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The Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Your Complete Dog Breed Information Guide - PawSafe

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Your Complete Dog Breed Information Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi

When considering adding a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy to your family, it’s crucial to understand everything that makes these dogs special — not just their looks, but their spirited demeanor, care needs, and potential health issues. This article aims to give prospective Corgi owners a comprehensive overview of what to expect from this beloved breed. We’ll delve into their character traits, daily care requirements, and suitability as family pets to help you decide if a Corgi is the right addition to your household.

To ensure the accuracy and depth of our insights, we’ve consulted with veterinarians and canine behavior experts, including Dr. Ross Clark, DVM, a renowned expert in the field. Dr. Clark, whose extensive research into the behavior and genetics of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has been published widely, offers invaluable knowledge that guides our discussion.

Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or looking to learn more about this endearing breed, our guide is designed to be as informative as it is engaging, crafted specifically for those considering the joys and responsibilities of Corgi ownership. Let’s uncover what makes the Pembroke Welsh Corgi a treasure in the canine kingdom.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Key Points

  • The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a small herding dog from Wales known for its short legs and long body.
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgis are intelligent and energetic dogs that thrive on companionship and activity.
  • Originally bred to herd cattle and sheep, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are still known for their herding instincts.
  • These playful and alert dogs make excellent watchdogs and love to be involved in family activities.
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgis are relatively low-maintenance dogs but require daily exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Profile: Physical and Personality Traits

Majestic cute Pembroke Welsh Corgi in woods showing physical traits and breed standard

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a small but sturdy breed, typically weighing between 25 to 30 pounds (11 to 14 kilograms) and standing about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) at the shoulder. 

These dogs are well-known for their distinct physical appearance, characterized by a strong, elongated body and disproportionately short legs — a feature attributed to a genetic condition known as chondrodysplasia, which they share with a few other breeds like the Dachshund.

According to the AKC breed standard, Corgis have a dense, medium-length double coat that comes in a variety of colors including fawn, sable, red, black and tan, with or without white markings. 

While their coats are beautiful, they are heavy shedders, which can be a consideration for those with allergies. Regular grooming is essential to manage shedding and keep their coat healthy.


Pembroke Welsh Corgis are celebrated for their intelligent, alert, and friendly personality. They are active and energetic dogs despite their small size and have a fearless disposition. Known for their strong herding instincts, Corgis are often seen gently herding children, demonstrating both their protective nature and their tendency to take charge.

Socialization is key for this breed as they can exhibit feistiness and sass. With proper training and early exposure to different people and situations, Corgis grow into well-adjusted family pets. They are excellent watchdogs, always alert and aware of their surroundings, yet they are cheerful and affectionate with their families.

Owner Insights

“Corgis are more than just cute; they’re incredibly smart and spicy,” shares Jessica, a long-time Corgi owner. “My Corgi, Max, is fantastic with my kids and makes an excellent watchdog. He does try to herd them sometimes, but it’s all in good fun.”

Another owner, Brian, notes, “They need to be part of the action! Our Corgi, Ellie, is always ready for a game or a walk. Socialization has helped her get along well with other pets, but she definitely likes to be the boss.”

Is A Pembroke Welsh Corgi A Good Pet? Pros and Cons

Pembroke Welsh Corgi sitting on beach pros and cons of having a Corgi

Owning a Pembroke Welsh Corgi comes with a unique set of joys and challenges. While they are energetic, affectionate, and have strong personalities that can provide endless entertainment and companionship, potential owners should be prepared for their vocal nature, need for extensive exercise, and health considerations. 

Ensuring you are equipped to manage their care needs and accommodate their vibrant personalities will help foster a happy, healthy environment for your Corgi.

Affectionate with Families: Corgis form strong bonds and are protective of their family members, making them excellent companions.Stubbornness: Their intelligence, fearlessness, and inndependence often manifests as stubbornness, necessitating consistent, patient training.
Good for Apartments: Due to their size and adaptability, Corgis can live comfortably in smaller spaces like apartments.Prone to Barking: Corgis are vocal and may bark frequently, which can be problematic in noise-sensitive living environments.
Watchdog Abilities: They are vigilant and will bark to alert their owners to anything unusual, serving well as watchdogs.Herding Behavior: Their innate herding instincts may lead them to nip at heels, particularly of running children, requiring careful management and training.
Energetic and Playful: Corgis are lively and playful, ideal for active individuals or families who can match their energy levels.High Exercise Needs: Despite their small size, Corgis require significant daily physical activity to prevent boredom and maintain good health.
Comedic and Massive Personalities: Known for their humorous and outgoing nature, Corgis bring laughter and liveliness to any home.Health Concerns: They are predisposed to conditions like eye problems and degenerative myelopathy, making it crucial to choose breeders who conduct thorough health screenings.
Can Adapt to Smaller Spaces: They manage well in limited spaces if they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation.Independent Streak: While intelligent and capable, their independence can sometimes make training a challenge without consistent leadership.
Mostly Healthy with Longevity: Generally robust with a lifespan of 12-15 years, making them a long-term companion for many families.Requires Vigilant Health Management: Owners must be proactive about health care, particularly with genetic issues common in the breed.

Differences Between Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis

Pembroke vs Cardigan Welsh Corgi side by side differences

Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are often thought of as variations of a single breed due to their similar names and shared herding heritage. However, they are distinct breeds with different physical characteristics, temperaments, and histories. Understanding these differences is crucial for potential owners and Corgi enthusiasts.

Physical Differences

FeaturePembroke Welsh CorgiCardigan Welsh Corgi
TailTypically docked, leading to a shorter appearance. Some are born with naturally short tails.Longer, bushy tail that is never docked.
Body ShapeGenerally lighter with a more tapered waist, giving a more athletic appearance.Heavier boned with a straighter waist, appearing more robust.
Size VariationsSlightly smaller on average, with less variation in size across the breed.Slightly larger and heavier than Pembrokes, with more size variability within the breed.
Color VariationsCommon colors include fawn, sable, red, and black and tan, often with white markings. They do not naturally come in blue merle.Boasts a wider range of colors including brindle, blue merle, red merle, and various shades of red, sable, and black, often with extensive white markings.

Temperamental Differences

Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis share similar herding instincts but exhibit some differences in their behavior and disposition:

TraitPembroke Welsh CorgiCardigan Welsh Corgi
Social BehaviorGenerally more outgoing and friendly with strangers.More reserved and cautious around strangers, making excellent watchdogs.
AdaptabilityQuick to adapt to changes in environment and routine.Slightly more reserved, requiring more time to adjust to new situations.
Activity LevelHigh energy, always ready for play and interaction.Active but slightly less intense than Pembrokes, with a more laid-back attitude.

Breed History

The histories of the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis help explain their distinct identities:

AspectPembroke Welsh CorgiCardigan Welsh Corgi
OriginBrought to Wales by Flemish weavers in the 10th century, integrating with local dogs.An ancient breed, present in Wales for over 3,000 years, likely brought by Celtic tribes.
DevelopmentDeveloped for herding cattle and sheep, adapting to the local Welsh terrain and farming needs.Used for herding larger animals like cattle, requiring a sturdier body to manage and move livestock.
RecognitionRecognized as a separate breed by the Kennel Club in the UK in 1934.Recognized much earlier than the Pembroke, with deep historical roots tied to the Welsh culture.

These distinctions highlight why Pembrokes and Cardigans are not merely different types of a single breed but are indeed separate breeds with their own unique qualities and roles in history. This separation is respected and maintained by breed enthusiasts and breeders, ensuring that the unique characteristics of each breed are preserved.

Common Health Issues and Longevity of Welsh Corgis

happy long haired fluffy Corgi running what are corgi health issues

When considering a Welsh Corgi as a pet, it’s important to be aware of the common health issues that may affect both the Pembroke and Cardigan variants. This awareness helps ensure the well-being of your future pet through preventive measures and early treatment. For a deep dive into the health and genetics of these breeds, Dr. Alex Gough’s comprehensive guide provides valuable insights

Additionally, a study on the longevity of Welsh Corgis reports an average lifespan of 11.3 years, highlighting the importance of understanding and managing breed-specific health issues.

Behavioral Conditions

Some genetic basis for aggression has been identified in Welsh Corgis, with surveys indicating a higher incidence of aggression compared to other breeds. This means that a lot of early training and socialization is necessary to avoid your sassy Corgi getting a little too feisty.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

This is a congenital heart defect often diagnosed between 12 to 24 weeks of age in Pembroke Welsh Corgis, with a strong genetic predisposition.

Metabolic Conditions

Exercise-Induced Collapse (d-EIC)

Linked to a mutation in the dynamin 1 gene, this condition can cause weakness and collapse during or after exercise. It’s essential for owners to monitor exercise levels and recognize signs of this condition.

Musculoskeletal Conditions

Elbow Dysplasia

Characterized by a higher prevalence (6.7%) in Pembroke Welsh Corgis compared to the general dog population, indicating significant breed-related risk.

Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Myopathy

This condition, particularly severe in tongue muscular atrophy, has been noted in the breed, requiring attentive veterinary care.

Cancerous Conditions

Histiocytic Sarcoma and Lymphoma

Welsh Corgis show an increased risk for these cancers, with notable rates of occurrence and specific breed-related risks outlined in various studies.

Neurological Conditions

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) –  A serious concern in Welsh Corgis, linked to the SOD1 gene mutation, which significantly impacts mobility and quality of life as the dog ages. When buying a Corgi puppy, it’s vital to ask the breeder for health screenings for this issue.

Eye Conditions

Cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) –  Significant concerns in both Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis, with breed-specific tests available for PRA to help manage this inheritable condition.

Renal and Urinary Conditions

Familial Nephropathy and Urolithiasis (kidney stones) – These conditions affect kidney function and can lead to severe outcomes if not managed properly. Cystine and struvite stones are particularly common, requiring dietary and medical management.

Reproductive Conditions

Dystocia and High Perinatal Mortality – These issues are prevalent, with a high percentage of Pembroke Welsh Corgi litters requiring caesarean sections and experiencing high perinatal mortality rates.

Understanding these potential health issues is crucial for any prospective or current Welsh Corgi owner. Proper breeding practices, regular veterinary check-ups, and informed care can mitigate many of these risks, ensuring a healthier life for these beloved dogs.

Best Foods for Pembroke Welsh Corgis

Proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in the health and happiness of Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Due to their energy levels and potential for certain health issues, such as obesity and joint problems, choosing the right dog food is essential. Below, we provide tailored dietary recommendations for each life stage of a Corgi, along with specific considerations to keep in mind to maintain their optimal weight and health.

Dietary Recommendations

  • Corgi puppies require foods that support rapid growth and development. Look for puppy formulas that offer a balanced diet with high-quality, easily digestible protein to support muscle growth, DHA for brain development, and essential vitamins and minerals to aid in healthy bone development.
  • Adult Corgis need a well-balanced diet that includes a good source of protein, moderate fat, and limited carbohydrates to help maintain their energy levels and prevent weight gain. Fiber is also important to aid digestion.
  • Senior Corgis often require lower-calorie diets to help maintain a healthy weight as their activity level decreases. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help support joint health and mobility, while antioxidants support immune health as they age.

Special Dietary Considerations

Given their propensity for weight gain, it’s crucial to monitor a Corgi’s caloric intake throughout their life. Foods formulated for weight management can be beneficial, especially for less active dogs. Additionally, diets that include joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin are advantageous, considering the breed’s susceptibility to musculoskeletal issues.

Recommended Food Brands

Here are some top food brands that provide specialized formulas to meet the nutritional needs of Corgis at different life stages:

For Puppies:

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed

Although tailored for large breeds, this formula supports the rapid growth phase with controlled levels of calcium for bone health.

Royal Canin Medium Puppy

Specifically designed for puppies expected to reach 21-55 pounds, it supports digestive health and immune system development.

For Adults:

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice

Offers high-quality protein from real chicken, whole grains, and garden veggies, specifically formulated to maintain the energy needs of adult dogs.

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free

Helps maintain muscle mass with high-quality proteins and is grain-free to ensure easy digestibility and reduced risk of food sensitivities.

For Seniors:

Orijen Senior

Provides a diet rich in various meats to maintain lean muscle mass, yet low in carbohydrates to control body weight.

Canidae PURE Senior Recipe

A limited ingredient diet that’s excellent for seniors with sensitive stomachs, featuring lean proteins and added probiotics for digestive health.

Selecting the right food for a Welsh Corgi at different stages of their life ensures they receive the nutrition they need to live long, healthy lives. Always consider their individual health needs, activity level, and consult your veterinarian to tailor their diet appropriately.

Daily Care and Management of Welsh Corgi

Corgi getting a bath part of Corgi grooming needs

Proper daily care and management are crucial for maintaining the health and happiness of Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis. These vibrant dogs require regular grooming, attentive routine care, and suitable exercise to keep them in top condition. Here’s how to provide the best care for your Corgi:


Welsh Corgis possess a thick, double coat that sheds year-round and goes through a heavier shedding process, known as “blowing coat,” twice a year. Regular grooming is essential to manage shedding and maintain coat health:

  • Brush your Corgi several times a week, and daily during the shedding season, with a slicker brush and undercoat rake to remove loose fur and prevent matting.
  • Bathe your Corgi every 4-6 weeks or as needed. Using a dog-specific shampoo will help maintain the natural oils in their skin and coat.
  • Trim nails regularly to prevent discomfort and mobility issues. If you can hear the nails clicking on the floor, they are too long.
  • Check and clean their ears weekly to prevent wax buildup and infections, especially if your Corgi has folded ears (most Corgi ears are erect, but some stay folded).

Routine Care

Routine care encompasses the daily tasks that keep a Corgi healthy beyond just grooming:

  • Brush your Corgi’s teeth several times a week with toothpaste formulated for dogs to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease.
  • Regularly inspect their eyes for any redness, irritation, or discharge, which can be signs of infection or allergies.
  • Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to catch any potential health issues early. Annual visits are recommended for vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and a general health assessment.

Exercise Routines

Corgis are active and intelligent dogs that require regular physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy:

  • Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of walking each day, divided into two walks. Use a harness to prevent strain on their neck and back.
  • Engage in play sessions that stimulate both their body and mind. Interactive toys, such as puzzle feeders and tug toys and playing fetch, are great for daily playtime.
  • Incorporate short, regular training sessions to keep them mentally sharp and reinforce obedience skills.
  • Agility and herding are excellent activities for Corgis, as they tap into their natural herding instincts and provide a vigorous workout.

Adhering to these guidelines in grooming, routine care, and exercise will help ensure your Welsh Corgi leads a healthy, contented life. Regular engagement in these activities not only keeps your Corgi in good shape but also strengthens the bond between you and your pet.

Training and Behavior Management for Welsh Corgis

Welsh Corgis are known for their intelligence, eagerness to please, and an undeniable independent streak, making them both a joy and a challenge to train. Here’s how to harness their capabilities and manage common behavioral challenges effectively.

Behavioral Management

Welsh Corgis rank as the 11th most intelligent dog breed according to Dr. Stanley Coren, which is a testament to their ability to learn and solve problems. However, their intelligence means they need mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Here are some strategies for effective training:

  • Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and play, which work well given their high food and prey drives.
  • Since Corgis have a high prey drive, integrating toys and playtime into training sessions can be particularly effective. Activities like fetch and tug-of-war can be used not only for exercise but also to teach commands and improve impulse control.
  • To keep a Corgi interested and engaged, vary the training routines and keep sessions short and fun. Their independent nature can make lengthy repetitive training sessions tedious for them.
  • Exercises that enhance impulse control are crucial, especially for managing their natural herding instincts. Practices like ‘sit to wait’ for meals or ‘stay’ during play can be very beneficial.

Addressing Behavioral Challenges

Despite their charming demeanor, Welsh Corgis can present certain behavioral challenges, such as herding instincts, excessive barking, and occasional aggression. Here’s how to address these issues:

  • Redirect their natural instinct to herd by engaging them in herding games or sports like agility training, which mimics the mental and physical aspects of herding without the need for actual livestock.
  • Teach your Corgi the “quiet” command early on. Be consistent and reward them for obeying to reduce excessive barking. Understanding the triggers for their barking can also help in managing this behavior effectively.
  • Early and consistent socialization is key to preventing aggressive tendencies. Expose them to a variety of people, animals, and environments in a controlled manner to increase their comfort and reduce fear-based aggression.

Importance of Socialization

Socialization is crucial for Welsh Corgis to develop into well-rounded and well-behaved pets. Starting from puppyhood, Corgis should be exposed to different situations:

  • Introduce your young Corgi to various environments, sounds, people, and other animals. Puppy classes are an excellent way to start, providing social learning opportunities in a safe and structured setting.
  • Continue to expose your Corgi to new experiences throughout their life to keep them adaptable and confident. Regular visits to dog parks, city walks, and pet-friendly events can be beneficial.

By focusing on tailored training strategies, addressing potential behavioral issues, and emphasizing continuous socialization, you can harness a Welsh Corgi’s natural intelligence and charm to develop a well-behaved and responsive companion.

Purchasing and Adoption of Pembroke Welsh Corgis

cute Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy for sale

Whether you’re looking to buy a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from a breeder or adopt one from a rescue, understanding the process and costs involved is crucial for making an informed decision.

Finding Reputable Breeders

When deciding to purchase a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, it’s essential to find a breeder who adheres to the highest ethical standards and breeding practices. Here are some guidelines to help you identify a reputable breeder:

  • Check for breeders who are registered with or endorsed by recognized breeding associations such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America (PWCCA). These breeders are more likely to follow ethical breeding practices.
  • Ensure the breeder conducts genetic testing and health screenings of the breeding dogs and provides health clearances for puppies.
  • Visit the place where the puppies are bred and raised. Look for clean, spacious, and well-maintained facilities where puppies are socialized and treated as part of the family.
  • A good breeder will also have lots of questions for you, ensuring their puppies go to good homes. They should be knowledgeable and transparent about the breed and the specific needs of their puppies.

Adoption Options

Adopting a Pembroke Welsh Corgi can be a rewarding option. Many Corgis in rescues need loving homes, and adoption can be a more affordable alternativ-e-archive to buying a puppy from a breeder. Here are some resources for adopting a Corgi:

Visit sites like East Coast Corgi Rescue, Southeast Corgi Rescue, and Corgi Rescue, or join Facebook groups like Corgi Rescue to find available dogs and learn about the adoption process.

Cost Overview

The cost of owning a Pembroke Welsh Corgi includes both the initial cost of acquiring the dog and ongoing expenses such as food, healthcare, and grooming. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Purchasing a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from a reputable breeder can cost anywhere from $1,000 to over $2,000, depending on the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, and geographic location.
  • Monthly expenses for food, grooming supplies, veterinary care, and other necessities can range from $100 to $300. This includes regular health check-ups, vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and emergency health care.
  • Additional costs can include training classes, pet insurance, and travel expenses, which vary widely based on lifestyle and location.

Choosing whether to purchase from a breeder or adopt can depend on several factors, including availability, cost, and personal preference for a puppy or an older dog. Both routes offer the joy of adding a Pembroke Welsh Corgi to your family, but each comes with different responsibilities and financial implications.


Deciding to bring a Pembroke Welsh Corgi into your life is an exciting step that promises companionship, joy, and a bit of adventure. Whether you choose to purchase from a reputable breeder or adopt from a rescue, understanding the needs and characteristics of this breed is essential for a harmonious relationship. By considering the daily care, training requirements, and health considerations discussed, you are better prepared to provide a loving and supportive home for your Corgi.

Remember, the commitment to a Corgi is not just financial but also emotional and temporal. These dogs offer immense affection and loyalty in return for responsible and loving care. We encourage prospective Corgi owners to consider both the challenges and the immense rewards of living with such an intelligent and spirited breed. Whether through purchase or adoption, bringing a Corgi into your home means gaining a family member who will bring laughter, activity, and warmth into your life.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.