Guild of Shepherds & Collies

The Welsh Corgi: How One Breed Became Two

Is There One Corgi ... or Two?

Corgis are great dogs! While the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi share some similarities, they are both considered individual breeds. Let’s take a look at their history, and some of the differences between the two.


There is much speculation surrounding the true origin of either breed. Some theories support Corgis being introduced by the Celts in 1200 BC. Other theories suggest the Vikings brought Corgis to Wales in the 800s, or Flemish weavers brought them in the 1100s. Either way, Corgis are considered the oldest breed of herding dog. They were originally bred to walk in front of a herd of cattle to chase off potential predators and clear the way. It was later in their existence that Corgis became herders working behind the cattle. Although many onlookers question their athleticism, Corgis have excellent herding instincts. Additionally, their “low-profile” stature made it easy for them to get out of the way when a cow kicked!

In addition to herding, the Welsh Corgi was bred to protect domestic fowl. Their job was two-fold; to make sure the flock stayed together, and to ensure that they were protected against potential predators.

Welsh Corgis remained a working canine figure throughout the history of the United Kingdom. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that the Corgi was recognized as a purebred breed. Shortly after, in 1934, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi were recognized as separate breeds.

Why Make Them Separate?

Although they have a shared history regarding their relationship with humans, it is believed that they descended from different families of dogs. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was said to have descended from the same family of dogs responsible for producing the Dachshund, whereas the Pembroke Welsh Corgi may have descended from Swedish cattle dogs.

Physical Differences: How Do I Tell Them Apart?

Both breeds have the large-eared-short-legged look going for them. However, there are several key differences that distinguish the breeds from one another.


The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is known for their docked tail, whereas the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is known for having a low-set, fox-like bushy tail. The Pembroke’s tails were docked to keep cattle from stepping on them when they worked as herders.


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi comes in five different colors with seven different recognized markings. Most recognizably, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi can be brindle or merle whereas the Pembroke Welsh Corgi comes in four colors with only one type of marking.


While both breeds have large ears, the Cardigan’s ears are more round, and the Pembroke’s ears are pointier. This may add the Pembroke Welsh Corgi being more associated with the fox-like appearance.

Temperament Differences

Cardigan Welsh Corgi is described by the American Kennel Club as “loyal, affectionate, and smart; even-tempered and never shy.” Although similar, the AKC describes the Pembroke Welsh Corgi as “smart and alert, affectionate but not pushy, bold but kindly.” Additionally, the Cardigan is often described as a bit more tenacious than the Pembroke. However, both dogs have a “big dog” bark despite their “low-profile” look.

Celebrity Status

Although the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is believed to be the younger of the two Corgi breeds, they gained significant popularity throughout the 20th century. They are most known for being Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite dog breed.

Fun Fact: According to Express News, as of February 2015, the Queen has just two Corgis in her home. At some points, however, she had as many as eight!

Sources (Dogs 101, Animal Planet)

Article By:
Rachel Sheppard
Meet Our Evangelist, Rachel Sheppard (and Rooney)


<< Back