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Cardigan Welsh Corgi vs Pembroke Welsh Corgi: The Two Types of Corgis

Oliver Jones

Corgis, the cute but stout little dogs from Wales and a favorite of British royalty, are now becoming more popular in American homes. But before you go out and buy one, there is something very important that you should know.

Typically, these dogs are just referred to as ‘Corgis,’ but were you aware that there are actually two very distinct breeds? Yep, there’s the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. The two are actually very similar, so it isn’t that easy to tell them apart.

But upon closer inspection, you’ll see that there are slight differences in both the appearance and personality of each type of Corgi. Knowing the differences between the two breeds of Corgi can help you make the best decision when looking for a lifelong companion.

We’ll share everything you need to know before deciding between a Cardigan Welsh Corgi and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

divider-dog pawVisual Differences

Cardigan Welsh Corgi & Pembroke Welsh Corgi side by side
Left-Cardigan Welsh Corgi (Pixabay); Right-Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Pixabay)

At a Glance

Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Average height (adult): 10.5–12.5 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 25–38 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 1–2 hours per day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Affectionate, Loyal, Smart
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Average height (adult): 10–12 inches
  • Average weight (adult): up to 30 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–13 years
  • Exercise: 1– 2hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: With supervision
  • Trainability: Affectionate, Alert, Smart

divider-pawCardigan Welsh Corgi Overview

Cardigan Welsh Corgis
Image Credit: Rosewait, Pixabay

When you think of a herding dog, we’re pretty sure a Corgi isn’t the first breed that comes to mind. After all, you’d think their short stature would make them ineffective at herding cattle. But because of their shortness, Corgis were able to drive herds of cattle by nipping at their heels.

Even though both breeds of Corgi are classified as herding dogs, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi has been on the job for a lot longer. The Cardigan breed has been hanging around the British Isles longer than the Pembroke, having come to Wales around 1200 B.C.

The name ‘Cardigan’ comes from the breed’s place of origin: Cardiganshire. But even though both types of Corgis have origins in Wales, the two breeds share no common ancestors. Cardigan Welsh Corgis are actually more closely related to Dachshunds than they are Pembroke Corgis.

Knowing the history of Cardigan Corgis doesn’t really help to differentiate them, but their tails will. Cardigan Corgis have tails, while Pembrokes do not. This is the biggest identifier when trying to tell the two breeds apart. And although they still have the characteristic Corgi stature, Cardigans can get slightly bigger in both height and weight.

Personality

Corgis are known for being affectionate and playful. Though small, they have big personalities and will love their families tremendously. But of the two breeds, the Cardigan Corgi is definitely the quieter and less energetic one. They aren’t always as ready and willing to participate in activities. They take a more thoughtful approach instead of having a “jump right in” attitude.

But that’s not to say that they won’t bark at unexpected noises or danger. Their large ears make them very alert, so Cardigan Corgis make good watchdogs who might take the time to assess a stranger before begging for pets and love.

Even though this breed does take a slightly slower approach to activities, that doesn’t mean they are lazy. Rather, they just enjoy spending time with their humans, regardless of whether that means laying on the couch all day or going for a walk in the park. Like all dogs, Cardigan Corgis need their exercise, but it doesn’t have to be anything extensive or high-energy.

Training

As evidenced by their herding history, Cardigan Corgis are smart and highly trainable dogs. Because of their intelligence and affection towards people, training is a must in order to teach them how to act appropriately in social settings.

Training is especially important because although they are great around kids and other pets, they may have a tendency to nip at them due to their history with herding cattle. Cardigan Corgis may be more hesitant to respond to training, but once they warm up, they are very easy to train.

Another one of their key traits is that they are highly adaptable. If you’re unfamiliar with training a dog or feel as if your training is ineffective, try a professional dog trainer. The adaptability and socialness of Cardigan Corgis should allow them to respond easily and quickly, even if the person training them isn’t their owner.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi_Shutterstock_Welshea
Image credit: Welshea, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Healthy Cardigan Welsh Corgis can live an average of 12 to 15 years. They tend to have very few health problems, but the potential health conditions they do have are conditions that could affect all dog breeds, such as hip dysplasia. Having your Corgi undergo hip evaluations regularly can help to prevent this issue.

Their “long and low” body type can also lead them susceptible to back problems. One particular problem to look out for in Cardigan Corgis is Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). With DM, the spinal cord degenerates which can eventually lead to paralysis. Usually, DM is only found in older Cardigans, but there is no treatment and no cure. It’s important to see your vet when you notice any discomfort or changes to your Corgi’s behavior.

Cardigan Corgis require very little care as far as grooming goes. Weekly brushing can keep their fur looking pretty and can prevent it from becoming matted. Nails should be trimmed regularly as well. They aren’t particularly prone to shedding but may shed during the summer months. It is not necessary to shave or trim their fur.

This particular breed of Corgi can become overweight really easily. Feeding them between ¾ to 1½ cups of food per day divided up between two meals should keep them from becoming overweight. But, you should consider their age and activity level, as well as closely monitor their weight when determining how much to feed them. Your vet can recommend specific amounts based on those conditions.

Suitable for:

Cardigan Welsh Corgis are a great match for families that have lots of love and affection to give. They will turn that affection right around to you. If you have kids or another dog, a new Cardigan Corgi should get along with them just fine. These dogs aren’t super active, so it isn’t necessary for a family to be outdoorsy and adventurous. But they do need a family that is willing to play and spend some time offering lots of strokes and love.

divider-pawPembroke Welsh Corgi Overview

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Image Credit: Welshea, Shutterstock

Pembroke Welsh Corgis were originally used as herding dogs just like Cardigans were, but they haven’t been around as long. Pembroke Corgis were introduced almost 2,000 after Cardigans, in 1107 AD. Although they haven’t been around as long, they are the more popular breed of Corgi, ranking 13th out of 200 breeds.

The name ‘Pembroke’ comes from their place of origin in Wales: Pembrokeshire. They have no ancestors in common with Cardigan Corgis. And instead of being related to Dachshunds like the previously mentioned Cardigan, Pembroke Corgis are more closely related to Chow-Chows, Pomeranians, and Norwegian Elkhounds.

Pembrokes can be distinguished from Cardigan Corgis based on the fact that they don’t have tails. They are also smaller in both average height and weight and have less diverse coat colors. Usually, Pembroke Corgis are going to be white and either red or sable.

Personality

Pembroke Corgis are very friendly and tend to have more energy than Cardigan Corgis. They enjoy getting outside, are more outgoing, and won’t hesitate to jump in at the first sign of playtime. Pembroke Corgis are also slightly more alert and the louder of the two breeds.

They make excellent watchdogs but aren’t as reserved when it comes to strangers. They are more fearless, so new people may not always be seen as a threat and will instead be greeted with lots of love and affection. And as much as they love their humans, Pembroke Corgis prefer to be independent at times.

Being more energetic means that playtime is a necessity. They will still lay around the house with you, but they love to run around outside also. Pembroke Corgis are very fast runners who are also agile despite being low to the ground. Longer walks and even more adventurous activities such as hiking are activities that this particular Corgi breed will enjoy.

Training

Pembroke Corgis are intelligent dogs that have a carefree and independent attitude. Since they are more energetic and friendly, helping them develop proper social habits is easier when they are younger. It’s best to train them as puppies in order to achieve success before adulthood. But, a professional trainer can be effective into adulthood as well.

They tend to have more of a “mind of their own” than Cardigan Corgis. With that being said, they will do fine around small children as long as they are supervised. Again, they may try to nip as a reflection of their skills for herding. But, they are willing to please their owners and can be very responsive to training especially when they have positive reinforcement and are surrounded by people who will provide them with affection.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Image Credit: ElfinFox, Pixabay

Health & Care

Pembroke Corgis live an average of 12 to 13 years and are relatively healthy dogs. Like other dog breeds and their Cardigan counterparts, Pembroke Corgis aren’t immune to hip dysplasia and eye disorders. Regular hip evaluations and eye screenings by your vet can help diagnose and treat any potential problems early. Degenerative Myelopathy also seems to be prevalent in Pembroke Corgis as well.

Pembroke Corgis also tend to shed more than Cardigan Corgis, especially during the warmer months. A quick brushing daily instead of weekly can help to alleviate some of the shedding. Bathing and nail trimming don’t have to happen as often; once a month will do. It’s also recommended to clean their ears and teeth regularly to prevent any ear infections and dental problems.

This particular breed of Corgi isn’t as prone to being overweight, but your dog gaining weight is still something that you will want to try to prevent. Again, ¾ to 1½ cups of food divided into two meals is enough to sustain your Pembroke Corgi without causing him to become overweight. But if you do suspect your dog is gaining too much weight, ask your vet to help you come up with an appropriate diet plan.

Suitable for:

Pembroke Corgis are suitable for families that have just as much energy as the dogs themselves do. If your family loves to get outside and do things together, this breed will make an excellent addition to your adventures. Don’t get a Pembroke Corgi if you don’t have time to devote to playing, brushing, and loving on these affectionate dogs.

Which Breed is Right For You?

Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis may seem similar at first glance, but the two have very distinct personalities. Whichever one you choose should match your family’s personality and lifestyle.

Both breeds are intelligent, affectionate, and loyal to their humans, but they have slightly different energy levels. Easy-going families may prefer the more laid-back Cardigan Corgi, while the Pembroke Corgi may be better suited for families who are more adventurous.

The big personality of both of these breeds definitely doesn’t match their size. Whichever one you choose will bring plenty of spunk and laughs into your life. Your household won’t ever be boring or quiet again.


Featured Image Credit: Up – Cardigan Welsh Corgi (Welshea, Shutterstock); Down – Pembroke Welsh Corgi (ElfinFox, Pixabay)

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.