Pembroke Welsh Corgis

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi may be low to the ground, but there's a lot of dog in that low-slung body. And as with all smart, active dogs, if you're not able to give him plenty to do to occupy his brain and his body, he's going to come up with some wayward hobbies of his own. But if a buddy for frequent walks and canine activities such as herding, obedience, or agility appeal to you, then the Pembroke may just be your dog. And you'll be in good company; the Queen of England is a longtime owner and breeder of Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi was developed in Wales as an all-around farm dog and herder. He was, and is, a family companion, happiest when with his family and with useful work to do. This breed is a favorite among the equestrian set. For most Corgis, though, work today consists of being a family dog, but life as a couch potato is definitely not for him.

In addition to the damage he's likely to do to your sofa, drywall and rosebushes if he's bored and lonely, an under-exercised Pembroke is likely to get fat, which may exacerbate skeletal diseases common in the breed. No matter how skillfully he begs and puppy-dog-eyes you for more food, let his waistline be your guide and don't give in.

That's not to say every Pembroke is equally active. Some of them have fairly modest exercise needs. It's difficult to tell during their puppy years just how active they'll be as adults, so if you prefer a Pembroke with a little less zoom, you'll be better off adopting an adult dog with the temperament you're looking for than taking a chance on a pup.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are great with children, but beware: their herding style includes nipping at the heels of errant livestock, and they're very likely to herd your children as well as your family pets. While the nips are not attacks nor a sign of aggression, they can be painful. Nip nipping in the bud when your dog is a puppy.

These dogs were bred to sound the alert on farms, so yes, they bark -- something else you'll want to nip in the bud. They need daily brushing to control shedding, but nothing will control it entirely; this is a shedding breed, so if that's a deal-breaker, this is not the dog for you.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis weigh somewhere under 30 pounds, and come in a variety of colors. Their tails are docked, one of the traits that sets them aside from the similar Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Give your Pembroke plenty of exercise and keep him from being bored, and he's happy in a house, apartment or on a ranch. Just don't expect him to handle being alone in the backyard. If you get a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, make him a member of your family, not an outdoor dog.

Health Issues Common to Pembroke Welsh Corgis

Most serious of the conditions threatening the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a condition known as degenerative myelopathy. 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.

Other genetic conditions affecting Corgis include hip dysplasia, a crippling disorder of the hip socket that requires costly surgery to treat and often leaves the dog stricken with arthritis later in life, as well as Von Willebrand's Disease, a blood clotting disorder. Additionally, the breed can be affected by a number of genetic eye abnormalities such as progressive retinal atrophy.

There are other conditions that may affect the Pembroke Welsh Corgi for which there are no screening tests, such as spinal problems, arthritis, 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 how prevalent those particular health concerns are in his lines.

To protect yourself from the expensive vet bills associated with these conditions, you'll want to purchase pet insurance for your Pembroke Welsh Corgi before they show symptoms or are diagnosed.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
IVDD High $2,500-$7,000

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Pembroke Welsh Corgi Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

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.

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 annually and the results reported to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of all these problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Consider adopting an adult dog. Because many health and behavior defects hide until maturity, you can avoid both problems by adopting an adult Pembroke Welsh Corgi (or Pembroke mix) from a rescue group.

Puppy or adult, take your Pembroke to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues. Ask in particular about how to prevent and watch out for arthritis and spinal problems.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Pembroke Welsh Corgis

Pet insurance for Pembroke Welsh Corgis costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Pembroke Welsh Corgis are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Pembroke Welsh Corgis are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Pembroke Welsh Corgi is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.