Welsh Corgi
Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Height Males
  • Cardigan: 27–32 cm (11–13 in)
  • Pembroke: 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in)
  • Cardigan: 27–32 cm (11–13 in)
  • Pembroke: 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in)[1]
Weight Males
  • Cardigan: 14–17 kg (31–37 lb)
  • Pembroke: No greater than 14 kg (31 lb)
  • Cardigan: 14–17 kg (31–37 lb)
  • Pembroke: No greater than 11 kg (24 lb)
  • Cardigan: Short or medium length, hard textured, weatherproof with a good undercoat
  • Pembroke: Medium length with a straight dense undercoat
  • Cardigan: Any colour, with or without white markings
  • Pembroke: Red, sable, fawn, or black and tan with or without white markings on the legs, brisket, and neck[2]
Life span
  • Cardigan: Average of 12 years and two months[3]
  • Pembroke: Average of 12 years and three months[4]
Dog (domestic dog)

The Welsh Corgi (/ˈkɔːrɡi/[5] or Corgi, plural Corgis, or occasionally the etymologically consistent Corgwn; /ˈkɔːrɡn/) is a small type of herding dog that originated in Wales. The name corgi is derived from the Welsh words cor and ci (which is mutated to gi), meaning "dwarf" and "dog", respectively.

Two separate breeds are recognized: the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Physical differences are seen between the two breeds. According to the breed standards, overall the Cardigan is larger, both in weight and height. Their tails are of different shapes, and docking was previously performed on Corgis before the practice was largely banned.

Historically, the Pembroke has been attributed to the influx of dogs alongside Flemish weavers from around the 14th century, while the Cardigan is attributed to the dogs brought with Norse settlers, in particular a common ancestor of the Swedish Vallhund.

The Pembroke is the more popular of the two, yet still appears on the Kennel Club's vulnerable dog breeds of the United Kingdom list.[6] The Pembroke Welsh Corgi gained in popularity because Elizabeth II had personally owned more than 30 Pembrokes or Corgi-Dachshund crosses, known as dorgis.


Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire are adjoining historical agricultural counties in South West Wales.[7] Welsh Corgis were cattle herding dogs, the type of herding dog referred to as "heelers", meaning that they would nip at the heels of the larger animals to keep them on the move.[8] The combination of their low height off the ground and the innate agility of Welsh Corgis would allow them to avoid the hooves of cattle.[8] The term "Corgi" means either cur dog or dwarf dog (cor = dwarf, gi = lenitive of ci, dog) in the Welsh language, which was not intended as an insult to the dog's size, rather as a purely descriptive term.[7][9] Different tales have been told of the Corgi's origin; some believe that the two modern breeds evolved from shared ancestry,[10] while others attribute the import of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi to Flemish weavers starting around the 10th century.[11] Further theories on the origin of the Pembroke variety suggest that they may have originated from central European herding breeds from the area around modern Germany. Depending on the time when these dogs were imported to Wales, they could have been either Deutsche Bracken or Dachshund.[9]

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi has been attributed to the influences of Nordic settlers in the region.[12] Dogs of similar dimensions exist in modern Scandinavia, called the Swedish Vallhund,[13] and it is claimed by some historians that these two breeds share a common ancestor.[14] In the late 19th century, farmers began to switch from cattle to sheep, but the Corgi is not suited for working sheep. Similarities between the Welsh Corgis have been attributed to crossbreeding between the two, or simply selected breeding from those who wished to have the Cardigan variety appear closer in nature to the Pembroke.[14]

The first recorded date for Corgis appearing in the show ring in Wales is 1925. Captain J. P. Howell called together a meeting of breeders of both the Pembroke and the Cardigan varieties and formed the Welsh Corgi Club, with an initial membership of 59 members. A general breed standard was drawn up, and Corgis began to appear in conformation shows. Until this point, neither breed had been specifically bred for looks. Members of this club were primarily interested in the Pembroke variety, although the Cardigan variety also appeared. At that point, the breeds were referred to as the Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire varieties; the names were later shortened. There were a number of disputes between breeders of the two types in early shows, as judges who were breeders of one type would often favour them.[15] The Welsh Corgi appeared at Crufts—a dog show held annually in the United Kingdom—for the first time in 1927.[16]

The first championship was awarded at a Cardiff show in 1928, to a red and white Pembroke bitch named Shan Fach. The breeds continued to be judged together until 1934, when the Kennel Club recognized each breed separately. In that initial registration, some 59 Cardigans and 240 Pembrokes were listed in the pedigree books. The decisions about the breed to which each dog belonged were sometimes left to the owners, who were free to choose whichever they felt was the most appropriate.[15] The first dog to be named best-in-show at an open conformation show was Ch. Bowhit Pivot.[17]

Cardigan Welsh Corgis continued to be rarer than Pembrokes, with only 11 registrations made in 1940. Both breeds survived the Second World War, although the Cardigans registered with the Kennel Club numbered only 61 by the end of the war.[15] Pembrokes became very popular during the postwar years in the United Kingdom; in 1953, it was ranked as the fourth-most popular breed by the Kennel Club, behind the English Cocker Spaniel, the German Shepherd, and the Pekingese.[18] In 1955, the reserve Best in Show at Crufts was the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Kaytop Maracas Mint.[19] The Corgi breeds declined in popularity: veterinary physician Brian Singleton suggested in The Times in 1963 that this was due to issues with their temperament.[20] The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was listed in the Kennel Club's first list of Vulnerable Native Breeds in 2006.[21] This list is for those breeds which register less than 300 dogs in any one year;[22] there had been 84 Cardigan Corgis registered in 2006. After an initial increase, this declined to 46 in 2010, but then rose to the highest numbers since the list began in 2015, with a total of 124 puppies registered.[21] In 2013, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi was also added, as there had been only 241 puppies registered that year. While the Kennel Club blamed this on the importation of foreign dog breeds,[22] The Daily Telegraph blamed the decline on the ban on tail docking introduced six years before.[23] However, 2015 had an increase of 34% in the number of Pembroke registrations; the popularity of Corgis on Instagram was credited for the change. Pembrokes were removed from the Vulnerable Native Breeds list in 2016.[24][25]

United States

In 1933, the first Welsh Corgis were brought to the United States by American breeder Mrs. Lewis Roesler, for her Merriedip Kennels in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. She had previously been well known for breeding Old English Sheepdogs. Roesler purchased a Pembroke Corgi, Little Madam, at London's Paddington Station for £12. Wanting a mate for the dog, she visited several Corgi kennels and bought a dog called Captain William Lewis. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first registered Welsh Corgis in 1934, as a single breed, and Little Madam was the first registered animal of the breed. The first litter was registered later that year, by Mr. E.M. Tidd in Oakland, California, from a bitch named Toots, which he had purchased in Canada.[17]

Tidd imported Ch. Bowhit Pivot for his breeding lines in 1935, registering him with the AKC as Sierra Bowhit Pivot. In addition to his British titles, he became the first Corgi to be awarded the champion status in the US, and the first such dog to be named Best of Group at a conformation show in the United States. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi club was formed in 1937,[17] and the first show was held at Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge's Giralda Farms in New Jersey. Following the Second World War, imports from the United Kingdom included Rozavel Uncle Sam, which dominated the show circuit for Corgis. In 1949, he became the first Pembroke winner of best-in-show at an open conformation show in the United States. By 1998, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi had become the 37th-most popular breed of dog in the US.[26]

A pair of Cardigan Welsh Corgis was imported to the US in 1931, but the first member of that breed to be registered with the AKC was Blodwen of Robinscroft in 1935. They have never had the draw in the US given to the Corgis of the Pembroke type. In 1997, some 752 Cardigan Welsh Corgis were registered with the AKC, compared to 8,281 of the Pembrokes.[26]

Modern breeds

A Cardigan Welsh Corgi (left) and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi (right)

The two breeds of Welsh Corgis, the Cardigan and the Pembroke, are named for the counties in Wales where they originated. The dogs share several similar traits, such as their coats, which are water-resistant and shed on average twice a year. The body of the Cardigan is slightly longer than that of the Pembroke; both breeds have short legs, placing their bodies close to the ground.[11][12] They are not as square in outline as a typical Terrier, nor have an elongated body as great as that of a Dachshund. [27] Only minor differences in the shape of the head are seen; both appear fox-like. The head of a Cardigan Welsh Corgi is typically larger than that of an equivalent Pembroke and has a larger nose. [1] A few days following birth may be needed for the true color of a Corgi's coat to appear, and this is particularly evident in those with tricolor or black and tan markings.[27] Corgis in the modern era often compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials – known colloquially as a "mad run".[28] Welsh Corgis were once used to guard children.[13]

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The differences between the two breeds include bone structure, body length, and size. Cardigans are the larger of the two breeds, with large, rounded ears and a 12-inch-long (30 cm), fox-like, flowing tail set in line with the body.[10] Though the Cardigan is allowed more colors than the Pembroke, white should not predominate in its coat.[29] The Cardigan is a double-coated dog where the outer coat is dense, slightly harsh in texture, and of medium length. The dog's undercoat is short, soft, and thick.[13] According to the breed standard, the breed stands between 10.5 and 12.5 inches (27 and 32 cm) at the withers, and should weigh 30–38 pounds (14–17 kg). The skeletal structure of the Cardigan differs from the Pembroke, in that a more exaggerated bend exists in the front two legs, which fits around the ribcage of the animal. In addition, the Cardigan is more heavily set than the Pembroke, with denser bone mass.[1]

A greater number of colours of coat is present in the Cardigan breed than the Pembroke, with the breed standard allowing for a variety of shades of red, sable, and brindle. White markings are expected on this breed of Corgi, and one with a black coat is allowed to have tan or brindle points under conformation show rules. Merle markings are present in the breed, although this is normally restricted to blue merle.[2] Several disqualification criteria are used in the breed standard for the purpose of confirmation shows. This would include drop ears, a white coat, blue eyes, or nonsolid black noses in dogs without merle coloration.[30]

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi at Corgi Symphony, 2019

Pembrokes feature pointed ears,[8] and are somewhat smaller in stature than the Cardigan. They are low-set, intelligent, strong, and sturdy with stamina sufficient to work a day on the farm.[29] The common height at the withers is 10–12 inches (25–30 cm), while a male dog of this breed should weigh no more than 30 pounds (14 kg), and a female 25 pounds (11 kg).[1] The tail is shorter than that of a Cardigan, which can be accomplished through breeding or docking.[29] Historically, the Pembroke was a breed with a natural bobtail (a very short tail). Due to the advent of tail docking in dogs,[8] the bobtail was not aggressively pursued, with breeders focusing, instead, on other characteristics, and the tail was artificially shortened if need be. Given that some countries now ban docking, some breeders are again attempting to select dogs with the genes for natural bobtails.[31]

Fewer colours of coat appear in the Pembroke breed. These include red, sable, tan, fawn, and black, each of which can be with or without white markings. Plain white or grey coats can also be seen, but these would be considered to be a serious fault for the purposes of conformation shows.[2] However, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has no specific disqualification criteria present in the breed standard.[30]

Pembroke Welsh Corgis have two coats that vary in length along their body. The first coat is a shorter, inner coat that is resistant to harsh weather, while the outer coat is rougher and longer, but still of medium length. The length of the coat differs on various parts of the body. Fur tends to be longer and thicker behind their fore and hind legs, as well as underneath their bodies. In addition, they appear to have more voluminous fur on their chest, neck, and shoulders. Pembroke Welsh corgis have shedding coats.[32]


A 14-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi

According to the Kennel Club Purebred Dog Health Survey conducted in 2004, the two breeds had similar average lifespans; the median age at death was 12 years 3 months for Pembrokes and 12 years 2 months for Cardigans. The main causes of death were similar in both breeds; the primary causes were canine cancer and old age. However, the Pembroke breed showed a higher proportion of deaths attributed to either kidney failure or urethral obstruction.[3][4] The survey showed that the breeds suffer from similar rates of ongoing health conditions with one exception: Whereas more than a quarter of Pembroke Welsh Corgis surveyed suffered from some type of eye condition, only 6.1% of the Cardigan Corgis did.[3][4] Eye conditions typical in the Corgi breeds include progressive retinal atrophy, which occurs more often in dogs over six years of age, and canine glaucoma, which is more common in older dogs.[33] Cataracts in Corgis are treatable with cataract extraction.[34] Similar percentages in the survey were seen in both breeds for issues relating to reproduction, such as requiring caesarian sections and having false pregnancies. Further similarities were also seen related to musculoskeletal issues, including arthritis.[3][4] However, hip dysplasia, common in some types of dogs, is rare in the Corgi breeds.[33]

Cultural impact

British royal family

Main article: Royal corgis

The Queen Mother Memorial bronze on The Mall, by Paul Day, shows her with two Corgis.

Queen Elizabeth II had a long association with Corgis, and she reportedly had said, "my Corgis are family".[35] After a visit to Thomas Thynne, 5th Marquess of Bath in 1933, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret made it well known to their family that they liked the Corgis owned by the Marquess.[36][37] Their father, Prince Albert, Duke of York (later George VI), purchased the Pembroke Corgi Rozavel Golden Eagle, from the Rozavel kennels in Surrey. It was renamed Dookie.[38]

Princess Elizabeth was then given a Pembroke Corgi of her own, named Susan, for her 18th birthday in 1944.[39] She had a strong connection to the dog, which was hidden under rugs in the Royal Carriage following her wedding to Prince Philip.[40] Susan became the progenitor of all the Corgis later owned by the royal household. The Queen bred 10 generations of dogs from Susan, owning personally more than 30 of the dogs, which were either purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgis or crossbreed Corgi/Dachshunds called Dorgis.[41][42] The corgis – whose names included Whisky, Sherry, Mint, Dash, and Disco – slept in wicker baskets lined with cushions in their own room. Their diet, prepared by a "gourmet chef", reportedly included fresh rabbit and beef.[35]

In 2018, the last of the Corgis belonging to Queen Elizabeth, and descended from Susan, was reported to have died.[43][35] However, in 2021 during the COVID-19 lockdown, her son, Prince Andrew, gave her a Corgi named Muick. This was followed by the gift from Andrew's daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, of another Corgi named Sandy to mark her 95th official birthday. On the death of the Queen in September 2022, Prince Andrew and his former wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, were to take care of Muick and Sandy.[35]

Other cultural impact

Corgis have also appeared on screen, on stage, and in novels. Corgis as characters were incorporated into the storybook fantasies Corgiville Fair, The Great Corgiville Kidnapping, and Corgiville Christmas of American author and illustrator Tasha Tudor.[44] In 1963, a Corgi was featured in the Walt Disney film Little Dog Lost,[45] which led to an increase in popularity for the breed within the United States.[46] A theatrical adaptation took place of Welsh author Roald Dahl's The BFG which toured the UK in 1991 required several different Corgis to perform on stage as those of Queen Elizabeth.[47] The Queen's Corgi is a Belgian animated film depicting the Queen's Corgis.[48]

In the anime Cowboy Bebop, the crew has a super-intelligent Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Ein, on their ship.[49] The Top Shelf graphic novel Korgi plays on the folklore tradition of the Corgi as a faerie draft animal. It features the "Mollies" (fairy-like beings) who live in close relationship with the land and their Korgi friends, who are based on and resemble the Welsh Corgi breeds.[50]

Corgis appeared in Queen Elizabeth II's segment in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, when she is escorted by James Bond from Buckingham Palace to the stadium.[51][52]

The American animated TV series Infinity Train features a country of anthropomorphic Corgis known as Coriginia ruled by King Atticus, styled "Uniter of the Cardigans and Pembrokes".[53]

In the American sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the characters Captain Holt and Kevin Cozner co-own a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Cheddar. Cheddar serves as comedic relief and makes reappearances in certain episodes each season.[54][55]


  1. ^ a b c d Beauchamp 1999, p. 15.
  2. ^ a b c Beauchamp 1999, p. 16.
  3. ^ a b c d Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee (2004). "Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for the Welsh Corgi Cardigan breed" (PDF). Kennel Club. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee (2004). "Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for the Welsh Corgi Pembroke breed" (PDF). Kennel Club. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Dog Breeds Journal". Dog Breeds Journal. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  6. ^ "The Queen's Corgis designated a 'vulnerable' breed". The Telegraph. 8 February 2015. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  7. ^ a b Beauchamp 1999, p. 7.
  8. ^ a b c d Boorer 1975, p. 17.
  9. ^ a b Beauchamp 1999, p. 8.
  10. ^ a b Boorer 1975, p. 18.
  11. ^ a b McGreevy 1999, p. 300.
  12. ^ a b McGreevy 1999, p. 301.
  13. ^ a b c Bennett Woolf, Norman. "Welsh Corgis: Small Dogs With Big Dog Hearts". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  14. ^ a b Beauchamp 1999, p. 9.
  15. ^ a b c Beauchamp 1999, p. 10.
  16. ^ "Local Successes at Crufts'". Hull Daily Mail. No. 12901. 10 February 1927. p. 8. Retrieved 10 April 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  17. ^ a b c Beauchamp 1999, p. 13.
  18. ^ Steinkoff, Alan (21 March 1953). "Putting on Royal Dog". The Oil City Derrick. No. 27636. p. 8. Retrieved 11 April 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  19. ^ "Supreme Champion At Cruft's". The Times. No. 53159. 7 February 1955. p. 3.
  20. ^ "The Bulldog Breed IS All Wrong". The Times. No. 55870. 28 November 1963. p. 14.
  21. ^ a b "Comparative Tables of Registrations for the Years 2006-2016 Inclusive: Pastoral" (PDF). The Kennel Club. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  22. ^ a b Grossman, Samantha (5 November 2013). "Everybody Panic: Corgis Are On Their Way to Becoming Endangered". Time. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  23. ^ Millward, David (3 November 2013). "Queen's favourite corgi endangered due to Labour law". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  24. ^ Winter, Stuart (12 October 2015). "Corgi popularity on the rise thanks to social media". Daily Express. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  25. ^ Nagesh, Ashitha (7 February 2016). "Pembroke Corgis and Old English Sheepdogs are officially no longer endangered". Metro. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  26. ^ a b Beauchamp 1999, p. 14.
  27. ^ a b Niccoli 1989, p. 6.
  28. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor & Taylor 2010, p. 82.
  29. ^ a b c Cunliffe 2000, p. 237.
  30. ^ a b Beauchamp 1999, p. 17.
  31. ^ Hausman & Hausman 1997, pp. 275–277.
  32. ^ "Official Standard of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi" (PDF). American Kennel Club. American Kennel Club. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  33. ^ a b Beauchamp 1999, p. 93.
  34. ^ Kim, Mu-young (2018). "Phacoemulsification for Cataract Secondary To Persistent Hyperplastic Tunica Vasculosa Lentis And Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous in a Welsh Corgi". Acta Veterinaria-Beograd.
  35. ^ a b c d Zeldin-O'Neil, Sophie (11 September 2022). "Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson to care for the Queen's corgis". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  36. ^ Pierce, Andrew (1 October 2007). "Hug for Queen Elizabeth's first corgi". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  37. ^ "Royal love affair with animals charted in intimate new shots". Hello. 2 October 2007. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  38. ^ "Royal family... and their pets". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 4 December 1954. p. 67. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  39. ^ "Family pets". The British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  40. ^ "Princess, Phillip Take Honeymoon Joy Ride in Jeep". The Milwaukee Journal. 22 November 1947. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  41. ^ Bennett, Will (10 April 2004). "Queen's moving tribute to her favourite corgi". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  42. ^ Haddon, Celia (20 April 2006). "Her devoted canine companions – cocker spaniels, labradors and, of course, corgis". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  43. ^ "End of an Era: Queen Elizabeth's Last Corgi Has Passed Away". 19 April 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  44. ^ "Who is Tasha Tudor?". Tasha Tudor Museum. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  45. ^ "Little Dog Lost". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  46. ^ Living, Marin (10 August 1974). "Mr. Snowshoes Has Proven Himself The Best Corgi In West". Daily Independent Journal. p. 38. Retrieved 11 April 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  47. ^ "Corgis line up for royal role". The Times. No. 64128. 18 September 1991. p. 6.
  48. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (12 February 2018). "Charades pre sells 'The Queen's Corgi' to key territories". Variety. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  49. ^ Russell, H.D. (14 March 2016). "Cowboy Bebop - Whatever Happens, Happens". The Escapist. Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  50. ^ "Christian Slade". Top Shelf Productions. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  51. ^ Brown, Nic (27 July 2012). "How James Bond whisked the Queen to the Olympics". BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  52. ^ "Action & Mystery exhibition inspired by GREAT British icons". Gov.uk. 1 November 2016.
  53. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Atticus of Corginia | Infinity Train | Cartoon Network". youtube.com. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  54. ^ Cheddar's Best/Fluffiest Moments! | Brooklyn Nine-Nine, retrieved 30 September 2023
  55. ^ "Marc Evan Jackson Introduces Real-Life Cheddar To Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fans". News18. 28 March 2023. Retrieved 30 September 2023.

General and cited references