Meet the Charismatic Cardigan Welsh Corgi

©infinityyy | Getty Images
Last Updated on July 10, 2023 by Natasha Medvetsky

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is renowned for his adaptability, athleticism and hardiness. Bred for work in the hills of Cardiganshire, Wales, the Cardigan’s chest was developed deep for large heart and lung capacities. His legs were developed short, but don’t misjudge him: He’s tough, capable and (surprise!) speedy.

Looking back

Ancestors of the Cardigan migrated to Wales with Celt warriors thousands of years ago. Cardigans needed great strength in temperament as well as physicality to control livestock.

Originally a genetic mutation, the Cardigan’s dwarfism is called chondrodysplasia. As a herding dog, his short legs became an asset. His low height allowed him to dodge and avoid cattle kicks.

Early Cardigans moved the owner’s cattle to grazing land and kept trespassing cattle off the owner’s property. Farmers also used Cardigans for companionship, general farm work, protection and vermin hunting.

Still busy today

These days, only a few Cardigans are employed moving livestock, but they all thrive keeping busy. Intelligent and biddable (albeit sometimes independent thinkers!), they take honors in dog sports such as obedience, tracking, herding, rally, agility and barn hunt. At home, daily walks, focused training sessions and activities such as ball chasing keep the Cardigan healthy and satisfied. The Cardigan adapts well to urban settings and apartment living, as long as he’s exercised regularly.

Cardigans show reserve with strangers outside the home. Around their own property, Cardigans enthusiastically wear the watchdog cap. The breed, ever vigilant, has no interest in topping any Quiet Dog list. Yes, he tends to bark alarms!

Cardigans do well with animals in their own household, but they may push strange animals around. After all, the Cardigan’s ancestors were taught specifically to chase stray animals off the property. And let’s not mince words: Herding breeds are characteristically bossy!

©Alexakshas | Getty Images
Isn't a corgi a corgi?

Despite name similarities and physical likenesses, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are distinct breeds with their own histories and ancestors. Both breeds worked with farmers to lead cattle to grazing land and stood guard over the barnyard. But Cardigans (some two thousand years older) were developed in the rocky terrain of Cardiganshire in southwest Wales. Pembrokes were developed in the flatter terrain of Pembrokeshire in southern Wales.

These days, a quick way to tell the Cardigan from his cousin the Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Cardigans have a long, foxlike tail; Pembrokes have tails docked close to the body.

Cardigan extras

Weight: 30-38 pounds (male); 25-34 pounds (female)

Life span: 12 to 15 years

Coat: Double coated. The outer hairs have a slightly harsh texture, and the insulating undercoat is short, soft and thick.

Color: Red, sable and brindle; black, blue merle

Grooming: Easy keepers, requiring mainly weekly brushing

Shedding: Yes, especially seasonally

Best for: Active singles and families

Accurate name: In Welsh, the word Corgi loosely translates to dwarf dog.

AKC popularity rank: 66th

Equipment: The Cardigan isn’t built for strong or prolonged swimming, so get him a life jacket.

Some Cardigans also use portable stairs to help them up on furniture.

Possible health issues: Degenerative myelopathy, hip and elbow dysplasia, canine intervertebral disc disease.

About the Author

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.


Follow Us

Shopping Cart