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The Welsh Corgi: A Little Spitfire

Considering one of these sweet, intelligent, energetic little fellas to add to the family? Well, you’ve chosen a gem to consider! Even Queen Elizabeth II owns a handful of these fun little moppets, and this breed has been favored by the British royalty for the better part of a century. Throughout their history, corgis have proven their worth time and time again, being bred for herding and corralling, proving irreplaceable for Welsh farmers, and useful additions to the farm. These mighty mites can very easily handle herding cattle, sheep, bulls, horses, and even geese. (Moms might use them to herd children away from the TV.) They accomplish their tasks by nipping at the heels of the animals and using a semicircle pattern to press them forward. If a herded animal shows aggression and turns on the dog, the fearless little spitfire bites it on the nose to turn it back. Their low slung bodies allow them to avoid being kicked.

Their line started in Wales around the 10th century, though there are conflicts around their base origins. The AKC believes their beginning to have been in the 12th century when Flemish weavers brought the direct ancestors of the Pembroke Corgi over on boats. Another suggestion was a breeding between Cardigan Cordis and the Swedish Vallhund, brought my Norse invaders to Wales. Sadly, clear historical records regarding these dogs are not clear on the matter.

There are two main corgis breeds: the Cardigan and the Pembroke. They were both developed in Wales for a similar purpose and only a few miles apart in their respective counties. Interbreeding was popular until the 1930s when a show judge declared them to be too dissimilar to be considered the same breed. After that, the Pembroke became the more popular and remains so to this day.

Appearance
There is a difference between the two corgi breeds, just as the judge declared, but they are very similar in appearance to the untrained eye; the biggest difference between the two seems to be the tail. The Pembroke lacks a tail, or has a bob tail, while the Cardigan sports a long one. Other differences include:
• The Pembroke has straighter legs
• The Cardigan has a longer body
• The Pembroke’s head tends to be more of a wedge-shape
• The Cardigan has larger, farther set ears
• The Pembroke is not as heavy as the Cardigan

So generally speaking, they both stand about 10-13 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 28-30 pounds for males and 24-28 pounds for females. Both breeds are low-slung and muscular, with large, rounded ears and faces resembling a fox. Corgis have double coats, with a fine, soft undercoat, and shorter, coarser top coat. The shed year-round and need a good brushing at least once a week. They’ll have extensive fur dumps twice a year, too, so be ready for puff balls.

Color range is red, black, tricolor, sable, fawn, or tan. Some white may be splashed in there, as well. Fluffy or long-haired corgis exist and are very cute little dogs, making fine, trainable pets, but they cannot be shown in competition as they are recognized as cosmetically flawed.

Possible Health Issues
Obesity in these dogs is deadly, as their spines can’t take the added weight. This can cause painful arthritis in the backbone. Pembrokes are at risk for hip dysplasia, where the hip joint or socket is deformed, a clotting disorder called Von Willebrand’s disease, eye disorders, and Canine degenerative myelopathy, which is a progressive disease of the spinal chord that ends in paralysis. A test can be performed on dogs over 10 years old to see if this condition exists. Cardigans are susceptible to glaucoma and back disorders, plus Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which is the deterioration of the retinas and eventually leads to blindness. A test can be performed to see if your dog has this disorder.

Temperament
Both dog breeds are very active and energetic, needing good long walks daily. However, the Corgi needs more than the Pembroke. They are both highly intelligent, obedient, loyal, neither shy nor aggressive, protective, sturdy, and good with well-behaved children. While not shy, they are wary of strangers, and tend to bark a lot, which make them good watchdogs. If barking is not desired, they need to be communicated this. They get along well with other animals as long as they are socialized young. These little guys may also try to herd their family, which should not be allowed. As with all dogs, pack order must be established if the canine is to be happy, so make sure any dog you own, especially the corgis, know their place in the pack is below any human, else you will have dominance issues.

Corgis are, bottom line, fun little dogs. Smart and loyal, cute and full of energy, they will love you all their lives, which is 11-14 years. Keep them trim, give plenty of exercise, and you’ll have a companion like no other. Just ask the Queen Mum!