Norfolk Terriers are active, alert, and intelligent dogs. As with other dogs in the Terrier group, they are known for their hunting ability, including sense of smell that lets them participate in earthdog trials. They also enjoy dog sports such as agility, racing, lure coursing, tracking, flyball, Frisbee, musical freestyle, rally obedience, and even water sports that provide physical and mental activities while helping them bond with their families. Norfolk Terriers have also been used as disability assistance and animal-assisted therapy dogs. Norfolk Terriers seem to be good with children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the dog and its subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression. Although Norfolk Terriers have been described as being both sensitive and stubborn, these traits respond to use of motivational tools such as treats and favorite toys in reward-based obedience training.
The Norfolk Terrier was developed in the 1880's by British sportsmen who crossed Cairn Terriers, small, short-legged Irish Terriers, and small red terriers. Their primary duties were originally rodent and fox hunting. The breed was first accepted to the English Kennel Club in 1932 and by the American Kennel Club in 1936, although Norwich Terriers were classified as the same breed as the Norfolk Terrier at that time. In 1964, the Norfolk and Norwich Terriers were recognized independently. After many years, the two breeds had developed distinctive looks and characteristics; the Norfolk have round, dropped ears in contrast to the prick ears of the Norwich. Some suggest that they were always two distinct breeds and the error was made when they were classified as one.