Norfolks & Children

It must have been said in a television programme: Norfolks are the ideal children's dogs! It would certainly be advisable to research such things properly before they are told to such a large group of people.

Certainly there are individual Norfolks that are excellently suited as children's dogs, but such statements cannot be generalised. Norfolks are small terriers, certainly lovely terriers, but no one can guarantee that a dear terrier won't grab something if it gets too colourful. The terrier breed group was originally bred for hunting and there is still a certain amount of "residual sharpness" in them. The Norfolk is certainly one of the friendliest dogs by nature, but he does not like to be bothered by children when he is resting.

From my own experience, I have adopted two rules when I hand over my puppies: the children should be at least 9 years old, as this is when they start to understand about how a dog needs to be trained and how it reacts. From this point onwards, the dog will accept the children as superior members of the pack. He doesn't do this with smaller children, and if the children misbehave out of ignorance, he may snap at them. We have noticed this particularly when the parents have no experience with dogs and are therefore unable to correctly interpret the dogs' normal behaviour. This leads to the second rule: if families with much smaller children want to have a dog, I only recommend this if the parents have always had dogs before and have a lot of dog experience and good knowledge of their behaviour. Only then does it seem guaranteed that the children will receive the right instructions on how to handle the dog from an early age and that the parents can avert a critical situation in good time.

These lines do not refer specifically to Norfolk Terriers but are the result of over 30 years of dog experience and stories from veterinary practice. There may be breeds that are generally more peaceful and reliable when living with children, but each dog must certainly be considered individually, and training and moulding also play an important role.