There are two breeds of Corgi, more formally known as the Welsh Corgi, recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC): The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
These are considered distinct breeds, and because each has its own distinct appearance, characteristics and ancestry, it is important for potential owners to understand the differences and similarities. Corgis were recognized as pure-bred dogs in the United Kingdom in the 1920s. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi was first recognized by the AKC in 1934. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was first recognized by the AKC in 1935.
The Pembroke and the Cardigan are both low-set dogs. Each breed has a sturdy structure with strong chests and short legs. Pembrokes are shorter than Cardigans. Both are strong workers, and enjoy herding activities. It is said that their small size made them perfect for nipping at cattle feet to keep them moving in the correct direction. Both are considered to be excellent companion dogs, with agreeable temperaments and loyalty to their families. Both are easily trained and intelligent. Both tend to live long and respond well to gentle handling. Both excel in dog sports, doing well with obedience and herding tasks.
Pembrokes do not have tails. Cardigans do.
Welsh corgis come in many different colors, such as red, fawn, sable, tan and black. Some have white markings, while others do not. There are brindle patterns. There is also a blue-merle pattern which is popular.
Corgis love to practice their work behaviors, even when they are not working dogs. This means that they will nip, poke, bark and chase with their family members. They are doing what comes naturally to them, so it will take patience to train them so these behaviors do not disrupt the family.
Some say that the Flemish weavers who came to live in Wales during the reign of Henry I brought the ancestors of the Pembroke with them. Some say that the Vikings brought their Vallhunds, which were Swedish cattle hounds to Pembrokeshire and these were the ancestors of the Pembroke Corgis. Both tales surround the belief that the breed dates as far back as the tenth century.
There is a Welsh legend that describes the Pembroke as enchanted because it served the Fairy kingdom as a working dog, pulling fairy coaches, serving as fairy horses, and keeping the fairy cattle herded. The spry little faces of the Pembroke resemble the Finnish Spitz or Norwegian Elkhounds. The Welsh have used Pembrokes for generations as guardians of their farms, family companions and herding dogs.
In the British Isles, the Cardigan is one of the earliest dog breeds, coming to Wales in 1200 B.C. The Cardi came with the Celts to its homeland, the Cardiganshire. It was named for this land, and has been there longer than 3,000 years. The Cardigan is one of the dog lines which originated with the Dachshund. As such, it is older than the Pembroke and a completely distinct line from it.
Pembrokes have a well-deserved reputation for being fearless and independent herding dogs. They are known to be sensitive so they do well in training. They are also smart and enjoy challenges. As members of a family, they are loyal and love their owners. They need to have plenty of time together participating in family activities. It is common to see them herding youngsters, as well as cattle. Their bark is loud, though their size is small. They are excellent when serving as the family watchdog, as they tend to be extremely alert.
Cardigans are known for being excellent at herding cattle. They were bred for this task and their nature is to be faithful to their work and their owners. Easy to train, they get along well with children and household pets. Though their faces are sweet and they are wonderful companions, they guard their territory with barks as loud as larger dogs. Enjoying meals is one of their favorite pastimes so they need to have regular exercise and meal monitoring, otherwise they can become overweight.
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