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the search for a dog
Pembroke welsh corgi smiling

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Herding group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height – 10 to 12 inches
  • Weight – 24 to 30 pounds
  • Coat length & texture – Coarse, medium-length double coat
  • Coat color – Pembroke Welsh corgis have red, sable, fawn, or tri-colored (red, black, and tan) coats. Some also have white markings on their legs, chest, neck, muzzle, and belly.
  • Exercise needs – Frequent
  • Intelligence – High intelligence 
  • Barking – Frequently
  • Life span – 12 to 14 years
  • Temperament – Playful, outgoing, affectionate, and fearless
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – Wales

Pembroke Welsh corgi fun facts

  • Pembroke Welsh corgis are the smallest dog in the American Kennel Club’s herding group, but don’t let their size fool you. They’re still vigilant watchdogs with acute senses and a surprisingly big bark. 
  • While all corgis were originally recognized as a single breed by the American Kennel Club in 1934, today two different breeds are recognized: the Pembroke Welsh corgi and the Cardigan corgi. Cardigan corgis are slightly larger and heavier boned than Pembrokes. 
  • If you’re a cat owner, you’re all too familiar with the infamous “zoomies.” Some Pembroke Welsh corgis have been known to tire themselves in a similar manner, running around in circles and dashing from room to room.
Pembroke Welsh corgi with its tongue out

Pembroke Welsh corgi temperament and characteristics

The Pembroke Welsh corgi is a strong, athletic, and lively little housedog, often affectionate without being overly needy. Pembroke Welsh corgis make for excellent herding dogs, but they’re more commonly seen as family dogs nowadays. They’re usually great around kids and other pets in the house, but don’t be surprised if you see your corgi acting out from time to time. They’re very intelligent, after all, and like to think for themselves in ways that can sometimes come across as stubborn.

You should also be careful bringing your corgi around strangers, as it takes them a little while to warm up to people they don’t know. Pembroke Welsh corgis are generally outgoing and attentive to nearby humans, but they can be quick to bark at people and things they perceive as threats. They can also get territorial around dogs and cats they don’t know, since the breed was developed to drive strange dogs away from the flocks they herded.

Common Pembroke Welsh corgi health problems

Pembroke Welsh corgis are generally healthy dogs, though their shorter legs can lead to back and hip strain when doing things like jumping up on furniture. Corgis are also prone to a few hereditary conditions. Common health complications include:

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition in which a dog’s thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. This puts stress on the surrounding ligaments and can cause pain and lameness on one or both of their rear legs, though some dogs with hip dysplasia never show outward signs of discomfort. If left untreated, hip dysplasia can eventually lead to the development of osteoarthritis and chronic inflammation as a dog ages. 
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). Also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy, or CDRM, degenerative myelopathy is the gradual degeneration of the nervous and supportive tissues in the lower part of a dog’s spinal cord. Over time, this leads to progressive hind leg weakness and paralysis. Because early symptoms of DM closely resemble those of osteoarthritis, diagnosing it can sometimes be challenging. 
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD). This is the most common blood disorder in both dogs and humans. It’s caused by a deficiency of a protein called von Willebrand factor, which normally helps blood cells form clots to seal broken blood vessels. Dogs affected by vWD experience symptoms like nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from surgery, prolonged bleeding during heat cycles or after giving birth, and occasionally blood in the stool. While there’s no cure for von Willebrand’s disease, it can be managed through preventative measures like pre-surgery blood transfusions, and by avoiding medications that interfere with normal blood clotting processes.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease. This condition is characterized by a ruptured, slipped, or herniated spinal disc, and is especially prominent in Pembrokes because of their long backs. Symptoms usually depend on the part of the spine affected, but commonly include difficulty going up or down stairs and furniture, knuckling over of limbs, weakness, unsteadiness, and paralysis. In most cases, intervertebral disc disease is treated through surgery, though anti-inflammatory medications may be enough in milder cases. 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This is a term used to describe a family of eye diseases that involve the gradual deterioration of the retina, the layer of cells in the back of the eye that allows it to detect light. Dogs that suffer from PRA can become night blind as their retinas break down, and eventually lose their sight completely. 
  • Cataracts. A cataract is an opacification, or clouding, of the eye’s lens. Cataracts are common in both dogs and humans, causing blurry vision and eventually leading to blindness over time. Most cataracts develop as dogs get older, or after an injury to the eye that changes the tissues in the lens. Cataracts can be surgically removed in many cases, though this may not be an option if your dog suffers from a pre-existing eye condition. 
  • Retinal dysplasia. This term is used to describe an abnormality in the retina. While retina dysplasia rarely causes dogs pain, it can negatively impact their vision. This condition doesn’t usually cause any external symptoms, making it hard to diagnose until it’s already caused significant vision loss.

If you’re buying from a breeder, ask them to show you health clearances for your corgi. These prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition, and they can ease your mind about many of the health problems listed above.

Cost of caring for Pembroke Welsh corgis

The cost of treating your corgi’s health conditions mostly depends on the type of illness or injury they’re experiencing, and on how severe it is at the time of diagnosis. Hip dysplasia surgeries usually run anywhere from $2,000 all the way up to $7,000 if a total hip replacement (THR) is required. Intervertebral disk surgery can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000, not including the cost of the x-rays taken to prepare for the procedure. Cataract surgery falls in the same ballpark, running pet owners $2,700 to $4,000.

Other conditions like degenerative myelopathy, Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), progressive retinal atrophy, and retinal dysplasia can’t be treated surgically, but they still require diagnostic tests and supportive care that can easily add up to several hundred dollars a month. That’s where a good pet insurance policy can really make a world of difference in cutting down the out-of-pocket costs. If you sign up while your dog is still a puppy, the insurance policy should cover their care for their entire life. Alternatively, you could consider opening a pet savings account or finding another form of financial aid in your area.

History of the Pembroke Welsh corgi

These adorable little dogs can be traced all the way back to 10th-century Pembrokeshire, Wales, where legend has it that they came from the world of elves and fairies. Another (slightly more realistic) theory suggests they’re descendants of the Swedish Vallhund. In Wales, they were commonly kept as herding, companion, and even guard dogs. 

The UK Kennel Club recognized Corgis as purebred dogs in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until 1934 when the American Kennel Club recognized the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh corgis as two distinct breeds. It was also around this time when England’s Queen Elizabeth II kept a Pembroke Welsh corgi of her own named Rozavel Golden Eagle. Today, Pembrokes are among the top 50 most popular breeds for family pets, and they’re beloved around the world. 

Pembroke Welsh corgi gives a side eye

Caring for your Pembroke Welsh corgi

Caring for a new puppy is always a process. Among other things, you’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and get your dog’s vaccinations in order. Then comes the puppy-proofing and teething prep. And of course, you’ll have to make sure your dog’s exercise, grooming, and dietary needs are all being met. Here are some basics specific to Pembroke Welsh corgis: 

Exercise 

Pembroke Welsh corgis may be small, but they’re still herding dogs, and they need lots of exercise to let out their pent-up energy and stay healthy. They do especially well with long walks and slow jogs, but their short legs make running a bit harder for them. Give your corgi at least an hour of physical activity a day, and you’ll find that they’re extremely adaptable in all kinds of home environments, from big homes with backyards to small city apartments. 

Pembrokes’ weather-resistant coats help them endure many different outdoor environments, but they should never be left alone for long periods of time. They love attention, and they do best when they’re with the people they love.

Pembroke Welsh corgi exercising

Grooming 

Pembroke Welsh corgis have a thick weatherproof double coat made up of a short undercoat and thicker outer coat. They shed hair frequently throughout the year, with the heaviest shedding periods coming in the spring and fall. During these shedding seasons, you’ll want to brush your corgi’s hair at least a few times a week. Bathing can also help control the shedding.

Take the time to regularly trim your dog’s nails to prevent tears and foot injuries. You should also brush their teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week to remove plaque buildup, or even daily to prevent gum disease and bad breath. 

Diet and nutrition 

Most Pembroke Welsh corgis do best when fed 3/4 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, usually divided into two meals. Always discuss food portioning with a vet before starting your dog on a new diet, as the exact amount of food they need will depend on factors like their age, size, and activity level. Avoid leaving food out all the time for your Pembroke, as they love eating and can easily overeat if given the chance, which can lead to weight problems later in their life.

Training your Pembroke Welsh corgi

Pembroke Welsh corgis are intelligent dogs that love keeping busy with activities and challenges. This makes them eager learners and easy to train, but don’t be surprised if they act a little stubborn from time to time. Give the occasional treat to get them back to track, and start training your Pembroke as early in their life as you can. Many corgi owners also find crate training to be helpful when housebreaking their puppies.

Pembroke Welsh corgi at the computer

Breeds similar to the Pembroke Welsh corgi

Not quite sure that a Corgi is right for you? Even if you are set on adopting a corgi, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Cardigan Welsh corgi. The Cardigan Welsh corgi gets confused with the Pembroke all the time, but it’s actually a breed entirely its own that stems from a different line of dogs. They’re slightly larger than Pembroke Welsh corgis, too, but they share the same energetic spirit and love of people. 
  2. Shiba Inu. These small Japanese hunting dogs are every bit as smart and fearless as Pembroke Welsh corgis. They also bear a similar fox-like appearance. 
  3. Border collie. Border collies are quite a bit bigger than Pembroke Welsh corgis, but they’re both excellent herding dogs. Not only are Border collies extremely bright, they’re also extremely energetic.

Frequently asked questions

Is a corgi a good house dog?

Pembroke Welsh corgis make great house dogs. They still need regular exercise since they’re herding dogs, but their small size and friendly nature also make them great at adapting to small living spaces like apartments. 

What health problems do corgis commonly have?

While corgis are generally healthy dogs, their long backs can put strain on their hips and spine over time, eventually leading to conditions like intervertebral disk disease. They’re also prone to degenerative eye conditions like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. 

What are Pembroke Welsh corgis known for? 

Aside from their adorable fox-like looks, Pembroke Welsh corgis are known for being smart, affectionate herding dogs that love to stay active. 

Are Pembroke corgis and Cardigan corgis related?

While Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh corgis might look similar at first glance, they’re actually two different dog breeds descended from different ancestors.