Choosing a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

There are two breeds of Welsh corgi, the Cardigan Welsh corgi and the Pembroke Welsh corgi. The Cardigan and Pembroke are two completely separate breeds with different origins and ancestors. The Pembroke is considered a house pet and is so loved in Great Britain that the breed is now the Royal Dog of England.

History and Origin

It is thought that Flemish weavers brought this Welsh corgi to Wales across the Channel in 1107. Many settled in an area called Pembrokeshire, from where the dog received his name. The Keeshond, Pomeranian, spitz and schipperke were mostly likely used in the development of the breed.

The meaning of the word corgi is often debated. For some, the word is Welsh for dwarf dog. Others feel that corgi is a derivation of cur, meaning working dog. Regardless of the origin of the name, the corgi is a small dog that excels in working with cattle.

Corgis were originally developed to help their owners with livestock. Unlike herding dogs, the corgi was used to drive cattle. Centuries ago, good grazing land was scarce and extensive fencing to confine livestock was not allowed. This meant that there was significant competition for land usage. If one landowner had good pastures, neighboring cattle could easily migrate and graze, taking this valuable resource. The job of the corgi was to nip at the heels of these cattle, driving them off the owner's land. Eventually, fencing was allowed and the usefulness of the corgi diminished. Thankfully, the corgi was so loved as a pet and guardian that the breed continued to flourish.

In the mid 19th century, crossbreeding between the Cardigan and Pembroke occurred, but in 1934, the two breeds were officially divided and recognized as separate. All crossbreeding stopped. The first corgi arrived in the United States in 1931 and the two breeds were accepted into the herding breed group of the American Kennel Club in 1935.


The Pembroke Welsh corgi is low set and has a long sturdy body. The Pembroke also has erect ears with pointed tips. It has a very short tail or none at all.

The hair coat is double, dense and of medium length. The Pembroke is most often red but sable, fawn, black and tan with or without white markings are acceptable.


The Pembroke Welsh corgi stands 10 to 12 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 25 to 35 pounds.


The Pembroke can be very successful house pets and are also generally tolerant and playful. They are intelligent and loyal dog and may have a herding instinct. Some can be quite possessive, which may result in aggressive tendencies in certain dogs.

Some dogs are great with kids and others can assert their possessive or bossy nature and have a tendency to nip. They are better with older kids (over 6 or 7 years).

Home & Family Relations

Corgis are devoted and protective, especially around children. The corgi will guard and protect children from anything the dog perceives as a threat.


The corgi needs little training to herd and work with livestock. They are intelligent and excel at obedience training. As a working dog, they love having a job to do.

Special Concerns

Corgis should be socialized early in life. Natural herding instincts may cause problems as the dog may nip at your heels in an attempt to get you to go where the dog wants. The hair coat does not need special care and, overall, the dog is an excellent pet.

Health Concerns

In general, the corgi is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Hot spots are areas of itchy moist skin irritation.
  • Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.
  • Glaucoma is a painful and serious condition that causes pressure within the eye to increase. It can lead to blindness if not treated early.
  • Corneal ulceration is the loss of the corneal epithelium (the outermost cells of the cornea).
  • Lens luxation is a dislocation or displacement of the lens within the eye.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.
  • Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive degenerative disease of the spinal cord that slowly results in weakness and eventually inability to use the rear legs.

    In addition, the Cardigan Welsh corgi is prone to obesity, cervical disk disease, and difficulty delivering puppies.

    Life Span

    The average lifespan of the Cardigan Welsh corgi is 14 to 16 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

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