Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Comprehensive Corgi Guide- A Resource for New and Future Owners

Last updated: January 9, 2018

Table of Contents
CTRL+F the number to skip to that section.
01.   A Brief History- Touches upon the origin of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi
02.   The Tail of Two Corgis- Describes the general differences between the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis
03.   So I Heard You Like Herding- A discussion on how the Corgi’s historical purpose affects its attitudes, personality, and habits
    03a.  General temperament and expected behavior
    03b.  Keeping the Corgi happy and fulfilled
04.   A Short Dog’s Shortcomings- Describes the health issues one should be prepared to deal with in a Corgi
05.   A Hairy Situation- Shedding and grooming are briefly described
06.   Final Rebarks- Closing this massive document
    06a. A note about "blue merle Pembrokes"

A Brief History- 01
Pembroke Welsh Corgis have been around since 1107 AD in some way, shape, or form.  They certainly didn’t look how they look today, but there are historical records describing a short-legged dog used for driving cattle in ye olde Pembrokeshire, Wales.  Though the origins are murky, it is suspected that the Pembroke came about as a result of the proto-Cardigan Welsh Corgi allowed to interbreed with Flemish Spitz-type dogs.  Despite the Pembroke’s antiquity, the breed was not recognized by the AKC until 1934, and the older Cardigan was not AKC recognized until 1935.  Prior to the AKC distinction of the breeds, the two were allowed to interbreed freely.  If you are interested in seeing how the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has changed since the early 1900’s, please check out Corgis of the Past.

The Tail of Two Corgis- 02
The two Corgis are similar in appearance in that they both are low, deep-chested dogs, but they have their differences.   In the US, the most obvious difference is that the Cardigan is tailed, and the Pembroke is usually not.  Outside of the US, the Pembroke often has a full tail.  How is anyone supposed to tell the difference if both dogs have tails?

In general, the Cardigan is a larger dog—taller, heavier in weight, and heavier-boned.  The Cardigan is also rounder, sporting rounded ears and “round” feet, where the toes are all the same length.  They have a much wider range of acceptable colors, too. For ease of comparison, their most noticeable physical differences have been charted below. 

10 to 12”
10.5 to 12.5”
Dogs 27-30 lbs; Bitches 25-28 lbs
Dogs 30-38 lbs; Bitches 25-34 lbs
Red, Sable, Tricolor, Brindle, Merle, Black
Intelligent and interested, not sly
Alert, gentle, watchful, and friendly
Bold, kindly
Adaptable, loyal, affectionate, even-tempered
Impress your friends, neighbors, and strangers when you inevitably have to tell them the difference between the two Corgis! 

The differences in personality match the breed ancestry: Pembrokes are spitz and Cardigans are hounds. The Pembroke is the more friendly and social of the two, while the Cardigan tends to be more aloof. Years of interbreeding prior to the AKC distinction of the breeds has brought them closer together in appearance and personality, but they are still quite distinct.

So I Heard You Like Herding- 03
General temperament and expected behavior- 03a

There is something about Corgis that draws people to them.  Perhaps it is those wonderful stumpy legs, that bunny butt, or even those huge satellite-dish ears.   Most people who fall in love with Corgis fall in love with how they look—and that’s okay!  But, adding a dog to your family based solely on looks can have serious consequences for all involved.  Corgis often surprise uneducated owners because they do what they were bred to do, and that does not usually coincide with the owners’ expectations. 

Corgis aren’t for everyone. They’re cute and stubby, but they’re fairly difficult dogs to own and generally don’t make good dogs for first time owners or the unprepared. If you like and are used to the personality of Labs and Goldens or the idyllic “family dog”, you will likely struggle with a Corgi.

Corgis are herding dogs.  When most people think of herding, they think of sheep.  Corgis were bred to herd a much tougher opponent--cattle--they take a hands-on approach to doing so.  Unlike Border Collies, which herd sheep by eyeing and stalking, Corgis control herd movement by chasing, biting, and barking.  This behavior and attitude is instinctual even in Corgis that haven't herded in generations, and makes the Corgi a rather "hard" breed.

Herding requires a certain level of intelligence.  The dog must be able to work independently of its handler, determine the best course of action in a constantly changing environment, solve problems, and accomplish goals as a team, among other necessities.  Corgis have the intellect to do all those things and then much more. They know what they want and they know how to get it, and are very stubborn as a result.  They can’t be pushed around.  They are tough little dogs with their own ideas about how the world should work. They’re highly intelligent and perceptive, so they will try to manipulate you and others to bend to their will, but are usually just stubborn with the hopes of wearing you down. Corgis don’t do things simply because you want them to do it. They’re still a biddable and trainable breed, but they’re not going to budge if they don’t think they’re getting appropriately compensated. If you give a Corgi an inch, it will try its absolute hardest to take a mile. It’s very important to establish rules and never waiver on where the lines are drawn. Consistency is vital to a well-behaved Corgi and they thrive on it. If you give in once, the Corgi will continually test your boundaries and see how far you are willing to let them go.

Because they were bred to stand up to 1,000 pounds of angry cow and keep a whole herd in line, they aren’t going to give up easily against an adult human—especially not a human that has proven itself to be unreliable when enforcing the household rules. Corgis raised by weak-willed owners have a tendency to become controlling or even aggressive, in part because they become very used to getting what they want. Resource guarding can grow to be a serious problem if the Corgi is used to getting its way some or most of the time. The hardness of the breed means that the Corgi is more likely to get aggressive, destructive, loud, and possibly physical when under-stimulated, as opposed to obsessive-compulsive and neurotic like softer herding breeds. Corgis bred without temperament in mind tend to have extra doses of these traits and can be more difficult to work with even when they are completely fulfilled.  (Keeping the Corgi stimulated, and therefore well-behaved, will be discussed in the next section.)

Corgis will herd you, the cat, other dogs, and especially children.  This means that they nip and bite in an attempt to get you to go where they want you to go.  This shark-like behavior is a normal side effect of their herding heritage, but is usually an unpleasant surprise for new puppy owners.  When you bring a Corgi home, you must prepare to deal with such behavior.  Warn your children and your guests, and have a plan in place to teach your Corgi that such actions are unacceptable inside the house.

The herding instinct also manifests itself in play through barking at things that move, aren’t moving, or in general aren’t doing what the Corgi wants them to do.  If quiet is a concern inside or out, you may want to consider a different breed, or be prepared to stop play when things get out of hand.  At the dog park, a Corgi may run around and bark at other dogs playing, seemingly policing their activities.  A Corgi will almost certainly bark when playing soccer with the family, or when doing any other activity that may simulate herding.  Corgis are watchful dogs, too, and they will bark when they feel it is necessary to alert the family.  You and the Corgi will often disagree on things that require alerting; doorbells, keys, and movement outside are all typical barking triggers.  In a similar vein, Corgis are very vocal when nothing is happening and sport a repertoire of grumbles, mumbles, moans, and gruffs.

The Corgi personality is overwhelming for many dog owners, particularly those that expect the Corgi to be something it isn’t. The key to raising a good Corgi is to be more stubborn than the dog on things that matter. (And maybe be willing to compromise on things that don’t.)

The Pembroke can turn into quite an undesirable creature in the wrong hands, but Pembrokes can be amazing, phenomenal little dogs when they’re properly cared for. They are keen at reading body language and are very sensitive to correction, especially from someone they respect and trust. They are kind and gentle with people, if demanding. It is fairly easy to have a conversation with a Corgi; their large ears are very expressive and their faces hide no emotions.  All the Pembroke really wants is to be with its family. Despite the bossiness and stubbornness, Pembrokes are quite charming. A proper Pembroke is a delightful mixture of self-serving impishness and eagerness to please its human companions.

Keeping the Corgi happy and fulfilled- 03b

In addition to contributing to the mental state of the Corgi, their herding heritage contributes to their physical state.  Many people see a Corgi and think of it as a small dog that has little exercise needs, and they classify it as being an “apartment dog” based on its size.  This is false in many ways.  For one, a Corgi is a medium sized dog with no legs, not a small dog.  Secondly, herding is a physically demanding job, and Corgis are able to fill it.  They have high energy requirements in a seemingly small package and do no better in a big house than they would in an apartment if they do not meet those requirements.   Third, their short legs often deceive people into thinking they are slow, lumbering movers, when any Corgi owner could tell you that they are dogs built like bullets with a speed to match.  What good is a herder if they cannot even keep up with their herd? 

High energy combined with lots of smarts lends itself to disaster when the dog is not properly cared for.  A bored dog, no matter the breed, will find a way to reduce its boredom—typically through destruction of the home.  It’s imperative that Corgis receive appropriate amounts of exercise to avoid this outcome.   A tired Corgi is a dog that is not causing problems, be it destruction, barking, herding of children, or any other undesired behavior.  Activities to work the Corgi’s brain are also a requirement.

Corgis are smart little gremlins and tend to be easily bored by repetitive tasks. For some Corgis, going on a daily neighborhood walk (or even a weekly neighborhood walk) is insufferably boring. They would rather just not walk at all, planting their feet and refusing to participate willingly. It’s very important to find a regular physical activity that engages the Pembroke to avoid facing off in a battle of wills. Corgis (and other dwarf dogs) do not make good jogging or biking partners for this reason, but also because regular running is too stressful on their joints. Unless you are running or biking in sand or soft dirt, jogging and biking should not be part of your Corgi’s regular exercise routine but are fine to do on occasion.

In groups of dogs, many Corgis like to be the “fun police”. They will bark at other dogs playing and chase them around, sometimes joining in on the real fun for mere seconds at a time before resuming the barking. They also have a tendency to chase and bite at other dogs when playing one-on-one. This is completely normal Corgi behavior and it’s how they like to play, but the barking and biting may not be very welcome at the dog park.

Physical exercise alone is not enough to keep a Corgi happy. They really need to do something that has them using their brains and making them think. Puzzle toys are okay to take the edge off, but are only a drop in the bucket. Pembrokes need to have some sort of training going on in their lives, be it working on regular household obedience or training frivolous tricks or preparing for a sport. They live for learning new things and having the chance to really work with their human companions. Letting such an enthusiastic worker go without work is nothing short of a tragedy, and the Pembroke would agree. In fact, they often pick jobs for themselves, and you may not appreciate the jobs they decide to take on. It’s better to decide for them.

A Short Dog’s Shortcomings- 04
Part of being an informed and prepared owner is knowing what health problems may eventually happen to your dog.  Pembrokes are a fairly healthy breed, but the dwarfism that causes their short legs also results in numerous musculoskeletal issues.

The dwarf mutation alters the growth and development of cartilage.  The growth plates that cause bones to grow are normally thick, producing bone systematically until sex hormones trigger growth to stop.  In the Corgi and other dwarfed dogs, the growth plates are very thin, reproducing incorrectly and sporadically and then maturing much sooner than normal, therefore producing a gnarled, shortened bone.  The fragile growth plates lend themselves to easy injury.  An injured growth plate is at risk for causing one bone to stop growth while the rest continue, producing a twisted or bowed limb that can be painful and is certainly not sound.  Growth plates become injured with overexertion.  High-impact activities such as running or jumping can crush the plate.  It’s very important to limit such activities until the Corgi is fully grown at around 1-1.5 years.  Don't stop your puppy from running and playing, but do stop your puppy from jumping off of furniture, don't take your puppy jogging, and avoid strenuous agility work or repetitive small jumps.

The joints in a dwarfed dog are very different from the joints in a standard dog—like the rest of the dog’s skeletal system, they are deformed.  In fact, if the same joints were on an average dog, they would certainly be considered dysplastic.  In a Corgi, these types of seemingly dysplastic joints are "normal" and allow easy, pain-free movement.  As in standard dogs, dwarves have varying degrees of joint quality and are capable of developing hip or elbow dysplasia.  The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, or the OFA, evaluates the joint health of any breed of dog.  All dogs should be OFA tested and pass with “excellent”,  “good”, or "fair" evaluations before being bred to reduce the occurrence of crippling joint disorders in the offspring and, ultimately, the population at large. If you have questions about the OFA status of your dog's sire or dam, you can search with the AKC registration name or number in question.  If the tests were done through OFA, the results will show on the website.

Rapid cartilage degeneration caused by dwarfism is present in every member of the breed. Cartilage is a connective tissue that cushions joints as well as holds them together.  Because cartilage wears down faster in dwarfed dogs, osteoarthritis may develop at an early age—particularly in areas with small bones, such as the wrist or feet.  As such, some Corgis may become very sensitive about having their feet touched and manipulated.

The discs in the spine are affected by early and rapid cartilage degeneration, as well, which puts the Corgi a high risk for a condition called intervertebral disc disease, or IVDD. In dwarf dogs, the normally squishy disc between the vertebrae in the spine hardens prematurely and severely reduces spine flexibility.  When the discs are forced to compress or stretch, the disc can rupture and put pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.  IVDD has various degrees, from mild back pain to complete paralysis.  All Corgis are at risk for IVDD, and the risk increases exponentially with extra weight.  Even just 2-3 extra pounds can be problematic. An unfit Corgi with little supporting muscle is more at-risk than a well-conditioned Corgi, particularly when engaging in high-impact activities including jumps and quick turns or twists.  The effect is cumulative, meaning the dog's risk for a catastrophic IVDD episode increases over time.

Signs of an injured disc that could develop into full-blown IVDD include limping, reluctance to walk, or reluctance to do other activities that the dog normally enjoys.  The dog should be rested with little to no exercise and on-leash potty breaks for 1-2 days.  If the limp or reluctance continues, the dog should see a vet.  The earlier these symptoms are diagnosed and treated, the better.  If these symptoms are ignored, they could progress to an inability to walk, an inability to stand, and then paralysis.  In these cases, the dog should receive vet treatment immediately. IVDD does not always progress slowly and can happen as a result of an injury from something as simple as jumping off the couch or turning too fast during fetch.  

Obesity for Corgis is more than just a cosmetic problem.  It can be a death sentence.  The extra weight pulls on the spine and aggravates the joints, precipitating problems that otherwise may not have occurred.  Corgis are nothing if not motivated by food, but it is essential that weight is carefully monitored.  It’s very easy for a Corgi to gain weight.  A good exercise regime and appropriate portions of food are quite necessary for a Corgi’s health.  Ask your vet for a candid assessment of the Corgi's weight and take their opinion seriously.  Don't get offended.  Step up the walks and cut back the food.  A Corgi with lightly padded ribs and a tucked loin is a Corgi that is going to live a longer, happier life. 

At the twilight of a Corgi’s life, obese or not, there is one last problem owners need to worry about: degenerative myleopathy, or DM.  DM is the doggy version of ALS.  The age of onset is usually 8 and above.  When symptoms are noticed, life expectancy is 6 to 12 months as the paralysis works its way up the spine.  True DM is also completely painless.  Currently, 51% of Pembrokes test “at risk” for the disease. Most “at risk” dogs do not come down with DM, which indicates something else is afoot in the onset of the disease.  Until researchers identify what that “something else” is, DM is best avoided by caring for your Corgi the best way you can and hoping it doesn’t strike.  All things considered, DM isn’t the most terrible way for a Corgi to end its life provided both you and the dog have the proper support you need.  

Two other diseases that are routinely tested for in breeding stock are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD).  PRA is just what it sounds like, a progressive loss of function in the retina that leads to eventual blindness.  Corgis begin showing signs around the middle of their life span. Von Willebrand’s disease is a bleeding disorder common to many breeds and can be avoided by a simple genetic test.  Thankfully, due to testing and appropriate breeding, the occurrence of these diseases is rather small in the Corgi population. 

If you notice your Corgi acting stiff, losing hind limb function, limping, or otherwise in pain without an immediate source, take your dog to the vet.  It could be a sign of musculoskeletal stress, and with these sorts of injuries, quicker attention to the problem means better results on the path to recovery.

A Hairy Situation- 05
The Corgi has a wonderfully made double coat that keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  The quality of the hair is just right so that after a day of moving cattle in muddy fields, no bath is required—the dirt will fall right out as the coat dries.  The coat is truly a marvel to behold, but it comes at a price: shed hair, everywhere.  No surface, food, or drink is immune to the scourge of the Corgi coat.  No amount of brushing, blow drying, bathing, Furminating, or any other sort of grooming will stop the encroachment of shed hair into your life.  The amount they shed is phenomenal. 

Imagine, if you will, the greatest amount of hair you can feasibly foresee coming off an animal.  Now, imagine two or three times that amount.  That is a rough estimate of how much Corgis shed, and probably an underestimate at that.  If you are not okay with a dog shedding its weight in hair every month, a Corgi certainly is not for you.  This warning may seem like a gross exaggeration of what should be a minor part of everyday dog ownership, but it is something many cannot comprehend until they experience it first-hand—and by then, it is too late.

Besides almost constant brushing to keep the shedding low, the coat needs little maintenance—bathing more than once every couple of months is unnecessary unless the Corgi in question has become unspeakably disgusting.  In addition, the coat should never be shaved, as it compromises long-term quality of the coat.  The Corgi’s short stature also lends itself to more coat maintenance on rainy days; when a tall dog would normally get just his feet wet, a Corgi’s whole underside will be soaked.  In terms of other grooming, Corgis need care just like every other dog—nails trimmed and teeth cleaned. 

Final Rebarks- 06
Like all dogs, Corgis need to be socialized very well or they can develop fear and aggression towards people and other dogs.  They require basic obedience using consistent, motivational methods or they may become very unruly; force-based methods are not likely to be as effective.  They need a lot of exercise and mental workouts to keep them out of trouble, quiet, and in tip-top shape.  Without proper care, Corgis can become very difficult to manage.  You must be dedicated to these dogs in order to make it work out, but they will become dedicated to you in return. 

When you get a Corgi, you are gaining a member of the family.  They are not dogs that you can “set and forget”—they thrive on human interaction.  They don’t need to be constantly entertained; simply being with the family is enough.  They are incredibly loving, wonderful animals, and no amount of hair will make any loving Corgi owner regret their decision.  If you are seeking a somewhat challenging, intelligent, sensitive, bold, vocal, and social animal, a Corgi is it.

Remember, all dogs are individuals and may not conform to breed standard.  To maximize the chances of getting what you want out of your Corgi, and to minimize the occurrence of health problems, seek responsible, reputable breeders.  Never buy a dog from anyone or anywhere else.  If at all possible, rescue your pal from a local shelter or Corgi rescue organization!  For additional help in deciding if, what, where, why, and how to adopt, please feel free to browse my other posts.

A note About "blue merle Pembrokes"- 06a
There is a trend to produce and sell "blue merle Pembrokes" to unsuspecting buyers who think the merle color is unique and want the eye-catching merle coat in their Pembroke Welsh Corgi.  The truth is that there is no such thing as a blue merle Pembroke!  Let me say that again, because it's important: there is no such thing as a merle Pembroke! 

If you are dead-set on a merle dog but do not understand why it's a problem that "blue merle Pembrokes" are being produced and sold, then consider why you want a Corgi in the first place. Corgis are so much more than their outward appearance and color is the least important part of the dog.  If the breeder makes color an important factor in breeding, imagine what traits are being lost to the pursuit of color--good health, stable temperaments, predictable behavior, and much more are lost when the breeder breeds for color.  Mixing the Pembroke with other breeds makes the behavior, temperament, and health of the animal much less predictable. The "blue merle Pembroke" trend is a great disservice to the breed, and continuing to call the dogs "blue merle Pembrokes" spreads a great deal of misinformation.

Any person purposefully producing "blue merle Pembrokes" is an unscrupulous breeder looking to make some fast cash.  Anyone producing and selling "merle Pembrokes" is mixing them with some other breed of dog.  Merle does not occur naturally within the Pembroke population.  In order to get a merle dog, the dog must be mixed with another breed of dog to get that color. 

If you are interested in a well-bred Pembroke, never under any circumstances acquire a dog from someone who also breeds "blue merle Pembrokes" or crosses their Pembrokes with other breeds.  There is absolutely no reason to do so other than to sell as many dogs as fast as possible.  Similarly, there's no good reason to purchase a "blue merle Pembroke".

There is no such thing as a "blue merle Pembroke".  Call it what it is: a mixed breed.  


  1. Hi there,

    This is well done. I've linked to it from The Daily Corgi's "buying a Corgi" page:

    Thanks for helping people to understand everything involved in responsible ownership. There is a lot to know, and it's better to be educated than sorry.

  2. p.s. Your writing is clear and concise. I hope you decide to start the blog again. If you do, drop me a line:


  3. As a Corgi owner, I really appreciate your post here! I was wondering where you got your information in the section that started with "the joints of a dwarfed dog...". I am curious to learn more and to keep some information on hand. We were told that our puppy has hip luxation (loose hip joints) but after talking to a relative with Corgis she said that she had heard somewhere that Corgis are built a little differently and have looser joints and that our vet may have just not had enough experience with Corgis to know that yet.

    Overall, I thought your post was very insightful and helpful and also very easy to understand! Thank you for putting all this together! :)

    1. Thank you, I am very glad you found this post helpful! I aim to educate.

      Unfortunately, I don't have a particular source for that section. My breeder passed that knowledge onto me foremost, and I've seen it mentioned by Corgi breeders and bloggers around the internet. I'm trying to find a first source for this info (medical textbooks, journal articles, etc) but am having a hard time. In lieu of an article full of medical jargon, here is a Cardigan website that explains hip dysplasia as it relates to Corgis specifically: I believe it will elaborate on this issue for you!

      If you want to know more about hip dysplasia in general, Woodhaven Labs has an excellent write-up about it here:

      My own Corgi (a Pembroke) was diagnosed with HD by the VAMD College of Veterinary Medicine. I got a second opinion by my breeder's vet, who does X-rays for OFA evaluation on my breeder's breeding stock, and his hips are actually fantastic. He knew exactly how to set my dog up for an X-ray and was skilled at reading it. Perhaps you can ask your breeder (if you got your dog nearby) for a vet recommendation so that you can get a second opinion from an experienced veterinarian.

    2. Great article--very helpful. I have to disagree with your statement about buying from breeders, though. PLEASE look at your local rescue agencies and humane society. Breeders are increasing the pet population, and thousands and thousands of great dogs are already homeless. We got our sweet Cardigan from a rescue. It can take patience to find a corgi up for adoption (they're such great dogs!), but it is very worth it. Save a life!

  4. Thanks for your post! I just got a 9 week old corgi and this is very useful information

  5. Thanks for the info. I wished I would have read it before getting litter mates 3 years ago. They are a challenge! I especially fell short in the socializing department. My dogs are aggressive to all other dogs which breaks my heart. I was so afraid of them getting parvo as puppies I failed to have them interact. They're good dogs I just wish better for them.

  6. This was a very good and useful article, even for a longer term dual-corg owner like myself. The part about the insane, supernatural amounts of shedding made me smile. When I was selecting a breed to adopt, I considered shedding, but breed descriptions did not really do their shedding justice. It's not anything near enough to being a deal breaker (I actually adopted another one, after having experienced a blown coat, which is an experience in and of itself), but it IS crazy. You did a good job describing it. Very nice job!

  7. I'd like to add to your health concerns. Corgis are also thwarted by their short legs and big ears when it comes to plastic bags. If they go snooping into a potato chip or cereal bag they can get their noggins caught inside and then can't reach with their short legs to get the bag off. They of course panic and suffocate. Corgi owners should be extra cautious about keeping their pantries closed and such bagged items out of reach. Years ago our corgi snuck into our pantry while we were out and he met his demise with a bag of cereal. Another friend told us they lost a corgi to potato chips. It is an issue few other breeds encounter. Please be aware of this bizarre danger!

    1. This just completely broke my heart; I can’t imagine losing my beloved corgbaby like this. My heart goes out to you and thank you for the warning.

  8. Cattle dogs also seem to desire to cover themselves in poo poo. I guess if they roll in cow dung the cows wont freak so much since they smell familiar.

    My Corgi appreciates the fine nuances of various decaying animals, cat poo, and of course, any dog doo anywhere. He come back to me wearing it proudly.

    I really suppose cattle dogs would do best outside the home in a kennel, but that is too hard for us. Our boy is a wonderful part of the family.

    Overall, we chose a Corgi for the smile and the easygoing way they have. If you walk them at least twice a day and don't over feed them, they are the best dog of all. Always buy from a reputable source and look over the tests. They can do a lot now and although mine has hip displaysia (minor), he is double recessive for IVDD.

    And not only do they bark at doorbells, they will scratch the heck out of your door and frame if you are not home!

  9. I feel I failed. I was stupid. Now my best little friend is in intensive care, we thought he had a stomach put in for overnight.n next morning...he had lost the use of his rear legs....took him to surgery today. They said his disc exploded..they gave him a fifty fifty chance to walk again.....after reading this I suppose it will not happen..Feeling regretful and very sad

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  11. Great post. As an owner of a 14 year old Cardigan Corgi named Jacques, I thought I shed some light on a concern not mentioned here. My Corgi, around 11 and a half began drinking a substantially large amount of water. We noticed this after moving into an apartment. After a visit to the vet, and a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, we began to consider options. I spoke with my mother and she suggested it might be the water softener, present in almost all apartment complexes' water. After filtering the water, we noticed a dramatic decrease (almost back to normal) in Jacque's water consumption. But he was still consuming a lot of water. We then looked at the food. For dry food to stay edible, it needed a preservative, only what we were feeding him had very limited nutritional info on specific preservatives. On a whim my wife and I decided to revert Jacque's adult diet back to his puppy diet; home cooked brown rice, sardines (in fresh water only!) and babe carrots. His health improved almost overnight! He's as lively as he's every been. Almost 3 years after changing his diet he's the healthiest he's ever been. No signs of bone degeneration, no cataracts, clean shiny coat, and no arthritis! It's my opinion that cooking for your animal can dramatically improve their quality of life. Eating food preserved with salt, in old age, can dramatically change your pet's health. Consider a similar diet. Also, limit stair use, VERY bad for Corgi's!

  12. Seriously with the hair! We had German Shepherds and Jack Russells growing up. I figured I knew about dog hair. NOPE! My corgi baby really does put SO MUCH hair everywhere. You can't keep up. I adore her, but don't underestimate the crazy-making of all the dog hair.

  13. I have a rescue Corgi mix. At the time we got her, we also had a yellow lab, Lady. I thought all of the hair was her fault. We lost Lady last year to congestive heart failure. It was sad and we miss her terribly!. But, is the hair problem over? Nope! Wasn't Lady after all. Our sweet, precious Bitzee (Corgi) is the culprit! But would I trade her to have a clean house. Not for all the money in the world!!! Thanks for the great info!

  14. Very accurate. Nice job. Every potential Corgi owner should read this.

  15. This is a wonderful article! I have owned bullmastiffs for many years, and now that I'm in my seventies, I'm starting to look for a breed that weighs less, thinking of times when I've had to do my share of the "fireman's carry" with a dog weighing 130 pounds or more.
    It will probably be a few years before it's time to bring a new dog into my house, but it's never too soon to do research. Corgis always make me smile, but that's not enough reason to say, "Oh, yes! I must have one!" I have bookmarked this article, and will ponder it carefully.
    Once again, thank you.

  16. Terrific blog post. I'd like to second the section about the shedding of hair -- I've recently dog-sat for a friend's Pembroke, and the amount of hair that little girl sheds is astonishing. Hair in the carpet, hair in the air filters, hair on every single article of clothing. Lately, I've been finding it swirling into what can only be described as Corgi-inspired dust bunnies. Invest in a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner for sure!

  17. Have had a cardigan (14 years) now have a pemmy question... Walking our corgi is hit and miss. Sometimes walks right along on leash, other times like dragging a cement brick. What's up? She is now approaching age 3 - we got her at age 1, so, we don't have some of the early behavior history.

    1. It's such a relief when other people talk about their problems and you find out you're not alone...! Lots of Corgis do this, my own included. For mine, he's bored out of his mind. Walking more than once a week is as much fun for him as math homework is for a teenager. We walk different places to get his exercise and I teach him tricks when I don't have time or money to drive somewhere. Other people have said their Corgi just doesn't want to walk for one reason or another. Weather is probably the biggest reason I hear about, either it's too hot or too windy or something. Basically: The Corgi just doesn't want to walk! You'll have to find some way to get her motivated or find alternate ways to exercise.

    2. I've found that my corgis want only me to walk them, especially when on the lead; not my husband, not my son, nobody but me. Others can come along, of course, but the corgis will not walk without me. However, this has not deterred my older pemby from taking total strangers for a walk, coming back with a huge smile on his face. (We live in a forest next to a self-catering cottage, so he has regular access to other people). This has happened several times in the past to the delight of the holiday-makers. I guess they want to walk when they want to walk!

  18. Thank you, so much for these postings. I just came upon them. We are applying to rescue a Welsh Corgi-Pembroke. He is a year old. He and our older dog were introduced today and both did very well. I am 66 years old and looking for a dog I can train to take out as a therapy dog. I know about the hair! We come back from visiting Jeff (our new name rather than Jack) and the hair is blowing everywhere. I thought Goldens were bad! He has won our hearts, though and I think will be fun to work with. I appreciate these posts as I've only had Labs and Goldens. Thank you!

  19. Bold personality describes our pup well! His name is Rylow as he rides low to the ground. His hearing qualities are a blast when we play soccer by his mouth is opened often when receiving a rub or fetch game. We went through a training school to support us with his behavior. He only works for food!!!!

  20. My sister has a Welsh Corgi that has developed an severe orthopedic condition in Both of his front paws. When Scrappy walks his paws looks like flippers. He has sores, ie; worn down and exposed skin on the bottom of his wrists. We were told he has a "genetic condition" that has caused his problem. Well, I think it's something else. Like breeding animals to give them a certain look to sell for more money. Is there anyone that has any information at all that I can look up to see if anything, anything at all can be done for poor Scrappy? Please advise and don't leave anything out at all. Scrappy is 8 - 11 years old. Thank you.

    1. It's partially due to genetics and partially due to environmental factors. What you're describing is known as "weak pasterns", "down in the pasterns", or "carpal subluxation" for a more medical term. The pasterns are the wrist of the dog. Like human wrists, the bones are oddly shaped and lashed together by tendons and ligaments.

      Genetics predisposes some dogs to having "loose ligaments", where the ligaments are not holding the wrist bones together as tightly as they should. This genetic predisposition varies in severity. This is a common structural fault in poorly bred dogs, especially poorly bred dwarf dogs. Your sister's dog sounds like the condition is very severe.

      Malformation of the pastern can develop during puppyhood as a result of poor nutrition, but it is reversible if the diet is corrected soon enough. If malnutrition persists, the condition will be permanent and likely cannot be corrected significantly with diet as an adult.

      Ligaments can also break down due to injury or age, worsening the condition.

      At his age, my advice is to get him thin and keep him thin. This will take some pressure off his wrists and reduce pain he is experiencing, and will also slow further breakdown of the tissue. If he hasn't been to the vet for this condition yet, he should see one. Ask about nutritional intervention at this point. It may help, it may not, but it won't hurt to try. Also ask for a candid assessment of his weight and tell your sister not to get offended at what the vet says. Obesity exponentially worsens these sorts of musculoskeletal conditions. The enjoyment the dog gets from food is not worth the pain of obesity.

      Don't be afraid to get a second opinion if the regular vet has nothing meaningful to say about the dog's condition. There are physical therapy/rehab/orthopedic specialists that can assess him and come up with a plan to alleviate some discomfort, and I would trust one of them more than a general practitioner if they said there really was nothing that could be done.

  21. Ive had the absolute pleasure of sharing our home with two corgis. I just LAUGHED throughout your blog. So spot on I just can;t believe it. I wimped on the weekly brushing, they hate to be constrained as you know and the hair was unbelievable. Your description is not only hilarious, it's true. Even with the "short comings of Pems, I can't imagine the rest of my life not having one. They truly are members of the family and have their own distinct BIG personalities. I thank you for the stroll down memory lane, both of my guys are gone now, one at 9 from Cancer and the other one a month shy of his 13th birthday. My kids grew up with corgi's and now my youngest has a corgi herself that travels with her everywhere she goes and loves every minute of it.
    An AMAZING breed and I soon with have another pup and will look back on this post fondly!

  22. I have a blue Merle pem. However, I did my research and knew exactly what I was getting when I brought him home. I knew to have the color, there was past breeding somewhere with either another breed, at the very least a blue Merle cardi. But in my experience, you never know what you're going to get with any mixed breed. It's like children, you can't anticipate personality, but you love them no matter whether an angel or a dick head. Thankfully, my boy has turned out perfect. But all the training and consistency is a big part of that. No one getting a dog should just expect them to be an angel. If they do, they shouldn't get a dog. Be responsible for your pet, put in the work as if they were a child. I love my big eared, smiling, happy blue Merle!

    And yes, the hair! I also knew to expect that, and it wouldn't be a proper work uniform without corgi hair!!

  23. I always laugh when I read blogs about Corgi's, we have two and each has a very definite set of corgi traits that are very different. Our 3.5 year old male is impish, stubborn and wants things his way; our 8 year old girl is
    Is a people pleaser but lordy, is she b ossy! Playing fetch can be a loud and obnoxious experience, and we wouldn't change a thing.

  24. Wow. Spot on description of my absolute favorite breed. Def take this to heart if you are thinking of a Corgi as your next dog. The "fun police" thing made me laugh, so true! Our Bassett and cat chase a lazy light and Sadie (corgi) is always trying to stop them. Lol With all the difficult stuff, I would give up my bf of 8 yrs before my 10 yr old corgi!

  25. Thanks for the article. I have a two-year-old brindle and white cardi, who is absolutely the best dog I have ever known. It is a constant challenge to keep him interested in things (even a thinking game bores him after a while), but we are launching into herding and additional obedience. Herding seems to be a different experience for him every time, and it is a joy to watch him work. We're avoiding cows, though; I'd like to keep him whole. Lots of great information in the article, though. My cardi is on the large side, so balancing weight with his size is a constant challenge as well. Hoping that a lot more activity (he loves hiking root trails) will help (we've been maintaining, but having trouble taking much off). Anyway, very much enjoyed this!

  26. Thank you for this indepth guide on corgis. Our 6 year old pure bred pembroke was found wandering the streets and was taken to a rescue centre, where we adopted her. we later found out her original owners must have gotten tired of her and let her go when they were unsuccessful in selling her on kijiji.

    Had they read this article when they first got her, maybe things would be different...either way it's their loss, because Abby is the light of our family and does an excellent job policing our cat and big German around. Barking, herding..constantly shedding, we love our precious plum =)

  27. I know this is an old post, but I'm trying to get together more information on the "blue merle pembroke" problem. It's cropping up on social media now, and I had someone tell me that I was "wrong" because they had a genetic test. Does anyone have another resource they could link me to? Thanks!

    1. It's an old article but it gets a lot of views still. I updated it just a few months ago, too. What kind of information do you want or need about blue merle "Pembrokes"?

      The breed standard set by the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America ( does not mention merle anywhere in its color section as either an acceptable color or a serious fault because merle does not occur naturally in the breed. Purebred Pems cannot be merle so there's no reason to address it in the standard, similar to how there's no mention of brindle, chocolate/liver, or ticking. Merle has simply never been in the breed, and any "blue merle Pembrokes" are the result of a recent outcross to some other breed with merle, usually an Aussie or Cardigan.

      Merle is a dominant gene (, and if a dog has one copy of it, the dog will be merle. For a puppy to be merle, one of the parents must be merle. It is very easy to introduce merle to a population because it is dominant. Make no mistake, though, even if the DNA test for a merle "Pembroke" shows the dog is 100% Pembroke, it's wrong. Someone who has a 100% Pembroke result on their merle dog needs to contact the DNA testing company and alert them to the failure. Those DNA tests are not completely accurate, and it's wrong to regard the result as "truthful" knowing that Pembrokes are genetically incapable of merle; furthermore, it's extremely unlikely they experienced a spontaneous mutation resulting in merle.

      "Bluies" are mentioned in the standard but are different from merle. The dilution gene is responsible for making bluies ( The PWCCA website ( has example of Pems with the dilution gene.

      This website ( is run by a respected Pembroke breeder and contains accurate information from highly experienced breeders and the breed club.

      Anyone denying these facts likely owns a merle "Pembroke" and is spouting off some nonsense the puppy mill/BYB told them when they bought the dog. Unfortunately, there's no convincing some people that they made a mistake!

  28. Wow, this is such a concise but knowing description of life with a corgi. With so little text, I was sure that things would be glossed over, but in fact I think this is incredible insightful. It warmed my heart with all the reasons I've been in love with corgis for so long, but it also really didn't hold back from trekking the awful parts of them as well. I should write the link on cards to hand out to all the strangers who meet my dog and tell me that they definitely want a corgi some day, so that they know what all that means.

    Thank you!

  29. This is a fantastic article. My spouse and I have a 2 year old Beagle mix and have been on the hunt for a corgi or corgi mix for about 6 months. I learned more from this one article than from the hundreds of others I've read! So excited to add this new member to our growing family. We are up for the challenge!

  30. Looks like my previous comment didn't post. Really great post, seriously. My spouse and I have been looking for a corgi or corgi mix for 6 or so months and are finally going to a breeder this weekend. I've learned more from this one article than from hundreds of others that I've read while researching the breed to make sure this was the right decision for us. We are so excited to add a corgi to our little family, our 2 year old Beagle mix will be thrilled to have a brother! After reading this, I'm even more confident that we are making the right choice and that we are ready for this new challenge/chapter in our lives. Do you have any advice for us? Anything we should ask the breeder aside from if the parents have had genetic testing? Any advice would be appreciated and well received! Thank you!

    1. The comments have to be viewed by me and approved before they are posted in the comment section. It keeps the comments free of spam.

      I am so glad my article was able to help build confidence in your decision to get a Corgi! My main piece of advice is to get one from a good breeder if you're not going to rescue--this means being *patient* with the puppy-buying process. Well-bred dogs aren't something you can find on demand and buy. You should be cautious if someone is willing to let you get a puppy the same day you first talked. You may have to travel out of state to get your dog. If this is the first time you're buying a puppy, don't allow the dog to be shipped.

      Here is some guidance on finding a good breeder:

      Good breeders aren't found on Craigslist, in the newspaper, in Kijiji, or in some Facebook group dedicated to selling Corgis. The first place to start looking for a good breeder is the national club:

      Then you can search your regional club for additional breeders:

      Most good breeders don't have websites or their websites are super crappy. You'll have to email or call to get up-to-date information from them. Have an opening prepared that explains why you want a Corgi (instead of some other breed) and shows that you've done your research and are prepared to own a challenging dog like a Corgi.

      Be sure to verify genetic testing on If someone says they did it, they have to have proof. At minimum, they need to have fair, good, or excellent hips and have had a certified eye exam within the past year. DM testing isn't necessary or required, and it's currently okay to breed at-risk dogs to other at-risk dogs. Ask about allergies and lymphoma in the lines too.

  31. As a new PWC owner, I realize now I've bitten off more than I can chew. My puppy is winning in the battle of training. Help me please. I'm at wits end. I'd return him for a refund if I could but he's a puppy, not a thing, and I kinda like him, but he is incorrigible and I'm a novice dog owner.

    1. A good breeder would encourage you to return your puppy if you feel like you've really bitten off more than you can chew and you can't step up to meet his needs. In most cases, it's actually better for the dog to be rehomed than for the owner to hang on to the dog out of guilt. If you don't return the dog or your breeder won't allow a refund, you can always surrender it to a Corgi rescue ( where the dog will be fostered and matched to a suitable home. A young Corgi with minor issues is highly adoptable, whereas an older one with major issues is much less so.

      If you want to hang on to the dog, there's a lot of options to look at. Without knowing your specific issues, I cannot offer specific advice. The most necessary step is to bring the dog to training classes/private trainer that uses positive reinforcement or clicker training. You can attempt clicker training yourself, but I highly recommend getting help from a professional first if you're lost on what to do.

  32. This is a great article. So spot on. Sometimes I think, is it just my corgi that does these things?, but I'm glad to find out that they all do this! They are funny animals, but also so loving and sensitive! Thanks!

  33. You're right about the herding and barking. I was worried there was something unruly about my dog (corgi-ACD mix), because she only wants to bark, herd, and chase at the park. She barks more than any other dog there, right in the faces of dogs who are standing still! Even with positive enforcement I can't shake the behaviour, so I mostly gave up. She only seems capable of play with dogs her size or bigger, with tiny dogs she's too aggressive. She is fearless and aggressively plays with dogs 4 times her size!

    I can't run or jog with her either. The moment I move fast, she starts trying to herd me!

  34. Is excessive back flexion or hyperextension in a corgi something to worry about? I ask because I've witnessed a very fast agility corgi do this. (My guys tuck their butts when they really want to go.)

  35. Excellent article. Touched on many things I have noticed in my two corgis, never sure if they were breed. My current "bolt" loves walks, but only with me, and I thought it was due to a past trauma. Glad to know it is a corgi thing because he is otherwise well adjusted. Having some orthomproblems now which led me to your article. Many thanks for this well done piece.

  36. Thank you so much for this incredibly accurate and informative post.
    We have a brilliant 12 week old corgi puppy that we adore. We definitely agree that we have to keep her mind very active! We already have her in training which she has been great at, but wondering if you have any suggestions for toys or things to keep her occupied when we can’t be “working” with her. We have given her a ton of toy options, but she figures them out or tires of them quickly. I worry that she is bored! Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    1. Puppies are attention sinks and she will demand as much of your attention as you can possibly give. As she grows, she will learn how to deal with not being the center of your universe as long as she is getting enough stimulation when you are actively engaging with her. You can work on a "settle" command, too, to help her learn to chill out when you're busy.

      In general, boredom-fighting activities require some amount of involvement from the human, but some options are more passive than others. The key is to get creative and cram as much fun into your play sessions as possible.

      1. The most passive option are food puzzle toys. They're great, even if she figures them out quickly. Every toy I've bought, my Corgi has figured out instantly. It's still fun for both of us to use the food toys, though. You can make your own food toys out of old boxes, soda bottles, milk jugs, etc. Throw food in them, make holes to suit the difficulty level for your dog, and watch the dog figure it out. If the dog starts chewing on the box/bottle, then you made it too hard; make more/bigger holes.

      2. You can hide kibbles/treats around the house and have your dog look for them. Start by having the dog wait/stay and put 3-5 kibbles/treats in plain sight. Release the dog with a phrase/cue (mine is "find the cookies") and see if the dog remembers where you put all of them. After playing this a few times, begin making the hiding spots harder. Then, advance to putting the dog in another room and hide the cookies in plain sight, then move on to harder and harder hiding spots. Eventually, you'll be able to do some seriously difficult hides that require her to use her nose and her brain. This is highly entertaining for everyone involved and it's a good stepping stone to actual nosework--which is a great boredom-fighter too!

      3. Instead of throwing the ball during fetch, try kicking it, punting it, or karate chopping it out of your other hand. Throw it straight up. Throw it on the ground so it bounces. Basically, vary how the ball moves.

      4. Cat toys. These require supervision because cat toys aren't made for dogs, but my Corgi goes ballistic for cat toys. The feathers-on-a-stick toy is great, if short-lived. There's a dog version called a Flirt Pole that you can try, too. I have multiple versions of the Crazy Circle cat toy (a ball in a track that the dog can't get out). Never use a laser pointer, though.

      5. Novel items, especially electronic ones. (Heavy supervision is required with electronic toys.) Cracker Barrel is great for this sort of thing. Weasel Balls. Little dogs that shuffle and bark. Robo-hamsters in a wheel. Small RC cars.

      6. Big RC cars, even! I have a Traxxas Stampede (an RC truck that goes 40+ mph) to entertain my Corgi. We also had a small drone that provided endless entertainment for my Corgi.

  37. Thank you for this detailed post! It's very helpful to understand all of the little things I may not think of before making a decision on getting a corgi or not.

    Is there a particular dog food that you'd recommend for the breed?

    1. Diet is something that should be addressed on an individual basis. However, if there's two things every Corgi needs from their diet, it's that 1) the food needs to not make them fat and 2) the food needs to minimize inflammation, since inflammation aggravates their orthopedic issues.

      The key to preventing the dog from getting fat isn't the brand or type of food, it's how much you feed. Treats, table scraps, and dog food all count towards the dog's calories. If the dog gets a big treat or table food, it's important to reduce the amount of dog food accordingly. High quality foods tend to be more energy-dense than low quality foods, so you will need to feed less of the high-quality food to prevent the dog from getting fat. For example, a dog may need 1.5 cups of Purina Dog Chow (low quality) per day, but the same dog may only need 1 cup of Orijen (high quality) per day to maintain the same body weight. Keep in mind that the back of the bag almost always overestimates how much food the dog needs to eat. Finally, you should use an actual measuring cup to measure the food. When it says "1 cup", it means the kind of cup you use for baking, not drinking!

      As for the inflammation thing, it varies from dog to dog. Avoid any food that makes the dog itchy. If you don't use a high-quality, fish-based kibble, you should add fish oil to the dog's food. The EPA/DHA in fish oil is anti-inflammatory. You can also choose to add canned sardines or whole oily fish (salmon, mackerel, smelt, etc) to the dog's diet instead of supplementing with fish oil. Freeze fresh-caught fish for at least 4 weeks before feeding to avoid salmon poisoning.

      Whole food is better than processed food. If you can afford it, I recommend feeding a freeze-dried or dehydrated commercial food. I do not recommend commercial raw products. Homemade diets are my personal preference, but I cannot recommend them without a huge list of caveats.

  38. Replies
    1. Of the foods in the video, Orijen is (IMO) the best quality and is a brand I really trust. Some dogs have trouble eating Orijen because the food is so rich. The same company makes a different brand of food called Acana, which is a great food to try if your dog has loose stools from eating Orijen. Acana is the same high-quality you'd expect from Orijen but the food isn't as rich.

      Wellness CORE is a great medium-quality food if Orijen and Acana are too expensive or too difficult to find.