The Welsh Corgi Breed Information: What You Really Need to Know
There are a lot of dog breed descriptions out there already. There are numerous dog encyclopedia and databases with concrete information. But I feel that often they do not elaborate enough. That is why I want to give you an as detailed as possible description of the Corgi. Because this is a dog I have experience with myself and have done a lot of research on myself. I own a Corgi right now, and know quite a few other Corgi owners and each Corgi most definitely has its own personality, but there are a lot of similarities and things you'll see that are typical to the Corgi.
A lot of Corgi owners (myself included) like the fairytale Corgi story. You might have already heard people refer to Corgis as "fairy steeds". The story goes that the fairies living in the (without a doubt) fairytale-esque landscape of Wales decided to share their steeds with us. They brought some puppies to the edge of the forest where they left them in the grass, knowing humans would find them. And a little later indeed, 2 farmer's children walked by and saw the puppies and thought they were little abandoned foxes and decided to take them back to the farm. The parents later saw that they were not at all foxes but a mysterious dog they had never seen before. They decided to raise them on the farm. And as the pups grew older the father noticed the great herding abilities of the dogs and ever since then that has been their main task. Herding cattle, sheep, geese,.. and ever since then the Welsh gave them the name Corgi - meaning dwarf dog.
This story sounds great but I will have to disappoint you because that is not the actual story of the Corgi. The Corgi, or its immediate ancestor was supposedly brought to Britain by Flemish weavers during the Middle Ages. That story could make perfect since knowing that Flanders (now the Northern part of Belgium) was then a part of The Netherlands which leads as a bridge to Scandinavia. The place where many spitz-breeds hail from including possible ancestors of our modern Corgi such as the Swedish Vallhund.
2 kinds or Corgis:
As you may know there is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. It has been said that the Cardigan is a direct descendant of a cross between the Swedish Vallhund that was brought to Britain by the vikings, a very old breed indeed, and the Flemish weavers' dogs. The Cardigan is the oldest of the 2 Welsh Corgi breeds, the Pembroke developed a little later and it has been said that there is some Samoyed and/or Pomeranian in his lineage.
what makes the Cardigan and the Pembroke different?
For starters, a lot of Cardigans have a long elegant tail. And the Pembrokes have a short 'nub' for a tail or a shorter more ratty tail. Although, Pembrokes with long foxy tails also exist. It all depends on where you live. Some Pembrokes can be born with a naturally shorter tail like the one I own, his tail is about 10 centimeters long (4 inches), but most Pembrokes in the USA will have docked tails that are only 1 to 2 inches (2,5/5 cm) long. In a lot of European countries you will see either long fluffy "fox like" tails, or the naturally shorter tails, since in some European countries docking is illegal.
The Cardigan, is the bigger of the two. He is a little higher and longer. and looks a little tougher (in my opinion). Their ears are also larger and they have more almond shaped smaller eyes that stand more to the side of the face. It is hard to detect when you don't know much about the breed but easy to notice once you get more accustomed with the different Corgi breeds.
The Pembroke comes in red, fawn, tan/sable, black, with some minimal to medium amount of white marking.
The Cardigan comes in red, black, sable, brindle and blue merle. You can find white markings on a Cardigan as well.
In these colors we can clearly see how the Swedish Vallhund has influenced the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. And also how the Pomeranian has done the same for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
In the past I have read that Pembrokes as well as Cardigans are friendly and social dogs but need time to warm up to strangers. From my own experience I do not agree with that. My own Corgi, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi loves everyone immediately, strangers, children, men, women, anyone we may simply meet while walking on the street is immediately his best friend. And of all the other Corgi owners I know that seems to be more of the norm for the Pembroke anyway, I can't say anything about the Cardigan concerning this.
What makes them alike?
They both need enough exercise to be happy, they might seem small because of their rather short stature but they do have the body and the endurance of a medium size working dog. They are very loyal dogs and really want to belong to the family. They want to feel like a true family member and like to be with their family. Both are herding dogs and due to their short legs you might not think of them as good cattle herders but the contrary is true. They will fall flat on their bellies and roll away in order to avoid the kicking foot of a cow. And the funny thing is that they already know this when they are only a few weeks old. while playing with my own dog when he was only 2 months old I gently pushed him (while we were playing on the carpet) and he immediately dropped to the ground and rolled away, it is one of their techniques to escape, and quite hilarious when you see it.
Do they bark a lot?
Some people say they do - some say they don't. When I first started researching this breed years ago I found that a lot of dog encyclopedia contradict each other. It partly depends on the owner too. You can make Corgis bark...when you want them to bark. I have the "speak" command that I use with my Corgi, and when I say that word he will bark, also, when provoked, he will bark, when you are playing and he gets irritated he will bark, when you throw the ball but you "fake" threw it he will bark.. they bark to herd. The Border Collie has the famous "stare", and the Corgi will try to move its sheep by barking while chasing. Type in "herding corgi" in youtube and you will see how a Corgi herds. He will also do the same to his toys in the beginning. But when desensitized to outside noises or people walking by, they can be very quiet. My Corgi will bark while playing sometimes. But when we are sitting outside on the porch, inside with him in front of the window, he will not respond to noises, cars, children yelling, other dogs barking, people talking or walking by. He watches them and stays quiet. He doesn't even respond to the doorbell. But it might be that I have an exceptionally quiet corgi. Although I have heard from fellow Corgi owners who own both Corgis and other dog breeds at the same time that the other dog is usually the louder one.
A little more about their appearance:
We've already talked about the different colors they have, let's talk about height and weight.
They are that awkward size in between small dog that you can hold and bigger/medium sized dog. when an adult Corgi jumps on you you can definitely feel it. They are quite muscular and strong boned. They can look "chubby" but a lot of that is actually muscles. Although it is important not to let them get overweight, but more about that later.
A male adult Corgi has an average weight of 27 pounds/12,5kg, and has a height of 10 to 12.5 inches/25,5 to 30,5cm. For the average female that is 25 pounds/11kg, and about the same height as the males just a little more elegantly built.
There are a few things to consider when getting a Corgi puppy. It is best to not let them go up or down any stairs until they are fully grown. Because of their short legs and long spines it is not recommended. This is to prevent hip or spine damage at an older age. Every dog breed has its typical diseases it could develop when older. For the short muzzled dogs those are often respitory related. For the Corgi it is joint and bone related. They are more predisposed to
develop canine hip dysplasia, canine degenerative myelopathy and progressive retinal atrophy. And because Wikipedia is a lot better at explaining this than I am, I will refer you to these links for more information on that:
Is a Corgi the dog for me, if I live in an apartment and have no yard/porch?
It can be.. I would however advise you to always pick out a puppy that matches your lifestyle. Some breeders will even do this for you and depending on your lifestyle they will match you with one of their puppies they feel will be good for you. Or you can go to the breeder's house and observe the puppies. Make no mistake, the Corgi is definitely a medium to high energy level dog! If you are looking for a lapdog or a couch potato you will need to look for another breed. And if you do have a corgi and don't exercise them enough they tend to turn into obese nervous dogs because of a lack of exercise. You can however perfectly own a Corgi and live in an apartment. If you build up a routine of daily walks and play time with your Corgi then everything will be just fine. Also, owning a large house with a big yard is NOT enough, that doesn't mean you get a pass, Corgis get bored if they are stuck in a yard and need some variety, so an hour walk a day is recommended for a Corgi.
Will a Corgi get along with my other dogs/cats?
Corgis tend to get along great with other pets in the house. They might try to herd them though. Because they are herding dogs they might see other animals as something they need to herd.
Do Corgis get along with children?
The same as above, yes. They love children but might also try to herd them a little. Consistency is the key. As with any dog breed however, training both dog AND child how to properly interact with one another is important.
Is a Corgi going to ruin my couch and can I never wear black clothing again?
Unfortunately, yes.. They shed a lot. Because of their Spitz ancestry they have a rather thick undercoat to keep them warm and an upper coat of longer coarser hair. They need to be brushed a minimum of twice a week, preferably more. Especially during shedding season. During spring they will shed and get rid of the majority of the undercoat and then you might need to brush them daily.
I personally use a Furminator shedding brush, but you can find all kinds of specific shedding brushes on the market. I don't use that every time I brush him though, only every once in a while. I prefer a slicker brush because that gets all the loose undercoat hairs out.
What training method works best for the Corgi and how easy/difficult is it to train them?
Corgis are very smart and fast learners. They have a good memory and will pick up new things very fast. They are a bit stubborn and sometimes it might seem like they are not getting it, but they are actually just bored. So make training sessions short and keep it interesting.
They respond best to reward training/positive reinforcement. Corgis are very sensitive dogs and can shut down when you are too rough with them.
What is a good motivator for the Corgi?
Food. Corgis are extremely food driven dogs. So food can be a good help when training your Corgi. On a sidenote, be careful and measure their food intake every day because they can get obese when eating too much.
What dog sports are they good at?
Corgis are excellent herding dogs, it is in their nature so sheep herding would be a great thing to do with your corgi. Agility is also something they are great at because they are fast and have great endurance and are very smart.
Corgis are basically compact dogs with the endurance and energy and mentality of a bigger dog, and the sense of humor of a clown and the cuteness of a puppy throughout their entire lives.
© 2014 D. Lemaire