LEARN – History of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

In 2009, corgis were added to a declining watch list of the UK by the Kennel Club. During that time, the number of registrations was somewhere between 300-450. Since then, the number of registrations has gone through a rapid decline.
Dog breed Welsh Corgi Pembroke runs through snow
Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Dogs are the best friends of humans, and it certainly has been proven for many years and is commonly known. The adorable creatures and their happy go lucky attitudes help to fill the lives of their human companions with joy, love and laughter.
Even though they can steal a sausage off your plate now and then, the bond that you will share with your dogs is genuinely unbreakable. They are loyal and will refuse to leave your side in every situation. Their infectious positive attitude and their liveliness make them the best pet. The fact that they can be as cute as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is just the cherry on the icing.

How to Recognise the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Before we delve into the History of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, we should try to recognise the breed first. Some remarkable features can help you to identify the dog from a gathering of hundreds of different canines. The stubby tail and the low-set body of these dogs are two of the most common identifying features.
While people often confuse Pembroke Welsh Corgi with their cousin Cardigan Welsh Corgi, you can differentiate them from their builds. The Pembrokes have a smaller structure compared to their cousins. Also, their tails are shorter, and the ears are pointier. Mostly used as a herding dog, these corgis are sturdy and loving.

History

While it is difficult to determine the exact bloodline of the breed, it can be easily said that the History of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi goes a long way back. There are even certain folktales around these corgis that makes their history much more special. Read on to have a rollercoaster ride through the centuries-long historical journey of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

1000 BCE

There is an exciting tale that depicts the origin of the corgis. While this tale is folklore, it has become an intricate part of the history of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi nonetheless.

According to the tale, while tending the cattle of their families on the royal lands, two children found a couple of puppies. Even though they thought the children thought that those were fox puppies, they brought them to their homes. The adults told them that these puppies were dogs and a gift from the fairies.
According to the Welsh legends, the fairies used these little dogs for pulling their carriages. It is believed that the fairies tend to mount these dogs as they go to the battles. The marks that the corgis have on their shoulders are considered as the marks of the fairy saddles.
As the little puppies grew up in the homes of the children, they learned to watch over the cattle and help the humans in herding them. This task became a responsibility for the descendants of the corgies which they fulfilled for centuries.

9th-10th Century

While the previous tale has a mythological tinge, from here, the History of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi gets a touch of reality. It is also a more accepted theory of the origin of the corgis.

The theory is that the corgis came to the British Isles along with the Scandinavian raiders during this time. The similarities between the Swedish Vallhund and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi supports this theory as well. It is said that these dogs were bred with the native Welsh dog breeds to create the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed that we see in modern times.

1107 AD

Another theory relates the history of Pembroke Welsh Corgi with the Flemish Weavers. During medieval times, the kings of Europe advertised their majestic powers to the subjects and the emissaries visiting them through the richness of their possessions. Among all the different possessions, the tapestries, textiles, and carpets used to hold a premium position.

During this period, the best weavers used to live in the Flanders area, which is, now, located in Northern Belgium. Inviting the weavers to relocate in the kingdom of the monarchs was a common phenomenon at that time.

In this year, Henry I, the King of Britain, invited a community of weavers to come to Southern Wales and work from there. They weavers accepted the offer of the king and came to Wales to start a new life. Along with them, they brought the dogs that they used for herding their cattle. These dogs were considered as the ancestors of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi of today.

The 1800s

The history of Pembroke Welsh Corgi has been intricately related to the history of its cousin Cardigan Welsh Corgis. Even though these two dog breeds were separated in the 1800s, free breeding was not stopped.
People mingled these two breeds to create a dog breed that has the combined features of both these breeds. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Cardigan Welsh Corgis were bred as working dogs. Those dogs tend to help people to herd cattle. Their extreme speed and pinpoint agility help them to become one of the best herding dog breeds.

1925

The Pembroke Welsh Corgis and the Cardigans made their first appearance together in this year. It is the rules of the Kennel Club of Britain that helped the dogs of both breeds appear together.
In December of the same year, the Corgi Club was established in Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire. It is said that the locals of these areas rooted for Pembroke Welsh Corgis. That’s why the club of Cardigan Welsh Corgis was established a year or so later.
It is the undaunting work and perseverance of both of these clubs that helped to standardised the appearance and type of breed with the help of selective breeding.

1928

In this year, the Kennel Club first officially recognised the Pembroke and Cardigan Corgis. However, the club categorised both the breeds together under the name Welsh Corgis. It took some time for these two breeds to get separate recognitions.

1930

During this time, many breeding organisations started to notice the difference between the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigans.

1931

In June this year, the first pair of the Cardigan Welsh Corgis were sent to the United States.

1933

Queen Elizabeth II loves corgis and keeps these dogs as pets. In 1933, her father gifted her the first Pembroke Welsh Corgi, named Dookie. Since then, and many corgis later the dogs have held a special place in Buckingham Palace.

1934

In this year, the American Kennel Club first recognised the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and The Cardigans as two separate dog breeds. Soon after, the UK Kennel Club also recognised these two types of dogs as different breeds.

The 1950s

While the corgis were popular in Britain, the American author Tasha Tudor helped the breed to become famous in the USA as well. Being a children’s book author, Tasha Tudor was recognised for her rhyming stories that came with intriguing illustrations. Tasha owned a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and frequently featured the dogs in her writings. With the help of her rhymes and stories, Tasha helped an entire generation to fall in love with these adorable dogs.

Modern Day

Pembroke Welsh Corgi oin the grass - modern day text
Modern-day Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The love for corgis that Tasha instigated is still burning strong among the people across the USA. With each passing day, more people are falling in love with these small, intelligent and cute dogs. In 2015 the Pembroke Welsh Corgi ranked the 20th most popular dog in American Kennel Club registrations. It shows a significant increase in popularity as the rank of these dogs soared from 24th in 2012 to 20th.
That being said, the corgis are considered as a vulnerable species in the United Kingdom. The decline in the popularity of these dogs started after 2007 when a ban on tail docking was imposed. The lack of corgi breeders in the UK might be another factor in the declining figures.

The UK Kennel Club

In 2009, corgis were added to a declining watch list of the UK by the Kennel Club. During that time, the number of registrations was somewhere between 300-450. Since then, the number of registrations has gone through a rapid decline. In 2014, the UK Kennel Club had put the breed under the Vulnerable Native Breed list as the number of registrations fell under 300. In 2018, the club had put the corgis under the At-Risk list as only 456 puppies were registered during December 2017.

TV and Film

However, the UK Kennel Club has noticed a new surge of interest in this breed as the popular TV shows started portraying the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has already appeared in the Netflix show The Crown, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and a 2019 fantastic film called The Queen’s Corgi.

Conclusion

All in all, for the right household, the Pembroke Welsh Corgis can be an exceptional companion. Even though the nipping habits of the dogs can be a bit of concern for people with small children, a bit of socialising and some training can create a huge difference. The intelligent and happy dog is the best companion for any household. They are loyal, cuddly and happy dogs which can be your perfect pet if you open your heart and your home for them.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. She is a qualified dog groomer and currently studying canine behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016.