The Tail of Two Corgis
A Brief History
Pembroke Welsh Corgis have been around since 1107 AD in some way, shape, or form. They certainly didn’t look how they look today, but there are historical records describing a short-legged dog used for driving cattle in ye olde Pembrokeshire, Wales. Though the origins are murky, it is suspected that the Pembroke came about as a result of the proto-Cardigan Welsh Corgi allowed to interbreed with Flemish Spitz-type dogs. Despite the Pembroke’s antiquity, the breed was not recognized by the AKC until 1934, and the older Cardigan was not AKC recognized until 1935. Prior to the AKC distinction of the breeds, the two were allowed to interbreed freely. If you are interested in seeing how the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has changed since the early 1900’s, please check out Corgis of the Past.
The Tail of Two Corgis
The two Corgis are similar in appearance in that they both are low, deep-chested dogs, but they have their differences. In the US, the most obvious difference is that the Cardigan is tailed, and the Pembroke is usually not. Outside of the US, the Pembroke often has a full tail. How is anyone supposed to tell the difference if both dogs have tails?
In general, the Cardigan is a larger dog—taller, heavier in weight, and heavier-boned. The Cardigan is also rounder, sporting rounded ears and “round” feet, where the toes are all the same length. They have a much wider range of acceptable colors, too. For ease of comparison, their most noticeable physical differences have been charted below.
Impress your friends, neighbors, and strangers when you inevitably have to tell them the difference between the two Corgis!
The differences in personality match the breed ancestry: Pembrokes are spitz and Cardigans are hounds. The Pembroke is the more friendly and social of the two, while the Cardigan tends to be more aloof. Years of interbreeding prior to the AKC distinction of the breeds has brought them closer together in appearance and personality, but they are still quite distinct.
Remember, all dogs are individuals and may not conform to breed standard. To maximize the chances of getting what you want out of your Corgi, and to minimize the occurrence of health problems, seek responsible, reputable breeders. Never buy a dog from anyone or anywhere else. If at all possible, rescue your pal from a local shelter or Corgi rescue organization! For additional help in deciding if, what, where, why, and how to adopt, please feel free to browse my other posts.
A note About "blue merle Pembrokes"
There is a trend to produce and sell "blue merle Pembrokes" to unsuspecting buyers who think the merle color is unique and want the eye-catching merle coat in their Pembroke Welsh Corgi. The truth is that there is no such thing as a blue merle Pembroke! Let me say that again, because it's important: there is no such thing as a merle Pembroke!
If you are dead-set on a merle dog but do not understand why it's a problem that "blue merle Pembrokes" are being produced and sold, then consider why you want a Corgi in the first place. Corgis are so much more than their outward appearance and color is the least important part of the dog. If the breeder makes color an important factor in breeding, imagine what traits are being lost to the pursuit of color--good health, stable temperaments, predictable behavior, and much more are lost when the breeder breeds for color. Mixing the Pembroke with other breeds makes the behavior, temperament, and health of the animal much less predictable. The "blue merle Pembroke" trend is a great disservice to the breed, and continuing to call the dogs "blue merle Pembrokes" spreads a great deal of misinformation.
Any person purposefully producing "blue merle Pembrokes" is an unscrupulous breeder looking to make some fast cash. Anyone producing and selling "merle Pembrokes" is mixing them with some other breed of dog. Merle does not occur naturally within the Pembroke population. In order to get a merle dog, the dog must be mixed with another breed of dog to get that color.
If you are interested in a well-bred Pembroke, never under any circumstances acquire a dog from someone who also breeds "blue merle Pembrokes" or crosses their Pembrokes with other breeds. There is absolutely no reason to do so other than to sell as many dogs as fast as possible. Similarly, there's no good reason to purchase a "blue merle Pembroke".
There is no such thing as a "blue merle Pembroke". Call it what it is: a mixed breed.