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The Pembroke is a recognized breed throughout the world (after all, at one point in time the sun never set on the British Empire) and competes in conformation shows on most, if not all, continents.
Unlike some dog breeds, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi does not have a traceable breed history. Its origins are obscured by tales and folklore and even contain ties to the wee folk of the British Isles.
According to legend, two children tending their family’s cattle on royal lands found a pair of puppies, which they thought were foxes. When they brought the puppies home, they were told the dogs were a gift from the fairies. Welsh legends tell us that the fairies would use the little dogs to pull their carriages or as mounts for them to ride into battle.
If you look, you can still see the marks of the fairy saddle on their shoulders (especially pronounced in the sable color). As the little puppies that the children brought home grew, they learned to help their humans watch over their cattle, a task to become a responsibility for their descendants for the centuries to follow.
That’s the legend. The more commonly accepted theory traces back to Scandinavian raiders bringing their dogs with them to the British Isles, possibly as far back as the 9th or 10th century.
The Swedish Vallhund is seen to bear many similarities to today’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi and is presumed to have been bred with native Welsh dogs. Any of the offspring that expressed cattle herding/driving traits were no doubt selectively bred to enhance that skill.
It is also thought that the dogs brought over with Flemish weavers, who settled in Pembrokeshire, South Wales in the 12th century, were bred with the local cattle dogs adding the Spitz characteristics that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi expresses today.
The name of the breed is as difficult to nail down as is its origin. One school combines the Welsh word “cor” which means “to watch over or gather” with “gi”, a form of the Welsh word for dog. This was certainly a responsibility of these small cattle herders and homestead guardians.
Another ascribes the word corgi as the Celtic word for dog and that the Norman invaders thereafter referred to any local dog as a “cur” or mongrel. Finally, legend pops up again with the interpretation that the word “cor” means “dwarf”.
Combine that with the Welsh form for dog “gi” and you have “dog of the dwarfs or “dwarf dog”. For many years Corgis (both breeds) were referred to as either ‘Ci-llathed’ meaning “yard long dog” (we’re talking a Welsh yard here) or as ‘Ci Sawdlo’ due to its nature of nipping at cattle’s heels.
The breed was first officially exhibited as the Welsh Corgi in England in 1925 and was eligible to compete for challenge certificates in 1927. Both Pembrokes and Cardigans were shown in the same classes as one breed – the Corgi – until 1934 when the Kennel Club (British) separated the two breeds.
The first Pembrokes registered with the AKC appeared in 1934. Pembrokes were first exhibited in the U.S. in 1936.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, is a longtime Pembroke fancier. In 1933 her father, then the Duke of York (later King George VI), purchased a Pembroke puppy (Rozavel Golden Eagle)as a playmate for his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
Queen Elizabeth’s interest in the breed has continued throughout her life, and several lovely Pembrokes still grace Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty’s interest in the breed, coupled with the appearance of a Pembroke family on the cover of Farm Journal and the Disney film “Little Dog Lost”, helped fuel America’s love affair with the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is recognized by the American Kennel (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), the Kennel Club (Great Britain, KC), the FCI, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and many other kennel clubs throughout the world.
Characteristics and Temperament
Pet and Companion
The breed standard general description of the Pembroke is: “Outlook bold, but kindly. Expression intelligent and interested. Never shy or vicious.” If there was ever a summary description of the breed, this would be it.
The Pembroke is “a big dog in a small dog’s suit.”
The Pembroke’s personality is playful and fun-loving but also can be protective and tenacious. Pembrokes love attention and can be real clowns.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a very intelligent and versatile companion animal. The most suitable home for a Pembroke is with an owner who is looking more for a companion than just a decoration, someone who is looking for a dog who is as happy going for walks around the neighborhood as for romps in the woods.
Though the Pembroke is an energetic breed and eager for new sights and smells, Pems are just as content to keep their owners company at home. With a modicum of exercise, they are just as suited to city life as to life in the country.
Pembrokes are very people oriented and should not be left in the backyard only to be occasionally petted. They are at their best when incorporated into full family life.
Obedience Trials, Tracking, and Agility
The Pembroke has a pleasant temperament. His intelligence and eagerness to please makes for a personable dog who is interested in learning, but sometimes not interested in repetitive training.
The independence of his working dog lineage coupled with his innate intelligence means that he can get bored with an invariant training routine and therefore needs a variety of exercises to keep his interest in a task.
Newer techniques using positive motivational methods and food training are ideal for the average Pembroke and have produced some very good obedience dogs. Their eagerness to please their owners, coupled with a tendency to be little “hams” in public, is an underlying reason why they do so well in obedience.
Many of these obedience-titled dogs have also acquired tracking titles. Tracking is a sport where the dog must pick up and follow one person’s scent to the end of the trail and locate an article (a glove). Advanced tracking complicates the situation by having different people lay cross trails; the dog must stay on the original one to the end.
Most Pems take very readily to tracking, some obtaining their first tracking title within months of beginning training. Being low to the ground does help the nose work. The newest phase of tracking competition will begin in fall of 1995 with the Variable Surface Tracking program from the AKC.
These tests are designed to mimic tracking in an urban environment, over asphalt, concrete, grass, etc. Many dogs that assist in search and rescue will be the first titled dogs in this event.
Many Corgis (both Pembrokes and Cardigans) have also done well in Agility. Agility is one of the newest performance events, requiring the dog to run an obstacle course accompanied by its handler, all the while competing against the clock.
The obstacle course is a scaled-down version of the course police or military dogs train on. Pembroke Welsh Corgis, along with Cardigan Welsh Corgis, dominate agility in their size class and are as enthusiastic and competitive as Border Collies. Pems frequently love agility much more than obedience and can be found enthusiastically roaring through an agility course barking happily the whole way, or “yelling” at their owners to hurry up!
USDAA, NADAC, NCDA and now the AKC provide agility competition and titles for corgis to compete in.
The Pembroke is the smallest of the Herding group of dogs. As with many other members of this group, the working instinct has not been taken advantage of for quite some time, especially in the United States.
However, it is still in evidence in several lines today, and Pembrokes have competed and earned top honors (High in Trial) in competition at AKC herding trials, competing with other herding breeds. Pembrokes have been primarily associated with cattle and were used for that livestock originally but they can showcase their talents with sheep, ducks or geese.
A crowd-pleasing favorite due to its showmanship, the Pembroke has been a serious group and Best in Show contender for many years. Conformation judges compare dogs against a written breed standard and evaluate their type and soundness. Many dogs which complete their conformation championships also compete in obedience, tracking and herding and when not at a show are usually pampered pets.
The Pembroke, due to his intelligence and eagerness to please, is a standout in many other areas of canine work. Pems are often used as Hearing Ear dogs, assisting owners afflicted with hearing impairments.
They alert their owners to important sounds, similar to the way Seeing Eye dogs help their owners. Other Pembrokes have become Therapy Dogs, friends for older adults in nursing homes or hospitalized patients.
The Pembroke has a foxy, intelligent face with bright, merry eyes and a frequently smiling muzzle. The ears are erect, with their points forming an equilateral triangle with the nose.
The body is relatively long (40% longer than its height at the shoulders), with short legs and little or no tail. Colors are red, sable, fawn or tri-color (red-headed or black-headed).
White collars are acceptable, as are white feet and legs, chest, underparts and limited white on the head. The coat is of medium length and of a double nature, with a thick undercoat covered by a topcoat.
Also seen (but considered incorrect by Pembroke breeders) are coats which are too long (fluffies), wiry and kinky or overly short (also known as a flat coat).
The Pembroke’s weight should be in proportion to its height. Height from ground to the highest point of the shoulders should be 10 to 12 inches. Weight should be 27-30 pounds for a male and 25-28 pounds for a female. A correct Pembroke should not be so large-boned as to appear coarse nor to have not enough bone and appear racy.
Coat: The grooming needs of the breed are minimal, however major seasonal shedding may be a drawback for people lacking the time to deal with it and should be a consideration when looking at the breed. Regular brushing of the coat minimizes loose hairs and Corgi dust bunnies around the house.
The Pembroke blows coat (looses his/her undercoat and sometimes top coat) twice a year, in the spring and again in the fall. The easiest way to deal with the shedding Pem is to give him a warm bath and comb out the dead hair while the dog is wet and lathered.
This should be followed by daily brushing for up to 2 weeks. The exception to the above is the fluffy (excessively long-coated), Pembroke. Fluffies need extra brushing on a regular basis (or periodic clip downs) in order to keep their coat in shape.
Since their hair is longer it will appear that they shed more. They also need to have the hair on their buttocks trimmed to keep the area clean.
Nails and feet: Of course, like any other breed, regular nail trimming is important to stop the feet from splaying. Hair around the pads is trimmed to help keep mud and snow from being tracked into the house.
The best practice is to trim the nails at least once a week. This will maintain the short length and remind your (often times strong-willed) Pem that trimming its nails is nothing to panic about.
The best tools to use are guillotine-style nail clippers and a grinder. Since it is very easy to cut the nail too short (cutting into the quick and causing the nail to bleed), many people prefer the grinder. The grinder comes in two varieties – with or without a cord.
This is the same type of grinder that craftspeople use for delicate sanding jobs and can be found in most any hardware or discount department store. The two brands used by most breeders/serious exhibitors are Oster (found in most pet supply catalogs) and Dremel (found in hardware stores).
Feet: Especially for showing, the hair on Pembroke’s paws will need to be trimmed. The best way to do this is with the beard-trimming attachment on an electric razor. If you have to do it with scissors, remember that the Pem’s toes are webbed, and be careful to only cut the hair!
Ears: Ears should be kept free of any wax build up. A cotton ball with a little mineral oil or Listerine is very effective.
Pembrokes are a fairly healthy breed, but as with all dogs (purebred as well as mixed), do have some inherited problems. In a perfect world, the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of a litter should be evaluated for possible genetic disease.
General information on Pembrokes follows as well as a list of possible genetically transmitted diseases. For further information, you should contact your veterinarian and your breeder.
Lifespan: 11-13 years. Some Pembrokes have been known to live to 18-20 years old.
Males: Average onset age of puberty (6-8 months old).
Females: Tend to have normal length estrus (heat) cycle and gestation (pregnancy). Average one heat every 6 months. Tend to be slightly older when come into heat for the first time (9-11 months vs. 6 months for small breeds).
Most are free whelpers (require no help at delivery) but increasing numbers of reports indicate more tendency toward dystocia (difficult birth). If dystocia occurs, a caesarian section is often required to save the life of the dam and the puppies.
For this reason, breeding Pembrokes should be left to those with the experience to recognize warning signs of a difficult birth. No one wants to lose a loved pet and, if not recognized early enough, dystocia can result in the death of the dam and puppies. Some dams may be slow to remove placental sac or to tend to pups.
Litter size: Average 6-7 (range 1-12)
Birth weight: Average 10 oz (range 6-18 oz)
Dewclaws: Remove all.
Tails: If not born with a natural bob or tail-less, dock as close as possible, but not so close as to leave an indentation. The tail should not protrude beyond the anus (tail length must not exceed two inches).
Ears: Usually become erect between 4-16 weeks. If not up by 12 weeks they should be taped.
Serious faults: Whitlies (excessive white body color with red or dark markings); mismarks, (white on back between shoulder blades and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters or on ears, black with white markings and no tan); bluies (gray or smokey-red, associated with light or blue eyes and light pigment of eye rims, nose and lips); fluffies (excessively long coat); improper bites (overshot, undershot, wry bite); ears not erect.&nbs p;
Inherited Medical Problems
(References: “Successful Dog Breeding”, Walkowicz and Wilcox, 1994; “Inherited Eye Diseases in Purebred Dogs”, Rubin, 1989 “Ocular Disorders Proven or Suspected to be Hereditary in Dogs”, ACVO, 1992; “Medical & Genetic Aspects of Purebred Dogs”, Clark and Stainer, 1983.)
One or both lens become cloudy, may involve only part of or the entire lens; may progress to total blindness over time:
(1) Congenital cataracts, present at birth, may be inherited. (2)Triangular subcapsular cataracts generally occur after 2 years old, believed to be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait with incomplete penetrance. (3) Posterior cortical cataracts, generally present by 1 year old, slowly progressive. Inheritance pattern not yet proven. Cataracts may be present as early as 8 weeks of age.
Persistent Pupillary Membrane
Pieces of a developmental membrane remain, vary from small spots to large connecting strands, therefore influence on vision varies with degree of involvement. May disappear with age. Is familial, inherited as an autosomal recessive.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Primary Retinal Degeneration Type I. Death or destruction of the cells in the retina (light absorbing layer of the eye) which allow vision. Not associated with pain, but will eventually progress to total blindness. Generally first noticed as night blindness. No cure is known. Believed to be inherited as an autosomal recessive but has not yet been proven in this breed.
Abnormal development of the retina, may present as folds or larger abnormalities. The fold version usually is not progressive. Larger abnormalities may cause vision problems. Sometimes the retina may detach. Detachment will cause blindness. Inheritance pattern unknown but believed may be inherited as an autosomal recessive.
Rare eye conditions
Corneal Dystrophy Inducing Vascularization (pigment and blood vessels invade the cornea – the clear covering of the eyeball), not much is known. Lens luxation: reported in British literature but nothing known about problem in US literature. Dermoid: also known as a corneal dermoid cyst. A skinlike cyst on the surface of the eye, affects one or both eyes, may contain skin, glands and hair. The inheritance pattern is unclear.
A term you should become familiar with is CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) . Owners whose dogs which have been examined by a board-certified ophthalmologist may choose to have the results sent to CERF and receive a certificate of registration. Please be aware that the certificate is only good for one year. Dogs used for breeding should be examined within the past year. Many breeders do not send the reports in to CERF but should be able to provide you with a copy of the original report.
Skin and Skeletal System
Also known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, dermatosparaxis, dominant collagen dysplasia. Defective connective tissue which supports and makes up the skin produces skin which is very fragile, loose and stretchy, easily damaged. Also affects the blood vessels in the skin and may cause bruising and large blood blisters. Is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.
Abnormality of the hip joint, may affect one or both sides. Clinically may range from changes visible only on x-rays to crippling arthritis. From 1974 to 1991 over 1500 Pembrokes were evaluated by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a registry for skeletal disease).
Of these, 20.1% were considered to be dysplastic based upon their x-rays. The inheritance is complex, believed to involve several genes and likely environmental influences (diet, rapid growth).
Hip dysplasia (HD) can vary in its effect on individual dogs. Some dogs may fail OFA evaluation and never be lame or in pain a day in their lives. Other dogs may have disease so severe that the hip joint falls apart and live in chronic pain if surgery is not performed.
Controversy exists when relying on OFA assessment of Pembrokes for HD as many dogs with excellent movement (even some at 10 years of age or older) cannot pass OFA. Young dogs may have preliminary xrays done before 2 years old but cannot receive a permanent evaluation number before the age of 2.
Dogs may not pass OFA evaluation at 2 years of age but receive numbers when they are 4-5 years old since if there is no progression of disease on the x-ray (only in the case of borderline or mild cases).
The Pembroke is a dwarf breed, which may explain the difference from larger breeds. Some inherent joint laxity may be necessary for proper rear extension during gaiting which is not recognized as “normal” by OFA.
A newer evaluation system (PennHip) has been established. This system measures joint laxity and when enough specimens of one breed have been evaluated, compares dogs only to others of the same breed, not to one standard as OFA does. For dogs suffering from clinical degenerative arthritis caused by hip dysplasia, there are several options available (both medical and surgical).
Although it is recommended that dogs not rated by OFA should not be used for breeding, Pembrokes (along with the other dwarf breeds)are unique and must be considered on an individual case basis by knowledgeable breeders. Dogs with a familial history of clinical hip dysplasia (arthritis in the hip joint which affects the animal’s health) should not be used for breeding.
Newborns whose ribcage is flattened (back to belly), often associated with excessive joint laxity in the limbs. May or may not progress. Usually by providing good footing and sometimes physical therapy puppies return to normal structure.
The inheritance pattern is unknown. Most affected puppies are usually very large, well-fed, and have trouble getting up on their legs and prefer to crawl (hence the term swimmer).
High levels of cysteine (a protein) are excreted in the urine, predisposes to stone formation. Usually only a problem in males. May be inherited as either an autosomal recessive or sex-linked (pattern not yet proven).
Intervertebral Disk Disease
Compression of the spinal cord generally due to rupture of a weak section in the disk. Signs include unsteady gait, problems with getting up or down stairs and furniture, knuckling over of limbs, weakness, and paralysis.More commonly seen in breeds such as Dachshunds but may be seen in Pembrokes. Treatment varies with how severely affected the dog is; from restricted exercise to back surgery.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
A progressive degeneration of the nervous and supportive tissue of the spinal cord in the lower back region which causes rear leg lameness, weakness, and eventual paralysis. Often misdiagnosed as disk disease, probably because disk disease is more commonly seen.
DM is usually late age in onset (9 years and older). The similar disease occurs more frequently in German Shepherds.</ DD>
The inheritance pattern is unclear, but a familial trend has been noticed. No cure is presently available; treatment is usually with steroids which may improve the dog’s condition temporarily. The actual disease is not painful but leg injuries may occur due to inability to walk properly.
One early sign of this disease (and disk disease) is an inability of the dog to right its paw when knuckled over. The disease is progressive, taking (generally) 6 months or longer to result in rear limb paralysis with loss of bladder and bowel control.
If the degeneration spreads upward along the spinal cord, difficulty in breathing and even death from respiratory arrest may occur.
Owners can help affected dogs by carrying them up and down steps or building ramps, providing traction (rugs) on slick floors, and perhaps use of a K9 Kart. Exercise may be of help in delaying progression of the disease.
It has been recommended that stricken dogs be placed on an increasing, alternate-day exercise program which includes walking and swimming.
Recurrent seizures, onset from 18 months old on. Seizure types vary. Inheritanc e pattern uncertain but may be simple recessive.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) with Pulmonary HypertensionPDA is a congenital defect of the vascular system which allows a percentage of unoxygenated blood to bypass the lungs.
It is usually detected in puppies during veterinary examination by hearing a continuous machinery-type murmur. Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure within the lungs and is a rare component of the PDA disease.
PDA can be surgically corrected; if left uncorrected the dog will usually die of heart disease later in life. Inheritance pattern not yet determined but is familial in Pembrokes, humans, and cattle.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
Also referred to as Pseudohemophilia. Due to defects in the blood clotting system (Factor VIII). Has a range of presenting symptoms depending on the amount of normal factor present, whether other clotting problems are present; varies from no problem to severe hemorrhage.
Is thought to be inherited as an autosomal dominant factor; questions abound whether low thyroid levels complicate the situation.
Where To Get A Pembroke Welsh Corgi
We recommend that you do not buy a puppy from a pet store or an irresponsible backyard breeder. Dogs in pet stores frequently come from puppy mills, are not properly socialized and often their pedigrees are incorrectly documented (An AKC registration blue slip is not a guarantee of that puppy’s pedigree.
Such paperwork relies on the honesty and integrity of the breeder. AKC registration also should not be misunderstood to imply that the dog is guaranteed to be free from genetic defects or illness.) Puppy mill dogs also are more likely to develop congenital illnesses than are those who were responsibly bred.
This is because the parents are not checked for the presence of genetic disease before breeding. Puppies from irresponsible backyard breeders are likely not as well vaccinated or dewormed, nor do they come with health guarantees unlike puppies purchased from responsible breeders.
A responsible breeder is someone who allows their dogs to grow to maturity before breeding them, had them checked for inherited diseases before breeding, worried over mom and puppies (and prospective owners), dewormed and vaccinated on time with quality products, does not let the puppy leave the litter until at least 8 weeks of age, does not breed their bitch on every heat cycle and stands behind their dogs until they die.
If you’ve already bought a Pembroke from a pet store, and its health seems fine, there’s probably no need to worry unduly. None of this is to say that your dog is any less worthy of your love than one who came from a responsible breeder!
But, as a rule, pet shops are among the worst places to get puppies. Just be glad you’ve given your little love a good home.
Please note that “rescuing” a Pembroke (or any purebred puppy) from a pet shop will only perpetuate the problem. By purchasing the dog, you are helping to create a demand for the Pembroke in the eyes of the pet shop owner, inevitably causing him/her to order two more from the puppy mill for the next delivery!
Dogs condemned to existence (it really cannot qualify as life) in a puppy mill are the true victims of the situation. Most live their lives in unhealthy, filthy conditions, bred each heat cycle until they can no longer have puppies and then put to sleep. We all know how difficult it is to see one of our beloved Pems in that little crate in the window, but PLEASE resist the temptation!
Boycotting the pet shop or determining the sire and dam of the puppy is a better solution. This information can then be passed along to a Pembroke rescue group, who will record the information and attempt to notify the original (non-puppy mill) breeder if any is available.
Be careful of those breeders who advertise heavily in the newspaper. These people (not all of them) may be breeding many, many litters and fall into the irresponsible breeder category.
Again, ask questions, get a feel for what type of person you are trying to buy a puppy from. People who desire a litter just to “make back the cost of the dog” or “just want the children to see the miracle of birth” are unlikely to be responsible breeders.
What type of guarantee will they put into a contract (if they even have one)?
The best way to get a purebred puppy whose origins and health you are sure of is to contact the national or local Pembroke Welsh Corgi club (or local all-breed kennel club) for a breeder’s directory. Inclusion on such a list does not mean you should not ask questions of your own about the background and health of the parents and puppies or intent of the breeder.
Preferably you should visit the breeder before the puppies are born (because who can resist a puppy, even in a bad kennel?). If puppies are not currently available, ask to be put on a waiting list. Remember, breeders with reputations for producing good dogs (pet, show, obedience, etc) often have waiting lists trying to match the right dog with the right owner.
Many people will not breed a litter until over half the expected puppies are promised. To a conscientious breeder, it is more important to have good homes waiting than to have puppies needing to be placed.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A good breeder will also have plenty of questions for you (about your home, family, lifestyle, why you want a Pembroke). You should feel as if you are being evaluated for the adoption of a child. This is a life-long commitment and the breeder wants to make sure it is right for both of you.
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Pembroke and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi?
Until 1934, the Kennel Club (Great Britain) classed the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis as two varieties of one breed. Most fanciers believe that the two breeds evolved separately, the Pembroke from the Spitz family and the Cardigan from the Dachshund family.
The theory is plausible, with anatomical evidence to support it, but impossible to verify or disprove. Interbreeding between the two breeds occurred but was not widespread. With the recognition of the breeds as totally separate by the Kennel Club, breeders gave up interbreeding and the individual integrity of both breeds were saved.
The differences between Pems and Cardis are as notable as are the similarities:
Similarities: Erect ears; foxy head; long, low body; intelligent; energetic; ability to herd and act as a guard dog
Differences: The Pembroke is an extroversive breed, the Cardi is friendly but may be reserved with strangers. The Pembroke’s ears are erect, firm, and of medium size, tapering slightly to a rounded point, while the Cardigan’s ears are more rounded at the tips. The Cardigan is slightly larger and more heavily boned than the Pembroke.
The Pembroke’s feet generally point straight forward, while the Cardigan has a slightly bowed front with feet that point outward (no more than 30 degrees). One of the obvious differences is the tail. A Pembroke has a natural bob or docked tail and the Cardigan has a full length tail.
Why is the Pembroke’s tail docked?
Because the AKC and Kennel Club (Great Britain) standards require it, along with removal of the dew claws. Contrary to what some people think, tail docking is not a painful process for very young puppies. The lack of a tail certainly does not detract from a Pembroke’s expressiveness.
The Pem’s foxy, intelligent face can be extremely expressive, with a distinct smile when he is happy. Also, many Pembroke fanciers find the Pem’s tail-less bottom cute (aka bunny butt, Pem’s behinds wiggle when they walk and when they’re especially happy)!
It remains to be seen how a new British law against tail docking will affect the Pembroke standard in that country.
Are Pembrokes good with children?
They are excellent with responsible children. As with any dog, you must teach your children how to treat the dog, and not allow them to abuse or tease the dog. The Pembroke is a loving, protective and playful companion, ideal for a family that is able to take the time to train and play with its dog.
Do Pembrokes bark much?
Yes. Pems are very vocal dogs; a typical Pembroke has several different sounds, from a low “wuff” to a loud, threatening “BARK!”. They engage in watchdog barking (such as when someone rings the doorbell, or when they hear a suspicious noise outside) as well as barking for its own sake.
Because of their intelligence, Pems can be trained to be quiet on command (although it’s much easier to train a Pembroke to “speak” than to “shut up”). Teaching a dog to “speak” has been known to also train the dog to only “speak” when asked.
Does a Pembroke make a good watchdog?
To some degree this depends on the individual dog. But in general, Pembrokes are excellent watchdogs. The Pem’s bark is deep and loud; from the other side of a door he doesn’t sound like a small dog. “The Complete Pembroke Welsh Corgi” even cites a story of a little female Pembroke protecting her family by disabling two prowlers (of course, this was in 1954, when the bad guys probably were not armed).
“In line with his role as a guardian, the watchful Corgi sits beneath the baby carriage, minds the toddlers, turns tears to smiles, and even separates sibling squabbles.” (The Complete Pembroke Welsh Corgi)
My Pembroke made the strangest noise last night. Is it normal?
The Pembroke’s voice is nearly as expressive as his face: he typically has several different barks, from the deep, threatening watchdog bark to the low “wuff” when he’s been told to be quiet to the higher, frantic “arfing” when he’s excited.
Some Pems will also engage in a behavior called “reverse sneezing”, which sounds like pig-snorting or an asthma attack. The dog probably will stop quickly; or you can gently cover his nose, letting him breathe through his mouth to stop the snorting.
My Corgi sleeps on his/her back – all four feet in the air! Or, My Corgi lies on his/her stomach with one or both of his back feet (pads of his feet facing up) stuck out behind him (aka the flying squirrel position). Or, My Corgi is allowed on the bed/sofa. When he lies at one end, he always rests his head on a pillow or the arm rest. Is this normal?
Yes! These are just some of the more endearing qualities of a Corgi.
My Corgi gets fed in the kitchen. However, he normally takes a mouthful of dry food, runs into the living room (which is carpeted) and throws the food up in the air and then proceeds to eat the pieces one by one. Is this normal?
Yes. We’re not really sure WHY they do it. Theories abound from the Corgi not wanting to eat alone to not being hungry enough and just eating to please you. However, it seems that almost every Corgi does prefer to “grab a mouthful” and trot happily to the nearest rug to really enjoy his meal.
I want to breed my Pembroke. How do I do about doing this?
First, ask yourself why you want to breed the dog. There are several WRONG reasons to breed:
1. “I love my Pem so much, I want another puppy just like him/her.” The chances of a puppy being exactly like his sire or dam in personality, behavior or coat are not high.
You’re much better off to purchase another pup from the same breeder you got your current dog from, or to visit several breeders and choose another pup you’ll love. This option will cost you less money and much less stress.
2. “I want to make money.” This is NOT the way to do it! Remember, many Pembrokes require veterinary assistance and often surgery to avoid losing the dam and puppies. This is expensive.
Most breeders would be happy to just break even on a litter, let alone turn a profit. These are people who already have the equipment, experience, and contacts for breeding a litter. Above all, profit should not be the motivation for a responsible breeder.
3. “I want to let my female Pembroke have one litter before she is spayed.” Actually, spaying your dog before the first heat cycle is the BEST thing you can do to ensure a healthy life.
This one surgery will greatly reduce her chances of developing breast cancer and diabetes later in life. Your beloved Pembroke is not a small, furry woman with a biological time clock ticking; she is a dog and does not feel any need to experience motherhood.
4. “I’ve heard that spaying or neutering a dog makes it fat and lazy.” The only thing that makes a dog fat and lazy is overfeeding and a lack of exercise. Just as with older humans, a dog’s metabolism slows down in middle age. This is likely what led to the myth of fat spayed dogs in the first place.
Spaying/neutering have absolutely no ill effects if done correctly. Rather they have many positive effects on the dog’s behavior and health. In fact, your dog may become a better friend after spaying/neutering.
The only acceptable reason for breeding your Pembroke is for the good of the breed. If you are very knowledgeable about the breed, and your Pem is an excellent representative of the breed in temperament, appearance, and health, then your dog may be a candidate for a litter.
Work with a local Pembroke club or reputable breeder; they can help you determine if you should breed your dog and give you a good idea of the work and responsibili ty involved. Remember that many times expensive C- sections are required, risking the life of your beloved Pembroke in addition to that of the puppies. Breeding and raising a litter is a life-long commitment.
Are there many movies with Corgis?
Yes! The classic Pembroke movie is Disney’s “Little Dog Lost”. It’s not available on videotape, but is occasionally broadcast on the Disney Channel.
For celluloid Cardigans, check out “The Accidental Tourist” (a tricolor Cardi practically steals the show from William Hurt and Geena Davis), “Hot Shots” or “Dave” (a few brief shots of the fictional President’s two tricolor Cardis).
If you know of other Corgi movie and TV appearances, let us know and we’ll add them to the FAQ.
What are the possible coat colors for a Pembroke?
Tricolor — most of the body is black, with white markings on the legs, chest and head and tan markings on the face and possibly legs.
Red — usually with white markings on the chest, head and legs.
Fawn — a paler shade of red, also with white markings.
Sable — a red coat with many of the hairs tipped with black. A distinctive skullcap appearance to the face is usual.
Are there any serious faults I should watch out for?
Refer to the health and medical information section for possible genetic disease.
Monorchid/Cryptorchid — a condition where one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. This can be a serious health problem for the dog if the undescended testicles are not removed. Dogs with this condition are at a high risk for testicular cancer. These dogs should always be neutered; the one descended testicle should also be removed.
Faults which are greatly frowned upon in the conformation ring include:
Fluffies (exceedingly long coats), whitlies (body color predominantly white), mismarks (white markings in an inappropriate area), bluies (a coat with a smokey blue or rust color). Any ear that is not erect (button, rose, or drop). Do not expect puppy ears to be totally erect until 3 months old. Taping puppy ears also will help them to stand erect.
Overshot or undershot bite, wry bite. An improper bite, if bad enough, can be a health problem. Most bites are only slightly “off” and experience no problems and make excellent pets. Oversize/undersize – any Pembroke which is too small or too big (see general health information).
How will a Pembroke get along with my other pets?
Other dogs: a Pembroke puppy will likely try to play with them. Pembrokes have been known to play-wrestle with dogs much larger than they are. This is fine as long as both dogs consider it play; keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get out of hand. Use common sense when introducing a new puppy into the house where an older dog lives.
Cats: Again, the Pem will probably try to play with the cats. Make sure your cats have a safe retreat with easy access for them to go to when they get tired of being chased. Watch any interaction to make sure it does not become too intense.
Check the puppy’s eyes daily to make sure the cat does not accidentally injure them with its claws. If you have more than one dog, monitor the action. A “pack” response is for the pack to chase the cat and may hurt it after catching their prey.
Small mammals: OK if kept in a cage or an adult is present and watching. Otherwise, be forewarned that Pembrokes make good ratters and a loose rodent may not last long.
How long does a Pembroke typically live?
About 11-13 years. Of course, several may live longer if kept in good health.
What should I expect to pay for a pet-quality Pembroke?
The price will vary from location to location. It may also vary depending on the amount of veterinary services already given to the puppy. Prices will normally range from $250.00 to $500.00.
Remember, pet shops will often have the highest prices (up to $800.00). Be prepared to pay a little more for a puppy that comes with a guarantee from a reputable breeder; it’s worth the difference.
What are the best toys for my puppy?
American rawhide is a good choice (stay away from foreign import rawhide which often is treated with chemicals). Pembrokes often enjoy a larger rawhide than you would think. Corgi-L members have reported problems with some other chewies, most notably cornmeal bones (known as Booda Velvets) and cow hooves.
The problem with these products is that some dogs bite off and swallow large chunks, which can cause intestinal blockage and other problems. Smell may also be a problem when dealing with cow hooves. Latex toys and nylon bones have similar problems with bits of them being gnawed off and swallowed. Fleece toys are fine, although expensive.
They seem not to hold up to the constant damage inflicted by a Corgi. Rope toys are good for playing fetch or tug of war, but can be torn up if left unsupervised with the dog. One of the best toys for the unsupervised Corgi is a small Kong toy filled with peanut butter or small treats (freeze-dried liver, hot dog slices, carrot or cheese pieces, small dog biscuits).
This will keep your Corgi happily busy for hours! It’s a great toy to put into the crate with a dog that licks his feet (out of boredom) when in the crate. The thing to remember is that any toy can present a problem, it is best to have an adult present when the dog has access to an unproven toy.