Norwich Terriers

The Norwich Terrier is one of the smallest 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 flowerbed. He’s robust, sturdy and good with children – among the best contenders for a family pet among all the fiery little terriers.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

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 great outdoors. He loves children and is tough enough to stand up to a fair amount of roughhousing, unlike many other small breeds of dog.

Naturally, not every Norwich Terrier will be good with children, and adult supervision of the kids 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 multi-species family, you'll either have to choose another breed or be very careful.

Norwich Terriers are generally not diggers and are easy to housebreak, but they can also be a bit stubborn and independent, so take their training seriously. The Norwich Terrier can also be a bit of a barker, so catch nuisance barking before it becomes a habit.

The Norfolk Terrier's rough coat sheds, but it can be minimized with weekly brushing or combing, and occasional trips to a professional groomer. These dogs are "hand-stripped" for a proper terrier look for the show ring, a labor-intensive task that involves pulling out the dead coat a little bit at a time using a special tool. It's usually more practical to have the dogs regularly clipped for neatness.

The Norfolk Terrier and the Norwich Terrier are very 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 easy way to remember the difference: The NorWICH has pointed ears like a WITCH'S hat.)

Norwich Terriers are crazy about people and don't do well if they're left alone for long periods of 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.

Health Issues Common to Norwich Terriers

Norwich Terriers are relatively healthy for a purebred dog. In the hope of controlling the genetic diseases that already affect the breed and prevent any new ones from emerging, the Norwich Terrier Club, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in a program operated by the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). It requires that breeders test all their breeding dogs for heart, eye, and knee diseases that are prevalent in the breed, and recommends that the dogs be cleared for hip problems as well.

The most serious health problems affecting the Norwich Terrier are breathing problems and epilepsy, and there are no screening tests for either of those conditions. However, 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 particular health concerns are in his lines.

Like the Norfolk, Norwich Terriers can suffer from mitral valve disease (MVD), which begins with a heart murmur and can eventually lead to heart failure and death. While making sure to buy a puppy from a breeder who has tested both his parents for heart disease will minimize the risk, it's still possible for your dog to be affected. The disease can be managed with careful treatment for quite some time if caught early, so have your Norwich Terrier's heart checked annually by a board certified veterinary cardiologist.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Mitral Valve Disease Medium $500-$2,000

7 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Norwich Terrier Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the Norwich Terrier Club of America, which maintains a referral list for breeders; choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and requires them to take lifetime responsibility for any puppies they sell if their owners are unable to care for them.

Ask your breeder to show you written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) clearing your puppy's parents of genetic health problems. PennHip certification of hips is also recommended.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of these problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Norwich Terriers. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Norwich Terriers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Norwich Terrier can live to be 12-15 years of age, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Norwich Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of mitral valve disease, epilepsy, and breathing problems.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Norwich Terriers

Pet insurance for Norwich Terriers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Norwich Terriers are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Norwich Terriers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Norwich Terrier is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.