The breed known today as the Norwich Terrier originated in the late 19th century in East Anglia, a rural region of England encompassing the town of Norwich in Norfolk County. Early Norwich were a mix of many terrier breeds and were referred to as Cantab, Trumpington, and Jones Terriers. Despite diversity in type and ear carriage, early breeders all sought to produce small, predominantly red, hunting terriers with amiable dispositions. The first Norwich to arrive in America was William Jones (1914–1928), purchased by Philadelphia-area horseman Robert Strawbridge, Esq., from his breeder Frank Jones. “Willum” was sturdy, game, gregarious 12-pounder, and a popular ambassador for the breed among foxhunting gentry from Virginia to Vermont.
The Norwich Terrier was recognized as an official breed in England in 1932, and included both the prick and drop ear carriage. In 1936, the first Norwich was registered with the AKC, a drop ear English male named Witherslack Sport. Not until 1979 did the AKC recognize the two ear carriages as separate breeds, with drop ears becoming Norfolk Terriers and prick ears remaining Norwich. Both breeds had the same parent club in America until 2009 when members voted to establish separate clubs: the Norwich Terrier Club of America, and the Norfolk Terrier Club.
Compact and sturdy, Norwich have a hard double coat that is nearly weatherproof. They were bred to bolt foxes and to kill rats, in barns and in Cambridge University dorms, and were most of all working terriers, but were also valued for their affable temperament. While today’s Norwich are mostly family companions, the breed retains its original hunting instincts, small size, and jovial temperament so prized by early huntsmen on both sides of the Atlantic. Norwich are inquisitive and energetic, and they should be in fit condition for the day’s activities. They are happy and confident, not aggressive or quarrelsome with other dogs.
Breed standards are by definition word pictures meant to emphasize the positive qualities of a particular purebred dog. It is a tribute to Norwich breeders that the attributes that so appealed to our founding breeders have been upheld, guarding against so-called improvements or exaggerations, and that the official breed standard has remained relatively unchanged since the first English Standard in 1932.
The Illustrated Guide to the Standard of Norwich Terriers (2013) depicts the desired Norwich Terrier based on the Breed Standard as compiled by members of the Norwich Terrier Club of America. The booklet was created for Norwich breeders, owners, judges and exhibitors. A copy may be purchased from the Norwich Store.