In Wales, a little fairy tale land studded with mysterious standing stones and misty mountains, the faeries mount and ride little long-backed dogs, eternally chasing the wild hunt across a starlit sky. A handful of lucky mortals learned of the faithful canine companions that the fae treasured so dearly and acquired the Corgi dogs for themselves (at least, that’s how the legend goes). The name Corgi comes from the Welsh words “Cor Gi,” which simply means “dwarf dog.” One version of this handsome little steed is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
The Cardigan is among the oldest herding breeds in the world. Breeders considered the Welsh Corgi a single large breed until the mid-1930s. Nowadays, people recognize them as two distinct varieties — the Pembroke and the Cardigan — with unique characteristics and histories. Unlike the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the United Kennel Club recognizes Cardigans and they belong to the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Physical Characteristics
The Corgi is a unique-looking dog breed, to say the least. Let’s take a look at each part of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and what makes them special.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis (also known as Cardis, CWCs, or Cardigans) constantly have a watchful and alert, yet simultaneously friendly, expression. Their broad heads might be the same color as their topcoat, or they may have a patch of white atop their head that narrows down to a stripe and travels the length of their muzzles. Cardigans also sport highly expressive, angular ears.
Whether you end up with a fluffy Cardigan will generally depend on its breeding. In most cases, family pet Cardigans will have thicker and more natural coats, while show dogs have a unique style: shorter in the front, longer in the back. This forms what conformation judges often call “pants” and what the rest of the world rightfully recognizes as “a dog mullet.”
Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppies are adorable, and they grow to be handsome, medium-sized adults (more on their height in the section below). However, one of the Corgi’s primary characteristics is the long, weenie-like body and stumpy little legs. These long-bodied pups typically have thick, medium-length double coats with a white and downy-soft under-layer accented by a sleek multicolored topcoat.
So, we’ve talked about the ears and the snout — but we’d be fools not to take a peek at that rear end! Corgi butts are one of this world’s few sources of truly limitless joy. This area of the Corgi is where you’ll notice an immediate difference between the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and their Pembroke cousins.
Cardigans sport a poofy fox-like tail, while Pembrokes typically have small, docked tails. Although these two dogs may seem quite similar in their weenie-like body shape, Cardigans tend to be slightly larger in stature, with more prominently angled hips.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog Breed Size
Cardigan Welsh Corgis tend to tower over the masses, standing at a whopping 10.5 to 12.5 inches tall. We know they might as well be titans. This breed’s males generally weigh between 30 and 38 pounds, with the breed’s females being a bit smaller, typically weighing in between 25 and 34 pounds.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Personality
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a show dog and family companion with an adaptable personality and responsible nature. Nowadays, the Cardigan doesn’t spend much time herding cattle, although their instinct for it remains sharp as ever. Cardigans often live with horse owners, who appreciate the assistance in loading horses into their trailers.
While the Cardigan makes a fantastic family dog and gets along great with children and other pets, at times, they can be more territorial and a bit less friendly than their Pembroke cousins. Staying true to their herding dog heritage, the Cardi is a vigilant watchdog and may potentially be reserved around strangers. Cardigan owners should fully expect them to bark a warning at the scent, sound, or sight of anything unusual.
The Cardigan’s intelligence makes them highly trainable, pairing perfectly with a friendly guard dog’s disposition that makes them the perfect sturdy canine friend for children. That said, these dogs are independent thinkers and will often elect to do things their way, adding a quirky and enjoyable Cardigan twist to your commands and directives.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog Breed Exercise
The Cardigan’s adaptability is one of their most well-noted traits. If you want to go on adventures and hike, they are 100% down with that. Or perhaps you want to eat popcorn and watch TV. No sweat, your Cardigan will binge ‘Friends’ with you for as long as you can stand Ross.
Going for walks in the neighborhood is important for many reasons, not the least of which being that Cardigans thrive on regular socialization. In addition, it provides a fun little exercise for both the dog and you!
Sometimes your Cardigan will begin to make ‘power sprints’ throughout the house unexpectedly. Worry not; this is their way of saying, “I need to blow off some steam,” or even simply, “Let’s go play fetch!” Most Cardigans love to play fetch. We highly suggest using that to your advantage.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Training
The importance of early and regular socialization cannot be stressed enough, as socialization is of the utmost importance when it comes to developing a healthy, happy Cardigan. We recommend gently exposing your pup to a wide range of places, situations, and people for the best results. While this process may potentially go on for a lifetime, the reward and satisfaction you gain with a well-socialized dog are truly worth the effort.
Perhaps attend a few training classes and allow all the members of your household to participate. Remember, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a behaviorist or qualified trainer if there’s an issue that you can’t correct, and don’t tolerate inappropriate behavior. Early on, a little effort will reward you with a well-trained dog that you and anyone who meets them will love.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog Breed History
Did you know that the Cardigan Welsh Corgi descended from the same family of dogs that produced the Basset Hound and the Dachshund? It’s true! The modern-day Cardi’s ancestors are believed to have been brought to Wales by Celtic tribes who migrated from central Europe over three thousand years ago.
The early version of this little hound was a transitional form between the Spitz and the Teckel families. Some theorize that when the Vikings raided Wales, they mixed their Spitz-type dogs with the original Corgi. If this theory is true, this union likely produced the Pembroke Welsh Corgi that we know and love today.
Cardigans originally developed a reputation as a working dog breed group, helping herd cattle for farmers and defending them from predators. They also did their part to help farmers steer their cattle to the fields and the market. As a result, they were treasured as vermin exterminators, family pets, guardian dogs, and cattle dogs.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was prized and vital to the farmers’ financial well-being. Ancient Welsh laws were passed that placed severe penalties upon anyone who would steal or harm a Cardi.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi first made its way into high-society English dog shows in the early twentieth century. This pup paved the way for the English Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association to be founded by 1926. At the time, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi were considered to be one breed. Because of this, the two were often interbred, much to the dismay of the Corgi breeders of the time.
Corgis in the Spotlight
In 1931, the first pair of Cardigans was imported into the United States, one of which was a female named Cassie, a well-established producer of high-quality Cardigans back in England. Although she was white with brindle patches, she produced magnificent pups.
One of these pups, a superstar by the name of Megan, became the breed’s first U.S. champion and showed first-generation immigrant dogs everywhere that they could do anything they put their mind to. So today, in honor of (our hero) Megan, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America holds an annual contest of champions named “The Megan Competition.”
Three years post-Megan (1934), the British Kennel Club officially recognized Cardigans and Pembrokes as separate breeds, thereby putting an end to any questions concerning interbreeding the two. The following year, the American Kennel Club also recognized Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis as two different breeds.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America was founded in 1935. Cardis have jumped from group to group when it comes to American Kennel Club (AKC) dog shows, hopping from the Non-Sporting to the Working to the Herding Group.
The Cardigan isn’t as well-known as the Pembroke due to the parent club’s commitment to preventing the commercialization of their dogs. But worry not for these long-bottomed champions, as they will always have an especially roomy spot in the hearts of those who know and love them.
Common Health Problems in the Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan is generally a healthy breed, and responsible breeders will always screen their stock for various health conditions such as degenerative myelopathy, hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
As is the case with any ‘long and low’ canine companion, Dog Parents must be mindful of their potential back issues. We highly suggest that you do what you can to avoid letting your Cardigan jump off the couch or bed. Stairs can be a hazard as well!
Pay a visit to your vet or another animal healthcare professional as soon as you notice the first sign of any discomfort or distress. The sooner a problem is recognized, the quicker your pup can begin its recovery.
When it comes to Cardigans, you should expect to see health clearances for hip dysplasia, with a score of fair or better, from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). You’ll also want to see certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) that their eyes are normal and functioning in a proper manner. Of course, you can always confirm health clearances by checking the OFA website and the CERF website.
- Intervertebral Disk Disease: Cardigans are prone to fractures in a spinal disc because of their long backs. Signs of fracture may include difficulty going up or downstairs or on and off furniture, knuckling over limbs, weakness, instability, and paralysis.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A family of eye diseases that gradually deteriorates the retina. In the disease’s early stages, afflicted dogs often become night-blind, slowly losing sight during the day as the disease worsens. Although, we feel it is worth mentioning that most affected dogs adapt well to their limited or completely lost vision, just as long as their surroundings don’t change.
How to Care for a Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The majority of actions you can take to keep your dog healthy and happy is just common sense. Please make sure they get plenty of exercise, regularly brush their coat and teeth, watch their diet, and call your vet when something seems cause for alarm.
In addition, be sure to adhere to the schedule of vaccinations and examinations that your vet recommends for your sweet Corgi pup. This is when your pup will receive the necessary “check-ups” and tests for conditions or diseases common in Corgis.
Finally, another very important step in caring for your canine companion is signing up for pet health insurance. There will almost certainly be various medical procedures and tests that your dog will need throughout their life, and pet health insurance will help you avoid drowning in those costs.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Working your Cardigan’s routine care into your schedule can help them stay healthier, live longer, and be generally happier. But, of course, we cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper exercise and diet routine. Below we have provided a list to keep in mind when considering the routine care your Cardigan Welsh Corgi will need:
- Regular Exercise: Daily dog walks and games are a necessity. Just be careful not to overdo it at first.
- High-Quality Diet: Feed an age-appropriate, healthy dog food.
- Ear Cleaning: Their ears need to be cleaned weekly, even when they’re puppies.
- Careful Supervision: Watching them will (ideally) keep Cardis out of trouble and away from objects they shouldn’t put in their mouths.
- Brushing: Twice a year, they blow their coat and lose crazy amounts of hair. We recommend daily brushing during this time.
- Good Teeth: Please do your part to keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice weekly!
- Smart Dogs with Lots of Energy: Their bodies and mind need to stay active, or they’ll get bored — that’s when the bad behavior starts!
- Apartment Life: They’re well-suited for apartment living as long as they are allowed daily walks and a bit of playtime.
- Jumping on Furniture: They may need training to stop this behavior. Please pick them up carefully; their short legs and long back make them prone to back injuries.
Nutrition and Feeding for a Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Cardigans can very easily become overweight, so carefully monitoring their weight is essential to keep them happy and healthy. We recommend always feeding your Cardigan high-quality dog food based on the Cardigan’s nutritional needs and activity level. Two small meals a day in the place of one large one can potentially make for a better digestive process.
In addition, dog parents of Cardigan Welsh Corgis must be careful not to overdo it with treats. At times, it will seem as though a Cardigan can hear a cheese wrapper opening from 50 yards away. As impressive as this is, it doesn’t mean you should give them a piece every time they come running.
Finally, feel your dog’s ribs; if they’re not easy to feel with your fingertips, then your pet is likely overweight.
Coat Color and Grooming
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi colors can vary wildly, with mask-like patches on their face often matching the shade of their outer coat, which might be red, brown, black, or even a merle pattern of different colors. Tricolor Cardigan Welsh Corgis tend to possess a lovely blend of black, brown, and red. Some Corgis also have brindle accents (patches of another color within the topcoat).
A good brushing at least once a week is sufficient to keep your Cardigan’s coat healthy and looking its best. In addition, trimming their paw pads can help reduce the dirt and muck that they track into the house.
Also, be sure to keep the nails trimmed as well. Some pet parents think they should have their dogs hair cut short for the summer. But when it comes to the Cardigan, so long as their coat is correct for the breed, this isn’t necessary.
A well-maintained coat has essential characteristics and means of maintaining proper body temperature, as long as conditions are generally normal. However, dog parents should note that black dogs will always absorb more heat on a sunny day. Therefore, pet parents should take care and do what they can to avoid overexposure during hot weather.
Children and Other Pets
Cardigans generally love children, but their natural herding instincts can motivate them to nip at kids’ ankles or feet. With a little bit of training, you can teach your Cardi that this is bad behavior.
Dog parents who also happen to be human parents should teach children how to touch and approach dogs safely. Always be sure to supervise interactions between young children and dogs to prevent any unwanted incidents.
We recommend teaching your child never to take away a dog’s food or approach it while it’s sleeping or eating. You should never leave an unfamiliar dog alone with a small child, no matter how friendly they are.
Socialized cardigans are typically friendly with other pets in the household. However, it is worth mentioning that they can become aggressive toward dogs that aren’t part of their family. That being said, Cardigans do truly enjoy having a canine sibling or two in the family to play with, especially another Corgi!
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog Rescue Groups
Some Cardigans are purchased by unprepared owners, resulting in the need for adoption or fostering because their families can no longer keep them. If you’re having trouble finding a rescue in your area, try contacting a local or national breed club. They may be able to point you in the direction of a Cardigan rescue organization.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog Breed Organizations
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust’s mission is to secure loving, permanent homes for all Cardigan Welsh Corgis. They provide loving care, temperament and health screenings, and rehabilitation treatments necessary according to each dog’s needs.
We support their mission by providing helpful information about the Cardigan and ongoing support for new adoptive pet parents. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust (CWCNRT) has great hope to greatly reduce the need for Cardigan rescue.
More About the Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Cardigans are very vocal dogs that will bark at anything and everything. They can be as stubborn as they are intelligent. If house training becomes an issue, we advise crate training. Cardis also need daily exercise because they have a lot of energy. Their strong herding instinct may cause them to nip at your children’s heels when they are playing. Cardigans love to eat and will often overeat if you give them a chance. Take care to monitor your pup’s food intake to prevent obesity.
Paying attention to all of this care will ensure your Cardigan Welsh Corgi is happy and healthy. We love our dogs, and we can show that love by making sure they’re completely taken care of. For more dog care tips and tricks, browse around the HolistaPet site!