“Perfect Demon”

We don’t always know how a breed acquired its nickname, particularly when its history is lost to time. In some cases, however, a breed’s moniker is an abbreviated version of its name, as in the case of the Icie, or Icelandic Sheepdog. Sometimes it’s has to do with the breed’s appearance (“Little Lion Dog,” for how the Lowchen was traditionally clipped to have a full, natural mane but close-cut hind end), a breed trait (“King Barker” for the Finnish Spitz),  or function (the “Prayer Dog” for the Tibetan Spaniel).

Norfolk Terrier owners will recognize “Perfect Demon” as their breed’s sobriquet, and some might surmise it is due to a feisty nature. Norfolks are, in fact,  one of the more gregarious terriers – sweet, loyal, and agreeable. A switch flips, however, when it comes time to vermin and ratting. Its 19th century ancestors in England jumped from a fox hunter’s pouch to bolt vermin from the woods, its short legs, furious digging prowess, and versatility proving it to be a “perfect demon” in the field.

Not to be confused with the Norwich Terrier (pronounced “nor-itch”) the breed with the prick ears (think witch’s hat), the Norfolk (with drop ears) was recognized as a separate breed in 1964 in the UK, and 1979 in the US.

We defer to owners of either breed to agree or disagree with Joan Read when she wrote in The Norfolk Terrier: 

“Norfolk are more ‘back to nature,’ easier to breed, and more independent…. In the show ring, a Norwich defies you to put him down, while a Norfolk says, ‘Please put me up!”


Image: Norfolk Terrier by Paul Doyle


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