agreeable disposition for living with people.

Health

The life expectancy of the Norwich Terrier is 1216 years. While the Norwich Terrier is considered a healthy breed, there are some health issues for which responsible breeders do preventative genetic health testing, thereby reducing the incidences.

The Norwich Terrier does have a predisposition for some health issues but studies to determine the exact mode of inheritance or the exact frequency in the breed are unknown or have not been conclusive.

At present there are no disorders identified as "most important". Of secondary magnitude, cataracts are recognized as a disorder that has been reported sporadically and may be inherited.

Of a secondary magnitude there are instances of epilepsy, narrow tracheas, luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, mitral valve disease, atopy(allergic inhalant dermatitis)] and incorrect bites (how the teeth meet when the jaws are closed). This later issue is not a problem to the dog's health its a bit like us humans having petruding upper teeth or a petruding lower jaw.

Like all dogs, Norwich Terriers can have autoimmune reactivity to rabies vaccinations. Rabies-Vaccine-Induced Ischemic Dermatopathy, or RVI-ID, is a non-fatal but potentially serious reaction to chemicals called adjuvants in the vaccine. RVI-ID is often misdiagnosed, but if correctly diagnosed, is treatable. Symptoms may include: symmetrical dark spots or lesions at the tips of the ears; swelling, hard lumps or dark spots in the vicinity of the injection site.

Higher volume Norwich breeders are seeing more dogs with breathing concerns, and the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club (USA) has formed a new "Health and Genetics Sub-Committee for Research on Upper Airway Syndrome in Norwich Terriers".

Upper Airway Syndrome (UAS) covers all abnormalities that can occur in the upper airway, including: elongated soft palates; too short soft palates; narrow/misshapen tracheas; collapsing tracheas; stenotic nares (nasal passages that are too small); swollen tonsils; everted laryngeal saccules. These upper airway disorders can occur singly or in combination with one or two others. All compromise the airway and the dog's ability to breathe normally; the dog's breathing often sounds raspy or moist. It may be that shorter muzzles may have increased incidence of such issues.

Norwich Terriers generally have small litters of 1 to 3 puppies. Generally, if a female is healthy, its optimal breeding period is between the ages of 2 (after all genetic health testing is complete - heart, eyes, hips and petellas) and six years. At seven years of age dogs are considered geriatric. The small supply and the high price of a pure bred Norwich Terrier - often around 900.00 - has attracted fraud, as unsuspecting buyers pay full price for Cairn Terriers with docked tails, or mixed-breed puppies.

Over the years we have carefully bred our dogs so that we have no current issues with UAS. But future Norwich owners must understand that these are living creatures and, like us may fall ill in the future.