What Makes the Cardigan Welsh Corgi One-of-a-Kind?

Published January 27, 2022
Cute Welsh Corgi dog walking in the city park with his owner

Cardigan Welsh Corgis will capture your heart with their affectionate nature, fluffy tails, and high level of intelligence. Though they are cousins of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Cardigans are a distinct breed with their own character and style.

Origin and History

Cardigan Welsh Corgis are thought to be the more ancient of the two corgi varieties. The dogs we know today come from Cardiganshire -- a region in the western portion of Wales, a country in the United Kingdom -- which used to be teeming with farms and valleys ideal for cattle ranching. Their ancestors drove cattle to market, nibbling at their heels to get the animals moving, and turning out of the way if the animals resisted.

People began mixing Corgis with other herding breeds, such as Collies and early Pomeranians, which were much larger than today's standard Pomeranians, after industrialization put an end to the Cardigan's usefulness on the farm. The blue merle color in the Cardigan's gene pool may have come from a Collie cross.

The Cardigan and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi were once regarded as the same breed, but the Kennel Club split them apart in 1934, giving the Cardigan a better chance of showing their unique characteristics. Years later, in 1935, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Breed Characteristics

Although the Pembroke and Cardigan are often confused as the same breed, the characteristics of each differ, marking them as distinct breeds with varied traits and appearances.

Welsh Corgi Cardigan breed card

Appearance

Cardigans range in weight from 25 to 34 pounds, with females being on the lighter end of the spectrum. They are available in a variety of coat colors, ranging from red to the classic blue-merle pattern. The hindquarters are the easiest way to tell them apart from their cousins, Pembroke Welsh Corgis: some Pembrokes are born without tails, and most typically have docked tails, while Cardigans are typically born with tails that remain undocked, per the breed standard.

Temperament

The Cardigan is a laid-back breed who prefers to spend time with their family rather than greeting strangers in the neighborhood. When it comes to strangers, Cardigans can be a little timid, but once they open up, they can be a lot of fun. Alarm barking is normal, although Cardigans aren't known for being nuisance barkers.

Cardigan Welsh Corgis, like all herding breeds, are clever, somewhat high-energy dogs who enjoy being busy. If raised with children, other dogs, and other pets, they get along OK, but be aware that they have a tendency to herd other animals. Cardigans are strong-willed and independent, having been bred to work animals considerably larger than themselves.

Two Cardigan Welsh Corgi Running On Field

Many Cardigans maintain at least some of their traditional herding instincts, and they will protect their family and home. They are generally good with kids, but they must be taught that playing children are not cattle to be collected up with a nip on the heels. Early socialization with other dogs helps with their sometimes "play rough" demeanor.

Training

Begin training your puppy from the moment you walk in the door, and your Cardigan will learn proper manners and house rules quickly and enthusiastically. Since the breed is intelligent and eager to please, soft, positive reinforcement techniques work well.

Exercise Requirements

Agility, flyball, obedience, and herding are just a few of the canine sports and activities that Cardigan Welsh Corgis excel at. They have plenty of energy and enjoy exercise, but they don't require an overwhelming amount to be content. Daily walks may be enough for this breed, but they frequently look for more.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi on leash looks at owner at dog show

Health

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is usually a healthy breed, although it is susceptible to certain health issues:

  • Hip dysplasia: A genetic condition where the hip joint does not fit properly into the thigh bone, often referred to as the ball and joint. Some dogs demonstrate pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, while others show no signs of distress.
  • Degenerative myelopathy: A degenerative condition that affects the nervous system, and which may result in lameness and eventual paralysis.
  • Retinal dysplasia: Abnormal development of the retina, which may lead them to detach. Blindness may occur.
  • Intervertebral disk disease: Cardigans have long backs, which leaves their spinal disk prone to rupture. Symptoms may include difficulty going up and down stairs or getting into the car, as well as weakness, unsteadiness, or paralysis.

Grooming

The coat of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is easy to maintain and does not require clipping. It does not mat, and a weekly brush-out will keep shedding to a minimum. The coat repels dirt and water, so it only needs to be washed once in a while. Trim your dog's nails once a week and check their ears for filth, cleaning them with a pet-safe ear cleaner if necessary.

Fun Facts About the Breed

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is an interesting breed indeed. Take a look at the following interesting tidbits about the breed:

  • Because the Cardigan Welsh Corgi's talents could show a family's economic position, ancient Welsh law imposed harsh penalties on anybody who harmed or stole them.
  • According to legend, two children were racing through the woods when they came across a fairy's burial. The mourning fairies handed the two children two little corgi puppies, which they took home, gaining popularity for the breed.
  • Corgis were also used as war horses for fairies before becoming herding dogs for humans, according to folklore.
  • "Cor" means dwarf and "gi" means dog, according to the Oxford English Dictionary; hence the name corgi.
  • While the Cardigan may not be the most effective deterrent to an intruder sneaking into your home, they will certainly alert you if something is awry.

Purchasing or Adopting a Cardigan Welsh Corgi

If you're looking for a Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppy, a good place to start is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America. The club keeps a directory of breeders in addition to a list of tips helpful in locating reputable breeders. The AKC Marketplace also offers a breeder search to assist you in finding the right puppy. Expect to pay between $1,200 to $3,000 depending on the bloodline.

Welsh Corgi Pembroke puppy

Rescue Organizations

If you prefer to rescue a cardigan, you can begin by searching Petfinder or Save-a-Rescue. You can also contact the following breed-specific rescue groups:

Is this the Breed for You?

If you are an active person who doesn't mind taking a long walk every day and are prepared to train a dog with a stubborn spirit, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi may be the right dog for you. If you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, you may want to consider a dog that is less active. If given enough activity and affection, this breed can be a fantastic addition to your family.

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