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Judging the Norfolk Terrier

Black and white side photo of a Norfolk Terrier.

This article was originally published in Showsight Magazine, May 2015 issue.

 

Judging the Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier judges and breeders hold the key to future of the Norfolk Terrier. Judges and breeders share the responsibility to help guide the Norfolk Terriers’ future. Judges must evaluate characteristics and have an understanding of breed type when making their decision. The judge must have a thorough understanding of canine anatomy and movement and most importantly Norfolk Terriers. Judges must have the ability to evaluate the whole dog and not get caught up on one fault of the dog. You start evaluating dogs as they enter the ring. Norfolk Terriers have a distinctive outline different from any other terrier. At this point as you are looking at the dog’s outline you should be saying to yourself, “Now, that is a Norfolk Terrier!” Overall balance and proportion is what to look for in the Norfolk Terrier. The next thing to look at is the head and expression, proper ear set, dark oval shaped eyes and that hint of mischief that says, ‘Look at me’.

Norfolk Terriers are slightly off square, he is about 9 to 10 inches tall and weighs approximately 12 pounds. He should have good bone without being course and have good substance. His height and weight are less important than structure, balance and fit working condition. The Norfolk chest should fill your hand. The upper arm should sit directly under the withers. His shoulders must be well laid back giving a moderate length of neck. He must have low hocks that are set behind the tail to allow great propulsion from the rear. If this is correct the stifle will naturally have a good bend. After your first impression of the dogs on the ground, move them around the ring to see their topline, length of neck, tail set and carriage. The topline should be level as the dog moves. After you assess the dog on the go around you are ready for table examination.

Check overall outline first, approach the dog from the front of the table with confidence. Examine the head checking proportion, ear placement, width of skull, eyes, expression and bite. You should be looking for expressive eyes that are wide set, small, dark and oval. The ears are V-shaped, wide set on a slightly rounded skull and point to the corner of the eye. The length of the muzzle is one third the length of the head from the tip of the nose to the occiput. Norfolk Terriers have scissor bite with strong, large teeth set in a wedge-shaped muzzle. As you start your examination of the body you should remember that this is a small terrier of good substance and there is nothing toyish about the Norfolk. The Norfolk is a balanced dog with well sprung ribs, a broad chest and short loin.

Judging the Norfolk Terrier

His neck is moderate and strong. His shoulders should be well laid back with his elbows close to his ribs. His tail is medium docked long enough to give balance in the overall outline and must always be carried erect. The forelegs should be straight, short and powerful. The front feet are larger and rounder than the rear feet. A Norfolk should have a good driving rear that is well angulated with good bend of stifle and strong muscular thighs. The hocks should be low and straight when viewed from the rear. A Norfolk is a double-coated dog. His coat should be hard lying close to the body with a definite undercoat. His outer coat should not be soft or wavy. The harsh double coat serves as a protection from the weather and is one of the breed characteristics. Coat colors are shades of red, wheaten, black and tan, and grizzle. No preference should be given to color. When it comes time to move the dogs individually remember that he is a working terrier. A mincing, short gait is not correct.

As you watch him as he is going away from you, his legs should follow in the tracks of the front legs. When you watch him coming back to you his front legs should move straight down from the shoulder. He should have a smooth side gait with good reach and drive on the go around. Judges should never ask that the dogs be sparred. This isn’t an aggressive breed. Also, these dogs are low to the ground. PLEASE never bend down over the dog. If you must feel the dog’s shoulders once again as you walk down the line ask the exhibitor to put the dog back on the table. Many a good Norfolk has lost his desire to show because of a bad experience. I hope that this helps you understand and enjoy judging the Norfolk Terrier as much as I do.