7 Welsh Dog Breeds for Canine Fans

These dog breeds are all native to Cymru

Pembroke Welsh Corgi standing

Elfin Fox / Pixabay

All dogs from Wales have one thing in common—a laborious past—each had a job to do as herders, vermin catchers, otterhounds, hunters, or game retrievers. Most of the Welsh breeds have strong working drives and tend to be energetic. A majority will be best suited to homes that enjoy leading an active lifestyle. Several breeds have gone extinct over the past century, but seven from Wales in the western part of the United Kingdom continue to thrive.

Corgis are the most popular of the Welsh dog breeds. Short legs and fluffy butts aside, the history of these hardworking herding dogs dates back to 1107, when the Vikings brought their furry descendants to the Pembrokeshire area of Wales. This dog is one of the world’s oldest (and shortest) herding dogs.

Here are seven Welsh dogs that live on in the hearts, minds, and homes in Wales and the rest of the world.

Tip

Most of the Welsh dogs were bred to do tasks; most of them are energetic, driven, and thrive on running exercise and challenges. Before you get a dog, make sure you can meet that particular dog's physical and mental needs, or else you might end up with a canine buddy that gets depressed or destructive around the house.

  • 01 of 07

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi on a beach

    Purple Collar Pet Photography / Getty Images

    Corgi means "dwarf dog" in Welsh. Of the two corgi types, the Pembroke is the most popular. They're in the top 20 breeds ranked by the AKC and have reached fame on social media. They have a rich history as versatile herding, guarding, and companion dogs. Their modern-day popularity also can be largely attributed to Queen Elizabeth II. She's an avid enthusiast of the breed. Despite their short legs and squat appearance, Pembroke Corgis are brilliant and energetic, making them good dog sport competitors. They can be wary of strangers and are sometimes territorial. They can be prolific shedders, so people with allergies might want to pass on this dog.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 24 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length double coat in black and tan, red, sable, or fawn with white markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

  • 02 of 07

    Welsh Springer Spaniel

    Welsh Springer Spaniel in water

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    Welsh Springer Spaniels are close relatives of the more popular English Springer Spaniel. The distinctive red and white dog was explicitly developed during the 18th century by gentry using hunting dogs on their estates. They're enthusiastic, driven, strong swimmers, and have keen noses. They make great family dogs if you lead an active, outdoorsy lifestyle. These dogs need lots of exercise and enrichment, and they could be rather bouncy for a family with young children. Welshies form strong attachments to their people and become prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long stretches.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 19 inches

    Weight: 35 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Soft, straight, flat coat, with some feathering; red with white markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 03 of 07

    Cardigan Welsh Corgi

    Welsh Cardigan Corgi on rocks at a beach

    FatFairfax / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The Cardigan Welsh corgi hails from the coastal Cardiganshire region of the country and was prized for its herding and guarding qualities. Unlike its Pembroke corgi relatives, the Cardigan has a long, full tail, and they're also bigger and heavier set and come in more coat colors. Cardigans are affectionate and playful with their families, but they can be prolific barkers and wary around strangers. They are clever, food-orientated dogs, and most respond well to positive reinforcement training methods.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 10.5 to 12.5 inches

    Weight: 25 to 38 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length, dense, water-resistant double coat that comes in red, sable, brindle, black or blue merle, with or without white markings on the neck, chest, legs, muzzle, tail, and face

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 04 of 07

    Welsh Terrier

    Welsh Terrier standing on grass

    Capture Light / Getty Images

    The Welsh terrier is an old terrier breed that rose in popularity during the 18th century for being versatile, tenacious, determined vermin catchers. They were popular with hunters and farmers in the rugged Welsh countryside. These little dogs have big, spunky personalities and aren't the best choice for a novice dog owner, unless you're up for a challenge and will be dedicated to training. They are energetic, assertive, independent, and playful, requiring plenty of exercise and enrichment. They have a high prey drive and may not be suited to living with small furries.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: Around 15 inches

    Weight: Around 20 pounds

    Coat and Color: Dense, hard, wiry coat with a soft and short undercoat; tan and black markings, but shading can vary

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Sealyham Terrier

    Sealyham Terrier in forest shrubs

    Okforlicz / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Sealyhams, although once very popular, are now one of the rarest of all terrier breeds. They were developed in the 19th century by the owner of Sealyham House in Wales, who wanted a small, tenacious, hardy dog that could support his otterhounds in flushing out pesky otters from their riverside lairs; they were depleting the rivers of fish. They're affectionate, playful, and low-energy with a low-shedding coat. They exhibit typical terrier stubbornness, are prone to guarding behavior, and have a high prey drive. Their popularity soared in the United States in the mid-20th century when Hollywood celebrities, like Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant, were Sealy owners. Over the years, their popularity has diminished, making them an endangered native breed.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: Around 10.5 inches

    Weight: 21 to 24 pounds

    Coat and Color: Small, muscular, sturdy and low-set; broad head and full beard; soft, thick undercoat and hard, wiry topcoat which usually comes in all white or with lemon, tan, or badger markings around the ears and face

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 07

    Welsh Sheepdog

    Welsh Border Collie dog lying on grass field
    Andrew Linscott / Getty Images

    The Welsh sheepdog is a herding breed common to north and central Wales. Unlike other herding dogs, they can work independently, without the guidance of a shepherd. They can corral sheep, goats, pigs, and horses over the countryside. Border collies have become popular in the region and have driven down the numbers of the breed. A unique quality of Welsh sheepdogs is that they are described as loose-eyed, not fixing the stock with their gaze like the strong-eyed border collie. Loose-eyed dogs control the herd with their presence rather than their intense, fixed stare. The Welsh Sheepdog Society formed in 1997 to resurrect the breed and keep the population healthy.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not recognized

    Height: 16.5 to 17 inches

    Weight: 36 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short or long coat, often with a dense undercoat; colors include black, tan, red, and blue merle

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 07 of 07

    Welsh Hound

    Foxhound.
    John B R Davies / Getty Images

    The Welsh hound is a native breed to the British Isles; it looks like an English foxhound. From medieval times through the early part of the 20th century, bards sang odes praising the hounds' qualities. The Welsh hound is a scent hunting dog that hunts in packs and has adapted to the rocky, mountainous terrain in Wales. It is fast, has endurance, and can almost "talk" by using specific vocalizations with the pack and the hunter. Although fox hunting is now banned, the breed still participates in drag hunting, a manufactured form of hunting (without killing a fox at the end). A calm and friendly breed, they also make good house pets. They are hard to train and require consistency and firm guidance but are extremely loyal, gentle, and tolerant of small children and other animals.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Scenthound (UKC); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 24 inches

    Weight: 70 to 75 pounds

    Coat and Color: Coat is hard and wiry, red with white patches

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Breeds to Avoid

Welsh dogs have shared traits: They are spritely, intelligent, and purpose-driven. The opposite of Welsh dogs are low-maintenance breeds that need minimal exercise and prefer sleeping the day away, including chihuahuas, mastiffs, and French bulldogs. Perhaps more aptly described as lapdogs and couch potatoes, these dogs still require exercise and companionship but are less stressed than other breeds if they don't get constant attention and tons of outdoor time.