Highwood Norwich Kennel
Grooming and Health
Highwood Norwich Terrier Kennel: Grooming Tips

Grooming Tips

Grooming the Norwich and Norfolk Terrier


Grooming Tips

Years ago, when Norwich ran abundant in my mother's home and on her property, they were quite a different looking dog. They could have drop ears or prick ears -- or even one of each. They were usually red, with a naturally coarse, short coat. They seldom needed grooming because they were outside or in the barns doing their natural thing: hunting. Across the fields and through the hedgerows and adjacent woodland areas they would hunt, their coats groomed by their environment. Aside from an occasional bath (a run-in with a skunk, perhaps), a swim in the pond was the usual mode of wash.

Grooming TIps

These "old fashioned Norwich", which is how they are kindly referred to today, were longer of body, a bit longer of leg, and devoid of furnishings. I remember thinking that they had a "wash & wear" coat. Their coats seldom held an odor, and, when they were muddied, the mud seemed naturally to carry dead hair out with it when it dried and was combed or brushed out. In winter, the dogs grew a heavy coat that came out in the spring when they could spend more time outside. It would stay short all summer and begin to thicken as the weather cooled in the fall.

Times and lifestyles have changed. Many owners wish to keep their dogs in shorter coat but do not live in an area that allows the dog to range, letting the environment do the work. Further, a number of owners have purchased a dog with the hope of doing some showing or obedience work. They wish to have some basic knowledge so that they can maintain a dog in good coat over a longer period of time.

With time and the separation of the breeds, Norwich and Norfolk terriers have changed, as well. We have two very different breeds now, and I believe that their coats are no longer that similar. What follows is an informational piece on grooming a Norwich terrier.

Article covers the following areas specifically


Mason Pearson pure bristle brush Soft black bristles with no plastic mixed in set in red rubber, 6 1/2”. Made in England.

Belgium Greyhound comb 7" medium to coarse with one-inch teeth.

McClellan Strippers yellow handle is coarse, red is fine. Made in USA.

Macknyfe Stripper Aluminum alloy handle. Comes in fine and extra fine.

Salon Quality straight shear 5"-7" hair-styling scissors approx. $65-80.

Miller's Forge 46 tooth thinning shears gold finish 7” Solheim Germany

Pearson's Stripping knives wooden handled in fine and medium.

Twinco Flea comb with a wooden handle.

Dr Scholl’s Pedicure curved file for detail work on ears/furnishings

Dremel- Multi-Pro Cordless 7.2 Volt 2 Speed with charger.

Andis 2 speed handheld clipper (A62) with 10 blade

Tarter Cracker a device to crack tarter off the back molars from my vet

Scraping tools from my dentist for tarter removal. Assortment of curved scrapers

Double ended angled scraper for under the gums

CET tooth Brush and paste kit

Electric Toothbrush with bristle and rubber head. Oral “B” Braun

Petrodex Dental Rinse for breath treatment

Main and Tail Shampoo Mild general shampoo for animals

Main and Tail Conditioner for dry skin

Aveeno Moisturizing Shower and Bath Oil conditioning furnishings

Kolesterol by Wella for show grooming

Eqyss Micro Tek Pet Spray for hot spots and general itching

Eqyss Megs Tek Pet Rebuilder helps to regrow hair from hotspots

Adams Flea and Tick Shampoo general maintenance

Adams 14 Day Flea and Tick Dip for general Flea and Tick Maintenance

Cherry Knoll Chalk-Block (Red-Brown)

Kwik- Stop

Rescoe Nail Trimmer

Vet Kem Flea and Tick Shampoo diluted for puppies under 6 wks with mites

DVM Seborex Shampoo for very dry and scaly skin

Alcohol - Free Hair Spray for Showing

Proline Self Rinse for washing out show coats

Clipper Cool

Oster Blade Wash

Nolvasan Otic Cleasing Solution for regular ear washing

Mita-clear for ear mites

Gauze squares, cotton balls, Q-tips general maintenance

The Coat

The standard requires that the coat of the Norwich be hard, wiry, and straight; it should be rough and have an undercoat. The dog should be shown with as natural coat as possible.


You want to maintain a healthy coat that is lightly but continually groomed. By raking through and lightly stripping by hand, you are encouraging hair to grow in several layers. If you groom in this manner over a period of time, you are "rolling" the coat. (I did not learn to roll a coat until I wanted to 'special' a dog. In the past, I would focus on a two-month period in the spring and again in the fall, showing on four or five weekends in each season. I could usually finish a bitch or a dog during that period of time.) Specialing a dog entails a continual effort to keep the coat in condition. Every five to seven days, hair should be pulled lightly throughout the coat.

The actual rolling of the coat is accomplished by pushing hairs against the grain and taking a few out at a time. To truly master the technique, you should first watch a professional. He will usually start above the tail and move up the back, stripping loose or dead hair and looking for anything that interferes with the silhouette that he is trying to create. He will continue up the sides, flattening the shoulders, working the neck and the ruff, all the time taking the fewest of hairs. Most professionals have developed a personal sense of the appropriate look for the breed and have a keen eye for the effect of their labors on the grooming table.

To maintain this effect, the coat should be gloved every few days with a natural bristle grooming glove. To ensure luster, brushing is a necessity. Misting the coat with water before brushing is helpful in achieving this. The legs should be kept in oil, so that the longer, drier hairs don't break off. (Oil during the week, and wash out before you show. Several products work well; I use Aveeno Shower and Bath Oil). Massage the legs when you put them in oil, and be sure to get between the toes and around the pads. This is very helpful in the winter, when pads can become dry and cracked. Eqyss Mega Tek aids in hair growth and pad care.

When a dog is shown over a long period of time, you need to be careful what products you use to wash, condition, or prepare your dog for the ring. Make sure they are neither alcohol-based nor preparations for humans that might contain inappropriate chemicals.

To maintain a pet coat, I simply pull it down completely twice a year, once in the late spring and once in the early fall. This keeps the animal cool in summer, with good coat visibility for insects or skin problems, and permits the coat to grow in for the onset of winter. I condition the coat with All Systems Premium Protein Pack and suggest that the dog be dipped once in June and once in early August. Because of the prevalence of Lyme disease in our northeastern area, I also recommend a flea and tick collar for pets and systematic examination of pets for bites and rashes. In the summer I shave the jacket, neck and sides of dogs over the age of 8. Pulling their coats becomes an increasing hardship for them and they are cool and insect free. I use a 10 blade. I leave some head hair and furnishings.

Back to menu


Everyone has a different approach to grooming the face and head. The term that some handlers use is 'putting in the type'. Each breeder, groomer, or handler has a different idea of what he or she feels is 'type'.

To be quite honest, I have myself just started fully to understand about different types. Within my own breeding program, I have recently developed several different looks. But this doesn't mean that I don't have a favorite. I like the face to be blocky, with the snout blunt but not too short. I like the eyes wide set, medium in size, very dark in color, and with dark eye rims. The nose should be medium in size and black, as should the lips, nails, and pads. I like the ears to be small and not too widely set.

Taking this as a model, I groom to it. My first purpose is to establish the stop. (The standard states that the area from the nose to the stop should be one third the distance from the nose to the back of the head.) I do this by carefully trimming the hair away from the corner of the eyes. I then take the coarse McClellan and rake lightly, with the hair growth, from the bridge of the nose back toward the top of the head. This is an ongoing grooming area, because you never take too much hair out at one time. From the middle of the stop, then groom in a triangle, back toward each ear. The face hair should always appear full, blending into the hair in front of the ears. There should be body above the eye, in the eyebrows. (I always leave those occasional stiff black hairs that protrude, trimming them back if they have a propensity to grow long and look unkempt.)

Depending on the shape of your dog's head, there are several ways either to shorten a long muzzle or, conversely, to lengthen a short one: To shorten the muzzle, grow the hair directly above the nose to a longer length and comb it to each side. Blend this hair with longer hair behind this area and under the eye, continuing back along the side of the head and jaw line until it blends in with ruff. Lift the dog's head, and comb the hair under the chin forward. You may want to cut a horizontal line with thinning sheers under the chin. Cut only hair tips and ensure that you are not tight to the chin. This is a form of blunting, creating a heavier feeling at the end of the muzzle.

To make the nose appear foxier, take hair out above the nose and work back toward the eyes, lightly thinning the hair around the muzzle.

Back to menu

The Ears


The hair on the back of the ears should be pulled frequently. Use the Dr. Scholl's Pedicure File. This extra-fine stripper works both with Norwich and with the lighter ear leather of the Norfolk. I also hand pull. I do pull inside the ear, but only halfway down. That circular side ruff should continue in front of the ear and blend across the crown. The hair growing in front of and in the ear is left to support the ruff, affording a wiry look. The longer hairs are pulled so that all the hair in front extends only half to two-thirds of the way up the ear. The ear should have a clean look; the edge should be pulled as tightly as possible. If your dog has a large ear, keep the hair in front full and keep the backs, sides, and tips pulled closely. This will give the ear a pyramid shape, fitting into a fuller face without becoming the dominant feature on the head.

Back to menu

The Neck


One of the things that I have learned from grooming Norwich is the importance of length of neck. (A lot of Norwich have short necks.) A dog with proper length of neck is balanced and moves better. Always groom to show your dog's neck and shoulder. The hair should lie flat from the base of the ear to the point of the shoulder. I take the hair out behind the ears, being careful not to interfere with the mane that builds and blends from the top of the head.

You should groom an area specifically for your show lead. The lead is placed quite forward on the dog's neck. (It should, in fact, lie right behind his ears.) The mane, as I suggested earlier, then builds behind the lead, and the lead forces the facial ruff on the sides of the head and in front of the ears forward as the dog moves. It is important, especially when moving the dog, to have the neck area groomed properly. I have often seen, with an owner-handled dog, long hairs caught in front of the lead, giving an appearance a bit too unkempt for the ring, with the owner constantly fidgeting and stuffing the hair back under the lead, instead of focusing on relaxing and supporting his dog. The hair on the throat should be pulled. Do encourage hair growth on the upper chest and down between the legs, while being careful not to let a bushy look at the sides take away from your straight front coming back to the judge.

Back to menu

Front Legs


The first thing I do is to remove the hair behind the elbow -- the hair inside the upper leg that lies next to the ribcage. I also pull any hair that extends off the elbow. Then I trim a vertical line from the elbow to the top of the grooming table. Again, this is hair tips only, and very minimal. The area of the upper leg below the point of the shoulder needs to be kept very short at all times, very much like the area above the tail. You also need to keep the top of the leg groomed tightly. (You don't want to move your dog toward a judge and have his upper legs and chest area appear top heavy.) Encourage hair growth between the front legs. The dog should appear from the front to have a strong chest, with his elbows close to his ribs. His legs should be straight from the point of shoulder. His feet should be rounded, toes pointing forward, and his pads, thick and black. It is a sign of good movement to see those pads as the dog moves away from the judge.

Remember: You must pull hair to get hair. Soft, fine hair won't hold up for an extended period of time. When you pull a coat down, you must always pull hair from inside the legs and from the belly area. They are sensitive places, but you will have a harsher, healthier coat in the long run. It takes time for this hair to grow. Start pulling a show prospect puppy at 8 weeks -- especially his legs, belly and head hair.

Back to menu

Hind Leg


The rear legs of Norwich vary greatly. A well conformed Norwich should have broad, strong thighs with hocks set low. The toes should point forward and be rounded. This structure, with flexibility at the stifle and hip, will allow the hind legs to reach forward when the dog is gaiting, permitting him to exert proper propulsion. Taking this as a model, you then assess the hind legs of your dog and groom to accentuate those points.

I start at the pad. Nails should be kept as short as possible. (When specialing a dog, I clip the nails each week.) I trim the hair away between the pads. I then stand the dog to trim the hair that touches the top of the grooming table. I don't pull this hair because that takes away from the look of full furnishings on the foot. Alternatively, if the hair on the leg and top of the foot is long and light, you may pull it out -- by hand or by using the Pedicure File --to encourage the growth of new hair or to stimulate growth that has already begun.

When I am preparing leg furnishings for show, I use the stripper on a regular basis in the beginning. I use it lightly but consistently, until the furnishings start to appear full or gain body. I also start to rub the legs and the feet with Aveeno moisturizer. I massage the legs for about two or three minutes each, rubbing the lotion into the feet and between the toes. I push the hair between the toes up toward the top of the foot; extra length of this hair can be used to make the top of the foot appear more rounded. This is useful if your dog has a longer, more pointed foot. I then comb or brush the hair up the leg, hand pulling any long hairs that interfere with my silhouette.

I create the line by setting up the hind leg. I pull hair off the top of the hock first to accentuate angulation. I then make a line from the hock to the table. I trim a straight line -- just hair tips. I want this area below the hock to look as full as possible. When your dog is leggy, you can make the dog appear shorter of leg by rounding that line and growing more hair on the front of the leg. When you look at your dog from the rear, you want to see two straight legs. The toes should not point out. If they do -- slightly, without the dog being cow hocked -- work with extra hair and keep the sides of the feet short. Grow the hair fuller at the base of the foot and brush it to the sides. It is much easier to show a leggy or lightly furnished dog outdoors. A well-conformed dog will take grass and uneven ground in stride. The grass will make him appear shorter and better furnished. Usually, a judge will initially ask you to move your dog, so he can see if there is a moving fault. Then, if he sees something, he has some idea where to look once he gets the dog on the table. In the classes, if you have a dog in good coat that can move, the judge is not going to penalize you because your furnishings are a little sparse.

Back to menu



Facing the rear of the dog, hold the tail thumb on top with fingers around the bottom. In your left hand, use the McClellan coarse stripping knife (yellow-handled). Clean around the sides of the tail by lightly stripping towards you, with the hair. You want to have a clean look in front of the tail. When the tail is up, it should appear as a reversed capital L. The horizontal base of the L represents the top line of the lower back. In order to have a clean line, grasp the tail in your left hand, thumb forward, again, facing the dog's rear, start to rake towards you approximately three inches above the tail. Your objective is to flatten that area. Then hand strip lightly along the tail sides. The top of the tail occasionally has extra hair, which detracts from the L shape. Thin any fullness there. Hand pull or blunt the actual tip with scissors (I only will use the thinners when the dog has sparse tail hair and pulling it would make his tail look weak and patchy.) The tail should look like a Christmas tree with a bluntish tip. Never groom a tail too closely; it will look manufactured and unnatural in the context of the body.

Back to menu


I have been grooming dogs for the show ring for seventeen years. I have tried to provide in this article a straightforward distillation of that experience. I felt that isolating the different areas on the dog would make the piece easier to assimilate.

I have used the names of certain grooming tools. This only reflects my personal taste and is not meant to recommend specific manufacturers.

Professionals seldom use a blade of any kind. Their secrets include consistency, time, repetition, patience, knowledge and -- above all -- an eye. The talented professional can take any Norwich and give you back an improved picture. He is able immediately to identify faults and/or strong points and has the skill and experience to groom to conceal those drawbacks or to enhance those strengths.


In this regard, I am indebted to Peter Green, who was kind enough to read through this article, identifying faults and/or strong points, and deleting or adding to the original text where he felt the piece needed clarification. The editorial grooming is his, and he has given you back an improved version.

The best advice I can give to those of you who are embarking on your grooming career is to go slowly. Work a little, then put the dog down and watch it move. Have someone move the dog toward you and away. Your dog will appreciate occasional breaks as well, and you will come back to the animal fresh.

Learn to do as much with your fingers as you can. It is the best way.

Good Luck!
Knowlton A Reynders

Back to menu

Information from this page cannot be used without permission from the author.
© 2014 Highwood Norwich Kennel. All rights reserved.