Breed: Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Temperament: active, friendly, loyal
Lifespan: 12 years
Recommended for: families
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi originated from the same family as the Spitz, the Elkhound and the Pomeranian. Unlike its cousin the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Pembroke does not have Dachshund characteristics. Corgis are heelers, used as a working breed to herd livestock much the same as the Australian Cattle Dog. Various folklore attributes the name ‘Corgi’ to Celtic origins (Corgi being Celtic for ‘dog’) or alternatively to the Welsh phrases, Cur meaning ‘to watch over’ and gi meaning ‘dog’. The Pembroke is said be a descendant of dogs owned by Flemish weavers who settled in west Wales. It also bears a striking resemblance to the Swedish Vallhund, suggesting a link perhaps brought about by viking invaders in the ninth century.
Queen Elizabeth II has owned more than 30 Pembroke Welsh Corgis since 1944 when she was given her first, Susan, as an 18th birthday present. It is this high profile which has caused the breed to be so popular in the United Kingdom.
What’s the difference?
Just how similar are the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis? Both Corgis are closely related, have similar physical characteristics and both are working dogs. Notwithstanding this, breeders claim that each breed initially evolved from separate lines, the Pembroke relying on influences from the spitz breeds, whilst the Cardigan developed through similar lines to the Dachshund and Basset. The Cardigan is larger, longer bodied and sports a long tail. The tails of most Pembroke Corgis are docked by breeders. Colour and coat also differ, the Cardigan may appear in any colour whilst the Pembroke is either red, sable, fawn or black and tan. White markings may be present on the legs. The Cardigan’s head is fox-like with larger ears, whilst the Pembroke’s muzzle is trim and compact.
All Corgis are dwarfs. That is, they carry the achondroplasia gene which causes short limbs yet leaves the body a normal size.
Outgoing, friendly and loyal. Nonetheless the Pembroke is instinctively a herding dog, a heeler, and may display this tendency if it sights a nice pair of heels on the move to nip at. Pembrokes are active dogs, breeders suggesting they are more outgoing and excitable than the reserved Cardigans. They are affectionate and accepting of children though may be suspicious of strangers. They are quite active, not docile lap dogs. Pembrokes don’t really need excessive space, preferring to have plenty of attention rather than acres of room.
Health and lifespan
Corgis are generally hardy and healthy dogs. Like other breeds, they may suffer from eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma. These diseases can be tested for by a veterinarian and you should enquire of the breeder if the parents have been screened. Since all Corgis are dwarfs they are prone to a series of skeletal problems. Choose a compact and well proportioned animal if possible. Unusually long bodied Corgis are more prone to slipped discs in the middle of the back. Back problems may also occur in aged dogs, particularly if they are overweight and poorly exercised. Corgis have an average lifespan of 12 years.
Grooming and maintenance
The short double coat needs occasional brushing to remove dead hair and dirt. Corgis have two seasonal moults a year, in spring and autumn and require more diligent grooming at this time. They make great house pets but expect some hair around the place.
Breeding and cost
Corgis have few whelping problems though small bitches have been known to require caesareans. Average litter size is six to eight pups. A Pembroke pet costs around $550, more for a show quality dog. Puppies are not always readily available and many are ‘reserved’ before they are born.
Space and exercise
Despite their working heritage, Corgis don’t need a large space to run around. They do like company and if left in the yard with little attention may become destructive.
Pembroke Corgis are great family pets and are also popular with the active elderly. They are suitable as house pets and not too boisterous with children. Remember their heeling heritage though if you’re running around with these royal canines.
To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190
Phone: (08) 8349 4797
Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864
Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409