Although the corgi wasn't a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club until the mid-1930s, the short-legged dogs have been around since before the 1100s. Welsh corgies are two distinct breeds, both of which make easily trained and affectionate family pets. The Pembroke Welsh corgi is the smaller of the two breeds and is the 22nd most popular dog in the United States, according to the AKC. While further down the list, the larger Cardigan Welsh corgi is also among AKC's 100 most popular breeds.
Corgis belong to the spitz group of dogs and are easily recognized by a foxlike head with pointed muzzle and ears. A transcendent of the Scandinavian lundehund, the corgi dates back to times when Welsh islanders lived on waterfowl and seabird eggs. The agile dogs scoured cliff faces for eggs and live birds, and were later used to herd large flocks of geese. By the 1100s, the dog became known as a corgi, meaning dwarf dog, and herded cattle and sheep. The breed separated into two distinct lines by the 1930s based on breeder preferences.
Corgis have long, thick bodies set atop short but sturdy legs. While both corgi breeds have a foxlike head, the dog's differ in appearance in their tails. Cardigan Welsh corgis have a foxlike brush tail while the Pembroke variety has a docked tail less than 2 inches long. The Cardigans are also a little larger, weighing up to 38 pounds compared to a Pembroke's average 27 pounds. The Cardigan Welsh corgi comes in 11 different colors, including merle, which is often accompanied by blue eyes. The Pembroke Welsh corgi has dark brown eyes and comes in seven solid colors with white markings on the legs and belly.
Fun Corgi Style
Corgis are members of the herding group of dogs. While considered medium-energy dogs, they still need plenty of exercise. The larger Cardigan requires less exercise than his Pembroke cousin, and adapts easily to city living or country life. The dogs are happiest when they have a purpose, and they respond well to agility, obedience and herding training. You can take your corgi to playgrounds and teach them to go up and down slides, walk up and down teeter-totters and climb bleachers. You can make your own agility equipment using PVC pipe anchored with rebar poles pounded into the ground.
What to Watch For
Both the Cardigan and Pembroke corgi usually live into their teen years and are generally healthy when fed a quality diet. The Cardigan carries much of his weight on the front half of his body, so be careful not to let him jump off things for the first year or so until his bones fully develop. Pembrokes have a greater tendency toward hip dysplasia and eye disease. Although both breeds have a long back, back problems aren't prevalent in the breed as long as the dogs don't become overweight.
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