Corgi Breed Guide: History, Characteristics & Care Tips

by Lila Batiari, DVM
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Corgi Breed Guide
Is Corgi the best choice for you and your family? Learn more about this dog breed, including physical traits, temperament, history, care requirements, and more.

Best known as Queen Elizabeth ll’s favorite breed, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an intelligent, friendly, and highly active breed with a stubborn streak. They are a breed that genuinely wants to be part of the family. Originally developed for herding, Corgis are still used as farm herders but are more often kept as house pets.

Find out everything you need to know about Pembroke Welsh Corgis, including temperament, origin, size, lifespan, etc.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: Corgis are amazing dogs, but they are at higher risk of certain genetic disease. Pet insurance provides valuable peace of mind by assuring your pup will have access to gold-standard care if a health concern were to arise throughout their life.

Corgi breed history

It’s believed that the Corgi breed dates back to the 10th century. According to one theory, the ancestors of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi were brought to Wales by Flemish weavers, whereas another theory suggests that they might descend from the Swedish Vallhund.

These dogs were developed in Wales where they were used for herding and guarding, as well as companionship. Today, Corgis hold a special place at Buckingham Palace as pets of Queen Elizabeth II.

Pembrokes share many similarities with the Cardigan Welsh Corgis but the two were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the English Kennel Club as separate breeds in 1934.1

corgi smiling

Corgi characteristics

Physical appearance

The average weight of a Corgi dog is 30 pounds for males and up to 28 pounds for females. Both male and female Corgis are between 10 and 12 inches tall.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are recognizable by their foxy face, prick ears, short stature, and a closely docked tail. Slightly longer than tall, these canines are considered are achondroplastic, or a dwarf breed with shortened legs.2

Corgis have short, weatherproof double coats that come in several different colors, with or without white markings:

  • Fawn
  • Black and tan
  • Sable
  • Red

Black Corgis usually have tan and white to make them tri-colored, with heads varying from black to red. Some members of the breed might have longer, softer, and fluffier coats than is typical.

Temperament and personality

The Corgi’s temperament is friendly, devoted, and fun-loving, averaging a 79.6% pass rate with the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS).3

In general, these little dogs get along well with children, although they might nip at heels or chase them during play due to their herding instincts. Many members of the breed are shy around strangers and some might bark incessantly.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are active dogs with active minds. As all-around farm dogs, they’re able to handle livestock much larger than they are and guard the home. They want to be included in the family and don’t do well left in kennels.

Average lifespan

The average lifespan of a Corgi is 12 to 13 years, with females typically living one or two years longer than males. The main causes of death in the breed are cancer and old age. However, with proper care, your Corgi can live longer than the average lifespan.

corgi running

Corgi care tips

Training and exercise

Corgis are very intelligent, energetic, and willing dogs who often have a mind of their own, which is why they need training with a firm but kind hand. If left to their own devices, these pets can be manipulative and will take charge themselves. As with all breeds, puppy training classes and early socialization are highly recommended.

These strong and athletic little dogs love being active and having a job to do. Moderate daily exercise (slow jogs or long walks) is required to keep them in good physical and mental shape. Many members of the breed excel at canine activities such as herding, agility, tracking events, and obedience.

Diet and nutrition

Pembrokes do well with a minimal amount of food. In general, they need to eat up to 3/4 cup of dry dog food twice a day. Some are prone to getting overweight, which can put extra strain on their long, low backs. For this reason, owners should keep an eye on their Corgi’s calorie intake and avoid free-feeding. Exercise is a must to keep the weight under control.

If you notice weight gain or have any questions concerning your Corgi’s food, feeding schedule, or exercise, be sure to get in touch with your veterinarian.

Grooming requirements

Corgis have a thick, weatherproof coat, a soft, light undercoat and a coarse outer coat. They need regular grooming, more than once a week, especially in late spring or early summer. Baths can help loosen the dead hairs during shedding season, but your pup needs to be completely dry before brushing starts.

As with all breeds, the Corgi's nails should be trimmed regularly, their ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection, and their teeth should be brushed to prevent dental disease.

Living with a Corgi

Due to their small size, Corgis will be happy in any home, as long as they have a small garden or yard to enjoy.

Despite their appearance, Pembrokes are quite athletic and need daily exercise. However, owners should avoid extreme cold and heat, and be sure to provide enough fresh water after exercise. If left alone for long periods of time or not exercised enough, Corgis can be prone to excessive barking and chewing or digging.

Common Corgi health problems

In general, Welsh Corgis are considered healthy dogs, but as with other breeds, they are prone to certain health issues:

  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM), a condition that causes spinal cord degeneration in older dogs. It is not painful but over time, the dog becomes paraplegic.
  • Hip dysplasia, an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit properly into the hip joint.
  • Eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina.
  • Von Willebrand disease, a blood disorder that affects the clotting process.
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a heart condition in which a small vessel in the heart doesn’t close as it should after birth.

Pro Tip: Corgi pet insurance can help protect your four-legged friend and your finances. Be sure to enroll as early as possible to ensure that pre-existing conditions are not excluded from policy coverage.

Adopting or buying a Corgi dog

If you’re interested in welcoming a Pembroke Welsh Corgi into your family, The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America is a great place to find breeder contacts, as well as adoption and rescue information.


Key Takeaways

  • Corgis are small dogs with lots of energy. They are good with children and when given proper training and attention, they make wonderful pets.
  • Corgis are quite vocal, so you might find them barking at everything. They require regular grooming and can be prone to getting overweight, so you should be careful to monitor what they eat.
  • Pembrokes need moderate daily exercise. Their intelligence makes them easy to train and a suitable choice for first-time owners.
  • Like other breeds, Corgis are prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia, eye issues, and degenerative myelopathy.

References

  1. AKC, “Pembroke Welsh Corgi” Accessed Oct. 30, 2021.

  2. AKC, “Official Standard of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi” Accessed Oct. 30, 2021.

  3. ATTS, “Statistics” Accessed Oct. 30, 2021.

Veterinarian Lila Batiari

About the author

Lila Batiari, DVM

Small Animal Relief Veterinarian -

Lila Batiari, DVM is a relief veterinarian located in San Diego, California. She has a special interest in nutrition, pain management, and surgery! Dr. Batiari enjoys working with Pawlicy Advisor to help others avoid everyday situations that some of her clientele experience. She realizes that expensive vet bills for treatment costs could be much easier for patients with pet insurance.

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