The Norfolk terrier has a lot of character and it's only natural that such a character would have such an interesting history. Much about the Norfolk terrier is common knowledge, such as the breed's courage, which is probably mentioned at least once in everything ever written about the breed, as well as the fact that they are the second smallest working breed. Here, though, the reader will find some of the lesser known facts and neglected history of the Norfolk terrier. Below, perhaps even the experienced Norfolk lover will find something he or she didn't already know.
While currently popular for hunting small game, there is dispute as to whether they were ever intended for the purpose. While the breed has proven more than capable in chasing and nabbing rabbits and raccoons, there is some doubt that the Norfolk terrier's shorter legs and limited stamina (which is, however, impressive for such a small breed) would allow the breed to keep up with a horse mounted hunting party.
Due to their small size, and endearing personalities (and perhaps, given the average student's financial demands, the tiny breed's smaller appetite played a part), the Norfolk terrier was a popular choice of pet in the cramped dorm rooms of Cambridge University during their early days in England.
The breed has gone under several names. Upon being introduced to England, they were called Cantab terriers. They've been called the Trumpington terrier, after a street in the area where they were first developed and just before World War I, when a Norwich hunter began introducing the breed to the USA, he dubbed them the Jones Terrier. It wasn't until the late seventies that the breed was officially recognized under the name of Norfolk terrier by the American, Canadian and United Kennel Clubs.
It is in dispute, but the Norfolk terrier is believed to have its origins in breeding between short legged Irish terriers, Cairn terrier and an unnamed, small, red terrier breed that had been used by gypsies to rid barns throughout Norfolk of vermin. Their origin is credited to a pair of Norwich sportsmen, with the Norwich terrier being developed first and the drop eared Norfolk being developed some time later, both in the nineteenth century.
The Norfolk terrier's friendly, intelligent and camera friendly appearance has led to a few Norfolk's being cast in film and television, including the role of Benji in the various movies and television shows about the dog. There are even famous show business families of Norfolk terrier, as one of the Norfolk's that played Benji eventually fathered the star of the BBC series Woof!
Because of their courage and reputation as a highly competent ratting dog, the Norfolk terrier has the distinguished honor of being perhaps the only breed for which scars are rarely penalized in show, but seen as badges of honor.