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Is a Corgi a Good Herding Dog? (Corgi History & Purpose)

Written by: Brooke Bundy

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

corgi lying on the grass

Is a Corgi a Good Herding Dog? (Corgi History & Purpose)

Although it’s not obvious from their name and popular depiction, Corgis are actually classified as herding dogs according to the American Kennel Club. Both the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi developed their reputations as herding animals in the first chapter of their stories. They retain their herding instinct today, even if it’s only used to push small children around or keep English nobles in check. Let’s read more about their interesting history, as well as why the Corgi is now considered two different breeds.

History of the Corgi

The two Corgi breeds are called “cousins,” although we’re not sure how closely related they are. Both come from the Spitz family, and for a while they were thought to be the same breed.

As early as the 10th century BC, you might’ve seen the stocky Cardigan Corgi galloping through the moors of Northern Wales. No one knows exactly how long they’d been there, but they were originally imported by Celtic tribes who immigrated from central Europe. It’s believed that the Cardigan Corgis were derived from the Teckel and Spitz families, the latter of which also provides the lineage of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

pembroke welsh corgi out in the fields
Image Credit: MolnarSzabolcsErdely, Pixabay

Nearly 2,000 years later, Flemish traders brought a different Spitz dog to Southern Wales. Orange and smaller than the Cardigan Corgi that pervaded the northern part of the country, the Pembroke Corgi nevertheless was hired out for the same farm work for almost a millennium. They seemed destined to share their cousin’s quiet agricultural life forever until Queen Elizabeth II received one in 1933. The following year, the Corgi breed was divided into two distinct types, the Pembrokeshire Corgi and the Cardigan Corgi. Since then, the Pembrokeshire Corgi has garnered the most attention from breeders and the show ring, while the Cardigan Corgi has been trotting to catch up.

The American Kennel Club was slow to follow the Queen’s example. They admitted the Pembroke Corgi into the AKC in 1934, but didn’t acknowledge the Cardigan Corgi as a separate breed. In 2006 they finally drew the line and officially announced that there were now two different types of Corgis, the Pembroke Welsh and Cardigan Welsh. Unfortunately, finding a purebred Pembroke or Cardigan may be somewhat difficult in the United States since they were considered to be the same breed for the first 70 years of their acceptance into the AKC.

Are Corgis Still Considered Herding Dogs Today?

Both Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis are still considered herding dogs. Rest assured; you don’t have to maintain a sheep pen in your backyard to keep your Corgi entertained. Even in the United Kingdom, this faithful sheep herder has mostly been replaced by the Border Collie, who has longer legs to quickly chase the flock and is considered the most intelligent dog breed in the world.

Today, both Corgi breeds compete in agility competitions and dog shows where they excel given their inherited skills. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, in particular, has garnered significant attention in popular culture, especially as a British dog. All Corgis enjoy the companionship of their humans and typically make good family dogs, just as they did when they roved on farms.

girl hug and kissing a corgi dog
Image Credit: JeannieR, Shutterstock

How Much Exercise Do Corgis Need?

All dogs need exercise, whether they’re considered a low-energy breed like the Bulldog or contain bounds of energy like the Australian Shepherd. Corgis have a relatively high amount of energy and need daily exercise to thrive. Aim for at least 1 hour a day, whether that’s romping through the dog park or strolling on a leash. Corgis are also particularly agile at obstacle courses, so you might want to see if there’s one at a dog park near you. Obstacle courses engage your Corgi mentally and physically. This breed really benefits from the dual exercise.

dogster face divider


Although they’re now more likely to be found in the palace or parlor rather than a pasture, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi retain their titles as herding dogs. They need daily exercise in order to keep from becoming ill-tempered and out of shape. However, there’s no need to corral sheep. An hour-long excursion at the dog park or a brisk walk through the neighborhood should be sufficient to keep them physically and mentally healthy. All Corgis crave the attention of their pet parents and will thrive on your care. Throughout history, Corgis have been consistently known as being loyal companions for a family or a single person from all walks of life.

Featured Image Credit: lucioliu, Pixabay

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