Corgis Times Two

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

“What’s the difference between Cardigan Welsh Corgis and Pembroke Welsh Corgis?” is the question most frequently heard at Corgi booths at AKC Meet the Breeds events. Many people know that Cardigans have tails, and some recognize that our dogs have larger, more rounded ears, and a few are even aware that they “come in more colors”—but there is much more to distinguish the two breeds.

After several years of fielding this question on the fly, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America decided it was time to coordinate and standardize our responses. We worked with the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America to compile a list of our breeds’ differences and their similarities and happily share this information with all who ask.

Cardigans are the older breed, at 3,000 years, and descend from German teckel lineage (as does the Dachshund), while Pembrokes are younger at 1,000 years and descend from Nordic Spitz lineage (as does the American Eskimo Dog).Welsh farmers originally worked both Corgi breeds to move their cows to common grazing lands and to guard and organize the barnyard. Cardigans originated in the rough, rocky terrain of North Wales, while Pembrokes were found in the flatter, easier terrain of South Wales.

The two breeds were not initially considered separate and distinct by the AKC and were listed as Welsh Corgi (Cardigan) and Welsh Corgi (Pembroke). In 2006, at the behest of both parent clubs, the AKC officially recognized them as individual breeds: the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Ranked 75th out of the 180 AKC recognized breeds, Cardigans are less commonly known than Pembrokes, who are famous for being “the Queen’s dogs” and rank 24th.

Both Corgis are chondroplastic (dwarf) breeds with large heads and heavy bodies on short, thick legs. They herd by nipping at the heels of their charges and barking at them (they will often do this with their small human charges as well!). All Corgis have upright ears and are sound sensitive, barking at unusual or unexpected noise—they are excellent watch dogs. Both breeds are double coated, “wash and wear” dogs who require little grooming beyond regular brushing, bathing, and nail trimming. Being herding dogs, they require regular, daily exercise; without it they will invent other ways to expend their energy that may not necessarily be in synch with their owners’ thoughts on that subject.

These breeds are very smart; their minds need exercise too, and they do best when given a daily job. Corgis are easily trained and good with children. They make excellent companions and are happiest when with their people, participating in family activities.

Physically, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are slightly larger dogs with heavier bone than Pembroke Welsh Corgis. They have larger, rounded ears, round feet, and a sloping rear with a bushy, foxlike tail compared to the Pembroke’s smaller, slightly pointed ears, oval feet, and squared-off rear with a docked tail. Cardis have a greater number of acceptable coat colors: brindle, blue merle, black and white with brindle or tan points, red, and sable. The Pembroke’s allowed colors are red, sable, and tricolor.

Temperamentally, Cardigans are more reserved in new situations, but they warm up quickly. Pembrokes are more outgoing from the get-go in all situations. Both breeds are clowns who love to play and entertain their people.

For detailed information about each breed, visit their clubs’ websites at and

Many thanks to guest columnists Sharon Fremer and Anne Bowes! —Cynthia and Jeff Welch,


First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, March 2015.

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