Norfolk Terriers Over The Years

Norfolk Terriers are curious, intelligent, problem solvers. Unlike some terrier breeds, if given good outdoor exercise, they “hang out” relaxed indoors. I tell new owners that just because they are small, the Norfolk is not just a lap dog, although they adore their peoples’ laps while being alert to whatever is going on out the window. The Norfolk Terrier thinks and acts big. They probably have remained working terriers longer than many of the other terrier breeds.

In the “old” days, we had to deal with flying ears, digging fronts and muzzles that were too long. Careful breeding, examining pedigrees and outcrossing with imports improved our Norfolks. Probably Nanfan Culver, bred by Joy Taylor and imported by Jim and Marjorie McTernan, was responsible for much of the improvement we achieved in the 80s. Joan Read (Chidley) and Barbara Miller (Max-well) imported British stud dogs which improved our breeding stock.

The high quality of Norfolk Terriers shown at the most recent MCKC Specialty (October 2019) was remarked by those who know the breed. For 60 years Anne Rogers Clark was an icon as a handler and a judge. She was the first female handler to win Westminster Best In Show and one of only a few judges licensed by the AKC to judge all 165 breeds and varieties.

Happily for we Norfolk Terrier lovers, Annie and her husband Jim Clark met a Terrier bitch (Nanfan Corricle) that Constance Larrabee (Kings Prevention Norwich) had brought from England. The Clarks were charmed by this “drop-eared” Norwich, never having been impressed with the prick-eared variety. They went on to develop the Surrey Norfolk Terriers with Corricle’s daughter Ahoy.

Once when asked to explain the difference between the Norwich and Norfolk, Annie said “Easy…the Norwich with their ears up bark and don’t think, the Norfolks with their ears down think and then bark!”

Today in the Conformation ring, we have too many Norfolk judges who don’t know the breed, seeing it as similar to the Norwich. Oh that Annie Clark was around today to teach them what they should be looking for (and in all the other recognized breeds). She was once questioned by a judge to summarize when judging, the essence of a proper Norfolk. Her reply, “First of all do not judge them generically. Hard coated, down and back, sound, top-line, tail up, but there’s much, much more to them than that. They’re unlike any of the other little terriers. They’ve always had more angles in their front and back ends than the Norwich have, and they look longer but shouldn’t be. They should be short backed, chubby and chunky. They should have some fore chest out in front of their forelegs. If I could get both countries to rewrite the Standard as regards foreface to back skull, I would be very happy because people come to me thinking that the proportions are quite incorrect. The foreface should be just slightly shorter than the back skull, not one third to two thirds which will give it a Griffon look rather than Norfolk and there will never be enough room in there for those big teeth which can dispatch a rat.”

£ Transcribed by Trisha Broom from a video taken by Denis Ruffles of an interview. Published in the NTC (U.K.) Newsletter Summer 2001.

By Deborah Pritchard

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