The Corgi is a herding dog with a long history. The breed has two types: the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. The Cardigan is believed to have come first, with the Pembroke being bred from him. Both varieties are descended from the Keeshond, Pomeranian, Swedish Vallhund, and the Schipperkes. The Celts may have brought the Cardigan as early as 1200BC. The two types were interbred until 1934, where a show judge decided that they should be broken up.
Once the two breeds were broken up the Pembroke became more popular. Both breeds, however have found ways to earn their keep. They were used as guard dogs and hunted vermin on farms. Because they were so small they were out of the way of kicking cows, making them effective cattle herders as well. They would bark and nip at the cattle’s heels to tell them where to go, rather than herding them by body size.
The Corgi is long and low, standing at about a foot above the ground and weighing 25 to 30 pounds. They have a wide skull that lies flat between their tall, tapered ears. Their legs are quite short compared to the rest of their body, keeping them very close to the ground. The tail is the main difference between Pembroke and Cardigan Corgis. Generally the Pembroke has a long tail while the Cardigan is completely tailless. The Pembroke also tends to be a bit lighter than the Cardigan.
Both types of Corgis have a double coat. The bottom layer is thick and water resistant and the upper is longer and coarser. Some Corgis have coats that are a little longer (known as a fluffy Corgi), but these dogs cannot be shown. White markings on the legs, chest, muzzle, and neck are common, with the rest of the coat being black, tan, red, fawn, or sable. A large amount of grooming time is not required – brush on a regular basis and bathe only when needed. This breed does shed twice a year and may not be ideal for those with allergies.
The Corgi is a beloved pet in many families. He’s loyal, smart, and eager to please. He’ll be very active and willing to play with children for as long as they’re able. Expect him to have a natural instinct to protect his family. He’ll make a lot of noise if someone unknown is trying to enter the home. The flip side of this is that he will be very wary of strangers.
With a strong human master the Corgi will be well behaved and pleasant to everyone. However, if he gets the idea that he’s the leader of the pack you’ll notice some less than ideal behaviors. He’ll tap into that herding instinct and try to boss everyone else around by nipping at their heels. He may become over-protective and try to keep guests out of the home. Make sure it’s clear that you’re the leader of the pack, not him, and you both will be much happier for it.
Corgis have a tendency to gain weight very easily. Because of his long, low structure any extra weight can cause some serious back problems, so be careful how much you feed him. Even if he is not overweight, back problems may become an issue, as may glaucoma. His life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years.
Your Corgi will be equally happy living in an apartment or in a space with a yard. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to be active, though. If he doesn’t have a chance to exercise daily he’ll feel cooped up and may cause a mess in a small apartment. The boredom from lack of exercise may lead to some unwanted behaviors like excess barking. Corgis must also be taught that aggression towards other dogs is not an acceptable behavior. When properly socialized this breed gets along wonderfully with other pets.