Everything you need to know about Pembroke Welsh Corgis
Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
1st Jun 2022
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a hardy little herding dog with a foxy face. They’re best known for their long bodies and little legs, and for being the favourite dog of Queen Elizabeth II and her father, king King George VI.
Outgoing, active, alert
The history of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is in their name because the breed was developed in Pembrokeshire in Wales to herd large livestock, like cattle.
Their name comes from the Welsh words “cor” (dwarf) and “ci” (dog).
Corgis are a type of herding dog known as a “heeler”, meaning they’ll nip at the heels of livestock to make them move. It’s also the reason Corgis are so short, so they’re low to the ground and can avoid a cow’s kicking hooves.
However, folklore has a different tale and apparently, these dogs were used by fairies to pull carriages and to ride into battle.
As well as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, there is a second lesser-known breed called the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. But when people say “Corgi” they normally mean the Pembroke.
The breed standard for the Pembroke Welsh Corgis describes them perfectly as “low set, strong, and sturdy”. These unique-looking dogs have foxy faces, pointed upright ears, and long bodies but short legs.
Because they were bred to herd livestock, they are reasonably hardy and strong despite their small size.
Colours of Pembroke Welsh Corgis
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi only comes in four different colours, usually with white markings on their muzzle, neck, bellies, and legs. They should always have a black nose.
colours of Pembroke Welsh Corgi are:
- Fawn and white
- Red and white
- Sable and white
The typical Pembroke Welsh Corgi temperament is alert, active, and affectionate.
Corgis love to be kept busy, and these lively little dogs suit an active family because they need a lot of exercise and stimulating games to keep on top of their high energy and prevent boredom.
They are also loyal and loving dogs and enjoy playing with their humans. However, they aren’t overly needy, and are usually happy to have some time alone every now and then.
Their watchful eye and loyal nature mean they are known to bark at anyone at the door or anything unusual. A Pembroke Welsh Corgi personality is fearless too, since they were bred to run around cattle, and they can have a stubborn streak. Generally though, they’re easy to train and easy to live with.
How much exercise do Pembroke Welsh Corgis need?
Despite their small size and short legs, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a herding breed and need a lot of exercise and enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. You’ll need to give your Corgi at least an hour of exercise every day.
Although they can adapt to apartment living, they do best when they have a garden and plenty of exercise and enrichment to entertain their active minds and bodies.
How to groom a Corgi
Generally, Pembroke Welsh Corgis don’t have high grooming needs. Their fur isn’t likely to tangle, they don’t need regular haircuts, and they don’t need baths unless they get dirty or start to smell.
Corgis are consistent shedders though, so it’s worth brushing and bathing them regularly to help get the loose fur out on the brush and not all over your furniture. You can brush them every few days to minimise shedding and prevent matting in their double coat.
As with any breed of dog, you should trim your Corgi’s claws at least once a month.
Common Pembroke Welsh Corgi health problems
On the whole, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are reasonably hardy and healthy dogs. However, their long body and short legs make them vulnerable to back problems, and they can inherit a few health conditions.
Because of their long backs and little legs, Corgis are prone to back problems like degenerated or slipped discs. (Called “intervertebral disc disease” or IVDD.)
Because of their shape, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are prone to a condition called “degenerative myelopathy”. This affects their central nervous system and can cause mobility issues and even paralysis.
It's uncommon, but they can sometimes suffer from epilepsy too.
Although hip dysplasia is more common in big dogs, it’s one of the most common health conditions affecting Corgis.
It means their hip socket doesn’t fit together properly. Many dogs need medication and physiotherapy to treat it, although severe cases require surgery to correct the joint.
A good breeder
should screen parent dogs for this condition before breeding them.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are prone to a few eye problems including progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and lens luxation.
These conditions can cause vision loss and cataracts and lens luxation may require surgery to treat.
Corgis can inherit a bleeding disorder called “Von Willebrand’s Disease” which stops their blood from clotting properly.
That means if they injure themselves it won’t scab quickly, so they bleed more than normal which could cause anaemia and dangerous blood loss.
Frequently asked questions about Corgis
Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis good family dogs?
Corgis do best with an active family who can keep up with their energy and endurance. They are outgoing, loving, and playful dogs so they often get on with older kids. But because they are active dogs with herding tendencies, it’s best for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi to live in families with older children.
Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis easy to train?
Pembroke Welsh Corgis can be easy to train because they’re intelligent dogs and quick learners. However, they can have a stubborn streak, which means getting them to do as you ask is another matter.
When is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi fully grown?
Most Corgis reach their adult height at around 9 months old, and they’re usually fully grown by the time they are 1 year old.
Are Corgis good with cats?
Generally, Corgis aren’t good with cats and other small furry animals because they are herding dogs, and their first instinct is to chase other animals.
That being said, they are outgoing and generally friendly, so it isn’t impossible to have a Corgi and a cat that live together. As long as your Corgi is introduced very carefully to a cat, they could become the best of furry friends.
Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis hypoallergenic?
No, they are not considered hypoallergenic or good for allergy sufferers because Pembroke Welsh Corgis shed a moderate amount of fur and dander.
However, it’s important to remember that no breed of dog is 100% hypoallergenic and could still set off allergies, even if they don’t shed much.
Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis born without tails?
Originally it was standard to dock this dog’s tail, but tail docking was banned in 2006 it’s become normal to see Corgis with full-length, fluffy tails.
However, there is a gene that Pembroke Welsh Corgis can inherit that gives them a short, stubby tail. That means your Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy could be born with a long tail, or a naturally short tail.
How many Corgis has the Queen had?
The Queen’s first Corgi, Susan, was given to her as an 18th birthday present. Since then she bred her own line of Corgis for over five decades and has owned more than 30 Corgis and Dorgis (Dachshund x Corgi crosses.)
Pembroke Welsh Corgi vs Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Both types of Corgi are from Wales and look very similar, but Pembroke Welsh Corgis are smaller than Cardigan Welsh Corgis, with shorter bodies, smaller pointier ears, and straighter front legs.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis also come in a much wider variety of colours.
Traditionally, another difference between the two is that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi had a docked tail and the Cardigan didn’t. However since tail docking was banned in 2006, both breeds can have long tails. (Although some Pembroke Welsh Corgi can be born with naturally short tails.)