The Norfolk Terrier is a working terrier bred by early sportsmen to go ground routing out varmint. In order for the Norfolk to perform its job efficiently it needs the proper conformation. This is why the breed standard is important.

This page looks further into the conformation of the Norfolk Terrier. We have added additional information to explain some of the components of the standard. The standard of many breeds have slightly different interpretations. We have added information based on our collective knowledge obtained from breed experts, published literature, and personal experience.

Scissor bite:
A scissor bite is when the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors.  This is important for a working terrier such as the Norfolk.  The scissor bite increases the "Shear Force" of the bite.  This is the force exerted when the upper and lower incisors meet allowing for the most efficient slicing mechanism.  A common example if shear force is a pair of scissors.  The individual blades of scissors are usually strong but not extremely sharp, when the two edges align precisely the scissors can make clean smooth cuts with little effort. A pair of scissors out of alignment will not cut so well.  Same applies to a dogs scissor bite.

"Broad with strong, muscular thighs. Good turn of stifle. Hocks well let down and straight when viewed from the rear. Feet as in front."

Hocks:  Short hocks allow for strong propulsion. When the dog gaits the pad of foot should be visible when viewed from rear of dog with correct well let down hocks.
Incorrect long hocks limit the propulsion of rear legs and pads are not fully visible during gait.  In an unbalanced dog with long hocks the front legs can not keep up with the the long strides by the hind legs.  To compensate the shorter front legs must increase the amount of time during stride. They do this by throwing their front legs out in front of them higher toward their head.

"Should be true, low and driving. In front, the legs extend forward from the shoulder. Good rear angulation showing great powers of propulsion. Viewed from the side, hind legs follow in the track of the forelegs, moving smoothly from the hip and flexing well at the stifle and hock. Topline remains level."

When tracking the hind feet step into the track left by the front footprints.

"The protective coat is hard, wiry and straight, about 1½ to 2 inches long, lying close to the body, with a definite undercoat. The mane on neck and shoulders is longer and also forms a ruff at the base of the ears and the throat. Moderate furnishings of harsh texture on legs. Hair on the head and ears is short and smooth, except for slight eyebrows and whiskers. Some tidying is necessary to keep the dog neat, but shaping should be heavily penalized"

  • The standard stresses heavy penalties in the show ring for excessive grooming.   The "Natural Norfolk" is becoming a thing of the past despite the standard.  The characteristic non-trim coat has been replaced with a more flashy well groomed coat.  Over time the expected presentation will evolve and the culture will influence what some of the judges look for in the ring.  A good judge will recognize quality regardless, but they may not like the natural look and you may be penalized.  Also without regular stripping or rolling of the coat the coat texture will be sacrificed.  Coat texture is very important in the show ring regardless of a "natural-look" vs "excessively" groomed coat.
  • Shaping by selective stripping allowing for new growth at various lengths is actually acceptable in the show ring.  "Rolling the coat" is pulling out a little hair at a time allowing for new hair of various lengths to be grown.  Shaping with clippers or excessive scissoring is not usually acceptable.  The Norfolk coat should never clipped or scissored because this will result in a light colored dead coat that is neither weatherproof or protective in the field.  A clipped coat will not easily release from the hair follicle as with hand stripping and can become itchy overtime.