The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is older than the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, with the Pembroke being bred out of the Cardigan. Both Corgi varieties may be a descendant of the Keeshond, Pomeranian, Schipperkes and the Swedish Vallhund.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis are one of the oldest breeds in the United Kingdom, with early examples of the breed reported in Wales some three thousand years ago. The Cardi was originally used simply to protect herds of cattle en route from Wales to English markets, but in time the early Welsh drovers realized the utility of the Cardi as a herder and began using the breed in this capacity. A later cross with traditional Welsh sheepdogs increased the Cardi's herding capabilities still further, resulting in the Cardigan Welsh Cardi as we know it today.
The original Cardigan Welsh Corgi breed was split during Viking invasions near the end of the first millennium AD, when members of the Spitz breed (which accompanied the Vikings) cross-bred with original Welsh Corgis, resulting in two different strains: the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the closely-related Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Although some cross-breeding between these two distinct varieties of Corgi occurred--encouraged by the refusal of English kennel clubs at the start of the twentieth century to consider the Pembroke and the Cardi as two distinct breeds--the breeds were finally separated in 1934, and the breed lines have remained reasonably pure ever since.
Some say the older Cardigan was from Cardiganshire, brought there by the Celts in 1200 BC, whereas the Pembroke's ancestors were introduced by Flemish weavers to the Celts in the 1100s. Whatever the case may be, the Cardigan and the Pembroke Welsh Corgis were interbred and considered the same breed up until 1934 when a show judge thought they were too different and separated them into two different breeds. After they were separated the Pembroke gained in popularity and is to this day more popular than the Cardigan.
The name "Corgi" is specific to that type of dog breed in Cymreig (Welsh). Dog in Cymreig (Welsh) is 'Ci' or if it is softly mutated 'Gi,' hence Corgi. The Pembroke was actually recognized by the AKC a year before the Cardigan. The Cardigan was recognized in 1935 and the Pembroke in 1934. Corgis were used as cattle drivers, vermin hunters and farm guards.
They drove cattle by barking and nipping at the cattle's heels rather than just herding them. The dog's low stature helped him roll out of the way of kicking cows.
• Cardigans are popular in the horse world, in part because of Queen Elizabeth’s love for the Corgi. • Intelligent, active and stubborn. • Even though they are a somewhat small dog these guys have a lot of enery • Require regular, solid exercise every day. • Cardigans are known to be vocal and will bark at everything. • Love eating, prone to overeating and gaining weight. Needs to be monitored. • Housetraining can be a challenge, so crate training is advised. • Love food, so can be prone to overeating. Their feeding amounts need to be monitored. • Cardigans are easy to train and eager to learn. • Great with children and other pets. • Corgis can be ‘nippy’ towards strangers who approach them too quickly.
Cardis are above all active. They have a naturally high energy level (a side effect of their long history as herding dogs), and they're willing to use this energy as often as possible. Thankfully, they aren't nervous as a rule--a problem with many equally-energetic terrier breeds--and will only bark at strangers and others that they perceive as immediate threats. Their destructive behavior when they feel themselves abandoned by their humans is also minimal, although sometimes surprisingly effective (given the Cardi's inherent intelligence.)
Cardis love problem-solving and other intellectual challenges, and are natural candidates for heavy obedience training and trick-performing. This intelligence isn't coupled with much native skittishness or aggressiveness, however (with one exception, as we'll see), which makes the dogs fairly stable, ideal household pets. Their intelligence needs to be constantly exercised, however, or Cardis will start becoming restless and will start turning their intelligence toward what one might call "bad ends" (stealing food, finding their way out of closed apartments or yards, and other unwanted behavior.)
One serious problem with the breed's temperament is, to paraphrase Sartre, the problem of Other Dogs--the Cardi's wariness and aggressiveness when faced with other dogs. This is a natural side effect of the dog's history--herding dogs were frequently responsible for driving off any predatory dogs and wolves who threatened the flock--but that doesn't make it any less irritating or dangerous for you as a Cardi owner. You'll want to carefully supervise your dog in order to prevent any fights with other dogs which could result in injury either to the other dog or to your own. Other animals and children are less of a problem--the Cardi tends to perceive them as members of the flock, rather than as predators--and Cardis will generally protect and socialize well with them.
Cardis are an extremely healthy breed compared to other dogs of comparable size and grouping. hip dysplasia is potential problem, as are mild eye problems ( Glaucoma and Progressive Retinal Atrophy in particular) in later years. The most dangerous ailment a Cardi faces, however, is degenerative myelopathy (DM), a spinal complaint most commonly found in German Shepherds.
Although DM is a moderately rare condition, it's still a good idea to start having your Corgi checked by a vet starting at around five years of age.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis do not require much grooming, as a rule. Two sessions of brushing a week should suffice to remove unwanted dead hair, which will not only keep your dog clean, but will minimize shedding (which happens seasonally, but moderately.) During the shedding season, it's often a good idea to start brushing the Cardi on a daily basis rather than a bi-weekly, but if you don't mind cleaning up the extra hair there's no major health reason to brush your Cardi that frequently.
Bathing should be kept to a minimum with the Cardi--their coats are naturally weatherproof, and too-frequent bathing can result in a lessening of this weather-resistant capacity. Too-frequent bathing can also result in a lessening of one of the best features of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi's coat--its relative lack of dog odor. Bathing not only brings out that dog odor, but progressively erodes the special oils that keep the Cardi's coat generally free of unpleasant smells. So don't do it--or at least don't do it more than once a twice or year, and only when the dog seems to truly need it. (Fortunately, the Cardi is a naturally clean breed of dog with an authentic dislike of messiness, and they'll take care of most small to medium sized messes on their fur or person on their own. You'll only have to step in for the large messes--or for the messes the Cardi simply doesn't notice or mind.)
One note related to the overall appearance of your dog: Cardis have a tendency toward overeating and obesity--if you let them overeat. In order to keep your dog looking his or her best--and in order to maintain his or her long-term health--make sure to manage the Cardi's diet carefully (and make sure to keep any fattening treats well out of reach of your intelligent, problem-solving dog.)
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi was essentially bred for exercise--the daily exercise of herding cattle along the long roads from Wales to England--and the breed's high energy level remains to this day. Because of this native energy, one could argue that you don't need to do a great deal to exercise your Cardi. They're very good at amusing themselves indoors, require only one or two walks a day, and don't tend to "act out" in destructive ways when they don't get outside often enough. It seems, on the surface, like this is the perfect low-maintenance breed.
But the truth is that the Cardi requires a higher level of dedication than this. For one, the Cardi's metabolism can't quite match its energy level when the Cardi is kept indoors most of the time--which is why Cardis have a tendency toward obesity and overeating. You'll need to exercise your Cardi in order to minimize these problems and keep your Cardi not only trim, but healthy.
Some extra walking will do the trick for this if you're in an urban area, coupled with some off-leash time at a nearby park--if your Cardi is generally well-trained and obedient, you can trust him or her off-leash for surprisingly long periods of time without any unwanted chasing or fighting behavior. (After all, Cardis were bred to stay with herds for long cattle drives--they would hardly be useful for this purpose if they instinctively darted at every rat or squirrel they saw along the road from Wales.) If you're in a rural area, take every opportunity you can to give your Cardi some off-leash time and some exercise in his larger environment. The exception to this rule comes when you're in an area with other dogs--the Cardi's aggressiveness toward strange dogs precludes off-leash exercise in these situations, unless you enjoy dragging a snarling, growling dog back from the brink of a fight.
The Cardi's active and furious intelligence also requires you to give the Cardi more exercise and stimulation that you might think strictly necessary. The Cardis are extremely smart, problem-solving dogs, and if left alone their exercise might turn toward directions and goals that you, as a homeowner, don't particularly like: figuring out how to get those treats out of the doggie jar on the kitchen counter, for example, or other unintentionally destructive acts. By focusing on active, energetic training--tricks, ball-chasing, and other stimulating yet tiring activities in particular--you can keep your Cardi fit while at the same time keep his or her intelligence too occupied to focus on the problems that you don't particularly want him or her to solve.
Cardis are highly intelligent, highly athletic, and highly trainable--providing that the trainer knows what he or she is doing.
Cardis' natural cleanliness makes them easy to housetrain as puppies, and their natural abilities with problem-solving makes them ideal candidates for teaching both basic commands (heel, sit, and the like) as well as more complicated commands and tricks. As with all dog training, it's most effective to use positive methods of reinforcement (treats and rewards of attention and play) as opposed to negative methods (punishment or harsh language)--the Cardi's natural intelligence will naturally latch on to the gist of the trick or command he or she is being taught, and more than likely the knowledge itself (and the dog's pride in it) will be its own reward. (If you do offer a food reward, however, make sure that you do so only sparingly--Cardis have a tendency to obesity as a breed, and it's difficult to stop offering food rewards for successful obedience once you start offering them.)
In fact, Cardis are so trainable--and so instinctively good at their basic, instinctual drives toward herding behavior--that it's a good idea to continue training them and offering intellectual challenges long after basic obedience is achieved. This isn't just fun for you and your dog, but it's also practical: the Cardi's basic herding behavior involves biting, nipping, and occasional barking, and if you don't provide the Cardi with intellectual challenges to distract from those basic drives, the Cardi will probably fall back on them simply to keep his or her active brain busy. So keep your Cardi well-trained and be willing to constantly introduce new challenges into his or her environment in order to spare yourself some occasional grief at your Cardi's sometimes overabundant energy.
Because of their basic herding instincts, Cardis are exceptionally good with children and can often act as caretakers and protectors for extremely young family members. However, Cardis are not quite so good with other household animals, and they should be introduced to their prospective housemates at an early age in order to ensure adequate socialization and a minimum of dominance struggling or unwanted "herding" behavior. This holds especially true with other dogs--socialization with other household dogs should be done very, very early, and it's probably a good idea to tell your dog-owning friends to leave their canine pals at home when they come for a visit, no matter how well-trained your Cardi might be.