About Corgis

As near as we can tell, “Corgi” meant “dwarf dog” in ancient Wales. There are two breeds of corgis, or more properly in Welsh corgwn (pronounced corgoon). These breeds are the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Both breeds are herding dogs, originally used for driving cattle out into the fields by day. They were also general all-purpose farm dogs, guarding the home, ridding it of vermin, and watching over the children. Today’s corgis retain the herding and guarding instincts of their ancestors.


Tally and Romeo

Breed Differences

As we have had both of the breeds of Welsh Corgis, people often ask us about the similarities and differences of the breeds. I wish to add two disclaimers in advance: the first is IMO – In My Opinion, and the second is BNA – But Not Always. Please feel free to liberally pepper the following with these initials.

Pembrokes are:

Smaller and shorter backed
Foxier – many people think they are cuter
Have a softer, fuller coat
More active
More outgoing with strangers
Love everyone in the family
More assertive
Independant and strongwilled
Love to dig holes
Hate water, especially baths
Come in red and white, sable and white, and tri color

Cardigans are:

Larger and longer
Handsome rather than cute – well beauty IS in the eye of the beholder
Have a somewhat shorter, harsher coat
More laid-back
Reserved with strangers
Tend to be one-person dogs
Less aggressive
Still independant, but more willing to please
Love to dig holes
Love stock troughs and wading pools
Cardigans come in lots more decorater colors including blue merle and various shades of brindle

The book “Everything Corgis” uses some great analogies in describing the breeds.   Here’s an example off the CorgiAid website: (click on it for a bigger copy)

I think that my favorite is the “Vacation Destination” comparison.  I guess it’s pretty plain from reading the list which breed a country girl like me would be drawn to.

Want more? Buy the book!

There are also differences between males and females. Please insert the same acronyms: IMO and BNA.

In general, we have found that the females are more assertive and more active than the males. The boy dogs would rather be lovers than fighters, while the girls are always ready for a good rumble. In the established pack order, all of the females outrank all of the males, with the exception of the very young.

Thinking of a second corgi? They are very addictive. For the least friction, we generally recommend that the second corgi be of the opposite sex to the first. If you have a male, get a female and vice versa. Of course we always recommend spaying and neutering. We also recommend that you put at lease a year difference in age between the corgis. Things learned: never take littermates together. They will have a tendency to bond stronger to each other than to the humans in the pack. Think “twin speak”.  Make sure that each dog has his own private time with you.

Barbara Nibling (bnibling@gte.net) posted this analysis of the differences on corgi-l:

Let’s say you have your dog and you’re going to take him for a walk around the block. You’re walking along and you see someone from the street over, who may or may not like dogs, but is giving your dog no eye contact but obviously is going to speak to you. Both of you stop to speak to each other.It is more likely the Pembroke will think this stop was for the purpose of his greeting a new friend. Many of my Pembrokes will approach a stranger, even when eye contact is not made. Amy may even attempt to jump up to get attention if she is not noticed. Igen will sit on the stranger’s feet. Daysey wiggles her butt, looks adoringly at the stranger and waits for her cue words of “she’s so cute.”

Most Cardigans watch the stranger approach, neither fearful nor forward. When eye contact is not made with them, they may switch to watching around them, making sure nothing is missed while your conversation is held.

Now let’s say you continue on your walk and you meet your next-door neighbor, who knows and likes your dogs. Your neighbor approaches, looking at your dog and speaking kindly to it.

It is highly likely the Pembrokes will react the same to a friend perhaps even with more enthusiasm. When your friend starts to walk on, they may even want to walk along with the friend rather than continue with you.

The Cardigan is likely to recognize the neighbor and approach deliberately and trustingly, greeting the neighbor with something approaching dignity. They will be affectionate but restrained.

Now let’s say you’re through with your walk and you are back home. The Pembrokes go running outside to check things out, come back inside and follow you into the kitchen to see what will happen next. If you’re obviously busy, they’ll find a corner to relax and catch a few winks.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to you, a space ship lands silently in the back yard, so that the next time the dogs go outside, there is a large, unknown object there. The Pembrokes will bark, look curiously at it, watch it, decide it’s not moving, trot up to investigate. Hmm, a spaceship, pee on it and go back inside.

But your Cardigan returned from the walk and doesn’t need to check things out outside, perhaps feeling his mission in life is to make sure you’re taken care of. He follows you into the kitchen and quickly sees nothing is going on there, retiring to catch a few winks. The Cardigan wakes to go outside, sees the spaceship. Stares at it quite hard, obviously trying to correlate this with previous information in the dim recesses of his mind. He may bark to see if the item reacts to noise, he will move to study it from a different angle, move closer, investigate this strange item thoroughly, not quite trusting the object. Obviously the spaceship must be watched to make sure nothing bizarre happens with it.

Now if I decided that I hated Pembrokes, I would say – “hey, they’re airheads, can’t tell a neighbor from a stranger, everybody’s a friend. Sure, people love them cause they’re outgoing but they make up their minds very quickly about things and are very accepting about routines. What you see is what you get.”

But if I decided I hated Cardigans, I would say, “they’re so hard to get to know, a lot of people won’t admire them, think they have no personality. Sure, they’re different at home and act just as goofy and loving as Pembrokes, but who wants to be always explaining that they’re a different dog at home? It really takes someone who wants to watch a dog think things through to appreciate a Cardigan.”

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