The Welsh Corgi is a small type of herding dog, from Wales in the U.K. A though similar there are two different breeds recognised by the Kennel club, these are the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
Welsh Corgis have been historically used as herding dogs, mainly for cattle. They are a type of herding dog known as heelers, this is because they nip at the heels of larger animals, to keep them moving. The combination of their low height off the ground and their innate agility allowed them to avoid the hooves of cattle.
The term Corgi means ‘dwarf dog’ in their native Welsh language, this was not meant as an insult, just a purely descriptive term.
Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire are adjoining counties in South West Wales, the close proximity and rivalry between the two counties after which the modern breeds are named, may be one of the reasons for the separate evolution of the breeds.
Different tales have been told of the Corgis origins, some believe that the two evolved from the same shared ancestory. Others believe that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi was imported by Flemish weavers in the 10th century, further theories have it originating from Central European herding breeds from around Germany.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi as been attributed to the influence of Nordic settlers in the region, dogs of similar looks and dimensions called ‘the Swedish Valhund’ exist in Scandinavia, and it is claimed by some that these two breeds share a common ancestor.
Farmers in Cardiganshire began to switch from cattle to sheep in the 19th century, but the existing herding dog wasn’t suitable for working the sheep flocks, they began crossing it with the Welsh Sheepdog thus creating the Merle coloured pattern in the breed. The subsequent similarities between the two types of Welsh Corgi have been attributed to cross-breeding between the two.
The first recorded appearance by Corgis in the Welsh show rings was in 1925. Captain J.P. Howell called for a meeting of both the Pembroke and the Cardigan breeds, and the Welsh Corgi club was formed, with an initial 59 members. A general breed standard was drawn up and Welsh Corgis began to appear in conformation shows. In 1927 the Welsh Corgi appeared at Crufts for the first time, it wasn’t until 1927 that the two breeds were judged separately.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis were rarer than the Pembroke, with only 11 new registrations made in 1940. Both breeds survived World War II, although the total Cardigans registered with the Kennel club numbered just 61. Pembrokes on the other hand became really popular in the post-war years, in 1953 it was ranked the fourth most popular breed by the U.K. Kennel club, behind the English Cocker Spaniel, the German Shepherd and the Pekingnese.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was on the Kennel clubs first list of vulnerable native breeds in 2006, this list is for breeds which register less than 300 dogs in any one year, there were 84 Cardigan Corgis registered in 2006. In 2013 the Pembroke Welsh Corgi was added to the list, with only 241 puppies registered that year. 2015 saw a 34 per cent increase in the number of Pembroke registrations and it was removed from the list in 2016.
In the U. S the Cardigan Welsh Corgi didn’t fare much better with 97 registered with the American Kennel club in 1997 compared with 8,281 Pembroke Welsh corgis.
Welsh Corgis have a strong association with Queen Elizabeth II, who as personally owned over thirty dogs, either Pembrokes or Corgi -Dachshund crosses known as Dorgis.
There are several physical differences between the two Corgi types, according to breed standard the Cardigan is larger in both height and weight. Both have similar lifespans, although kidney and urethral conditions are more common in the Pembrokes. Also, Pembrokes are more susceptible to eye problems than the Cardigan.
According to its breed standard the Cardigan Corgi stands between 10.5 – 12.5in (27-32cm) at the withers, and should weigh 30-38lb (14-17kg). The skeletal structure of the Cardigan differs from the Pembroke, there is a more exaggerated bend in the front two legs, which fits around the rib cage. The Cardigan is also more heavily set with a denser bone mass, and its tail is longer than the Pembrokes, which sometimes doesn’t have a tail at all.
There are a greater number of colours present in the coat of the Cardigan, with the standard allowing various shades of red, sable, brindle and blue Merle.
The Pembroke is a little smaller than the Cardigan, they stand at 10-12in (25-27cm at the withers and a male should weigh no more than 30lb (14kg) and the female 25lb (11kg).
Pembroke Welsh Corgis have two coats, that vary in length along the body, the first coat is a shorter inner coat, resistant to harsh weather. The outer coat is rougher and longer, but still only medium length.
The personality of the Welsh Corgis ranges from fun-loving, happy, smart, loyal,stubborn and playful. They are adorable, but can get up to mischief if they are bored. When given proper training and affection they will make a great family pet.