From Pembroke to Cardigan: A Complete Corgi Guide
From ordinary folks to royalty, everyone loves corgis. They are smart, alert, and affectionate. There's no mistaking these pups’ unique appearance: big ears, bouncing butt and short "drumstick" legs. Some may look like a loaf of bread. Others have perfected the “sploot”. Everything about them — from their round builds to their happy faces — is absolutely adorable. What's not to love about this breed? Keep reading to learn more!
An Overview of Corgis
Corgis are the smallest member of the herding group. Their long and low bodies make them quick and agile herders. It’s no surprise that their name reflects their stature. The word Corgi is believed to be derived from the Welsh words “cor”, which means dwarf, and “gi”, which means dog.
What many people don’t know is that there are actually two different types of Corgis: Cardigan Welsh Corgi and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. These two types are considered separate breeds because they come from different ancestors (we’ll touch on that later).
However, they do share similarities, both physically and personality wise, that lead to them often being confused. Both types have large heads with long bodies on short, thick legs. However, the quickest way to tell them apart is to look from behind. Cardigan Welsh Corgis have tails, while Pembrokes do not.
History and Background
Delving into the history of Corgis reveals the differences between the two breeds, which originate from different parts of Wales - Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire - and have different ancestral lineage.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is one of the oldest breeds in the British isles and nearly 2,000 years older than Pembrokes. Their ancestors were brought to Wales from Central Europe by Celtic tribes around 1200 BC. It is believed that they descended from the German Teckel lineage.
The history of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi dates back to around the 10th century and is believed to descend from the Nordic Spitz breeds. However, the theory of their origin is somewhat disputed and includes ties to Flemish weavers, Scandinavian raiders, and even a fanciful tale of being ridden by fairies. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are perhaps best known because Queen Elizabeth II loves the breed.
Both excelled in herding and guarding grazing cattle. Perhaps surprisingly, the breeds haven't interbred, with the exception of a brief period in the 1930s. During this period, these two corgi breeds were considered one breed, Welsh Corgi, by the Kennel Club of Great Britain. In 1934, the two types were separated into two distinct breeds.
They have a lot more going on than their stoutness! These dwarf breeds have almost comically large heads and upright ears. Cardigans are rounder (in both body and ears) and larger, with males weighing up to 38 pounds. Pembrokes are slightly smaller at 30 pounds and feel more rectangular thanks to their straighter spine.
Cardigan coats can be brindle, black and white with either brindle or tan points, blue merle, or red and sable with white markings. Pembrokes, on the other hand, have red, sable or tricolor coats with white markings. However, it's common for dogs of both breeds to have a white stripe down their nose. Technically, the AKC considers their longer coat to be a fault of the breed, but plenty of people love their fluffy Corgis!
There are also a few personality differences between the two Corgi types. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are more outgoing, while Cardigans can take some time to warm up to new people. Pembrokes have more energy overall and stay close to their owners, which makes them excellent walking buddies. However, some people prefer the Cardigan Welsh Corgi's independence and adaptability. They love to lounge at home on the sofa as much as they like to travel.
Caring for the Breed
With their higher energy, Pembrokes may require more calories than Cardigans, especially because the latter breed can easily become overweight. The AKC recommends giving Cardigans two smaller meals each day to aid digestion.
When it comes to grooming, Cardigans need only weekly brushing and trimming of their nails and the fur around their feet. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a bit more demanding because of their double coat — it requires daily brushing with a slick brush and can shed quite a bit. Bathing your Pembroke during shedding season helps to reduce this.
They enjoy a good walk, and Pembrokes especially want a job to do. However, their legs are too short for them to join you on bike rides, so stick to daily walking or jogging. If you notice your Cardigan zooming around the house — an activity known as "trapping" — it's time for exercise. Cardigan Welsh Corgis love toy balls and socializing, and regular trips to the dog park are a great way to give them both! Note that stairs and excess jumping can cause back injuries in Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
Both breeds can benefit from training, which helps them socialize and release energy. Training may include herding, obedience or agility activities. Pembrokes and Cardigans alike love positive rewards, which will help ensure they are well-behaved.
Common Health Issues
Both breeds are typically healthy and have similar life expectancies — 10 to 15 years for Cardigans and 10-13 years for Pembrokes. With proper breeding, many genetic health conditions can be avoided. It is important to have hip and ophthalmologist evaluations to catch potential joint issues, progressive retinal atrophy, and degenerative myelopathy.
Due to their low build, Cardigans and Pembrokes are prone to developing hip dysplasia and back injuries. Doggie parents should avoid letting their pup jump between furniture and the floor. It is also important to ensure your pup’s joints are receiving the nutritional support they need to stay healthy. Look for a glucosamine for dogs supplement and/or omegas for dogs to support their joints and reduce inflammation.
According to legend, Welsh fairies relied on Pembroke Welsh Corgis to work their cattle, pull their coaches, and even carry them into battle! For this reason, Corgis are sometimes known as "enchanted" dogs.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis were named the 11th smartest breed by Stanley Coren in his book "The Intelligence of Dogs."
People think that Corgis and their body parts look like all sorts of food! Their stubby legs resemble "drumsticks," especially from the back. And the Japanese even have a word for their fluffy butts — the Japanese word for "peach!"
Many people are aware of the Queen of England's penchant for the breed. She's owned at least 30 Pembroke Welsh Corgis or mixes in her lifetime, giving them the royal treatment even after they've passed.
Horror writer Stephen King has affectionately referred to his Corgi Molly as the "Thing of Evil" on social media since she joined the family in 2015.
Anime fans might recognize Ein, a Pembroke Welsh with enhanced intelligence, who joins the Bebop crew in Cowboy Bebop. Netflix is making a live action reboot of Cowboy Bebop.
Finally, comic lovers can check out Tori the Corgi and her sardonic munchkin cat friend Samuel in their series on Webtoons.
In its early days, Amazon even had a Pembroke Welsh Corgi mascot named Rufus, who joined his editor-in-chief owner at work!
Corgis to Follow on On Instagram
Ralph the Corgi may be the most famous Corgi influencer with 318k followers.
Geordi La Corgi & Scotty are an adorable duo you don't want to miss.
Don't forget to check out Tibby's fun and festive IG.
What to Expect When Owning a Corgi
Your expectations will differ based on the breed. With a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, you'll have a small, loyal and energetic friend who will keep up with you — and keep you on your toes! The double-coat needs more attention but is beautiful nonetheless.
If you choose a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, you'll have a gentler and more timid dog that loves spending time at home with you. However, it will still require socializing, and you must be watchful of your dog's weight.
Overall, both Corgis make excellent additions to a family or even a ranch!
- Holly W