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Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Tri-Color Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Nicknames Pembroke, PWC, Pem, Corgi
Country of origin Wales, United Kingdom
Traits

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi (pronounced /ˈkɔrɡi/) is a herding dog breed which is said to have originated in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It is one of two breeds known as Welsh Corgis: the other is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. The Corgi is the smallest dog in the Herding Group. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are famed for being the preferred breed of Queen Elizabeth II, who owns several. These dogs have been a dog favoured by British royalty for more than seventy years.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has been ranked at #11 in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, and is thus considered an excellent working dog.

Contents

Description

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Appearance

The Pembroke is a low-built dog whose upright ears give it a very expressive fox-like appearance. Tails are often short or absent, some naturally, others due to docking. Despite its size the Pembroke has a sturdy, confident and athletic build that has given it the loving nickname of a "big dog trapped in a small dog's body." Like most herding breeds, Pembrokes are active, intelligent and athletic dogs. As working dogs, Pembrokes were originally used to herd sheep, horses and cattle, a task they accomplished by "nipping" at their heels, their short legs helping kicks pass safely over their heads.

Size

A Pembroke is 10 to 13 inches (25 to 33 cm) tall at the shoulder and 40% longer from shoulder to tail.[1] Pembrokes in peak condition weigh about 27 pounds (12 kg) for the male, the females being about 25 pounds (11 kg) unless pregnant, then the weight varies. [2] They can become overweight easily if not fed and exercised properly. They are the smallest breed of the Herding Group recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Temperament

Pembrokes are very hard-working and loyal. They are usually easily trainable, and have been ranked in 11th place in "the World's Smartest [Dog] Breeds". They function as good watchdogs due to their alertness and tendency to bark. Pembrokes are typically outgoing, friendly dogs. Being a herding dog, Pems are very energetic, especially if without sufficient exercise.[3]

Coat and color

Pembrokes can be red, sable, fawn, or tricolor with or without white markings on the legs, chest, neck, muzzle, belly, or as a narrow blaze on the head. Tricolors can be black headed or red headed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) doesn't distinguish amongst the tricolors; rather, it refers to them as black and tan with white markings. White above the hocks, over the top of the body or on the ears is not acceptable for conformation.

Corgis have an undercoat of fine soft fur, with an overcoat of short, somewhat coarse fur. Their undercoat sheds continuously all year round, with extensive seasonal shedding occurring at least twice each year. There can also be extensive shedding of coat in females after the weaning of pups, after a heat, or when a female is spayed. Many corgi enthusiasts believe the volume of shed fur can be significantly reduced by feeding a quality food, and regular brushing is highly recommended. Corgis with longer, thicker coats and exaggerated feathering on the ears and backs of legs are commonly referred to as "fluffy" corgis or "fluffies". The fluffy coat is a cosmetic flaw; but while it is not permitted in the conformation show ring or in breeding females, fluffies make wonderful pets and performance dogs in obedience, agility, tracking and herding.

What can also be seen in some corgis is a "fairy saddle" marking over the dog's withers, caused by changes in the thickness, length and direction of hair growth. The phrase arises from the legend that the dogs were harnessed and used as steeds for fairies.

Tail

Historically, the Pembroke was a breed with a natural bob tail (very short tail). Due to the advent of docking, the trait was not aggressively pursued, with breeders focusing instead on other characteristics and artificially shortening the tail when necessary. Given that some countries are now banning docking, breeders are again attempting to select for dogs with the genes for natural bob tails.

Health

The length of the spine can cause spinal problems and early arthritis in Corgis, especially those that are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight is the best way to ensure that a Pembroke lives a long, healthy life. Pembrokes have a typical life expectancy of twelve to fifteen years[4].

Thus, Pembrokes, if not kept active or if overfed, can easily become obese. This condition can end a Pembroke Corgi's life particularly early, since biophysical stresses on the spine resulting from the weight of an over-sized belly can lead to secondary diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Corgis are at risk of developing a disease called degenerative myelopathy or DM. Research regarding DM is underway, and a test for DM has been developed and is available through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. The three scores are "at risk", "carrier" and "clear". Currently there are very few "clear" dogs and more "at risk" and "carriers". "Clear" Pems will not develop the disease nor pass it on to offspring. "Carrier" Pems will not develop the disease; however, one could possibly pass one copy of the gene to its offspring. "At risk" Pems have two copies of the gene, and therefore will pass one gene along to offspring. In addition, "at risk" Pems have a risk of developing the disease. In particular "at risk" Pems, the percentages of developing DM are not known at this time. Further research is being done. There is a free test for dogs over age 10 on the OFA site. This will be used for research by the University of Missouri and owners are encouraged to test their older dogs so that determination can be made as to why some dogs develop DM and some do not, in spite of having two copies of the gene.

Pembrokes are also at risk for hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand's disease and eye disorders. Von Willebrand's, a clotting disorder, is detected by a DNA test. It is eliminated by the avoidance of breeding carriers or affected Pembrokes to each other. One of the parents must be rated clear to avoid the disease. Both parents should have a recent passing CERF rating within one year before being bred to avoid eye problems such as persistent pupillary membranes (PPMs), retinal dysplasia or cataracts. Hip dysplasia is poly-genetic; more than one set of genes is involved. Having as many ancestors as possible tested and given at least a fair rating by OFA is the best way to avoid a dysplasic Pembroke, although this is no guarantee against it.

History

As far back as the 10th century, corgis were originally bred for herding sheep, bulls, horses and cattle and are the oldest herding breed[citation needed]. Pems have proven themselves excellent companions and are outstanding competitors in sheepdog trials and dog agility. There are two theories of Pembroke Welsh Corgi origin:

  1. Some Cardigan Welsh Corgis were crossed with Swedish Vallhund Dogs.
  2. Some of the original dogs (the Pembroke) evolved from Cardigans and from other dogs, such as Schipperke and Pomeranian, and other Spitz-type dogs.

Pems, and Corgis in general, are becoming more popular in the United States and rank 22nd in American Kennel Club registrations[5], as of 2006.

Queen Elizabeth II owns 16 dogs of this breed.[6]

Gallery

See also

References

External links


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