The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is one of the oldest breeds, originating in Wales around 1200 BC. The short dog—whose name 'Corgi' comes from Welsh for 'dwarf dog'—became a sought-after working dog. Her low body and incredible boldness made her ideal to drive cattle—without as much danger of being kicked as taller dogs. Eventually, her cattle driving skills shifted to guard dog duty where the devoted Corgi excelled as a protector of home and family. Now, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi can be found competing in agility, sheepdog trials, and advanced obedience—or curled up on the couch after a rousing game of fetch with the family.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is also known as Cardigan, Cardi, Corgi, and CWC.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi has a heavy-shedding double coat. A medium length, dense undercoat is covered by a longer topcoat in red, sable, brindle, or black with or without white and markings.
Average Height: 10-13 inches
Male: 30-38 pounds
Female: 25-34 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The low-set, long Cardigan Welsh Corgi exudes a powerful and strong appearance. The overall balance of the dog is more important than her weight and size, but significantly over- or under-sized dogs are faulted. Her expression should be alert, watchful, and friendly. Medium-sized eyes are wide-set in the broad skull. Ears, large and prominent, are slightly rounded and carried erect. A double coat of medium length may be red, sable and brindle, black with or without tan or brindle points, or blue merle. Some white is common, but excessive white is a disqualification. The tail may be long, naturally bobbed, or docked. The Cardi is even-tempered and affectionate, without shyness or viciousness. – AKC Breed Standards
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi—the older of the two Corgi types—originated in Cardiganshire, Wales, more than 3,000 years ago. As stiff regulations were put on farmers regarding how much land they could fence, the breed was prized for its hardworking nature and ability to skillfully drive cattle—making limited fenced land less of a concern for farmers. When the restrictions on fences were lifted, the Corgi's purpose shifted and they became watchdogs and companions in the home.
The Welsh Corgi was first recognized as one breed, both Cardigan and Pembroke included. The breeds split in 1934, each being recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) separately.
AKC Breed Category
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is affectionate and devoted to its pack. The energetic—and occasionally goofy—Cardi is intelligent and learns quickly, but may display a strong will at times.
Are Corgis Good with Kids? The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is affectionate and loving, but she has a herding instinct that may lead to herding behaviors and nipping at hands and feet during play. Early training can reduce nipping behavior.
Are Corgis Good with Other Pets? Most Corgis get along well with other pets in the home. Rambunctious games of chase with other pets are a favorite of the Corgi, so timid cats or dogs may not appreciate the energy. Though they do well with other pets at home, they may be dominant with other dogs outside of the home. Because they were bred for herding, they also do well with livestock and farm animals.
Protecting the herd and the family is in the Cardigan Welsh Corgi's blood. They will bark at the approach of new people or strange animals, and will not give in until the threat is gone or the newcomer is greeted and welcomed into the home. Acting as a guard dog comes naturally for the protective Corgi.
Plenty of energy makes the Cardigan Welsh Corgi an active companion who appreciates romping outdoors.
- The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is likely to attempt to herd children or other pets.
- Easily bored, a Corgi without a job to do may become destructive.
- She may be territorial.
- She may try to assert dominance over people or other animals.
- She is known to bark.
Though the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a herding breed, they are adaptable and can live in most spaces if provided the opportunity to burn off energy outdoors. Stairs may be difficult for this long, low dog—something to consider if you live in an area with many steps. Their natural guard dog instinct means they will bark at the approach of new people or animals, which may strain relationships with neighbors.
Outdoor activities give the Cardigan Welsh Corgi a chance to run off excess energy. A fenced area is perfect for the energetic Corgi, as it will give her a chance to run off-leash—she may wander without boundaries. Though the Corgi's thick, weather-resistant coat protects her from wind, rain, and snow, she should not be expected to live outdoors as she has a strong desire for companionship.
Moderate exercise multiple times per day will help prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. The Corgi benefits from alternating activities to keep things fresh and interesting.
While Cardigans are hardy, active dogs and need plenty of exercise, special considerations should be taken due to their body type. Climbing may be difficult for the short-legged breed, and they may not have the stamina to keep up on long runs. More active hobbies such as running, biking, or hiking should wait until a Corgi is fully grown.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: While Corgis in good health may be able to join you for a mile or two, they are not built for distance running.
- Hiking Miles: A fit Corgi may be able to hike between six and eight miles at a moderate pace. Rigorous hikes should wait until after one year of age to allow for proper growth. A Corgi's short legs and long back may require special considerations on rocky or steep trails. Backpacks are not recommended for Corgis, to prevent back injuries.
The food-motivated Corgi is prone to overeating. The breed responds well to treats during training sessions. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food to feed is one to one-and-a-half cups per day split between two or three meals. This amount is based on average weight and activity level.
Though Cardigan Welsh Corgis do not tend to guard their food more than any other breed, children should never be allowed to touch or remove food from any dog while it is eating.
The social, affectionate Cardigan Welsh Corgi appreciates time with family, but may be left home alone for four to eight hours during the day if provided enough exercise and mental stimulation otherwise. It may be necessary to crate train a Corgi to prevent destructive behaviors due to boredom. They're known to get into trash cans to see if there's anything worth eating—which may be dangerous as well as messy—so all trash should be kept out of reach to prevent expensive vet bills and carpet cleaning.
Health and Grooming
Cardigan Welsh Corgis shed—a lot. Corgis blow, or shed, their thick undercoat twice per year. Brushing a few times per week, and more during seasonal shedding, will help keep the stray hair under control. The coat will release dirt and debris on its own as it dries or when brushed, and you may bathe a Corgi as necessary. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or breaking a nail. Corgis can be touchy about their feet—handling a puppy's feet regularly right away can help make nail trimming easier on both of you.
Common Health Issues
While this is generally a healthy breed, some of the more common health concerns for the Cardigan Welsh Corgi include:
- Herniated spinal discs and other disc conditions
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye conditions, including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and retinal dysplasia
- Weight gain
- Arthritis, especially in overweight Corgis
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Corgi by purchasing her from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
The intelligent, responsive Cardigan Welsh Corgi learns basic training easily. Learning and cooperating, however, don't always go hand in hand. With their intelligence comes a stubborn streak and the potential for manipulative behaviors. Consistency and a varied training routine are ideal to keep the Corgi on her best behavior. Many Corgi owners recommend training the puppy to go to a specified place in the home and lay down—rather than barking—when someone approaches the door. This may help curb excessive barking, but probably won't stop the habit entirely. And if you train your Corgi not to alarm bark, she won't be as effective as a watchdog.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis enjoy learning and competing in agility. They also learn advanced tricks and obedience with ease. The herding instinct is alive and well in the modern Corgi—herding is a skill they pick up easily. They're eager to please, if you know how to ask.
Sporting Dog Training
Though the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is willing to learn, the breed isn't an ideal hunting companion. They may be able to retrieve, but may be too rambunctious and loud to accompany you as a sporting dog. They also lack the endurance necessary for a long day in the field.
Folklore says the Corgi was discovered when fairies left a pair of Corgi puppies for humans to find. Fairies were said to have ridden Corgis, and the saddle-like markings on their back are proof, as the story goes.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Cardigan Welsh Corgi are considered two separate breeds, though the differences may be difficult to spot at first. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi—predecessor to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi—has a long tail, more rounded ears, turned out front feet, and is slightly larger. The Pembroke is smaller, has a naturally bobbed tail, and may be more affectionate than the Cardigan.
'Cor' is Welsh for dwarf, and 'gi' means dog—so the name translates to dwarf dog. The Corgi is a true dwarf, rather than just a small dog, and the name was meant to distinguish the type by size. Some sources state that 'cor' means to gather, referring to the dog's herding use.