by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 6, 2009)
Among some of the late-comers on the American dog scene is the Welsh Corgi, of which there are two types. The subject of this article is the type which comes from Pembrokeshire, in South Wales. It is a short-legged, often tailless, bright-eyed dog, whose droll appearance and good spirits have won him many friends.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is sometimes called the Ci Sawdl, or simply, the Welsh heeler. This latter describes his work, for he is used as a cattle driver and for rounding up the famous Welsh ponies.
It is said that the name Corgi comes from "cor" meaning dwarf, and "gi" meaning dog. Another explanation is that the name derives from "cor," meaning to "watch over" something. There is perhaps a better explanation.
Only three or four words have come down to us from the Celtic language, that is, which have become a part of our own language. Whiskey is one, and corgi is another. Corgi, in Celtic, meant simply "dog." But when the Norman Conquest of England came, the Normans brought in their own blooded dogs. The peasants were forbidden to own these blooded dogs, and the Normans dismissed the local dogs as simply mongrels. The native word corgi, "or" curgi, "took on the meaning of "mongrel dog," cur or "rnut," but the name survived in Wales as a term for a cattle dog.
Pembrokeshire fanciers state that their breed dates back at least to A.D. 920, when King Howell Dda codified the Welsh laws, and mentioned therein the Welsh cattle dogs. According to these fanciers, PembrokeWelsh Corgis have existed about as they are today ever since.
However, it was not until 1928 that the breed was admitted to the English Kennel Club Register. Three years before a Welsh Corgi Club had been organized. When members were unable to get along with Cardigan fanciers and all efforts to bring the two varieties together failed.
The dog began to appear in America about 1928. At that time a pamphlet was issued which gave a quite different origin for the modern breed. This pamphlet stated that the original and ancient dog had disappeared. In order to develop a breed which, it was assumed looked like this extinct dog, Smooth Collies, Dachshunds, and other breeds were crossed. This history has disappeared in favor of more romantic ones, but it may explain why such odd looking dogs appeared in some of the earlier litters in the 1920 to 1930 period.
Another thing which plagued British fanciers was the Pembroke Welsh Corgi's tail. Some dogs were born tailless, others with merely a stump, and still others with a rather longer tail than would be graceful in a dog so short. So a judge might find himself with a class of dogs with tails of all lengths, or no tails. As one British writer puts it, he might not know whether he had some very poor Pembrokeshire Corgis in front of him, or some very good Cardiganshire's. In America, this problem does not arise, since the long-tailed Pembrokeshire dogs are docked at birth.
Among the features that distinguish the Pembroke from the Cardigans, other than the tail, are the usual fox-red color of the former, the longer and harsher coat, and ears which are set slightly higher on the head. The former is also said to be smaller, though the standards of the two vary only a pound or two, and the height standards not at all.
The head resembles that of a fox, and wide between the ears. The male weighs from twenty to twenty-four pound while the female weighs from eighteen to twenty-two pounds. The height is usually twelve inches at the shoulder
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