Whatever background breeding was to create the Norwich Terrier also applies to the Norfolk. It is assumed that small Irish Terriers were used initially. Later these were crossed with other terrier breeds. Two that are suggested are the Border and the Cairn. For thirty years two ear types persisted in the Norwich Terrier-the drop and the prick. Both varieties were shown together under the same breed classification and the two varieties were inter-bred. However, it seems that such interbreeding created problems with ear carriage, and breeders discontinued the practice. Thus only prick-eareds were mated to like, and drop-eareds to drop-eareds. After a few generations of this it became evident that two quite different types of terrier were evolving, and what seemed grossly unfair was that in the show ring the prick-eareds were consistent winners over the drops. Because of this, supporters of the drop-eareds sought to have this variety recognized as a distinct breed.
In 1963 separate breed standards for the two varieties were submitted to The Kennel Club (England), and two years later separate breed status was granted. The newly recognized breed became known as the Norfolk Terrier.
Like his very close relative, the Norfolk is a game, working terrier that loves horses and the stableyard. These are the smallest of the terriers weighing about eleven pounds (5 kg) and standing about ten inches (25 cm) at the shoulder. It is said that their harsh, wiry, close lying coats make them the ideal companion for those wanting a terrier that stays neat with a minimum amount of grooming attention.
Following Britain's example The Canadian Kennel Club recognized the Norfolk Terrier as a separate breed in 1977.