The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi are the two types of Corgis. The two share physical similarities but are very obviously distinct from one another in various ways, including possible coat colors and markings. For example, red is an AKC standard color for Pembroke Welsh Corgis, whereas “red and white” is listed for Cardigans.
10 to 12 inches
24 to 30 pounds
12 to 13 years
Tan, sable, fawn, red, black- may have white markings
Active families and individuals
Intelligent, sociable, loyal, affectionate, gets along with other pets
The Pembroke and the Cardigan are both famous for their family friendliness, confidence, and happy expressions, but they’re more than just pretty (and often smiley) faces. These dogs have a history that is long, exciting, and even magical in places. If you’re curious to learn more about these wonderful dogs, sit tight and enjoy this journey through Corgi history.
The Earliest Records of Red Corgis in History
It is believed that the Cardigan Welsh Corgi descends from Teckel dogs that originated somewhere in Central Europe but were taken to Britain during the Celtic migrations. This occurred sometime around the year 1200 BC, so the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the oldest of the two Corgi breeds.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi’s ancestors date back to around 1107 AD—maybe even earlier. There are two possibilities as to who the Pembroke Welsh Corgi’s ancestors were. One of the possibilities is that they were Viking dogs brought to Britain during the invasion. More specifically, it’s possible that their ancestors were Swedish Vallhunds, which share physical characteristics with Corgis.
It’s also possible that Pembrokes descend from Flemish dogs that entered Britain with weavers who had been talent-scouted by King Henry I. This appears to be the theory most favored by the American Kennel Club, though the Welsh Corgi League explains that the Pembroke “most probably” descends from Viking Spitz dogs.
How Red Corgis Gained Popularity
The versatile Corgi was initially incredibly popular on Welsh farms, where they were put to work herding cattle as well as guarding them against potential intruders. Not only were Corgis prized for their work ethic and capabilities, but they’ve also been much-loved companion dogs for centuries thanks to their loyal and affectionate natures.
According to the Welsh Corgi League, these dogs would return home after a day of work to spend time with the family. In the early-to-mid 20th century, Corgis started to come to wider attention when the British royal family started acquiring them as family dogs and companions for Princess Elizabeth as she was known at the time.
In 1944, Princess Elizabeth was gifted a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Susan. Susan was Elizabeth’s first very own Corgi and was one of the foundation stock in a breeding program started by the royal family. Queen Elizabeth was well known for her lifelong love of Pembroke Welsh Corgis and was regularly pictured with them at her side.
As of 2023, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi ranks at number 11 on the American Kennel Club’s breed popularity chart. By contrast, the older but evidently less popular Cardigan Welsh Corgi is much further down the list at number 67 out of 284.
Formal Recognition of Red Corgis
Red is one of the colors listed in the AKC’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed standard. Other standard colors are black and tan, fawn, and sable. On the other hand, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi has five colors listed as standard—black and white, blue merle and white, brindle and white, sable and white, and red and white.
The Welsh Corgi Club was formed in 1925 in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in Wales. The two Corgi types were initially regarded as one breed in the United Kingdom until the year 1934.
At this point, The Kennel Club declared the Pembroke and the Cardigan two distinct breeds. The American Kennel Club also formally recognized the Pembroke in 1934 and the Cardigan in 1935. The United Kennel Club recognized both breeds in 1959.
Top 3 Unique Facts About Red Corgis
1. Pembroke Welsh Corgis Are Magical According to Welsh Folklore
According to one legend, fairy warriors would ride Pembroke Welsh Corgis into battle. For this reason, the white marks on the Pembroke’s shoulders are sometimes referred to as a “fairy saddle.”
2. “Corgi” Has a Special Meaning
Some believe that the word “Corgi” is an amalgamation of the Welsh words “cor”, which means “dwarf” and “gi”, which means “dog”. If this is accurate, “Corgi” translates to “dwarf dog”.
3. Pembrokes Are Different from Cardigans in Many Ways
At first glance, the Pembroke and the Cardigan look quite alike, but if you look more closely, you’ll see that the Cardigan has a longer tail and appears somewhat stockier and heavier-boned than the Pembroke. Moreover, Cardigans are less “rectangular-shaped” than Pembrokes.
In addition to the distinct coat color possibilities, their markings are also different. While there are seven Cardigan markings, only white markings are possible for Pembrokes.
Does a Red Corgi Make a Good Pet?
Whichever color or type of Corgi you choose, you’ll very likely be bringing home a faithful, fun-loving, agile, and confident little soul that will never let you down. When it comes to training, they need someone firm but gentle to lead them because, though they’re quick to learn, they’re known for being rather self-assured so might battle you a bit for the pack leader position.
Furthermore, in spite of their stocky bodies and short legs, you might find yourself surprised at just how agile and energetic your Corgi is. They love going on walks, but you can also do agility training and fun games like fetch to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
Any dog can make a great pet as long as they’re well-socialized and exposed to a wide variety of situations, people, and other dogs/pets from as early an age as possible and have plenty of positive interactions.
If you’re not very experienced in socializing and training dogs, we recommend trying obedience and socialization classes to give both you and your Corgi more confidence. This is especially important because, though those cute, smiley faces might fool you, there’s an assertive and potentially stubborn dog (if allowed to be) not far from the surface!
To recap, red is one of the standard colors for Pembroke Welsh Corgis, a breed that dates back to at least the 12th century, but possibly earlier. This breed is so fascinating because so much history, culture, and folklore surround it.
Modern-day Corgis still have many of the traits that were put to use centuries earlier—fearlessness, agility, confidence, and alertness, but most importantly, they have hearts of gold.
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Featured Image Credit: Tanya Consaul Photography, Shutterstock