Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Pembroke Welsh Corgi standing indoors in profile

The Spruce / Kevin Norris  

The Pembroke Welsh corgi is a small- to medium-sized herding dog of short stature and sturdy build. Known for its low-set body, large erect ears, and stubby tail, the Pembroke also has a reputation for being a wonderful companion. Pembroke Welsh corgis are achondroplastic, a dwarf breed with shortened legs. They are the shortest breed of the herding dog group.

This breed and the Cardigan Welsh corgi are often confused, despite the fact that the two are separate breeds. Pembrokes have slightly smaller builds than Cardigans, their ears are pointier, and they have short stubby tails, as opposed to the long tail of the Cardigan.

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Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding

HEIGHT: 10 to 12 inches

WEIGHT: 24 to 30 pounds

COAT: Medium-length double coat

COAT COLOR: Black and tan, red, sable, or fawn (all colors are typically seen with white markings)

LIFE SPAN: 12 to 13 years

TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, outgoing, playful, protective

HYPOALLERGENIC: No

ORIGIN: Wales

Characteristics of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh corgis are very intelligent, active, and loyal. Pembrokes tend to be good with other dogs and cats that are part of their household, especially if they were raised together. However, they can be territorial around other dogs and cats as the breed was developed to drive off strange dogs around the flocks. This might lead to aggression at the dog park or against animals that enter your yard.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Theories regarding the Pembroke Welsh corgi's origin vary among experts, but it is generally believed that the breed dates back to around the 10th century. One theory is that the breed's ancestors were brought to Wales by Flemish weavers. Another theory suggests they may have descended from Swedish Vallhund. Either way, they have been part of life in Wales for more than 1,000 years.

Pembrokes were developed in Wales where they were used as herding, companion, and/or guard dogs. There are obvious similarities between Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh corgis, and these breeds were actually crossed in the past. In 1934, the two were officially recognized by the English Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club (AKC) as separate breeds.

You may be familiar with the pet corgis kept by Queen Elizabeth II. She has been a Pembroke Welsh corgi owner since her father gave her one in 1933. They hold a special place at Buckingham Palace.

Some Pembrokes are born with only a stub of a tail. Traditionally, Pembroke Welsh corgis had their tails docked, as this would show the dog was a working dog and exempt from taxation as a pet dog. Docking is not required for show dogs in the U.K. but the AKC standard says tails should be docked no longer than 2 inches. Docking is illegal in many countries.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog show
Corgis taking part in a dog show at Olympia exhibition centre, London, 1975. Evening Standard / Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth with one of her pet corgis.
Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle with one of her Corgis  Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor Park photographing her corgis in 1960, in England.
Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor Park photographing her corgis in 1960, in England. Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Care

Pembroke Welsh corgis can be excellent, loyal, and happy companions for the right household, as long as their exercise, grooming, and training needs are met. Too much unreleased energy and a lack of training can lead to excessive barking and other behavior problems.

Exercise

Intelligent and hard-working, the Pembroke excels at herding and most dog sports. This breed requires plenty of exercise on a regular basis, which means a minimum of one hour a day.

Grooming

The Pembroke Welsh corgi has a medium-length topcoat with a short undercoat. The breed tends to shed a significant amount, both daily and seasonally in the spring and fall. Routine grooming is essential and mainly consists of hair brushing once or twice a week and as much as daily during shedding seasons. Bathing may help control the shedding.

Be sure to trim your dog's nails regularly to prevent tears and foot problems. Help your dog keep its teeth and gums healthy by brushing teeth daily or at least a couple of times per week.

Training

Early socialization is good for corgis as they tend to be naturally reserved around strangers. This trait makes them good watchdogs, but excessive fearfulness needs to be avoided. Because the Pembroke craves activities and challenges, training is an absolute must. Start with the basics, then consider training the dog to do a job, such as a watchdog or a herder.

Portrait of a Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Spruce / Kevin Norris 
Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog sitting on green velvet chair with gray throw blanket

The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

Closeup of a Pembroke Welsh Corgi's fur
The Spruce / Kevin Norris  

Common Health Problems

Help protect your corgi's spinal health, as they won't be able to climb and jump up on furniture as easily as dogs with longer legs. This can result in back strain or fractures. You may want to provide steps and ramps if your dog wants to get up and down from any height.

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. Some hereditary health problems can occur in the corgi breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

welsh corgis as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Your Pembroke will need two meals a day. The amount will depend on the dog's size, activity level, age, and other factors. It's best not to leave food out for free-feeding throughout the day, as this breed tends to put on weight. Obesity will shorten your dog's life and predispose it to other health conditions. Be sure to monitor your dog's weight and discuss it with your veterinarian. Ask for recommendations for a feeding schedule, amount, type of food, and exercise that will help keep your dog healthy.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Before bringing a Pembroke Welsh corgi into your home, it helps to have experience with how to patiently handle a strong-willed and independent pup. This breed may be tough to find and adopt from a shelter, but there are Pembroke Welsh corgi breeders located around the country. To adopt a dog of this breed, find a local breeder near you or contact a national organization that may be able to locate a rescue.

  • The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America is a terrific resource. It has branches of regional clubs, rescue and adoption information, and breeder contacts.
  • Rescue groups can be found in many states, and some regional rescue organizations cover large areas and can help you with locating a pet.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Overview

Pros
  • Rich breed history and royal association

  • Good family pet

  • Intelligent and hardworking

Cons
  • Daily shedding

  • Potential for back problems

  • Can easily become overweight

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide that the Pembroke Welsh corgi is the right dog for you, be sure to do plenty of research. Talk to other Pembroke owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

There are many dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.

FAQ
  • Does this breed make a good pet for young children?

    The Pembroke Welsh corgi has a tendency to herd by nipping at the ankles, which is a behavior that may make them less ideal for very young children. However, proper training and socialization of the dog combined with education about dogs for the kids can make all the difference.

  • Do Pembroke Welsh corgi's like to cuddle?

    Corgis are affectionate and attentive, and they are adorable and look naturally huggable. But as energetic herding dogs, they may not always like to be held, restrained, or cuddled. However, you may have a corgi that does like cuddling, but always honor how much your dog prefers to be touched.

  • Are Pembroke Welsh corgis good dogs for apartment living?

    Yes! You don't have to live in a home the size of the Queen's castle to have a corgi. A Pembroke is petite enough to fit well in a smaller space. It is also an adaptable dog that can be content to guard and watch the world go by from a window. However, a corgi will need adequate exercise so long walks around the block or park will be necessary.