The Welsh corgi is a small dog with a big history. It is believed that the Welsh corgi has origins going back as far as 1200 BC when they were first brought to Wales by Celtic migrants traveling from areas in central Europe. It’s hard to find an exact origin point, but we do know corgis have been bred for several centuries.
For much of their long history, the corgi was bred to herd cattle. More recently, corgis have been bred as house dogs. They make for a loving and playful family companion. Their usefulness as herders is due to their alertness as well as their ability to shift focus quickly while on the job. Corgis are very protective of their families which makes them good watchdogs, however, their small size makes them not so intimidating as guard dogs and they are not bred for this purpose.
No matter what your reason is for choosing a corgi, they have been bred with some very unique characteristics and a temperament that owners love. They are a bit stubborn and like to be the boss sometimes, but they are also loving and playful. Read more about the history of corgis and their unique bred abilities.
Ancient History of the Corgi
There are two types of Welsh corgis that are similar in appearance but have different points of origin. There has been much crossbreeding between the two breeds, but there are a few key characteristics that make them easy to tell apart. Their ears and tails are two ways to tell the breeds apart from each other.
The Cardigan Welsh corgi comes from the Cardiganshire county of Wales, in the United Kingdom. It is believed by some historians that this breed of corgi was brought to the area by the Celts as early as 1200 BC. The dog was called a Bronant at that time and it is believed that the dachshund is a descendent of this breed of corgi.
Other sources suggest that corgis are related to the Swedish Vallhund which is a small herding dog that originates in Scandinavia.
These two breeds certainly resemble each other. Whatever their exact origin, the corgi is a spitz-type of dog that was likely descended from a northern climate like that of Russia, Scandinavia, and the northern regions of North America. Spitz dogs have wolf-like features such as pointy ears and a thick double coat and evolved to endure harsh climates and cold winters.
The other type of corgi is the Pembroke Welsh corgi, named after the county of Pembrokeshire in Wales. It is thought that this breed was brought to Wales by Flemish weavers around 1100 AD.
Corgis have a long history as farm dogs due to their great herding instincts. They are a type of herding dog called heelers because of the way they nip at the heels of cattle in order to keep them moving in the right direction.
Modern History of the Corgi
In modern history, corgis are valued more for their companionship than for their herding skills. Corgi owners often have their dogs compete in agility competitions and herding trials and they do quite well.
The corgi breeds saw an increase in popularity throughout the 20th century as more people became aware of them through clubs. The Welsh Corgi Club was formed in 1925 and was geared towards the Pembroke corgi. A year later in 1926, the Cardigan Corgi club formed and in 1934 the Kennel Club recognized the two breeds as separate and distinct from one another.
Queen Elizabeth II of the British royal family is probably the world’s most well-known corgi owner and fan. She has had as many as 30 corgis throughout her life and as a result, they have become associated with British royalty. Queen Elizabeth does not want any of her dogs to outlive her after her death, so in 2015, she stopped breeding corgis. Her remaining corgi passed away in 2018.
What Were Corgis Originally Bred For?
For many years Welsh Corgis were bred to herd cattle in the agricultural areas of Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire in Wales, Great Britain. They are the smallest variety of herding dog and they have also been used to herd much smaller farm animals such as ducks, sheep, and goats.
You may find it strange that a dog so small could possibly boss around an animal as large as a cow. It is because of its small size that corgis make such good herders. They make for a very small target, so cattle would have a hard time kicking them.
They are also low enough to the ground to provide an annoying bite to the cow’s feet. Corgis are a type of herding dog known as “heelers” because they keep the cattle moving by nipping at their heels.
Corgis are small dogs with short legs that keep them low to the ground. They have heads shaped similar to that of a fox with erect ears. The Cardigan corgi has a long tail and rounded ears while the Pembroke corgi has a short tail and pointed ears.
In addition to their herding abilities, the protective nature of the dog makes them good watchdogs. Corgis stand about 10 to 12 inches high and weigh between 25 and 38 pounds.
What Are Corgis Bred for Today?
As the number of farm families decreased over the last hundred years or so, corgis aren’t employed as herders as much as they once were. Today, they are bred mostly as house dogs. They have a very agreeable temperament and are quite smart animals.
Corgis do have a reputation as being a bit stubborn, however. This can make it difficult to train them, but with patience, they can be trained as long as the owner starts at a young age.
Corgis are strong and athletic and some owners enter them into agility, herding and obedience competitions. They are loveable and affectionate dogs and make great companions. Their protective temperament makes them good guard animals as well, but they offer little protection other than their bark.
Natural Instincts and Impulses
Corgis are friendly and playful by nature. They are also loyal and protective and some owners find them to be a bit on the stubborn side as well. Their herding instincts make them very attuned to unfamiliar activities in and around the home. This instinct and their impulse to alert their owners when they sense something isn’t right is why they make good watchdogs. They are also very eager to please their owners so they make a good family dog.
Because they are very alert dogs, they do have the tendency to bark at things their human owners can’t see or didn’t hear. Some of this excessive barking behavior can be corrected with training when they’re still puppies.
Herder dogs also tend to be strong-willed and may try to be the alpha dog in the family. This can also be corrected with puppy training, but corgi owners love the independent spirit of this breed.
Besides Companionship, Can Corgis Do Anything Else?
Corgis are trainable, but they can be a bit stubborn. Many corgi owners enter their dogs into competitions. They can excel at agility competitions and due to their high intelligence, they can also complete rigorous tracking exercises.
You can easily teach a corgi to do simple tricks like shaking hands (or paws). The important things a corgi will need to learn is how to spend time in a kennel, how to walk on a leash, and how to sit, stay, and heel. These are important commands for any dog and with time and patience, and a few treats, your corgi will master them all.
Why People Love to Have a Corgi?
Corgis are fun-loving dogs that are pretty cute too. They are very energetic and love to play which is what draws them to many families with younger children. They are smart and have very agreeable personalities too. While a corgi would love to run free on a farm chasing after sheep and goats, they do quite well in apartments and urban settings too.
They do need to be exercised regularly and they also need mental stimulation so they don’t become bored. And they love attention, so owners who can reciprocate will have a great relationship with their corgi.
Why Corgis are Not Bred as Service Animals?
While corgis are certainly intelligent and they love to work, they do not make good service animals. This is due to their herding instincts which requires them to shift their focus constantly. They are also very strong-willed, which is another characteristic of herders.
Service animals need to resist distraction so they can be useful to their owners. Corgis lack this focus and ability to direct attention to one thing for a long period of time.
While most organizations that train service animals do not use corgis, some have found success as hearing dogs. They certainly do have great hearing and like to sound the alert when they hear something their human owners can’t.
Why Corgis Are Not Bred as Guard Dogs
Corgis are protective of their owners. They are also very alert dogs and will signal when they feel something isn’t right. This makes them good watchdogs to have around the house, but for security, they are quite small and unlikely to frighten intruders in the same ways a Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler, or German shepherd.
These dogs are trained to stop intruders while a corgi may only alert their owners to their presence. Some dogs make good watchdogs, but not guard dogs and the corgi is one such example.