Corgi History in a Nutshell

miles-the-pembroke-welsh-corgi_65744_2012-05-08_w450

Corgis are a wonderful breed and my clear favorite. I share this preference with the Queen of England no less. I don’t have royalty in by blood but my tastes run to the sovereign’s best-loved species. I am in good company as the dogs are well-liked and common pets in both the UK and the US.

The Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis go way back in time giving them an aura of antiquity. Some say 1107 marks the date of the Pembroke’s entry into Wales from Flanders by emigrating weavers to this region according to lore. It was an agrarian existence at the time in which the dogs thrived as herding and guarding animals. The Cardigan may have been around for centuries left by Celtic tribes originally from Central Europe. There may be some connection originally with the dachshund. In any case, crossbreeding has produced the modern breeds of today.

Corgis certainly have come a long way from the fields to their status as pampered pets and small house dogs. Nevertheless, it is in their genes. With efforts to maintain their breeding, we have ended up with the two basic types. The Pembroke is shorter than the Cardigan with lighter bones and straighter legs. Some people prefer the fine texture of the fur. By contrast, you will find rounder ears on the latter (on the Pembroke they stand erect). A major difference is the longer tail and a variation in temperament. Owners find the Pembroke excitable and often restless, as if remembering the freedom of life in the wild. They were of course domesticated early on, but remnants of their former life as a cattle and sheep dog may persist. (They also collected domestic fowl from going astray.)

The low stocky dogs are easily identifiable. Dog shows in the late 19th century apparently helped popularize the Corgi and kept it in the public eye. The Kennel Club in England is a noted example. For a time, the two breeds were mixed up but later were identified and shown separately.

As late as 1931, the Cardigan reached the US as far as Boston. The Pembroke came shortly after. Strong and sturdy, the dog has a foxlike countenance a pleasant disposition. The status of the Corgi as the old herding breed gives it a distinctive cachet as does the royal family’s possessorship.

There are stories and fantasy tales about the dog that are amusing and worth reciting. A popular legend says the Corgi was the companion of woodland fairies (and that you can see their saddle on the back of the animal). Thus, the dog was said to be enchanted. It was mounted in battle and pulled mythic elf carriages.

The key canine organizations such as American Kennel, United Kennel Club, the Kennel Club, the FCI, and the Canadian Kennel Club, among many others worldwide recognize the corgi, both breeds. The word perhaps derives from the Celtic name for “dog” or perhaps an amalgamation of Welsh phrases. Whatever the exact meaning, these great companion animals have a large following. In that they may be vulnerable as a breed, attention has been given to their preservation and breeding.