All About the Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Learn more about the less popular (yet not less wonderful) Corgi breed.
By: PawCulture Editors
Cardigan Welsh Corgi

About This Breed

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was brought to Wales by the Celts about three thousand years ago. This breed is the original heeler; their short bodies and tough mouths allowed them to nip at the heels of livestock.

Physical Characteristics

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is short with a long body and very short legs. The front legs are generally bowed. The head is a triangle with round eyes close together and ears that are erect. The tail of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is long, bushy and pointed.

The ears of the breed are naturally dropped forward, though it is the preference of breeders to crop the ears into small, equilateral triangles that stand upright. Breeders also typically dock their tails.


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is most commonly seen in sable, red, brindle, black, blue merle, and sometimes with tan and white markings.


The outer coat of the Cardigan Corgi is soft and medium, with and a very dense rough undercoat.

Personality and Temperament




The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is affectionate with its family, it is good with playing, and is very active.


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi can be aggressive with strangers, and they do like to bark.



The Cardigan Welsh Corgi would do well in the city or country.


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi needs to be brushed weekly and exercised daily to reduce the tendency toward obesity.


The following conditions are commonly seen in Cardigan Welsh Corgis:

  •         Progressive retinal atrophy
  •         Bladder stones
  •         Glaucoma
  •         Obesity

History and Background

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was among the first breeds to arrive in the British Isles from central Europe. It was brought to Cardiganshire in South Wales, but otherwise the breed’s origin is obscure. Extinct “turn-spit” dogs, low-bodied and short-legged dogs that turned spits (cooking fires) in English kitchens, may have influenced the dogs’ appearance. Originally, the Cardigan Welsh Corgis were used as family protectors and helpers in hunting, but it wasn’t until later that the Corgi found its true calling. 

There was a time when the amount of land occupied by cattle determined how much land would be provided to tenant farmers. Thus, the farmer had far-ranging and scattered stock. A dog was required that would drive the cattle rather than herd it. The Corgi was best suited for this purpose, as it would nip at the heels of the cattle and duck their kicks. The word Corgi, in fact, is said to be derived from “Cor,” meaning to gather and “Gi,” which means dog. 

The original Corgi was the size of a Welsh yard or a little more than an English yard, from the tail-tip to nose. In some parts of Cardiganshire, the dog was known as the Ci-llathed or “yard-long dog.” Later, when the Crown lands were split, fenced, and sold there was no need for drovers and the Corgi was left unemployed. Some kept it as a companion and guard but few could afford it. Soon it was on the verge of extinction, just as its late cousin the turn-spit had gone. Breeders tried to inter-breed it with other dogs, but the results were not successful. However, one exception was the inter-breeding with the brindle herder, which led to the production of the modern Cardigans. 

The first Cardigans were publicized in the 1920s. However, until 1934, the Pembroke Welsh Corgis and the Cardigan were regarded as one breed, and crossing the two was a common practice. 

The first Cardigan was seen in the United States in 1931, and four years later the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. Sadly, the Cardigan does not enjoy as much popularity as the Pembroke Corgi, but it still remains a tireless, well-behaved, and devoted companion.