The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, commonly shortened to PWC, Welsh Corgi, Pembroke, Corgi, or just Pem, is a small energetic herding dog developed in Pembrokeshire, Wales. “Corgi” is a compound Welsh word meaning “dwarf dog” (cor ‘dwarf’ + ci ‘dog’). They make good family dogs and they are easily trained. The Pembroke is the younger of the two corgi breeds. The older is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
- heavy shedder
- good family dog
- high energy
- easily trainable
- generally healthy
In 1107, king Henry I of Britain invited a community of Flemish weavers to live and work in southwestern Wales. The weavers accepted the invitation and brought the dogs they bred to herd cattle and sheep. These sturdy herders with short but powerful legs were the ancestors of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
In the 19th century, they were often interbred with the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, which explains the similarities between the two breeds. Because of that, they were considered a single breed until 1934 when they were recognized as separate breeds by the Kennel Club (UK) and the AKC recognized the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
The Pembroke gain its popularity partly due to Queen Elizabeth II of England’s affection for them. She got her first corgi named Dookie in 1933 as a present from her father King George VI and had over 30 of corgis during her reign. In 2015 the Queen ceased breeding corgis so as not to leave any behind when she passed away. Her last corgi, Willow, died in 2018.
Appearance and Vital Stats
The Pembroke Corgi is a member of the herding dog group that was originally bred to herd cattle.
The adult Pembroke Welsh Corgi reaches an average weight of 24 to 30 pounds for males and 24 to 28 pounds for females, and an average height of 10 to 13 inches for both males and females.
The Pembroke Corgi has the longest lifespan within the herding breed group. They reach an average age of 12 to 14 years.
Coat and Colors
The Pembroke Corgi has a weatherproof coat, which is medium in length and thick like cotton. They come in four colors:
- red-headed tricolor
- black-headed tricolor
There could be white markings on legs, chest, neck (either in part or as a collar), muzzle, underparts and as a narrow blaze on head. A blue merle full-blooded Pembroke Welsh Corgi does not exist.
Some people think the Pembroke corgi is born without a tail however, the corgi usually gets its tail docked 2 to 5 days after birth. A natural tail is short and may be held behind the dog, or stand upright or curved over the back like a sickle.
Some Pembroke Welsh Corgi are born with naturally short stumpy tails, which doesn’t require docking.
The ethical practice of tail docking is up for debate. But if the tail is not docked the corgi cannot be registered in AKC.
Corgi puppies are not born with ears that stand straight up. Instead, they fold over at birth and straighten up after 8 weeks of age. Sometimes this progression can be slow.
The adult Pembroke Corgi has medium size ears that stand tall on the head and come to a rounded point.
Generally, Pembroke Corgis are outgoing and playful, but some can be stubborn and overly protective. The difference usually comes down to handling and training.
Pembroke Corgis have larger than life personalities. They are a bundle of energy wrapped in a tiny package of fur and confidence. Pembrokes make a wonderful companion and family dogs, but they still have all of their working dog energy to burn.
Pembrokes are mischievous adorable clowns who love being the center of attention. Because of their high energy and incredible intelligence, the Pembroke Corgi needs an outlet making a wonderful addition to any active family. Although they are high energy, they also expend energy quickly.
At a minimum, Pembrokes should be walked once a day to keep their mind and body active. Since they are herding dogs, it is extremely important to keep their mind just as active, if not more as their short little body.
Training will give the Pembroke Corgi mental stimulation, and a job to do. Most are eager to please and respond well to commands made by a confident trainer. They are usually willing to try new tricks and puzzles in order to do a good job. You may see herding behavior, such as nipping if the corgi is not mentally stimulated enough.
The Pembroke Corgi needs a forever home where they are actively included as part of the family, and receive consistent guidance. They are notorious for getting themselves into a bit of trouble if they are not worked with at least once daily. Simple commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “come” give the corgi a sense of achievement and purpose. Since they tend to be high achievers these commands are easy to teach because they respond so well.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an energetic dog, but that does not mean he needs a lot of land to roam. In fact, he makes an excellent apartment dog. A walk around the block and puzzle toys are great activities for a corgi inside an apartment. They may be happy-go-lucky clowns, but they can be sated easily.
Furthermore, for this large of a dog, it is not recommended to put down potty pads so they will need to be walked a few times a day for bathroom breaks.
Compatibility with Children and Pets
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi can be a wonderful family pet that can socialize with any member of the family. However, the corgi is also a herding dog as mentioned previously. So that instinct can kick in from time to time. Children and other pets stand in the place of cattle in the home and corgis are known to nip and corral them.
But with plenty of consistent training and clear boundaries, the Pembroke Corgi still makes a perfect addition to any size family. In fact, there are games you can play with the corgi that indulges their herding instinct, while at the same time you will be able to correct unwanted behavior.
A Pembroke Welsh corgi puppy should be fed quality puppy food three times a day. Somewhere around 6 months, the Pembroke Corgi reaches the age they should start to eat quality adult dog food. Adult corgis should be fed twice daily. A corgi will generally eat one to two full cups of dog food daily, depending on the type of dog food you get, your dog’s energy output, and the instructions for the ideal body weight.
Corgis easily become overweight, which leads to diabetes, spine and joints problems, and other health issues. It’s important not to take their endless appetites as a sign to feed them more. Corgis should be kept lean by controlling the amount of food they get. A male Corgi should weigh under 30 pounds and a female should weight under 28 pounds. The body should narrow towards the hips. If a Corgi is round at the middle and the hips are not be visible, it’s certainly obese.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a thick cotton undercoat in which they shed, a lot. Corgis should be brushed once daily to help keep furry dust bunnies from forming around the home. Because of the excess of fur at their rear end, be sure to keep this area clean, or trimmed, especially in female dogs prone to UTIs (urinary tract infections).
Corgi owners should expect to trim the nails once a month to keep their quicks short. Otherwise, long nails encourage arthritis and back problems.
Small and spunky, the Pembroke gets quick bursts of energy and then takes a rest. A daily walk around the block should be sufficient for most corgi dogs. However, if you see they have an excess of hyperactivity even after the walk, then exercise their mind with command training or puzzles.
Corgis are generally healthy dogs, but because of their dwarfed stature and long back, they are susceptible to back problems later in life. Weight management and an active lifestyle with low impact movements are important for the corgi. Furthermore, overbreeding can be a problem for those breeders who wish to make a miniature corgi. The mini breed does not exist, and those pups that are sold as miniature have the genetic predisposition for health issues.
Intervertebral Disc Disease
Intervertebral disc disease happens when the discs between the vertebrae bulge or herniate into the spinal cord space. It can be extremely painful, cause nerve damage, and paralysis. There are a few different types of IVDD, and corgis are more likely to have Hansen Type I, which comes on suddenly. Symptoms include trouble walking, unable to jump, incontinence, anorexia, and noticeable restlessness. If any of these symptoms appear, it is advised to take him to a veterinarian where they can manage the pain and talk about treatment.
Cervical Osteoarthritis is also known as Spondylosis. This condition occurs when the cartilage between the vertebrae deteriorate and provide little to no cushion for the bones, most commonly in the neck. Because this condition is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage it is important to follow care instructions to prevent or lessen this condition in corgis. Symptoms in dogs include loss of balance, incontinence, and muscle weakness so you may see them hang their head more often.
Male corgis are known for monochisism also known as cryptorchidism. This means when they are developing puppies, only one testicle descends from the abdomen and into the scrotum. This condition is usually genetic, and the breeder should be notified if the testicle does not descend by 6 months of age. Surgery is required to remove the stray testicle. If it is not removed, the risk of cancer increases substantially.
Von Willebrand Disease
Corgi dogs are susceptible to a genetic clotting disorder called the Von Willebrand Disease. If a corgi with this bleeding disorder is injured or undergoes surgery they will fail to clot, leading to excessive bleeding that can be life-threatening. A simple blood test can detect the disorder. Although there is no cure for the disease there are steps veterinarians and staff can take to manage it during a surgical procedure or in the event of an emergency. Some symptoms owners may see are nosebleeds and gums that bleed or bruise.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
Degenerative myelopathy is an irreversible, incurable, progressive disease where spinal cord loses its ability to link the brain with the lower body of the dog. It’s frequently seen in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and associated with a gene mutation in SOD1.
First signs of the disease, such as progressive weakness and incoordination of the rear legs are typically seen after the age of 7 years. Over time, it progresses to complete paralysis.
“Dog wheelchair” can help the corgi to remain mobile when their hind legs are disabled due to DM.
Hip dysplasia is an unnatural development of the hip socket, which causes limping and arthritis of the joints. Risk factors include both genetics and environment. Hip dysplasia affects particularly large breeds; however, it was diagnosed in 31% of Corgis over two years of age.
Affected dogs typically show clinical signs between one to two years of age. Symptoms may be mild or severe. Even though there is no complete cure, diet and anti-inflammatory and painkiller medication can enhance quality of life. Weight control is very important to reduce the hip joint load.
In severe cases the joint can be surgically reshaped to reduce pain or help movement, or the damaged hip can be replaced with an artificial joint.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Pembroke Welsh Corgi is at risk of Progressive Retinal Atrophy, particularly Rod-Cone Dysplasia 3 because of its interbreeding with the Cardigan Welsh Corgi breed, which is prone to this disease due to Mutation of the PDE6A gene.
Rod photoreceptor cells degeneration first resulting in loss of peripheral vision and night vision, then leads to complete blindness by 1-4 years of age.
Genetic testing of the PDE6A gene in Pembroke Welsh Corgis can be done to prevent breeding dogs who are carriers of the disease.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the older of the two corgi breeds. It is descended from dogs brought to Wales by the Celts about 1200 BC. Because of crossbreeding with the Pembroke Welsh Corgis, the two breeds are quite similar and were even considered as a single breed until 1934.
There are a few distinctions between the Pembroke and the Cardigan Corgi. In personalities, the Cardigan Corgi tends to take himself more seriously than the Pembroke. He may be a little guarded, but warms up quickly. Pembrokes tend to be more playful than Cardigans.
Physically, there are four differences between the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi:
- Cardigans are typically slightly bigger in size than Pembroke corgis.
- The Cardigan’s ears are more rounded instead of pointed at the tips in the Pembroke.
- The Cardigan’s tail is longer and is carried lower, never curved over the back.
- Cardigan’s coat colors include brindle and blue merle besides Pembroke’s colors.
The Swedish Vallhund is related to Corgi breeds; no wonder they share similar qualities. Physically they are both short-legged with long backs, and have similar general body shape. They both have a thick double coat and similar tails. The Swedish Vallhunds are confident, energetic, and playful herding dogs much like the Pembroke. However, their face and fur is wolf-like.