The CARDIGAN WELSH CORGI
A "Yard-long dog"
HEELER. The Yard-long dog (Ci-Llathed). Long, long before yards became
metres in his native land, the Cardigan Corgi was designed to measure 36
inches from nose-tip to tail-tip. As long ago as the mid-sixteenth
century, an ancient Welsh book referred to the "Korgi ne gostoc"
— Welsh for "Corgi or curre dog".
in a sixteenth century manuscript there is a comment on the sharp bark
of the Corgi. "Cyweirgyrn ynt y corgwn", which translated,
means "These dogs are as tuning-keys for the harp".
the Cardigan Corgis, or "Cardies" as they are often known, are
an ancient breed has been well established. Whence, we wonder, have
these lovely dogs acquired their unique characteristics? And what are
these? Firstly, this breed is endowed with quite extraordinary
intelligence. While they are cattle dogs by design, through instinct
heeling up rough steers and, if required, mountain ponies, the breed
adapts itself to modern times. Cardigans love to work, and will rapidly
learn obedience competition exercises, or, in the home, enjoy performing
all manner of tricks both useful and amusing.
is a good word to use because the "Cardie" has a remarkable
sense of humour. On the whole, I would not say that this is a marked
characteristic of his Pembrokeshire relation, and it is one thing that
separates the two types. The Cardie has a real sense of fun. You can
laugh at him, or with him, and he will join with you. A Pembroke Corgi
can feel hurt and will slink away in high dudgeon in a situation during
which a Cardigan will behave like a clown.
has always been difficult to assess the relationship between the two
types of Corgi. That there is an association is well-known and beyond
dispute. It was inevitable, in the early days before the types/breeds
were recognised by the English Kennel Club, that some inter-breeding
took place. After all, farmers, struggling to make a livelihood on small
farms on bleak Welsh hillsides, wanted a dog that could work and it
mattered little if it had a tail or was tailless. What is remarkable is
that, in the main, so little cross breeding took place and that the two
types were kept distinct.
bar sinister in the shape of a Welsh Collie undoubtedly was responsible
for the occasional fluffy-coated specimens that, even today, pop up from
time to time in Pembroke and Cardigan litters, from generations of
forebears with perfect coats.
small amount of inter-breeding that took place between Pembroke and
Cardigan Corgis — pretty nearly all of it well before 1930 — has
left its legacy and occasionally we see Cardigans, albeit they have a
tail like a fox, that is reminiscent of Pembroke ancestry and can be
criticised for having small pointed ears and straight front legs. These
dogs, foreign in type, are happily becoming fewer and fewer and all of
us who have known the Cardi since its introduction to the dog show
scene, must agree that type is rapidly becoming much more fixed and that
the improvement in breed type is very marked.
Cardi character differs somewhat from the Pembroke being more placid and
less excitable. In fact, this characteristic which pet owners agree
gives the breed particular appeal, is often a handicap in the show ring,
it being generally conceded that the average Cardigan does not show the
same alertness or use its ears as well as does the Pembroke Corgi.
is truly fascinating to see the Cardigan at work. Gone is the diffident
attitude displayed at shows. The whole impression is of a live-wire
animal. It is time to fetch the cows to the byre for milking. Leaping
over the tufty grass, the Cardi shows an amazing turn of speed for a dog
with such little thick, short legs.
have a short-legged dog? Surely one with more length of leg could run
faster? Possible — though debatable, but your high-of-the-ground dog
might quickly be killed or injured by a kick from a cow, maddened by the
nipping, yapping dog at its heels.
way in which the Cardi has been developed as a very low-to-ground dog
was no accident. The wise old Welsh farmers wanted their heeler that way,
so that the flying hooves went over his head and left him unscathed. For
the same reason they wanted the head just right — a flattish skull,
so many farms were situated in the hills or down the sides of mountains,
there were some in the marshy valleys. So the Cardigan feet should be of
a completely different shape to the Pembroke feet. Cardi feet are round,
big for the size of the dog, well knuckled up with strong nails. Sadly,
one often sees Cardigan feet on Pembrokes and many judges fail to
appreciate that this is a bad fault. Pembroke feet are neither round nor
hare-shaped, but are almost oval, fairly small and neat, with the two
centre toes slightly elongated.
marked differences? Judges should appreciate that the typical Cardigan
ears are quite large for the size of the dog, carried outwards and never
upright on top of the head, and distinctly rounded at the tips. Pembroke
type ears, which should never be tiny, pointed or of spitz type, are
smaller and not as wide as the Cardi ears. There are subtle differences
in head, too. The Cardi has a trifle more stop, the head is stronger
overall and the muzzle a little heavier. The body is longer. The front
legs are usually heavier boned and should be slightly bowed — in
opposition to the requirements for the Pembroke, whose breed standard
requires them to be as straight as possible.
there is the tail. Pems, if not born tailless, are docked short. The
Cardi has a lovely, thick brush, which ideally should be set on fairly
low, this tail-set calling for a nice, sloping croup. A high set tail,
on a square croup, is usually badly carried. A gay or curly tail is
for a number of different reasons the Pembroke Corgi was brought to the
notice of dog-loving public some time before the Cardigan type was
promoted, the breed suffered a severe handicap since the public, having
accepted the Pembrokes, seemed to dub the Cardigans as "funny"
Corgis; they were, well, different to the Pembrokes.
have always thought that it was a very great pity that the two breeds
were named as they have been. Granted that the vanguard were to be known
as Welsh Corgis (Pembroke), I believe it was a great mistake to call the
other type Welsh Corgis (Cardigan). As "Johnny Come Latelys"
they became the poor relations. Had they been recognised by quite
another name, the whole position would, I believe, have been different.
they become known as Welsh Cattle dogs, or as Welsh Heelers, I believe
that their unique and endearing characteristics would have carried them
to fame in the world of dogs long since.
As it is, they have had to make their way on their own merits and a slow, uphill way it has been. But all the signs are there. The Cardigan Corgi is increasingly recognised for what he is — the rugged friend of the Welsh farmer, the ideal family dog.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association of N.S.W. 1986 Year Book
written by Thelma Gray for the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association of N.S.W.
special supplement in the august 1979, National Dog.