Breed breakdown: An in-depth look at the Pembroke Welsh Corgi
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Any owner will tell you the American Kennel Club (AKC) description of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi: “Smart and alert, affectionate but not pushy, bold but kindly,” is true. They may be short, but these herding dogs long for activity. With bodies and brains properly worked, Pembrokes make loyal, loving companions.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is distinct from the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and was developed separately. There is question to the origins of the Pembroke. Some say they come from the Swedish Vallhunds brought to Pembrokeshire, Wales, by the Vikings. Others say they are related to Schipperkes and Pomeranians brought by the Flemish.
Many features separate the Pembroke from the other long-bodied, short-legged breeds, including the Cardigan. Often called “foxy,” Pembrokes have erect ears that make a triangle with the nose. Standing 10-12 inches at the shoulder, their length is only 40 percent larger than their height. Cardigans have different proportions and are longer.
Notably, Pembrokes lack tails. The Pembrokes are either docked as puppies or are born with a “bob” tail. The docking of tails is still desired by the AKC and traditionalists, but many venues encourage “natural” tails.
Pembrokes are “dwarves” but do not have some of the deformities seen with chondrodysplasia. For example, Pembrokes’ legs are straight and move freely when running or trotting. Basset hounds have curved legs, and their front feet turn outward. Herding dogs must be able to keep up with livestock and their quick moves. A scent hound tracks its quarry and is built more for endurance rather than quick starts, stops, and turns.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis have medium length fur with a dense undercoat and longer guard hairs. There is a recessive “fluffy,” long-haired variety, which is considered undesirable. While the long coat needs maintenance, many people find them endearing.
The Pembroke comes in four color varieties: red, sable, fawn, and black and tan. Having white markings is common. Mismarked dogs can have too much white or white in undesirable places. Bluish tints are also undesirable.
Pembrokes are generally healthy, but there are a few problems to watch for. Pembrokes love food, and obesity is an issue. A properly proportioned, fit corgi does not usually develop intervertebral disc disease. Despite being smaller, hip dysplasia is a concern.
Inherited disorders seen in Pembrokes include progressive retinal atrophy, causing blindness; degenerative myelopathy, causing progressive paralysis; and von Willebrand’s disease, affecting blood clotting. Most breeders do genetic testing to eliminate these diseases.
Research a breeder. Find your puppy. Train and socialize. With these few steps, you will have a wonderful, smart, active companion for life.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.