Contrary to popular belief, a corgi is not actually a member of the British royal family. That is, he might be considered a member of the Windsor family, but he's not in line for the throne. Corgis are all low to the ground, but types vary in color and tail.
While two types of Corgis are recognized by the American Kennel Club and the United Kingdom's Kennel Club, the breeds were not recognized separately until 1934 in Great Britain. Breed separation occurred soon afterward in the United States. Before that, the two distinct types of Corgis were often interbred. In number of registrations, the Pembroke far outpaces the Cardigan.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
While named for Pembrokeshire in Wales, the ancestors of this type of Corgi came to the British Isles from Continental Europe in the 12th century. At maturity, the Pembroke type stands between 10 and 12 inches high at the shoulder, weighing about 30 pounds. Males are larger than females. This double-coated breed may be red, black and tan, fawn or sable, with or without white markings. While there are other differences between the Pembroke and the Cardigan, the most obvious and striking is that the Pembroke is basically tailless. It's this type of corgi that's found wandering the halls of Buckingham Palace.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan stands between 10.5 and 12.5 inches at the shoulder, and is somewhat heavier than the Pembroke type at between 25 and 38 pounds. His coat is sable, black, red or brindle, the latter a combination of brown and black hairs in a pattern. While white markings are permitted in the American Kennel Club breed standard, there is less white than on the Pembroke. The Cardigan's tail sets low, standing straight out when he runs.
Bred as herding dogs, both types of Corgis are now primarily pets. The AKC standard for both specifies "never shy or vicious." Although they make good family dogs, the herding instinct may kick in around small children, causing them to nip at the heels of little ones to get them in line. For this reason, they're probably better pets for older kids. Loyal and loving to their owners, Corgis also make good watchdogs. They can be barkers, so early obedience training is a good idea.
- corgi image by Cindy Haggerty from Fotolia.com