The Breed History
Though often considered an offshoot of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi family, the Pembroke Corgis may trace further back, to about the year 1107. Various breeds are thought to have contributed to the corgi type including Shipperke, Finnish Spitz, Keeshond, Swedish Vallhunds, and Samoyed. Cross breeding with Cardigans occurred, and only in the last 75 years have the registries bred separately. The Pembroke lines matured in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Corgi is thought to mean dog in Celtic, or in Welsh, dwarf dog. This breed was brought to the public's attention as the chosen pets of Queen Elizabeth. AKC first recognized Pembrokes in 1934.
Breeding for Function
Bred originally as cattle driving dogs, they are also excellent watchdogs, and are successful at obedience trials. Their talents also include tracking and agility. They are valued for their loyal companionship.
Height at Withers: female 10-12" (25.4-30.5 cm), male 10-12" (25.4-30.5 cm)
Weight: females under 28 lb (12.5 kg), males under 30 lb (13.5 kg).
Coat: A short to medium length, it is composed of an undercoat and coarser outer coat. The dog is shown basically untrimmed. White is acceptable in markings of chest, leg, neck and small amounts only on face. Body colors are black and tan, red, fawn, and sable. Predominantly white coats, or coats with a bluish/smoky cast are serious faults. Some dogs are tri-colored.
Longevity: 12-15 years.
Points of Conformation: The Pembroke is finer boned and smaller than the Cardigan, but still gives the impression of strength. Pembrokes have pointed erect ears and are short-tailed, while the Cardigan's ears are less pointed and they have a long tail. A low-set dog, Pembrokes are well known for their agility and stamina. They are longer than high, topline is level, neck is long, and the head is large with moderate stop and fox-like proportions with a keen expression. The eyes are oval, oblique and brown, and the nose is black. Ribs are deep and well sprung. Tails are usually docked short, though puppies are sometimes born with naturally short tails. Forelegs are bowed due to the chondrodystrophic type of the breed. Feet are well arched, and the dewclaws are generally removed all around. They move with a long low stride.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
This is considered an ideal small housedog because of their friendly intelligence. They are also reported to be loud vigilant alarm barkers. Breed standards are firm that the dog should not be shy or vicious. They may try to herd their humans by nipping at heels, but can be trained away from this behavior. They are devoted, and are a bit more active on average than the Cardigan Corgis, though perhaps gentler on average. The coat just needs routine grooming and they are considered moderate shedders. At the very least, a few brisk walks daily are needed, and they should only be turned out into fenced enclosures. Obedience training is strongly recommended, along with early training and socialization. They need close human contact, and if left alone for long periods, they may chew or bark.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Weight (kg): 15 (8-19)
Heart rate (bpm): 120 (80-160)
LVPWD (mm): 8 (6-10)
LVPWS (mm): 12 (8-13)
LVD (mm) 32: (28-40)
LVS (mm) 19: (12-23)
FS (%) 44: (33-57)
EPSS (mm): 2 (0-5)
RVd (mm) 10: (6-14)
IVSd (mm) 8: (6-9)
IVSs (mm) 12: (10-14)
AOD (mm) 18: (15-22)
LAS (mm) 21: (12-24)
LVPWD, LV posterior wall dimension at end-diastole; LVPWS, LV posterior wall thickness at end-systole; LVD, LV chamber dimension at end-diastole; LVS, LV chamber dimension at end-systole; FS, percent fractional shortening; EPSS, E-point septal separation; RVD, RV chamber dimension at end-diastole; IVSd, interventricular septal thickness at end-diastole; IVSs, interventricular septal thickness at end-systole; AOD, aortic root at end-diastole; LAS, left atrium at end-systole; N, number of animals.
Natural Bob-Tail: Pembroke Welsh Corgis exist due to the heterozygous dominant expression of the T gene. Most genetic studies find that homozygous dominant individuals are pre-natally lethal. However, one study found that homozygous dominant Pembroke Welsh Corgis were born tailless, with anorectal atresia and multiple spinal defects. Due to this finding, natural bob-tail Pembroke Welsh Corgis should not be bred together, and should only be bred to normal-tailed dogs. This will produce 50% bob-tail and 50% normal-tail offspring.
Fluffy Coat Length: An autosomal recessive condition causing a long, fluffy coat exists in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Dogs with this coat type are not eligible for competition. A genetic test is available. In a UK study, 35.7% of litters were born via Cesarean section.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 18.4% affected.
von Willebrand's Disease Type 1 (vWD): Autosomal recessive genetic disorder causing a mild bleeding syndrome. A direct genetic test is available from VetGen, reporting 6% affected, and 37% carrier in the breed.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 3.0% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Pembroke Welsh Corgis have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 19.19% of Pembroke Welsh Corgis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. Dorn reports a 9.01x increased odds ratio versus other breeds.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds, geographic, and generalized retinal dysplasia with detachment are recognized in the breed. Reported in 4.92% of Pembroke Welsh Corgis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. Suspected autosomal recessive inheritance. CERF does not recommend breeding any Pembroke Welsh Corgi with retinal dysplasia.
Cataracts: Anterior, posterior, and nuclear cortex intermediate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 3.15% of Pembroke Welsh Corgis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a cataract.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 2.1% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 1.49% of Pembroke Welsh Corgis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Serious neurological condition where disk degeneration and rupture into spinal nerves and the spinal cord causes pain and possible paralysis. Requires immediate veterinary attention. Occurs at an increased frequency in the breed.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Affected dogs show an insidious onset of upper motor neuron (UMN) paraparesis at an average age of 11.4 years. The disease eventually progresses to severe tetraparesis. Affected dogs have normal results on myelography, MRI, and CSF analysis. Necropsy confirms the condition. Reported at a frequency of 0.58% in Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Unknown mode of inheritance. A direct genetic test for an autosomal recessive DM susceptibility gene is available. All affected dogs are homozygous for the gene, however, only a small percentage of homozygous dogs develop DM. OFA testing shows 39% carrier and 52% homozygous "at risk" for the DM susceptability gene.
Bladder Stones: The breed has a predisposition to develop bladder stones. Stone composition is not identified. Dorn reports a 4.20x increased odds ratio versus other breeds.
Cystinuria/Cystine Bladder Stones: Caused by a metabolic abnormality in cystine metabolism. Welsh Corgis have an increased risk for developing cystine bladder stones. Treat with surgical removal and life-long medical therapy. Unknown mode of inheritance in this breed.
Perineal Hernia: An Australian study identified the Corgi breed as most commonly affected with perineal hernias. The mean age of affected dogs was 9.4 years. Treatment is herniorrhaphy surgery.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): Polygenically inherited congenital heart disorder, where a fetal vessel remains open after birth, causing a mixing of oxygenated and unoxygenated blood. Affected dogs are usually stunted, and have a loud heart murmur. Diagnosis with Doppler ultrasound. Treat with surgery. Some Pembroke Welsh Corgis have been reported with concurrent pulmonary hypertension or plexogenic pulmonary arteriopathy.
Steroid Responsive Meningitis/Arteritis: Affected dogs present with apathy, fever, delayed proprioception, ataxia, and/or increased head and cervical pain. Histopathology shows necrotizing vasculitis in the CNS, with perivascular granulomatous inflammation. Treat with steroids. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Brachygnathism, Corneal Dystrophy, Cryptorchidism, Cutaneous Asthenia, Dermatomyositis, Epilepsy, Methemoglobin Reductase Deficiency, Narcolepsy, Prognathism, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Telangiectasia: Multiple vascular lesions involving kidneys and various other organs consisting of cavernous, blood-filled spaces lined by endothelial cells with various amounts of mural collagen. Described in eight Pembroke Welsh Corgi dogs. The most common clinical sign associated with this condition is hematuria.
Juvenile Nephropathy: Two related Pembroke Welsh corgi puppies presented at three and five months of age, respectively, for lethargy, diarrhoea, poor body condition, polyuria and proteinuria. Based upon the clinical presentation, urinalysis and serum biochemistry, chronic renal failure was diagnosed. Renal histopathology was consistent with juvenile nephropathy.
Tongue Atrophy due to Polymyositis: A three-year-old female Pembroke Welsh Corgi exhibited symptomatic tongue atrophy, dysphagia and excessive salivation following a bout of masticatory polymyositis. The dog died of aspiration pneumonia 2 years later.
Tests of Genotype: Direct tests for vWD and coat colors are available from VetGen.
Direct test for an autosomal recessive DM susceptibility gene is available from the OFA.
Direct test for the fluffy coat gene is available from the Animal Health Trust, DDC Veterinary and VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes hip radiographs, and CERF eye examination. Recommended testing includes patella examination, elbow radiographs, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, genetic test for vWD, and cardiac examination.
- Breed name synonyms: Pembroke, Corgi
- Registries: AKC, CKC, UKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 24 (8,102 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America: www.pembrokecorgi.org
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Association (Canada): www.pembrokewelshcorgis.ca
The Welsh Corgi League (UK): www.pembrokewelshcorgileague.co.uk
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