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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
Leesia Teh, Animal Photography
This fun-loving herding dog resembles a fox with his prick ears, wedge-shaped head and thick coat. He is bold but kind and likes to be in charge — or at least constantly involved in everything that’s going on. Most often he’s a family companion, but he can still herd with the best of them.
Queen Elizabeth II is perhaps the world’s most famous Corgi owner; she typically has four or five at a time and is frequently photographed with them. Her first Corgi, Susan, was a gift on her 18th birthday; most of her current dogs are Susan’s descendants.
The Pembroke is the Corgi without a tail. That’s easy to remember if you think of him as having a “broke” tail. In addition to the lack of a tail, the Pembroke stands out from his cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, in other ways, including his smaller, more pointed ears and wedge-shaped head. His weight ranges from 25 to 27 pounds, making him a little smaller than the Cardigan as well.
Although the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis were both developed in Wales, where they are considered to be “fairy-bred,” and share the name Corgi (meaning dwarf dog), they have different ancestry: twin sons of different mothers, you might say. The Pembroke has a foxier face and resembles the Spitz breeds such as the Swedish Vallhund and Norwegian Lundehund to whom he is related. Today he’s primarily a companion and show dog, but he still has strong herding instincts.
This is an active, outgoing, alert dog who loves people. Just because he’s small doesn’t mean he doesn’t need exercise. Be prepared to keep the Pembroke busy. He excels in dog sports, especially agility, herding, flyball, obedience, rally, and tracking. He also enjoys going for moderate to long walks or hikes.
Because of his herding background, he has a watchful nature and will bark to ward off critters or alert you to the presence of someone approaching the house. That’s a plus, but he can become a nuisance barker if you don’t teach him when to turn the sound on and off.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Pembroke puppy home. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. He learns quickly and will respond to kind, firm, consistent training.
The Pembroke has a medium-length double coat. Double-coated dogs shed, so expect to find hair on your clothing and furniture. Brush the coat once a week to remove dead hair and reduce the amount of loose hair floating around your house. Other grooming needs are regular nail trims, ear cleaning, and tooth brushing.
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. A Pembroke Welsh Corgi should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi originated in Wales some 1,000 years ago. The Welsh say the dogs were a gift from the fairies, who rode them like horses, and as proof point to the “saddle” across the dog’s back or the white “harness marks” behind his shoulders. Dog experts offer a more pragmatic explanation for the breed’s history, suggesting that Pembrokes descend from spitz-type dogs that came to Britain with the Vikings. They are probably related to the Swedish Vallhund and Norwegian Lundehund. Another possibility is that the Corgi’s ancestors came to Wales in the 12th century with Flemish weavers and had their way with local dogs.
Pembrokes first gained widespread notice in 1933 when Britain’s King George VI gave a Pembroke puppy to his little daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, is still a fan of the breed.
The American Kennel Club registered its first Pembroke in 1934. Today the Pembroke Welsh Corgi’s popularity has held steady for a decade. The breed ranks 27th among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, the same position it held in 2000.
The happy, energetic Pembroke Welsh Corgi always has a smile on his face. He has been described as a cross between a cruise-line social director and a high-school hall monitor, and that is an apt characterization. The Pembroke always wants to be involved in whatever his family is doing, and he’d especially like to be in charge.
This is a dog with a strong work ethic. He needs a job to keep his very intelligent brain occupied and out of trouble, as well as to burn off his abundant energy. He likes very long walks and is an enthusiastic competitor in dog sports such as agility, rally, tracking, flyball and, of course, herding. Teach him tricks, take him hiking, get him qualified as a therapy dog — he can do it all. It's always a good idea to check with your vet before starting any exercise program with your dog.
Sometimes the Corgi might seem to be a little too bright. He gets bored doing the same old thing over and over and is known for putting his a creative spin on obedience exercises and other activities.
Don’t get the idea that the Corgi is perfect. Perfectly funny, maybe, but that’s about all. He likes to have his own way, and he can be pushy when he wants something. Set firm rules and stick to them or you will soon find that your Pembroke is running your life. Once you let him get away with something, it’s very difficult to persuade him not to do it again.
The Pembroke is smart, but he needs training and consistency to become the dog of your dreams. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop obnoxious levels of barking, digging and other undesirable behaviors if he is bored, untrained or unsupervised. And any dog can be a trial to live with during adolescence. In the case of the Pembroke, the “teen” years can start at six months and continue until the dog is about two years old.
Start training your Pembroke puppy the day you bring him home. Even at seven or eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a bigger, more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.
The perfect Pembroke doesn’t spring fully formed from the whelping box. He’s a product of his background and breeding. Whatever you want from a Pembroke, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis have some health problems that can be of concern, especially if you aren’t cautious about who you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), retinal dysplasia and persistent pupillary membranes, and hypothyroidism. Pembrokes may also be prone to cryptorchidism (having one testicle that is retained inside the body), epilepsy and reproductive problems. The presence of a long coat (Pembrokes with this type of coat are called “fluffies”) or incorrect coloring (known as mismarks) are also genetic abnormalities.
One of the most serious of the conditions threatening the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a condition known as degenerative myelopathy (DM). This is a type of progressive paralysis that cannot be cured, and the form that affects the Pembroke typically progresses very rapidly. Fortunately, a DNA test for DM is available. There are three possible test results: Clear, carrier, and at risk. If both your puppy's parents are clear, your puppy cannot inherit the gene for DM from them. A puppy with one carrier parent may inherit the gene, and dogs who are "at risk" may or may not go on to develop the condition. There is comprehensive information on DM and the available genetic testing through the University of Missouri Canine Genetic Diseases Program.
The Pembroke’s long back predisposes him to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a condition that causes the spinal discs to bulge or rupture. Sometimes IVDD is mild and can be relieved through crate rest and medication, but dogs with severe cases may require surgery or the use of a wheelchairlike cart.
Another genetic conditions affecting Corgis is von Willebrand's Disease, a blood clotting disorder.
There are other conditions that may affect the Pembroke Welsh Corgi for which there are no screening tests, such as autoimmune diseases and certain types of cancer. Your puppy's breeder should be willing – eager, in fact – to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives and discuss the prevalence of those particular health concerns are in his lines.
Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for these defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Pembroke to achieve CHIC certification, he must have an OFA or PennHIP clearance for hips and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines and her dogs have been "vet checked," then you should go find a breeder who is more rigorous about genetic testing.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Pembrokes like to eat and have been described as “walking stomachs.” Keeping a Pembroke at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to help prevent joint problems and extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a wash-and-go dog. He has a medium-length double coat that should be brushed or combed at least weekly to control shedding. The coat sheds heavily twice a year, in spring and fall and will require extra brushing during that time.
The Pembroke’s coat should never be extremely long with lots of feathering on the ears, chest, legs, feet, belly, and rear end. Dogs with that type of coat are known as “fluffies.” Some breeders may try to market fluffies as being rare or suggest that the coat can be trimmed, but don’t get sucked in by those tactics. There’s never any need to trim a Pembroke’s coat except to occasionally neaten the feet.
Bathe the Pembroke only when he gets dirty or as often as you like. With the gentle dog shampoos available today, you can bathe a Pembroke weekly if you want without harming his coat.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Don’t let them get so long that you can hear them clicking on the floor. Brush the teeth with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for overall good health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as is possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than in making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems.
Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, which maintains a referral list for breeders; choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's code of ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them, including a guarantee that the breeder will be responsible for the dog if at any time during his life his new owners cannot keep him. Other positives: the breeder screens all breeding dogs for genetic diseases, sells puppies only with a written contract and wants to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Ask your breeder to show you written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) clearing your puppy's parents of hip dysplasia. The breeder should also have screened her dogs for von Willebrand's Disease, and each dog used in breeding should have his or her eyes examined and the results reported to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Pembroke puppy varies depending on his place of origin, whether he is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Pembroke might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Pembroke may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Pembroke in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Pembrokes available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Pembroke. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Pembrokes love all Pembrokes. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America’s Rescue Network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Pembroke rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Pembroke home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, adn children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Pembroke, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Pembroke to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issu
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