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Despite claims for the antiquity of the breed, it is difficult to trace the origins or even authenticate the Welsh Corgi's existence in early times. A Welsh cattle dog is mentioned in a book of the eleventh century, however. In medieval times, the kings of Europe advertised their majesty to their subjects and visiting emissaries by the richness of their possessions. Carpets, textiles, and tapestries were important factors in these displays of conspicuous consumption. The era’s best weavers were centered in Flanders, now northern Belgium. It was common for monarchs to stage talent raids to induce Flemish weavers to relocate to their kingdoms. So it was that in the year 1107, Henry I of Britain invited a community of these master craftsmen to live and work in southwestern Wales. The weavers accepted Henry’s invitation and brought all they needed to re-create their agrarian way of life in their new homeland. This included the dogs they bred to herd cattle and sheep. These sturdy, short-legged herders were the foundation for the breed we now know as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
The Corgi was an essential helper to the farmers of South Wales. Although these little dogs specialized in herding cattle, nipping at their heels and then ducking under their kicking hooves, they were almost certainly also used in herding sheep and even Welsh ponies. Although the breed certainly shares its past with the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Pembroke was developed separately, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. As a hard-working dog, the Corgi was out in the fields when many of the early dog shows were being held. Only in 1926 did a club form and the breed enter the show ring. The obvious differences between the Pembroke and Cardigan were troublesome to judges—the Pembroke is smaller, with sharper features, a more foxlike expression, and characteristically no tail. The Pembroke has been a distinctly separate breed from his cousin the Cardigan Welsh Corgi since the late 1800s, but the two breeds often intermingled in the old Welsh breeding centers of Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire.
Today, the most noticeable differences between the breeds are the ears (the Pembroke’s are pointed and erect, the Cardi’s rounded) and the tail (the Cardi tale is much longer than the Pembroke’s). In 1934, the Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis were divided into two separate breeds, after which the Pembroke soared in popularity. Its appeal was heightened when it became the favorite of King George VI and, subsequently, Queen Elizabeth II. The queen got her first Pembroke, Dookie, in 1933 and has not been without one or more since. By the 1960s, the Pembroke had become one of the most popular pet breeds all over the world, especially in Britain. This popularity has since waned slightly, but far more Pembrokes can be found herding in backyards than in farmyards today.
Temperment & Maintenance
Swift and quick-witted, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has an active mind and body. This breed needs daily physical and mental exercise. Corgis are a devoted and willing to please, fun loving, amiable, and companionable. These dogs are known to be very good with children, although they may nip at heels in play, especially as puppies. Early socialization is recommended, as this breed tends to be reserved with strangers. Barking is a favorite common pastime of many Pembroke Welsh Corgis. The Pembroke loves to herd, and a daily herding session would be ideal to meet exercise requirements. The dog can do fine without herding, however, as long as there is a moderate walk on leash or a good play and training session off-leash. Corgis have a medium length, short, thick, and weather-resistant undercoat with a smooth overcoat. Coat care consists only of brushing once a week to remove dead hairs.
AKC Official Standard for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi
General Appearance - Low-set, strong, sturdily built and active, giving an impression of substance and stamina in a small space. Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so light-boned as to appear racy. Outlook bold, but kindly. Expression intelligent and interested. Never shy nor vicious. Correct type, including general balance and outline, attractiveness of headpiece, intelligent outlook and correct temperament is of primary importance. Movement is especially important, particularly as viewed from the side. A dog with smooth and free gait has to be reasonably sound and must be highly regarded. A minor fault must never take precedence over the above desired qualities. A dog must be very seriously penalized for the following faults, regardless of whatever desirable qualities the dog may present: oversized or undersized; button, rose or drop ears; overshot or undershot bite; fluffies, whitelies, mismarks or bluies.
Size, Proportion, Substance - Height (from ground to highest point on withers) should be 10 to 12 inches. Weight is in proportion to size, not exceeding 30 pounds for dogs and 28 pounds for bitches. In show condition, the preferred medium-sized dog of correct bone and substance will weigh approximately 27 pounds, with bitches approximately 25 pounds. Obvious oversized specimens and diminutive toylike individuals must be very severely penalized. Proportions - Moderately long and low. The distance from the withers to the base of the tail should be approximately 40 percent greater than the distance from the withers to the ground. Substance-Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so lightboned as to appear racy.
Head - The head should be foxy in shape and appearance. Expression-Intelligent and interested, but not sly. Skull-should be fairly wide and flat between the ears. Moderate amount of stop. Very slight rounding of cheek, not filled in below the eyes, as foreface should be nicely chiseled to give a somewhat tapered muzzle. Distance from occiput to center of stop to be greater than the distance from stop to nose tip, the proportion being five parts of total distance for the skull and three parts for the foreface. Muzzle should be neither dish-faced nor Roman-nosed. Eyes-Oval, medium in size, not round, nor protruding, nor deepset and piglike. Set somewhat obliquely. Variations of brown in harmony with coat color. Eye rims dark, preferably black. While dark eyes enhance the expression, true black eyes are most undesirable, as are yellow or bluish eyes. Ears-Erect, firm, and of medium size, tapering slightly to a rounded point. Ears are mobile, and react sensitively to sounds. A line drawn from the nose tip through the eyes to the ear tips, and across, should form an approximate equilateral triangle. Bat ears, small catlike ears, overly large weak ears, hooded ears, ears carried too high or too low, are undesirable. Button, rose or drop ears are very serious faults. Nose-Black and fully pigmented. Mouth-Scissors bite, the inner side of the upper incisors touching the outer side of the lower incisors. Level bite is acceptable. Overshot or undershot bite is a very serious fault. Lips-Black, tight, with little or no fullness.
Neck, Topline, Body - Neck-Fairly long. Of sufficient length to provide over-all balance of the dog. Slightly arched, clean and blending well into the shoulders. A very short neck giving a stuffy appearance and a long, thin or ewe neck are faulty. Topline-Firm and level, neither riding up to nor falling away at the croup. A slight depression behind the shoulders caused by heavier neck coat meeting the shorter body coat is permissible. Body-Rib cage should be well sprung, slightly eggshaped and moderately long. Deep chest, well let down between the forelegs. Exaggerated lowness interferes with the desired freedom of movement and should be penalized. Viewed from above, the body should taper slightly to end of loin. Loin short. Round or flat rib cage, lack of brisket, extreme length or cobbiness, are undesirable. Tail-Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the topline.
Forequarters - Legs-Short, forearms turned slightly inward, with the distance between wrists less than between the shoulder joints so that the front does not appear absolutely straight. Ample bone carried right down into the feet. Pasterns firm and nearly straight when viewed from the side. Weak pasterns and knuckling over are serious faults. Shoulder blades long and well laid back along the rib cage. Upper arms nearly equal in length to shoulder blades. Elbows parallel to the body, not prominent, and well set back to allow a line perpendicular to the ground to be drawn from tip of the shoulder blade through to elbow. Feet-Oval, with the two center toes slightly in advance of the two outer ones. Turning neither in nor out. Pads strong and feet arched. Nails short. Dewclaws on both forelegs and hindlegs usually removed. Too round, long and narrow, or splayed feet are faulty.
Hindquarters - Ample bone, strong and flexible, moderately angulated at stifle and hock. Exaggerated angulation is as faulty as too little. Thighs should be well muscled. Hocks short, parallel, and when viewed from the side are perpendicular to the ground. Barrel hocks or cowhocks are most objectionable. Slipped or double-jointed hocks are very faulty. Feet-as in front.
Coat - Medium length; short, thick, weather-resistant undercoat with a coarser, longer outer coat. Over-all length varies, with slightly thicker and longer ruff around the neck, chest and on the shoulders. The body coat lies flat. Hair is slightly longer on back of forelegs and underparts and somewhat fuller and longer on rear of hindquarters. The coat is preferably straight, but some waviness is permitted. This breed has a shedding coat, and seasonal lack of undercoat should not be too severely penalized, providing the hair is glossy, healthy and well groomed. A wiry, tightly marcelled coat is very faulty, as is an overly short, smooth and thin coat. Very Serious Fault - Fluffies - a coat of extreme length with exaggerated feathering on ears, chest, legs and feet, underparts and hindquarters. Trimming such a coat does not make it any more acceptable. The Corgi should be shown in its natural condition, with no trimming permitted except to tidy the feet, and, if desired, remove the whiskers.
Color - The outer coat is to be of self colors in red, sable, fawn, black and tan with or without white markings. White is acceptable on legs, chest, neck (either in part or as a collar). muzzle, underparts and as a narrow blaze on head.
Very Serious Faults: Whitelies - Body color white, with red or dark markings. Bluies - Colored portions of the coat have a distinct bluish or smoky cast. This coloring is associated with extremely light or blue eyes, liver or gray eye rims, nose and lip pigment. Mismarks -Self colors with any area of white on the back between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters, or on ears. Black with white markings and no tan present.
Gait - Free and smooth. Forelegs should reach well forward without too much lift, in unison with the driving action of the hind legs. The correct shoulder assembly and well-fitted elbows allow a long, free stride in front. Viewed from the front, legs do not move in exact parallel planes, but incline slightly inward to compensate for shortness of leg and width of chest. Hind legs should drive well under the body and move on a line with the forelegs, with hocks turning neither in nor out. Feet must travel parallel to the line of motion with no tendency to swing out, cross over or interfere with each other. Short, choppy movement, rolling or high-stepping gait, close or overly wide coming or going, are incorrect. This is a herding dog, which must have the agility, freedom of movement, and endurance to do the work for which he was developed.
Temperament - Outlook bold, but kindly. Never shy or vicious. The judge shall dismiss from the ring any Pembroke Welsh Corgi that is excessively shy.
Copyright, 1993, The American Kennel Club, Inc. and 2021 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, Inc.
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