Breed Type: Herding
Country of Origin: Wales
Size:  Medium
Also known as: Corgi, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Pembroke Males: Height: 25-30cm, Weight: 11-14 kg
Pembroke Females:  Height: 25-30 cm, Weight: 11-13kg
Cardigan Males: Height: 25-33cm, Weight: 11-14 kg
Cardigan Females: Height: 25-33 cm, Weight: 11-14kg
Exercise Requirements: Medium
Care Requirements: Low
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Best Suited as: Family Pet / Guard Dog  / Farm Dog

The Welsh Corgi breed has gained notoriety as a British royalty dog but just about anyone will be happy to have one as their family pet.  Recognized by their short legs and long bodies, Corgis are natural herders and love to be part of the pack. There are two recognized varieties of Welsh Corgis, the Cardigan and the Pembroke.

Corgi means “dwarf dog” in Welsh. While there are similarities between the two varieties of Welsh Corgis, the Cardigan and the Pembroke, there are some differences including size, color, and tail length. Pembrokes are the smaller of the two breeds and usually have their tails docked as short as possible and have pointed ears. Since cropping for cosmetic purposes has been banned in Australia, this trend is changing the look of the Australian Pembroke.

The Cardigans, in contrast, have rounded ears and naturally long tails. Both breeds are strong and sturdy with extended bodies and short legs. They have wedged shaped heads, dark eyes and black noses.  The Cardigans have a hard textured coat that is short to medium in length while the Pembrokes have a thick undercoat with medium length top coats. The most common Pembroke coat colors are red, sable, fawn, or black and tan with or without white markings. Cardigans come in any color with or without white markings.

The early history of the Corgi is disputed.  The Cardigan variety is said to be the older of the two having been brought to Cardiganshire by the Celts in 1200 B.C. The Pembroke variety may have been brought to Wales by the Flemish in the 1100’s. More reliable information tells us that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed developed in Pembrokeshire, Wales, to work as herding dogs. These popular dogs performed their duties by nipping at the heels of the herd and then quickly ducking under the galloping herds’ hooves.

However the Cardigans and Pembrokes arrived in Wales, the varieties were interbred until the 1930’s. In 1934 the Pembroke variety was recognized by the American Kennel Club and a year later the Cardigan variety was also recognized. The Pembroke variety has become the more popular of the two most likely because King George VI kept two as royal pets. The Pembroke variety also became popular because Queen Elizabeth II kept many as pets. The majority of less notable corgis were used to drive cattle, hunt vermin and guard farms.

Corgis are praised for their intelligence, loyalty, and fun-loving qualities. Originally bred for herding sheep and cattle, they are active dogs and have won many awards in sheepdog and agility competitions. Like most herding dogs, they can attempt to herd people and this behavior should be corrected immediately.

Most Corgis are even-tempered, confident and obedient and make good family pets. They also make excellent watch dogs because they are protective of and dedicated to their owners, bark a good deal and are often wary of strangers. Some Corgis, due to their inquisitiveness and confidence, find themselves in dangerous situations confronting larger dogs that may not be as friendly. Owners find it best to keep their Corgis on leash and not allow them to run freely around other dogs.

Corgis are well behaved around considerate children as long as they understand their correct order in the pack. Taking your Corgi to an obedience class should help quickly train your pet and keep any bad behaviors from reoccurring.

Care and Grooming
Corgis are relatively easy to care for in terms of grooming but are known for shedding. Owners that spend 15 minutes on grooming their Corgis once a week with a firm bristle brush will help tame the unwanted hair that may gather on furniture and clothing. The heaviest shedding occurs in the Spring but often there is shedding in the Fall as well. Corgis need baths only occasionally.

While they are less active then some breeds, Corgis enjoy a daily walk and may become overweight if they do not receive regular exercise. Since Corgis have a tendency to put on extra weight easily, they should not be overfed and treats should be limited.

Some Welsh Corgi owners have found that herding and agility contests are a good outlet for their pets’ high energy level.  This can be a good fit because of the Corgis natural athletic ability and fun-loving personality. These owners need to be vigilant not to overexert their dogs and be in tune with health problems that may occur as their pet ages due to excessive exercise.

Most Corgi owners are fortunate to have healthy pets.  Corgis are among the healthiest dogs in the herding group and live longer than many of their peers. The Cardigan variety tends to have fewer inherited health problems than the Pembrokes but owners of both should be aware that they can have issues with their hips (dysplasia) and eyes (glaucoma and retinal atrophy).  Due to their length and low build, Corgis are also prone to spinal problems and need to be taught how to navigate stairs at an early age.  To prevent injury, Corgis should also be discouraged from jumping off furniture and stairs.

Suitability as a Pet
Corgis make wonderful pets for many different people because they are easy to care for and need an average amount of exercise. They are easy to house train and enjoy the attention of their owners. Most work hard to please their owners and should be rewarded for their efforts. Generally most Corgis do well with all ages of considerate children. Parents with young children should quickly teach the Corgi its proper place in the family pack to avoid dominance issues.  Their tendency to herd is only problematic when an owner does not correct this behavior quickly. Corgis do well in a variety of living situations, including rural and urban settings and will be fine in an apartment as long as they are properly exercised and taught to keep the barking to a minimum. If introduced as a puppy into a family with other pets, they usually do very well.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.