Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

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Introduction

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, also known as the Ci Sawdl, the Ci Sodli, the Welsh Heeler, the Pembroke or the Pembi, traces back at least to the 12th century, making it a younger breed than its close cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, but still a truly ancient breed in its own right. The breed name may derive from the word "corgi," which is Celtic for "dog". Some fanciers suggest that the breed was named for "cor", which in Welsh means "dwarf", and "ci" which means "dog." Another tale is that it was named for "cwr," which in Welsh means "to watch over."
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is shorter in body and straighter in leg than the Cardigan, and its coat is finer in texture. Pembrokes have erect, pointed ears and a short-to-nonexistent tail, while Cardigans have more rounded ears and a long, plume-like tail. Breed authorities suggest that the Pembroke is stockier and a bit more excitable than the Cardigan, although in modern times the breeds have become increasingly similar in appearance and disposition. This is an extremely affable breed that makes a wonderful canine companion. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi gained international recognition as the preferred pet of Queen Elizabeth II, who has championed the breed for more than 70 years. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi was accepted into the American Kennel Club's Herding Group in 1934.
The mature Pembroke Welsh Corgi ideally stands between 10 and 12 inches at the withers, with males not to exceed 30 pounds and females weighing 28 pounds or less. In hard show condition, the preferred weight for males is 27 pounds and for bitches is 25 pounds. The medium-length, dense double coat has a long, coarse outer layer and a thick, weather-resistant undercoat. Pembrokes tend to shed and require regular grooming to manage their coat. Acceptable colors are red, sable, fawn, black and tan, with or without white markings.

History & Health

History

The Corgi from Pembrokeshire has a rather colorful history. Its ancestors were brought to England from the mainland by Flemish weavers in 1107. They eventually settled in Haverfordwest in the southwestern corner of Wales, where they built replicas of the homes and farms of their homeland. The early Corgis that came with the Flemish settlers reportedly resembled Schipperkes and descended from the same family that includes the Samoyed, the Keeshond, the Chow Chow, the Pomeranian, the Finnish Spitz and the Norwegian Elkhound. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi was originally bred and used as sheep- and cattle-herding dog and farm guardian. Because of their small height and low-slung shape, Corgis were prized for their ability to nip at the heels of livestock and still avoid being kicked. They also were used to herd large flocks of geese to market. Over time, they so endeared themselves to their masters that they became beloved household companions as well.
The resemblance between the Pembroke and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is not a matter of chance. The two breeds were crossed sometime in the 1800s, when Cardigan puppies were sold to farmers in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Many matings between the two breeds occurred during the first half of the 20th century. Modern breeders no longer cross the two Corgis and are conscientiously keeping a pedigree distinction between the Pembroke and the Cardigan.
The English Welsh Corgi Club, recognizing only the Pembroke, was founded in 1925. The Cardigan Club was formed in 1926 and later was renamed as the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi were recognized as separate breeds by The Kennel Club (England) in 1934. Queen Elizabeth II is one of the breed's most ardent admirers, although having nippy cattle dogs in Buckingham Palace has brought its fair share of challenges. The royal Pembroke Corgis reportedly have nipped the ankles of palace staff, and even those of the Queen Mother herself. When then Princess Elizabeth acquired her first Pembroke, Rozavel Golden Eagle or "Dookie," in 1933, the breed sky-rocketed in popularity and today is almost eight times as popular as its Cardigan cousin.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Pembroke Welsh Corgi in 1934, as a member of the Herding Group. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America was founded in February of 1936, during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. There were 18 charter members. The Bylaws of the club and the Standard of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi were approved by the American Kennel Club in March of 1936, and later that year the PWCCA was formally accepted as a member of the AKC. The breed standard was revised in 1972 and reformatted in 1993.
Today's Pembroke Welsh Corgi excels not only in the conformation show ring, but also in obedience, agility, herding and other performance and field disciplines. He makes an active and alert watch dog and a highly affectionate family member.

Health

The average life span of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include degenerative myelopathy, Ehler-Danlos syndrome (cutaneous asthenia), glaucoma, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disk disease, progressive retinal atrophy, refractory corneal ulceration, cataracts, hypochondroplasia (accepted as a breed standard; short legs but normal-sized skull), renal telangiectasia, ectopic ureters and von Willebrand's disease.

Temperament & Personality

Personality

The Pembroke Welsh Corgis my be small, but they pack a lot of dog into a little body. Originally used to herd cattle and hunt rodents in Pembrokeshire, Wales; Corgis were sturdy herding dogs who took their jobs seriously. They would nip the heels of the cattle to keep them in line, and their small bodies enabled them to avoid being kicked. Today, the Corgi is still used on farms and ranches, but is also an energetic family companion. They are good with other pets, make reliable watchdogs, and are trustworthy around children. Corgis have a mind of their own but still have a desire to please people. They pack a large personality, which varies from clownish and attention seeking, to thoughtful and introspective.

Activity Requirements

Despite their high energy level, Pembroke Welsh Corgis only need a moderate amount of exercise to maintain health and happiness. They are adaptable, and can happily dwell on a ranch, in a home with a yard, in an apartment or condominium. They should be walked daily, and if they don't have a yard to play in at home, should be allowed to run in a park at least once a week.
Despite their need for moderate exercise, Corgis need a lot of mental stimulation. As with other breeds who have roots as farm dogs, they like to stay busy. They excel in agility training and advanced obedience. If not properly exercised physically and mentally, Corgis can become anxious and destructive when left alone.

Trainability

Pembroke Corgis are strong willed – they like to be in charge and will resist a hard-nosed trainer. They prefer to do things on their own time, so a lot of patience is required when training this breed. Positive reinforcement and lots of treats will ensure a responsive Pembroke. Once consistent leadership is established, Corgis take well to training and enjoy learning new tasks.
After beginning obedience training is complete, Corgis should graduate to advanced training and if possible, involved in tracking and agility classes. This is one "old dog" that likes to learn new tricks, and training should continue throughout their lives.

Behavioral Traits

Pembrokes, like other farm dogs, are excellent watchdogs. They sound the alarm that uninvited people or animals are on the horizon, which can get out of hand if not nipped in the bud at an early age. Proper socialization is important, so that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi doesn't become mistrustful of all strangers. They will also bark if left alone for long periods of time, so apartment and condo dwellers should take this into consideration before adopting a Corgi.
While they get along fine with children, Corgis can exhibit dominance over small children, and they have been known to attempt to herd groups of kids. Because their herding behavior involves the nipping of heels, playtime should always be supervised.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
Low-set, strong, sturdily built and active, giving an impression of substance and stamina in a small space. Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so light-boned as to appear racy. Outlook bold, but kindly. Expression intelligent and interested. Never shy nor vicious.
Correct type, including general balance and outline, attractiveness of headpiece, intelligent outlook and correct temperament is of primary importance. Movement is especially important, particularly as viewed from the side. A dog with smooth and free gait has to be reasonably sound and must be highly regarded. A minor fault must never take precedence over the above desired qualities.
A dog must be very seriously penalized for the following faults, regardless of whatever desirable qualities the dog may present: oversized or undersized; button, rose or drop ears; overshot or undershot bite; fluffies, whitelies, mismarks or bluies.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Height (from ground to highest point on withers) should be 10 to 12 inches. Weight is in proportion to size, not exceeding 30 pounds for dogs and 28 pounds for bitches. In show condition, the preferred medium- sized dog of correct bone and substance will weigh approximately 27 pounds, with bitches approximately 25 pounds. Obvious oversized specimens and diminutive toylike individuals must be very severely penalized. Proportions--Moderately long and low. The distance from the withers to the base of the tail should be approximately 40 percent greater than the distance from the withers to the ground. Substance--Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so light-boned as to appear racy.

Head
The head should be foxy in shape and appearance. Expression--Intelligent and interested, but not sly. Skull--should be fairly wide and flat between the ears. Moderate amount of stop. Very slight rounding of cheek, not filled in below the eyes, as foreface should be nicely chiseled to give a somewhat tapered muzzle. Distance from occiput to center of stop to be greater than the distance from stop to nose tip, the proportion being five parts of total distance for the skull and three parts for the foreface. Muzzle should be neither dish-faced nor Roman-nosed. Eyes-Oval, medium in size, not round, nor protruding, nor deepset and piglike. Set somewhat obliquely. Variations of brown in harmony with coat color. Eye rims dark, preferably black. While dark eyes enhance the expression, true black eyes are most undesirable, as are yellow or bluish eyes. Ears-Erect, firm, and of medium size, tapering slightly to a rounded point. Ears are mobile, and react sensitively to sounds. A line drawn from the nose tip through the eyes to the ear tips, and across, should form an approximate equilateral triangle. Bat ears, small catlike ears, overly large weak ears, hooded ears, ears carried too high or too low, are undesirable. Button, rose or drop ears are very serious faults. Nose--Black and fully pigmented. Mouth--Scissors bite, the inner side of the upper incisors touching the outer side of the lower incisors. Level bite is acceptable. Overshot or undershot bite is a very serious fault. Lips--Black, tight with little or no fullness.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck--Fairly long. Of sufficient length to provide over-all balance of the dog. Slightly arched, clean and blending well into the shoulders. A very short neck giving a stuffy appearance and a long, thin or ewe neck are faulty. Topline--Firm and level, neither riding up to nor falling away at the croup. A slight depression behind the shoulders caused by heavier neck coat meeting the shorter body coat is permissible. Body--Rib cage should be well sprung, slightly egg-shaped and moderately long. Deep chest, well let down between the forelegs. Exaggerated lowness interferes with the desired freedom of movement and should be penalized. Viewed from above, the body should taper slightly to end of loin. Loin short. Round or flat rib cage, lack of brisket, extreme length or cobbiness, are undesirable. Tail--Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the topline.

Forequarters
Legs--Short, forearms turned slightly inward, with the distance between wrists less than between the shoulder joints, so that the front does not appear absolutely straight. Ample bone carried right down into the feet. Pasterns firm and nearly straight when viewed from the side. Weak pasterns and knuckling over are serious faults. Shoulder blades long and well laid back along the rib cage. Upper arms nearly equal in length to shoulder blades. Elbows parallel to the body, not prominent, and well set back to allow a line perpendicular to the ground to be drawn from tip of the shoulder blade through to elbow. Feet--Oval, with the two center toes slightly in advance of the two outer ones. Turning neither in nor out. Pads strong and feet arched. Nails short. Dewclaws on both forelegs and hindlegs usually removed. Too round, long and narrow, or splayed feet are faulty.

Hindquarters
Ample bone, strong and flexible, moderately angulated at stifle and hock. Exaggerated angulation is as faulty as too little. Thighs should be well muscled. Hocks short, parallel, and when viewed from the side are perpendicular to the ground. Barrel hocks or cowhocks are most objectionable. Slipped or double-jointed hocks are very faulty. Feet--as in front.

Coat
Medium length; short, thick, weather- resistant undercoat with a coarser, longer outer coat. Over-all length varies, with slightly thicker and longer ruff around the neck, chest and on the shoulders. The body coat lies flat. Hair is slightly longer on back of forelegs and underparts and somewhat fuller and longer on rear of hindquarters. The coat is preferably straight, but some waviness is permitted. This breed has a shedding coat, and seasonal lack of undercoat should not be too severely penalized, providing the hair is glossy, healthy and well groomed. A wiry, tightly marcelled coat is very faulty, as is an overly short, smooth and thin coat. Very Serious Fault--Fluffies--a coat of extreme length with exaggerated feathering on ears, chest, legs and feet, underparts and hindquarters. Trimming such a coat does not make it any more acceptable. The Corgi should be shown in its natural condition, with no trimming permitted except to tidy the feet, and, if desired, remove the whiskers.

Color
The outer coat is to be of self colors in red, sable, fawn, black and tan with or without white markings. White is acceptable on legs, chest, neck (either in part or as a collar), muzzle, underparts and as a narrow blaze on head. Very Serious Faults: Whitelies--Body color white, with red or dark markings. Bluies--Colored portions of the coat have a distinct bluish or smoky cast. This coloring is associated with extremely light or blue eyes, liver or gray eye rims, nose and lip pigment. Mismarks--Self colors with any area of white on the back between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters, or on ears. Black with white markings and no tan present.

Gait
Free and smooth. Forelegs should reach well forward without too much lift, in unison with the driving action of the hind legs. The correct shoulder assembly and well-fitted elbows allow a long, free stride in front. Viewed from the front, legs do not move in exact parallel planes, but incline slightly inward to compensate for shortness of leg and width of chest. Hind legs should drive well under the body and move on a line with the forelegs, with hocks turning neither in nor out. Feet must travel parallel to the line of motion with no tendency to swing out, cross over or interfere with each other. Short, choppy movement, rolling or high-stepping gait, close or overly wide coming or going, are incorrect. This is a herding dog, which must have the agility, freedom of movement, and endurance to do the work for which he was developed.

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