Pembroke Welsh Corgis
Although modern Corgi popularity is largely due to the breed’s unique aesthetic as opposed to its working ability, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi can be traced back to 1107 AD, when they were brought to Wales with the Vikings and Flemish immigrants. Earliest records show that Pembroke Welsh Corgis were used for herding sheep, ducks, horses, cattle, and geese in the 10th century, securing their reputation as one of the oldest known herding breeds. Despite their distinct body type, Corgis are members of the Spitz group, meaning their closest relatives are Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows, and Elkhounds. The Pembroke Welsh Corgis biggest claim to fame; however, is that it is the favored breed of Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, more than 30 Pembroke Welsh Corgis have graced the castle grounds during her reign. Although the breed’s popularity is waning in Europe, it is currently ranked 20st in popularity in the United States.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is well-revered for its intelligent and eager to please nature. Combined with their trainability, they make great candidates for Agility and Obedience competitions. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are also highly affectionate animals, even with strangers, children, and other pets. Owners should beware that they have strong prey drives, making them poor candidates for off-leash training. In addition, their strong herding instincts make them prone to nipping at ankles when they are young. Proper socialization and training is therefore a must for these dogs.
Among the herding group, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are the smallest members. The largest size permitted for this breed is 24 – 26 lbs for females and males, respectively. Their bodies are long, ears erect, and tails are often docked or completely missing from birth. There are a number of color combinations that are typical, including black and tan, fawn, red, and sable, as well as white markings. The coat is medium in length (“fluffy” Corgis with long fur are considered a fault), and sheds twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are often confused with Cardigan Corgis, which became a distinct breed in 1934. Cardigans have a longer body, larger ears, and having straighter legs.
As a dwarf breed, Pembroke Welsh Corgis can suffer from a number of health problems that are not genetic. However, there are also a number of inherited conditions that these corgis can develop, as well, including monorchidism, degenerative myelopathy, von Willebrand’s disease, and progressive retinal atrophy. Hip dysplasia is also a common concern. Pembroke Welsh Corgi owners should ensure their dogs are on high-quality diets and receive plenty of exercise, as this breed is prone to obesity thanks to the voracious appetite common with most herding breeds. Obesity in Corgis can lead to a number of health problems that are exacerbated due to their dwarfism, especially heart conditions and arthritis. Despite their proclivity towards certain health problems, healthy Pembroke Welsh Corgis can live 12 – 15 years.