Welsh Corgis –  Choosing the Right dog for your Home and Family

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Corgis" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: David Anderson

If you have made it this far, you probably are excited about finding your own Corgi to take on adventures and relax with. Welcome to a whole new world of fun, entertainment, and love! Your decision is very likely to help you find one of the best friends you will ever have.

You have the foundations you need to understand what you are getting into. Now it is time to learn how you should go about finding your newest family member.

Your first two decisions will be the hardest:

  • Will a Pembroke or a Cardigan be the right fit for your home?
  • Do you want a puppy or an older dog?

These are both tough questions. Each Corgi is different, so expecting your Pembroke or Cardigan to be exactly as they are usually stated to be probably isn’t going to work. The information about their typical personalities is a guide, not an absolute. Ultimately, the answer depends on the second question – deciding on the dog’s age when you get it. It’s an even tougher question because one involves a lot more work while the other involves understanding the established personality of your pup.

Deciding Between the Pembroke and the Cardigan – Initial Considerations

Welsh corgi snow
Photo Courtesy – Madison Palm

Your first decision should be to select the type of Welsh Corgi you want – the Pembroke or the Cardigan. Your  personality and lifestyle is very likely to line up with the personality of one or the other type better.

  • Pembrokes are fun loving and adaptable. If you are constantly on the go and want to have a companion who will enjoy it, the Pembroke is a better choice for your lifestyle. While they do bark a lot, they are very friendly. They are a nearly perfect companion dog for active people.
  • Cardigans like to move around, but they also know how to appreciate a relaxing evening at home. They don’t require as much activity and they are better watch dogs since they are more protective. If you are looking for a dog that can enjoy the evening at home with you and is a better guardian, the Cardigan is a better choice.

Keep in mind that Corgis are all very individualistic, and just because you were looking for a particular personality does not mean you will get it. Much of your dog’s personality will depend on how well you train your dog (if you get a puppy). If you choose an older dog, its personality is already established and the people taking care of the dog will be better able to tell you if the dog exhibits the kind of personality you want. Breeding makes their personality more predictable, but it is never guaranteed.

Adopting from a Breeder

Once you know which type is more likely to fit into your home best and you have decided you are prepared to dedicate a lot of time to training a puppy, it is time to start finding the breeder who is most likely to give you a healthy, happy Corgi puppy. You do need to be careful because there are many Corgi breeders out there. You want a breeder who cares as much (or more) about the puppies as about profiting from the sale. This means taking a good bit of time to thoroughly research breeders.

Finding a Breeder

You want a breeder who takes the care of the puppies seriously and shows them the necessary attention and care so that the puppies are well adjusted by the time they are ready to leave their mother. To begin, you need to research breeders and look at only the ones who show and title their dogs from the start. Odds are very good that you will end up on a waiting list, but it means that your puppy will be both mentally and physically healthy.

Welsh corgi senior
Photo Courtesy – Elizabeth Schiavello

Once you have narrowed down the list of the breeders you will contact, you will need to call them and ask questions. Be prepared for this to take up to an hour per breeder (it may not, but it is best to plan on it) so that you can fully understand how much the breeder understands about the dog and how well the breeder takes care of the puppies.

  • Ask them about the particular type of Corgi to find out if the breeder only focuses on the positives. A good breeder will want to make sure that you understand the potential problems of having a Corgi and will try to dissuade you if the negative aspects could be a problem for you.
  • Ask about health tests and certifications. These points are covered in more detail in the next section, but your breeder needs to have all of the tests and certifications to ensure that you receive the healthiest puppy possible. Good breeders will often have guarantees against the worst genetic issues.
  • Verify that the breeder will take care of all of the initial health issues, such as vaccines and worming. Puppies need to have these procedures started by the time they are six weeks old, which is well ahead of when the puppy can leave the mother. Vaccinations and worming occur every three weeks, so your puppy should be well into its initial health care (or even completely through the beginning phases) before it gets to your home.
  • Find out if the breeder requires the puppy to be spayed or neutered when it reaches maturity. Many breeders require that the puppies be spayed or neutered as part of the contract. This is meant to be in the puppy’s best interests.
  • Ask if the breeder is part of a Corgi club or organization. Corgis have been around long enough that there are a number of codes and standards required of members who breed their Corgis. If you find a breeder who is part of a Corgi organization and cannot meet your request, that breeder can probably point you to a few other good breeders. The puppies from these types of breeders are much more likely to be healthy and happy as the breeders must be both conscientious and honest about the parents and the puppies.
  • Find out what happens during the first phase of the puppies’ life, and how the breeder takes care of the puppies during the earliest stage of their lives. This will help you know how much work you have to do as well. You will want to train your dog consistently, and that will be much easier if you continue what the breeder started. The breeder may also have begun different types of training, such as house and crate training. You will need to know that before getting your puppy home.
  • Ask for advice on raising a Corgi. A good breeder can make recommendations and will give you options on how to handle some of the less enjoyable phases, as well as things that your puppy is likely to love. A great breeder will also be there to answer questions about your Corgi long after your dog has reached maturity. They are interested in the dog’s well-being and are willing to answer questions over the Corgi’s entire life span.

Health Tests and Certifications

For a dog with such a lengthy history, Corgis are incredibly healthy and relatively free of major genetic health problems. However, there are a few tests and certifications that should be conducted.

Welsh corgi resting
Photo Courtesy – Cherie Doyle

As the younger of the two types, Pembrokes do not require as much testing and certification:

  • Hip dysplasia evaluations (OFA evaluation or a PennHIP evaluation)
  • Eye examination by someone who is a member of the ACVO Ophthalmologist (they should be registered with either the OFA or the CERF)

Cardigans need a little more attention in terms of testing:

  • Hip dysplasia evaluations (OFA evaluation, OVC, or a PennHIP evaluation)
  • Eye examination by someone who is a member of the ACVO Ophthalmologist (they should be registered with either the OFA or the CERF)
  • A DNA test for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

There are no strict certifications, but you do want your breeder to be a part of an established club or organization.

  • Pembroke breeders are usually part of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, Inc., and they adhere to all of the regulations about breeding Pembroke Welsh Corgis. They also recommend that breeders provide a copy of the Code of Ethics for raising and having a Pembroke.
  • Cardigan breeders can join the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America, and they must adhere to specific guidelines.

Being a member of these organizations means that the breeders are obligated to meet a minimum set of requirements. If they do not meet these requirements, the breeders are not allowed to be members of the organizations. This ensures that breeders that belong to these organizations are reliable and predictable in the way they treat their puppies.

Contracts and Guarantees

Since these are dogs with a long history, it should not be a surprise that many breeders have contracts that you must sign before they will consider selling you a puppy. Many of them also have guarantees, which may or may not make you feel more at ease.

Welsh corgi Pembroke
Photo Courtesy – Cindy Duwe

The guarantees state what the breeder is guaranteeing with your new dog. This usually includes information on the dog’s health and recommendations on what the pet owner’s next steps are. For example, it may recommend that you take your puppy to the vet within two days of arriving at home to ensure that the dog is as healthy as it is believed to be. In the event that a major health concern is found, the puppy will need to be returned to the breeder. It will also explain what is not guaranteed. The guarantee tends to be very long (sometimes longer than the contract), and you should read it well before you sign the contract.

In addition to the price of getting your dog, Corgi contracts ensure certain behavior by the new Corgi human parent. Corgi contracts usually come with a requirement to have the dog spayed or neutered once the dog reaches maturity (typically six months). The contract may also contain naming requirements, health details, and a stipulation for what will happen if you can no longer take care of the canine (the dog usually goes back to the breeder). They also include information on what will happen if you are negligent or abusive.

Puppy Genetics – the Parents

Because the breed has such a long history, breeders take the history of the parents seriously (especially the members of the different Corgi organizations). You will want to go over the complete history for both parents to get an idea of what you can expect from the puppies. From their personalities to their tendencies, you will be able to get a good idea of what you should expect from your newest family member.

You should spend a good bit of time learning about the parents from the breeder as well. The things that you want to know are probably found in stories about the parents more than from a website that details their lineage and history.

Selecting Your Puppy

Welsh corgi cardigan
Photo Courtesy – Michele Eathorne

Selecting a Corgi puppy is pretty much the same as picking any kind of puppy. A lot of it is entirely up to you and what you want in a dog. The experience can be highly entertaining and enjoyable – and ultimately very difficult. As much fun as it is, you do need to be careful and serious so that you are not swayed by things that you may find bothersome later.

As you look over the puppies, notice how well each puppy plays with the others. This is a great indicator of just how well your puppy will react to any pets you already have at home.

You also need to look at the puppies as a group. If you notice that a majority of the puppies exhibit aggressive behavior or seem to tend toward being mistrustful, you may not want to select a puppy from that litter. Similarly, if the puppies appear to be terrified of you, such as keeping their tails tucked or shrinking away (since you cannot tell with the Pembroke’s stubby tail if the puppy is trying to tuck it), that is an indication of the kinds of issues you may encounter with your puppy and its training. What you want is a litter that is full of friendly puppies, even if they do not start to greet you immediately. Sometimes they just want to play with their siblings or figure out what is happening first.

Welsh corgi on a seat
Photo Courtesy – MaryAnn Carney

Next, notice that there is often at least one who is very eager to meet you. Many people take that as a sign that that puppy is the right one for their family. However, that is not always the case. Keep in mind that the puppy or puppies that greet you are more forward and demanding than the ones who sit back and analyze the situation first.

The puppies who hang back may be afraid, or, more likely, they just want to understand the situation before they get involved. They are not the alpha types that their eager siblings are. These are your more patient and tame puppies, ones who may be easier to train.

Pick the puppy that exhibits the personality traits that you want in your dog. If you want a forward, friendly, excitable dog, the first one to greet you may be the one you seek. If you want a dog that will think things through and let others get more attention, the mellower dog may be better for your home.

Adopting an Older Dog

The one thing that is universal about puppies is that they are a lot of work. If you miss a day or two of training it may feel like you are back to square one. Older Corgis can offer you a way to get your Corgi without having to dedicate several years to training. You can find older Corgis in shelters, rescues, and even from breeders. Breeders will take back puppies if a person does not treat the dog right or if a person can no longer take care of the Corgi for some reason.


Welsh corgiclose up
Photo Courtesy – Michele Eathorne

Older dogs give you more immediate gratification. You don’t have to go through those sleepless nights with the new puppy or the endless frustration that comes with early types of training. Older Corgis let you get right into enjoying your dog as you go out on adventures. All intelligent, high energy dogs require a lot of time and attention as puppies. Bypassing that is a major part of the appeal of older dogs.

Older Corgis not only have the basic training already done, many of them already know some tricks, so you can start exploring the world of what they know and what they still have to learn. This is an incredibly fun, funny, and enjoyable experience, just like getting to know a new friend. You can also start your own training. This part is nearly as much fun because older Corgis have the attention span and ability to learn incredibly fast (if they are in the mood), and you will be able to recognize when they are learning and when they are uninterested in the activity.

Better still, they can help you start improving yourself. If you want to get more exercise, an older Corgi will help you get started immediately (instead of trapping you at home trying to teach it the basics). You also have a wide range of possible activities, and your Corgi will be more than happy to join you as you explore new places or get a new look at old ones.

Adult Corgis are ideal for individuals and families who do not have the time or patience to work with a puppy.


Welsh corgi bow tie
Photo Courtesy – Cassie Thwaites

The Corgi clubs have their own rescues, in addition to their own breeders. You are not as likely to find this breed outside of the small clique because Corgi people are very adamant about how the dogs should be taken care of – and they take care of their own. Corgis that you get through the organizations and breeders have most of the necessary information that is required to sell puppies, meaning you will have the medical history and vaccination information on the dog (although if the human parent was negligent or abusive, the medical history and information may not have been tracked while the dog was with them).

It is very easy to contact the organization to see about adopting an adult Corgi. They will require you to apply for the adoption simply because they want to ensure that the dog gets a great home – a place where the dog will be able to happily live out the rest of its days. They will also try to match you up with an adult dog who is ideal for the environment you offer and the lifestyle you live.

If you are interested in an adult Pembroke Welsh Corgi, you can visit the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club site for details.

If you prefer a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, check out the Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust for more information.

Warning about Small Children and Other Pets

Adult Corgis already have an established personality, and that personality may not go well with young children and other pets. While they do not tend to be aggressive dogs, some Corgis can be territorial. They are not inclined to backing down, either (they couldn’t when facing off against cattle), and this may not go well if you already have a territorial dog at home, or a dog with an alpha personality.

Young kids are a different problem because adult Corgis may not have been raised around kids. This could lead to them being less patient with the squeals and rough play of younger kids. They may also be inclined to nipping at the heels of children if that characteristic was not trained out of them at an early age. It isn’t that they want to hurt the kids, they just want to herd and corral the kids, a behavior that can scare children.

Welsh corgi blanket
Photo Courtesy – Cindy Duwe

One of the best things about adopting an adult Corgi is that its personality is already established. That means you will be able to find out if the older dog lives up to the common personalities of the two types.

  • The Pembroke tends to be friendlier and happier, making it easy to involve them in the things that you do, no matter where you are. You can ask the rescuers if the adult is more like a typical Pembroke to find out which of the adult dogs most closely exhibits the kind of personality you want.
  • Cardigans are more intelligent, deliberate, and protective. That means you can ask if the rescued dog has the characteristics that are required for a more sedentary lifestyle (although it should not be too sedentary – it just saves you from having to keep the dog entertained at all times).

It will be considerably easier to find the dog that matches the personality you want since the dog’s personality is already established. You can also ask if the problems common to the two types will be an issue so you know if you should plan to start training or if you should keep looking for a different adult Corgi.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Corgis" by David Anderson, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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