Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Known as the Fairy Dog of Wales, this energetic herding dog is both playful and intelligent.
- Dog Breed Group
- Herding Dogs
- Life Span
- 12 to 14 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
See All Characteristic Ratings
Originally bred to herd cattle, sheep, and horses, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an active and intelligent dog breed. Easy to train and eager to learn, Pembrokes are great with children and other pets, and you can find them in four different coat colors and markings.
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Welsh Corgis come in two varieties: the Pembroke and the Cardigan. They were registered as one breed by the Kennel Club in the U.K. until 1934, although many breeders believe the two breeds developed separately. Both have similar heads, bodies, levels of intelligence and herding ability, but the Cardigan is slightly larger and heavier boned than the Pembroke.
For most of us, the easiest way to tell the difference between a Pembroke and a Cardigan is to look at the tails. Pembrokes' are docked and Cardigans' are long. (Remember it this way: the Pembroke has a "broke" tail; the Cardigan has a long tail like the sleeves of a cardigan sweater.)
Pembroke Welsh Corgis (also called Pembrokes, PWCs or Pems) are the smallest of the American Kennel Club's Herding Group, and are also recognized by the United Kennel Club. Their coats can be red, sable, fawn or tri-colored (red, black and tan), usually with white markings on the legs, chest, neck, muzzle and belly. They also may have a narrow blaze on their heads. Pembroke heads are shaped much like the head of a fox. Their eyes are oval-shaped and dark, and their ears are erect.
The official AKC breed standard is maintained by the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America.
- Pembrokes are vocal dogs that have a tendency to bark at anything and everything.
- While they are intelligent dogs, they also can be stubborn. If housebreaking is a problem, crate training is advised.
- Their strong herding instinct may cause them to nip at the heels of children when they are playing.
- Pembrokes are prone to overeating. Their food intake should be monitored closely.
- Even though they are small dogs, Pembrokes have a lot of energy and need a healthy amount of exercise each day.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Originating in Pembrokeshire, Wales, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an enchanting dog whose background is steeped in folklore. According to Welsh legend, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi sprang from the lairs of fairies and elves!
As the legend goes, one day two children were out in the fields tending to their family's cattle when they found a couple of puppies. The children thought they were foxes, but recognizing something different about them, bundled them up and took them home. Their parents immediately saw that the pups were not foxes, but dogs, and told their children that the pups were a gift from the fairies that lived in the fields. The fairies used them to pull their carriages and sometimes ride into battle.
As proof that Pembrokes were indeed the mounts of fairies, the parents pointed to the marks on their backs where the fairy saddle had been placed on their shoulders. The children were delighted and cherished their pups. As they grew, the dogs became treasured companions and learned to help the children take care of the family's cattle.
For those who don't believe in fairy tales, there are historians who say that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is descended from Vallhunds, Swedish cattle dogs that were brought to Wales by the Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries. Others think they may have been descended from dogs that were brought to Wales by Flemish weavers in the 12th century.
Either way, the breed has a rather misty historical pedigree. Farmers who kept working dogs in the past bred the best dogs for the jobs they wanted them to do. They didn't keep good records about the matings.
In the 1920s, the UK Kennel Club recognized Corgis as purebred dogs. They were officially known as Welsh Corgis when exhibited for the first time in 1925. At that time, Pembrokes and Cardigans were shown in the same class as one breed.
Then, in 1934, the Kennel Club recognized the Pembroke and the Cardigan as two separate breeds. In that same year, the American Kennel Club followed suit. Pembrokes were first shown in the U.S. in 1936.
Pembrokes have slowly gained in popularity in the U.S., and today, are among the top 50 most popular breeds for family pets. They're also popular with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, who received her first Pembroke Welsh Corgi from her father (King George VI) in 1933.
The puppy's name was Rozavel Golden Eagle and was a playmate for Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret. Elizabeth has loved the little dogs ever since, and currently has a pack of them lounging around Buckingham Palace.
SizePembroke Welsh Corgis are between 10 and 12 inches tall at the shoulders, and weigh no more than 30 pounds.
Although Pembrokes are still used as working dogs, they are most often seen as family pets these days. They are known for being happy, loving, and intelligent, but with a stubborn or independent streak at times. They are easy to train, but don't expect your Pembroke to be subservient. They like to think for themselves.
Although they want to please their owners, food is a great motivator for them when training. Proceed with caution: Pembrokes love to eat and can become obese if their food intake isn't moderated.
Pembrokes also make good watchdogs. They can be suspicious of strangers, and will be quick to bark if they feel that something or someone is threatening their home and family.
Like every dog, the Pembroke needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Pembroke puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Pembrokes are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Pembrokes will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Pembrokes, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
- Cataracts: This affliction causes opacity on the lens of the eye, resulting in poor vision. The dog's eye(s) will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve vision
- Cutaneous Asthenia: Also known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, dermatosparaxis, or dominant collagen dysplasia, this condition causes defective connective tissue in the skin to become fragile, loose, and stretchy. Blood vessels are also affected, leading to excessive bruising and blood blisters.
- Cystinuria: This is a condition where high levels of a protein, called cystine, are excreted in the urine, and may indicate stone formation. This is usually a problem only in males.
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): This is a progressive degeneration of the nervous and supportive tissue of the spinal cord in the lower back region. It causes rear leg lameness, weakness and eventual paralysis and is often misdiagnosed as disk disease.
- Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological condition that's often, but not always, inherited. It can cause mild or severe seizures that may show themselves as unusual behavior (such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding) or even by falling down, limbs rigid, and losing consciousness. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It's important to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis (especially since seizures can have other causes) and treatment.
- Intervertebral Disk Disease: Because of their long backs, Pembrokes are prone to ruptures in a spinal disk. Symptoms include unsteadiness, problems with going up or down stairs and furniture, knuckling over of limbs, weakness, and paralysis.
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) with Pulmonary Hypertension: PDA is a congenital defect of the vascular system that allows unoxygenated blood to bypass the lungs. It is usually detected in puppies during veterinary examination. Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure within the lungs and is a rare part of the PDA disease. PDA can be surgically corrected.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Retinal Dysplasia: This is an abnormal development of the retina. Sometimes the retina may detach and cause blindness.
- Von Willebrand's Disease: Found in both dogs and humans, this is a blood disorder that affects the clotting process. An affected dog will have symptoms such as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from surgery, prolonged bleeding during heat cycles or after whelping, and occasionally blood in the stool. This disorder is usually diagnosed between three and five years of age, and it can't be cured. However, it can be managed with treatments that include cauterizing or suturing injuries, transfusions before surgery, and avoidance of specific medications.
Athletic and surprisingly fast, Pembrokes were bred to be herding dogs and require plenty of exercise each day. That said, they make fine apartment dogs as long as they get the physical stimulation they need.
With their short legs and long backs, they should not be expected to hop up on (or down from) the couch or any other modest height — fractures are common.
Pems can adapt quite easily to living in the country or the city. Although their coats are weather-resistant and they do well in most climates, they are very people-oriented, and need to be a part of the family at all times — not left alone in the backyard.
Recommended daily amount: 3/4 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Pembrokes like to eat, and will over-indulge if given the chance. Keep your Pem in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
For more on feeding your Pembroke, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
Pembrokes are double-coated, with a thick undercoat and a longer topcoat. They shed continuously, with heavier shedding at least twice a year. You'll find them in red, sable, black, tri-colored, or fawn, usually with white markings.
The length of the coat varies on the body. Some Pems have fluffy coats — long with excessive feathering on the ears, chest, legs and feet.
Many Pembrokes have what is called a "fairy saddle" over their back. This marking, which is caused by a change in thickness and direction of a strip of hair, gets its name from legend: According to one, fairies rode Pembrokes in their home country of Wales.
Pembrokes are easy to groom, but shedding can be a problem if you don't keep up with the brushing, especially during the heavier seasonal shedding. When they are shedding the most, daily brushing is recommended. You only need to bathe them as needed, but many people find that regular bathing also helps control heavy shedding.
Brush your Pembroke's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Pembroke to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other pets
Pembrokes have a remarkable affinity for children, but thanks to their herding instincts, they sometimes nip at children's feet or ankles. Pems are eager learners, though, and can be trained out of this behavior at a young age.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
They usually are good with other pets in the household, so long as they have been socialized with them.
Pembrokes are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Pembrokes in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Pembroke rescue.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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