The Norfolk Terrier: one of the smallest terriers around


  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. In cuteness the Norfolk ranks at the top of any list, and these fun, feisty friends currently rank #126 out of all 192 AKC-recognized breeds. We think everyone on earth should be a fan, but does the average person in the street recognize him? Is this good or bad when it comes to placing puppies?
  3. Few of these dogs really “work” anymore. How has he adapted to civilian life? What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house?
  4. Norfolk vs Norwich: is it only ears? What other differences might one find?
  5. A true Terrier temperament requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Drawbacks?
  6. What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate?
  7. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness (or lack thereof)?
  8. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging?
  9. What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
  10. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  11. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

Lori Pelletier

I live in Exeter, Rhode Island. Outside of dogs, I teach animal science in a Vocational Agricultural High School in Massachusetts.

Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? No people on the street do not often recognize the breed but the breed always collects attention and people immediately want to know what the breed is. There are very few breeders in the United States that are actively breeding. So it is actually ok that they do not recognize them The demand far outweighs the supply in our breed.

How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Norfolks love to work and adapt to just about any situation you ask them to handle. They will absolutely let you know if there are any vermin living in your home and will persist until they rid your home of them.

Norfolk vs Norwich: is it only ears? What other differences might one find? They are entirely different breeds. I breed both and can tell you they are two distinct breeds in looks and temperament. Both make lovely companions and without living with both breeds the average person would not discern the differences. Everything from the way they breed to the way have their puppies, to how the mothers are with their puppies could not be more different.They mode of play is the difference between the two breeds as is their performance in the field and show ring. Norfolks are thinkers and are a bit more independent in life when asked to do a task the Norfolk gladly performs the task on their own. Their Norwich cousin prefers that their people do the task with them or for them. I like to say my Norfolk want me but my Norwich need me.

What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Their size and portability make them a great companion. They are big dogs in a small package. They are willing to go and do anything a larger breed dog would do and they have the stamina to do it.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The largest challenge to our breed is the lack of young people getting into the breed. Without a new generation of breeders our breed will die out.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I evaluate my puppies at ten weeks but a real show dog has been exhibiting signs since it was three to four weeks old.

The most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? This breed is supposed to be shown free stacked and free baited. Any dog that comes in the ring with its tail down is not showing proper temperament.

My ultimate goal for the breed? To increase the number of breeders that will help to preserve our breed.

My favorite dog show memory? When I received my first reserve best in show! I was the Breeder, Owner and Handler of the dog and he is all Avalon Bred. (Both the sire and the dam were Avalon breeding.)

I have been in this breed for over 25 years and I have been lucky to incorporate some of the top dogs from the top kennels both in America and the UK into my breeding program. I have maintained a consistent type in my dogs and a temperament that I am very proud of. Avalon dogs can currently be found at the top of the breed standings in Conformation, Agility and Obedience. I am proud to say I have maintained type, working ability and temperament in my dogs.

Barbara Miller

I live in Old Brookville, Long Island where I raise my Norfolk Terriers. My children are grown with families of their own so it’s sort of nice being a Norfolk breeder and tending to puppies.

Even at my age I still go to the office, a family business, mostly every day. We’ve sold a major portion of our company but I’ve found that to be a gift as I’ve turned my attention to investigating and writing a history of the Long Island Kennel Club dating back to 1900.

A number of my Norfolk, over the years, reside with their human parents in and around New York City. It’s kind of cute when they meet, comparing notes, and discover they bought their Norfolk from Barbara Miller. I’ve never had a problem selling a pup as the waiting list is long. I always ask people making the query to try to visit me so they can see how my dogs are raised. This way I get to meet a perspective buyer and hopefully their family. People have visited from many corners of the world wanting a Norfolk. Promises are never made because I’m in line first as I keep a pup from every litter I breed. Most times I select the right pup and sometimes not. I not only litter register my Norfolk but I take it one step further and register each pup to myself. When the pup goes to its new home so does the AKC registration paperwork for transfer. I take great pride in knowing I’ve educated the new owner in care and maintenance of the pup. All pups leave with a microchip implanted and pups don’t leave my care until they are 12 weeks old.

The Norfolk Terrier instinct holds true even today as they are definitely ratters. I see it when my pups are in their outdoor puppy run. For some reason moles like living under the pavers from time to time and the pups follow the scent as certain times of the year there seem to be more moles than at other times. Let an adult play in the garden and for sure they’re after a squirrel. The play equipment for dogs today follows in the footsteps of performance events. My pups love going through the tunnel again and again.

People ask what the differences are between the Norfolk and Norwich aside from the ears. Both breeds started at the same point but early breeding to various canines produced either drop ear or prick. There are very subtle differences between the two. The Norwich is short backed with a foxy expression. The Norfolk is off square with more of a wedge shaped muzzle. Ask a Norwich breeder which one has a better disposition and for certain they’d say the Norwich. In actuality both have wonderful dispositions yet I do believe the Norwich is more likely to please where the Norfolk is a bit more independent making training more of an event.

A Norfolk requires a good walk on lead a few times a day. Ideally they love to romp in the fenced in back yard especially playing with kids. As a family pet they adore a seat on the sofa with their owner watching television. As a longtime breeder I don’t see any drawbacks to owning a Norfolk. The breed club has been diligent in advising new owners and breeders to test their dog for MVD; a heart leakage problem. These many years of testing it appears the situation is more under control than ever before.

Less Norfolk are being independently registered with AKC than ever before. It’s one of the reason I register my pups in my name as stated above. I don’t think it’s just Norfolk as I firmly feel the Terrier situation is on a down slide. As president of the Long Island Kennel Club I’ve watched the entry numbers head downtown. A number of years ago I stopped marking the “limited registration” box on the AKC registration application. For the most part “pet” owners want to spay and/or neuter their dogs. I firmly feel they should wait until the pup has reached close to one year so that their potential development has been reached.

I’m not a mind reader and even though I’ve been at this almost a lifetime I can only zero in on a potential pup once on its feet and close to eight weeks. I’ll keep my eye on that pup watching it mature; how he preforms at the end of the lead; is he outgoing; does he enjoy the ring. Of course the attitude must match the physical appearance as so stated in the breed standard. I’ve deviated somewhat with reference to the tail. In the UK as in many other foreign countries docking isn’t allowed. I’ve imported some good dogs with tails to incorporate into my breeding line successfully. Judges have got to start opening their eyes and look at the tail set, the turn of stifle etc. before they discount a good dog because it has a natural tail. Presently I have the #1 Norfolk with a beautiful natural tail and I thank the judges who have awarded her top ribbons because she has the qualities admired in the breed.

My goal for the breed is to encourage younger people to take an interest in Norfolk whether as a conformation exhibitor or in the performance ring. If you look around you’ll see many of us are of the gray haired variety; we need young blood. I encourage new owners to get involved by having their Norfolk go through the good Citizen program so that the owner and dog can visit nursing homes and hospitals. Believe me it’s a tough sale.

My memories are many but an outstanding one is going Best in Show beating the #1 dog in the country. As for me I’ve collected honors that still stand out in my mind. Twice I was the Terrier Breeder of the year and in 2007 the AKC honored me with the top prize “Breeder of the Year.” It’s been a great ride.

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