11 Short Facts About Corgis
You already know they’re cute, compact, and smart. But there’s a lot more to these beloved little dogs.
1. There are two distinct breeds of corgis
There are two types of Welsh corgis: the Pembroke Welsh corgi and the Cardigan Welsh corgi. They are considered two entirely different breeds because they come from different ancestors. Their remarkable resemblance is a result of crossbreeding in the 19th century.
If you’re trying to tell the two breeds apart, the most notable difference is that the Pembroke does not have a tail. On top of a tail, Cardigan Welsh corgis also have rounded ears, while Pembrokes generally have pointy ears.
2. The Cardigan Welsh corgi is the older breed
A warrior tribe of Celts brought the corgis in their aboriginal form to Cardiganshire, Wales around 1200 BCE, which means corgis have been in Wales for over 3000 years. This early breed was a member of the Teckel family of dogs that went on to include the dachshund.
3. Pembroke Welsh corgis have a considerable history as well
Although no one knows for sure, most agree that the Pembroke Welsh corgi dates back to 1107 CE when Flemish weavers migrated to Wales. The Spitz-type dog bred with the original Cardigan corgis to produce the Pembroke Welsh corgis we know today.
4. The Kennel Club originally lumped the two breeds together
The two types of corgis were registered as one in 1925, leading to a lot of stress among breeders. Often a judge would favor one breed over the other, which would lead to controversies at dog shows. After nearly a decade of (pretty adorable) strife, the breeds gained separate recognition in 1934.
5. Corgis were originally used as herders
The Welsh used the short dogs as herders as early as the 10th century. In those days, pastures were considered common land, so there were no fences. In order to keep a farmer’s cattle together and separated from other herds, corgis would nip at their legs to herd them. Because of their closeness to the ground, corgis had easy access to the cows’ ankles and were difficult targets of the retaliatory kicks of cattle.
6. According to Welsh legend, fairies ride them
Some say that the corgi is an “enchanted dog” favored by fairies and elves. At night the magical creatures would use the dogs to pull their carriages and be their steeds in battle. According to legend, the markings on a corgi’s coat suggest the faint outline of a saddle and harness.
7. The royal family loves the Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Queen Elizabeth II has had over 30 corgis in her lifetime. Right now she has two corgis named Holly and Willow, as well as two dorgis (corgi/dachshund mixes) named Candy and Vulcan. The Queen met her first corgi when King George VI brought a male pooch home from a kennel in 1933. Named Dookie, the dog was an immediate hit with the future queen and her sister, Princess Margaret.
After a second corgi named Jane entered the picture, the canine couple had a litter of puppies, two of which were kept. The Queen received another dog named Susan for her 18th birthday—from there, the collection of corgis really gained momentum. Some of the royal corgis bred with Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin to create dorgis.
8. Corgis were used to predict the royal baby’s name
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s second baby is due this month, and people are already taking bets on the name. Gambling company Ladbrokes used corgis in an attempt to predict what the name would be. The company’s ad featured 10 corgis wearing vests with different names in a race to predict what the name of the child would be. The corgi sporting the name Alexandra won the race, so we’ll have to wait and see how prophetic the dogs are.
9. Corgi means ‘dwarf dog’ in Welsh
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, cor means dwarf and gi means dog.
10. California has a “first dog”
California governor Jerry Brown owns an 11-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi named Sutter. When Brown took office, he adopted the corgi and named him California’s First Dog. The popular pup helps the governor reach across the aisle to make bipartisan deals with his Republican colleagues.
"Sutter and I have developed a relationship," said Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton. "I met him down at the governor's conference room. As we got to talking, I noticed there was a fur ball under my seat. He was very calm, laying there, sleeping. I think he was looking at me to be a protector of the taxpayer's dollars."
11. Southern California hosts an enormous corgi meetup
SoCal Corgi Beach Day started as a humble meet-up event at Huntington Beach in 2012. At first it only had 12 attendees, but the last event had over 600. According to the SoCal Corgi Beach Day Facebook page, the event happens four times a year. Some of the owners will dress up their corgis in costumes: one woman dressed like Katy Perry and put her dogs into Left and Right Shark costumes.