Pembroke Welsh Corgis are short legged, affectionate, furry little dogs with heads that look like foxes. They are among the world’s smallest herding dogs, which is a benefit for them because they can nip the heels of cattle and run around them without getting kicked or trampled on. They make good family dogs, and are cheerful, friendly and lively.
Male and female adults both reach a height of 10 to 12 inches. Males weigh 24 to 31 pounds at maturity, and females 24 to 28 pounds.
Back in the 1100s, King Henry I of Britain invited some of the best weavers from Belgium to come and live in Wales to contribute to the richness of tapestries and carpets in the country. When they relocated, they also brought the dogs that they used to herd their livestock. These dogs were ancestors of the Welsh Corgi. In Wales, they were used to herd cattle, work on farms, and hunt rats.
There are two types of Welsh Corgi – the Pembroke Welsh Corgi from Pembrokeshire, and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi from Cardigan. The main differences between them are the ears and tail. The Pembroke’s ears are pointed and erect, like a fox, whereas the Cardigan’s are rounded. The Pembroke’s tail is much shorter than the Cardigan’s. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain loved them ever since she got her first as a gift from her father, King George VI in 1933. She has owned over 30 Pembroke Welsh Corgis during her reign.
Corgis have a lot of energy and make good watchdogs. They also make good family dogs because they are good with children and are affectionate and playful. They can be stubborn, as they like to think for themselves, and they also like to eat. They have a strong herding instinct, and tend to chase things that move.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is unique in appearance, bearing a strong resemblance to a fox with the shape of its head, and its pointed triangular shaped ears. Its body is long and low to the ground, with short legs. Their possible coat colors include red, sable, black, tri-colored, or fawn – often with white markings. Their eyes are dark and oval shaped.
Corgis are very adaptable, and will do well on a farm or in an apartment, but they may bark if they’re left alone for too long. However they do have a lot of energy, so they need regular exercise and should be allowed to run around either at home or in a park sometimes. They were bred in Wales, which encounters all four seasons, so they should adapt well to different temperatures. They have an inner undercoat which they shed in spring, and a fluffy outercoat, all of which help them with various weathers. However if it gets very cold they may need a coat, and in extreme heat they may get uncomfortable too.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis get on well with children and are generally trustworthy, but they do have a strong herding instinct, so they may nip at their heels when they’re playing. You should teach children how to act with your dog, and never to approach him when he’s eating or sleeping. Also don’t leave them unsupervised with your dog. They are good watchdogs, so will sound an alarm when a stranger comes near, and should be socialized to learn how to act in different situations and get used to people. They can be territorial when it comes to other animals though, and try and chase them off their territory.
The Pembroke will shed heavily twice a year, so at these times you may need to brush him twice a week. The rest of the year a weekly brushing should be fine. They can be bathed as needed – usually every few months is enough as they keep themselves clean very well. Their teeth should be brushed once a week, and their nails trimmed once a month. Their ears should also be checked and cleaned regularly to prevent infection. Start touching their feet and mouths when they are puppies so that they get used to being handled. That way it will be easier once they are adults.
Corgis are eager to please and will do well if they are rewarded with treats and encouragement. However they are also independent, and some dogs may be more stubborn than others. You will need to establish consistent and firm leadership and be patient. They do need socialization to make sure they become well rounded. They are very alert and easily hear the slightest sound. Because of this they will tend to bark a lot, so it’s a good idea to include a ‘stop barking’ command in your training early on. They may not be able to stop completely, but there might be a reduction in how much they bark. If you are having trouble house breaking your dog, then crate training is usually recommended as the best route.
This breed is lively and energetic and needs regular physical exercise and mental stimulation. A daily walk should be planned, along with a few runs in the yard or the park every week. They will happily run alongside you as your jog, but won’t be able to keep up with a cyclist since they have short legs. They should be kept on a leash in general, as they tend to herd and chase moving things. Corgis can do well in a variety of competitions.
Corgis love to eat. You will need to be on your guard against their pleading faces and begging, or you may end up with one that is overweight or obese! They generally don’t know when to stop, and will always want more food. If they become overweight they may get back problems, be unable to clean themselves properly, and become grumpy from having to carry around all that extra weight. Some people recommend adding water to their food as a filler, and to help increase their water intake.
A young puppy should be fed three or four times a day. From 3 to 6 months old, they should get three meals a day, and then from 6 months old you can transition to two meals a day. Once they are adults they can either be fed two small meals or one larger meal a day.
Be wary of feeding your dog table scraps as this can make them picky eaters, cause obesity, and also mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Don’t feed them bones, as these can cause intestinal problems. If you want to stay true to the origin of a Welsh Corgi, you can also cook his food at home and feed him ingredients that are common in Wales – such as lamb, fish, potatoes and carrots.
Recommended daily feeding amount: 1/2 to 1.5 cups of high quality dry food, divided into two meals.
To ensure your Corgi gets the right amount of food, you should look at him regularly – he should have a waist, and you should be able to feel his ribs, but you shouldn’t be able to see them. If he starts to get overweight you should reduce the amount of food you’re giving him. Also it might be best not to feed him table scraps.
Common Health Concerns
Like many other breeds, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are prone to Hip Dysplasia, and breeders should screen parents for this before breeding them. In this condition the thighbone doesn’t fit into the hip joint correctly and can cause lameness. Eye conditions include cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Retinal Dsyplasia. These may cause loss of vision and blindness eventually, but dogs tend to adapt well so long as the furniture isn’t moved around too much.
Corgis are also prone to Von Willebrand’s Disease, which is a blood clotting disorder. This will mean they bleed excessively when injured and are more prone to nosebleeds. It can’t be cured, but can be treated by giving blood transfusions before surgery and managing injuries with suturing or cauterization.
Epilepsy can also affect Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and will manifest in seizures. This can usually be treated with appropriate medication.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Pembroke Welsh Corgis in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Pembroke Welsh Corgi rescue.