By Eloise Hands
Last Updated April 29, 2021

They may not sound all that different when looking at the names, and to the untrained eye, they may not appear all that different either. However, for the more experienced Corgi Connoisseur, the Pembroke, and Cardigan Welsh Corgi differences are as clear as day. With our comprehensive guide to recognizing and appreciating the difference between the two breeds, we hope to put the debate of Cardigan Welsh Corgi vs Pembroke Welsh Corgi to bed.

What Defines a Welsh Corgi?

Corgis are a small herding dog breed, bred in Wales for the main purpose of herding cattle and other livestock. There are two recognized breeds of Corgi, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Breed standards dictate that Corgies must be within 9.8-1.8 inches tall, depending on the breed and sex of the dog. Corgis should also weigh between 24 pounds and 37 pounds, once again depending on the dog’s sex and breed. Corgis also have an average lifespan of around 12 years across both breeds.

The History of the Welsh Corgi

There are two breeds of Welsh Corgi, owing to the fact that the Pembroke Corgi and Cardigan Corgi were each developed in completely separate areas of Wales. The result of which is two entirely different breeds of dog, affected by their evolution over the years, be it environmental factors, or general inherited traits that have molded and changed as the years have gone by.

The main connecting historic fact between the two dogs is their use as herding dogs and their ability to work in all weather conditions.

History of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Corgi dog pembroke welsh corgi walking outdoor in summer park

Pembroke Welsh Corgis historically lived with weavers in the area now known as Belgium. Their ancestors were famously invited to the Southwest of Wales, with a breeder, in 1107 by invitation of the King of England at the time, King Henry I.

Upon arriving in Southwestern Wales, the weavers began to settle and establish the area for their new homestead. Pembroke Welsh Corgis were then used to herd cattle for many many years, meaning they had to be fast, strong, determined, and resilient.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are also historically favored by the British royal family, with Queen Elizabeth II owning 3 at this moment in time, and having owned many more in her time as the Head of State.

History of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Funny merle Cardigan Welsh Corgi standing on green moss in forest on a sunny day

Cardigan Welsh Corgis are actually calculated to be about two thousand years older than the Pembroke. According to the American Kennel Club, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are actually considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in Britain.

It is thought that when the Celts migrated from Central Europe to Wales around 1200BC, they bought the Cardigan Corgi with them in order to assist in their efforts to establish a settlement and begin their new lives as Welshmen. The Cardigan Corgi is a herding breed and was used to help guard livestock and families, herd cattle, and even hunt.

I more recent history, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club was founded in 1970 in Southern California by a small group of devout Cardigan Corgi lovers.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi vs Cardigan Welsh Corgi Interbreeding

For many years the two types of Corgis were interbred by Corgi breeders, which resulted in the debate of cardigan vs Pembroke corgi, as the American Kennel Club (AKC) refused to consider them as two separate breeds, listing the two Corgi types under one name, the Welsh Corgi.

Eventually, the AKC was forced to separate the two breeds when the differences between them caused accusations of unfairness and lots of confusion when it came to judging in competitions. Surprisingly this separation into two breeds came much later than you might expect, having only been officially announced in 2006.

Appearance

There may be many similarities between the two breeds, chief amongst them being their dwarf dog appearance because of their short legs. However, there are a lot of physical attributes that define the two dogs as different Corgi breeds.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembrokes are the smaller breed of the two, with their average weight being no more than 31 pounds in a male and 24 pounds in a female. This is almost a third the weight of the average Cardigan Corgi. They also typically fall around two inches shorter than their Cardigan cousin.

Pembrokes often have their tail docked to be as short and possible and have a fox-like appearance. Pembroke ears are smaller and set high up on their heads. (are you starting to see why this got confusing when judging them on their looks?)

Typical Pembrokes have longer coats than Cardigans, and have limited coat colors, with the options of sable, red, and tricolor (white black, and tan), being the only colors recognized in a purebred Pembroke Corgi.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Cardigans are the bigger of the two breeds with the males weighing in at around 31-38 pounds, and the females landing between 25-34 pounds.

Cardigan Welsh Corgis have a slightly shorter coat than the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, but they do not have a limit on what color they can be, extending to brindle, sable, black and tan, and blue merle.

A major difference when looking at the Cardigan Welsh Corgi vs Pembroke Welsh Corgi is that Cardigan’s ears are significantly larger, more wide-set ears. Additionally, Cardigans do not have their tails docked, and so they have a long fox-like tail which is usually tipped in white fur and is held low to the ground.

One dog with long body and short legs of welsh corgi cardigan breed with black and white coat outdoors on summer sunny day

Personality Traits

Generally speaking, the personalities of these two Welsh Corgi breeds are very similar, owing to the fact that they are both herding breeds. This means that both Cardigan Welsh Corgis and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are highly intelligent, active, alert, and great to train. Additionally, they are both extremely affectionate and develop strong bonds with their families.

The key difference between the Cardigan Corgi vs Pembroke Corgi when it comes to personality is their work ethic. Cardigan Welsh Corgis seem to have clung more strongly to their working roots, whereas Pembroke Welsh Corgis have softened over the years and are therefore more outgoing and friendly, making marginally better companions than Cardigans.

Both dogs, however, are well suited to family life, and are extremely loyal, especially to owners that have raised them since they were a puppy.

Grooming

Both Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis have water-resistant coats, owning to their history has outside workers and needing to withstand various weather conditions. A water-resistant coat means they do not need to be bathed often.

Shedding season is when the difference really becomes apparent. Typically Both Pembrokes and Cardigans only need brushes once or twice a week to maintain their thick coats. However, as shedding season begins Pembrokes become extremely heavy shedders, needing daily brushing to keep on top of their coats, lest you want everything in your home to be covered in fur.

Training

Once again, there are many similarities in the training area when it comes to Pembrokes and Cardigans. Both breeds are extremely receptive to a wide variety of training and especially adept at obstacle training.

They are both highly intelligent breeds, which means prospective owners should be prepared to put them in their place, as intelligent dog breeds have a tendency towards stubbornness, and Corgis are no exception.

Pembroke Corgi Training

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is generally known to be the more outgoing of the two, as they are closer to being companion dogs than the Cardigan. This also reflects in their training style, during which they will demonstrate a tendency to barrel into the task at hand without much calculation.

Cardigan Corgi Training

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is typically more reserved than the Pembroke and is known among trainers to be one of the more calculating of the two dog breeds. This meaning Cardigans are more likely to assess the situation before deciding on a course of action.

Exercise

Both the Pembroke and Cardigan Corgi require an ample amount of exercise. Small as they may be Corgis as a breed are extremely active because of their herding roots. When they are still a puppy, the average amount of time that should be spent exercising a Corgi should be around 2 hours a day, minimum. As they grow older this may change slightly, but not by much.

Between the two breeds, the Cardigan Corgi is the less energetic of the two breeds. Often Cardigans are happy to spend their exercise time in the garden or local field throwing a ball around, though they can also out-hike almost anyone if the mood hits them, so be sure to watch for indications of the type of exercise they may be feeling.

Health

This is where the two breeds are pretty much identical. The two breeds both have predispositions to many of the same health problems. Though like all dogs, some Corgis may never develop an issue.

It is important to speak with the breeder if you are thinking of getting one, to understand whether there is a chance of your dog developing problems with their eyes, hips, or heart. Corgis are especially prone to developing an intervertebral disc disease which can affect their spine and is often made worse with high-impact strenuous movement – which means no jumping onto and off the couch, or climbing stairs.

You May Also Like: Dog Food for Corgis

the Corgi dog sitting on the grass

Which Do I Choose?

It is completely up to you which breed of Corgi seems to fit your lifestyle better. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is generally more sociable, playful, and relaxed of the two, whereas the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is more alert, wary, and hard-working.

If you’re wanting a more focussed pup, then the Cardigan may be the one for you. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a more family-friend companion pooch then you may want to consider the Pembroke as the better choice.

Whichever breed you decide to go with, they are both magnificent, loyal, kind, determined, and eager-to-please, and would be an excellent pet to anyone considering having one.

The only thing we ask of you is that you look at adopting your Corgi from a rescue, before looking at purchasing one from a breeder.

Check out Corgi Puppies for Sale.

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