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This long, low breed of dog, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, is similar to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi but is now recognized as a separate breed. Some histories trace the Corgi to Swedish dogs more than a thousand years ago. Others believe the breed begins in Wales about 1200 B.C. In either case, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi was used as a cattle dog in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The two breeds were recognized as separate in England in the 1930s.

The Pembroke is a very intelligent dog, sensitive to the needs of its master and responsive to gentle handling and training. This breed can be a challenge to train and the dog may try to “con” its master, especially if given half a chance. However, with proper breeding and socialization, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi can be an excellent family pet.

The Corgi has always been a working dog, often used to nip at the heels of cattle to drive them. The dog’s low profile allowed them to avoid being kicked by the cattle. Pembroke Welsh Corgis will bark quite a bit and can make excellent watchdogs, in addition to being comfortable with children that are not overly aggressive. Corgis are generally good-natured and devoted to family members.

Basic obedience training is probably a good idea for a new Pembroke Welsh Corgi that will be brought into the family. Most Corgis will be obedient with basic training, but even so, the dog should not be allowed to run free. It would probably be best to have a fenced yard for the pet to run in. Taking your Pembroke Welsh Corgi for several daily walks would probably be best.

Size and Color

Pembroke Welsh Corgis stand about 10 inches to 12 inches tall and weigh from 24 to 28 pounds. Experienced owners urge new owners to be careful about overfeeding the Corgi, as it tends to gain weight easily.

Corgis can have red, sable, fawn or black and tan coats with white markings. Some say the legend of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is one of being used by fairies for various purposes. This legend points to the “fairy saddle” on the shoulders that is part of the Corgi coat. The American Kennel Club considers a predominantly white or bluish color to be unacceptable for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Feeding and Grooming Requirements

New owners of Pembroke Welsh Corgis should avoid overfeeding their pet, as this breed tends to gain weight easily. Feeding high-quality commercial food should be fine in the proper amounts, but low-cost food with excessive grain content (corn, wheat, soy) should be avoided. Some dogs are allergic to these grains and develop skin and breathing problems in reaction to the large amounts of grain in cheaper commercial foods. Remember, table scraps and treats should be limited.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is generally easy to groom because of its short, water-resistant coat. Some regular combing and brushing will usually be sufficient. The Corgi sheds twice a year. The dog should be bathed only when necessary.

Exercise Needs

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has always been a working dog, helping farmers drive cattle and acting as a guard dog for the farm. This breed is quite energetic and will need a fenced yard to run in or regular walks on a leash. The Corgi can tend to gain extra weight if the diet and exercise are not in correct amounts.

This breed should probably not be allowed to run free, even though a well-trained Corgi will be obedient. This is an intelligent and inquisitive breed and the small size can make confrontations with larger dogs a problem. Pembroke Welsh Corgis have done quite well in some obedience and show competitions.

With good care and proper nutrition, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi will give you 12 to 15 years of enjoyment and companionship. As with most purebred dogs, the Corgi may develop a few health problems that are inherent in the breed. Many of these conditions can be avoided through good breeding and with early checkups by a veterinarian.
The breeding pool for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is actually quite large in the United States, so breeders do have the opportunity to avoid some of the genetic problems that can come from non-selective breeding. Keep in mind that problems do occur in the best situations. Those who are considering a Corgi as a family pet should be aware of potential genetic disorders that may come up.
Among these conditions is the less threatening fluffy coat that some Pembroke Welsh Corgis have develop because of indiscriminate breeding. The Corgi coat should be composed of a short undercoat and a slightly longer, thicker overcoat. However, the hair should not be long, puffed up or fluffy.
Monorchidism is a rare condition that sometimes affects this breed. The male of the breed may develop only one testicle. In a related condition, unilateral cryptorchidism, both testicles develop but one remains in the abdomen and does not descend. The two conditions are distinct and new owners of Pembroke Welsh Corgis should be aware of the possibility of monorchidism. The condition can be confirmed through a procedure called plasma testosterone analysis. Most people experienced in dog health recommend neutering of such a male and add that this dog should not be used for breeding.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that can develop to several degrees, causing pain and limited movement in dogs. The level of arthritis results from an abnormally developed hip joint. Cartilage damage is one of the first problems that arise. Generally, as the cartilage cannot remain thick and elastic, the inflammation spreads from the joint to the surrounding tissue. Dogs with hip dysplasia often show obvious signs of lameness and pain when walking or rising from sleep.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals urges owners and breeders to have their dogs tested through the radiographic process that can identify joint irregularities. This process can help prevent use of young dogs in the breeding pool and eliminate some cases of hip dysplasia. It is highly recommended that owners and breeders consult with a veterinarian about this procedure. If you are thinking about adding a Pembroke Welsh Corgi as a family pet, ask your breeder about OFA certification.
Progressive retinal atrophy is a genetic eye disease that may affect several breeds of dog, including the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. This condition has been recognized in dogs for nearly a century, with the first modern-day description coming in Gordon Setters. The retina tissue in the back of they eye contains nerve receptors called rods and cones. Progressive retinal atrophy usually affects the rods first, causing problems with vision in dim light. The cones, which provide daylight vision, are often affected later.
Owners should be aware of the possibility of their pet developing a cloudiness or change in appearance to the eye often described as a “shine.” Diagnosis can be made by an ophthalmoscopic examination. Different breeds of dog develop this condition at different times.
With proper breeding and care, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi should live 12 to 14 years without major health problems. Because of their long, low build, the Corgi may also develop some spinal problems. This breed should not be allowed to jump from great heights and should be discouraged from jumping onto and off furniture.
Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis good watchdogs?
Those big ears don't miss much! Pembrokes are very alert and will let you know when something out of the ordinary happens. This is all they should be expected to do--you do not want to encourage a puppy to growl or act in an aggressive manner. It is also up to you to teach the barking puppy that once you're alerted, they can be quiet! No one likes a yappy dogs that barks incessantly, even dog lovers. There are many techniques such as holding the muzzle for a moment, or startling the dog with a squirt of water or an object thrown nearby, accompanied by a firm, "Quiet." This breed is bright and bossy--if you aren't in charge, they will happily assume the role and a problem is much harder to correct than prevent!
What about shedding in corgis?
Oh, yes, they shed! A spayed or neutered Corgi will generally shed their undercoat (the soft, lighter hair beneath their coarse outer coat) in prodigious amounts in the spring or summer and more than the usual frequent combing and brushing is then called for. A good bath, followed by some serious combing, will remove the "tufts," with a second bath and grooming in the next week or two to get out the remainder. If you want to put the soft "fur" out for the birds to build their nests with, you can provide "cashmere wallpaper" for every bird nest in your neighborhood! A philosophical thought: dogs either shed or need expensive haircuts--vacuum cleaner bags are cheaper than the local groomer!!
How long do Pembroke Welsh Corgis live?
The PWCCA has a Genetics Committee that will soon be able to provide some data on health issues and longevity based on polling its many members. Some breeders estimate the ages of 12 or 13 to be the average life span for the breed, with healthy and happy oldsters well into their teens not uncommon. Experienced breeders generally screen their breeding stock for hip dysplasia and eye problems, and sometimes other diseases that they have become aware of as potential problems. We are very fortunate that this breed does not have a predisposition to many of the serious health concerns that plague some other breeds, and ethical breeders are to be commended for their efforts in keeping the Pembroke healthy and long-lived. Don't hesitate to ask about the health history of the parents and grandparents of a puppy you are interested in--this information should be available on a well-bred litter.
Is it true you have to carry Corgis up and down stairs because of their long backs?
No, the Pembroke is a well muscled dog, capable of navigating normal sized steps with ease. However, as puppies, they must be taught to use steps, starting with single steps and progressing to more steps as the puppy grows. Be especially careful with open staircases; some Pems cannot resist the urge to jump! Stairs should not be a play area, but simply a means of going from one area of the house to another.
Do Corgis need much exercise?
A Pembroke needs a modicum of exercise to maintain his mental and physical health. They tolerate exercise well, but should not be pushed beyond reasonable limits. Remember, this is a short legged breed, which will do well on short or long walks, jogging, or working in herding or agility events. Use common sense when exercising your Pem; avoid extreme heat or cold and always provide plenty of cool, fresh water after exercise. Pems do best when stimulated regularly through both physical and mental activities.
How old should a puppy be before I can bring one home?
A puppy should never be moved into a new home before 8 weeks of age. Even at 8 weeks, a puppy is not large, and requires constant supervision from the adults in the family. Small puppies can quickly squeeze behind furniture, chew electrical wires, or fall down stairs. Many breeders will wait until 10-12 weeks to place puppies in their new homes. This delay is not meant to deprive the new family of the puppy's early development, but because most breeders have found that puppies benefit significantly from interaction with their littermates and their dam during the eight to ten week period of a puppy's life. Also, by not selling a puppy prior to eight weeks of age, the breeder will ensure that the puppy is large enough to fit into a new home and flourish.
How big do corgis get?
Pembroke Welsh Corgis stand about 10 inches to 12 inches tall and weigh from 24 to 28 pounds. Experienced owners urge new owners to be careful about overfeeding the Corgi, as it tends to gain weight easily.
Do all Pembroke dogs have back problems?
Not necessarily, but some do. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi does have a rather long back, but when young and healthy they will be fine making their way around the normal family home. As puppies, they will need to be taught to go up and down steps. However, this breed likes to jump from stairs, furniture, and so on, which should be avoided.