Types of Corgi Dog Breeds – The Cardigan Welsh Corgi vs. the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Corgi has increasingly become one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States with the New York Post naming them the “hottest dog of 2019”. Queen Elizabeth II’s famed love of the Pembroke Corgi has certainly contributed to their increase in popularity over the years with more households starting to enjoy their ideal size and temperament. But did you know that there are actually two types of Corgis? The Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are both classified as Corgis but are noticeably different. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between these two pups so you can make the best decision as to which is best for you.

Cardigan vs. Pembroke: A History

Even though the Cardigan and the Pembroke Corgi both originate from Wales, they do not share a common ancestor. They were both used as working dogs with most of their work being on the farm. They also come from entirely different parts of Wales, with the Cardigan Corgi being found in the southwest area of Cardiganshire and the Pembroke Corgi being found in the southern area of Pembrokeshire, as their names would suggest.

The original Cardigan Corgi is also older than the Pembroke Corgi by a whopping 2,000 years. The Cardigan Corgi is one of the oldest dog breeds in the British Isles, arriving in Europe in 1200 BC with its ancestors being brought to Wales by the Celtic tribes of central Europe. They also come from the lineage of the German Teckel where the Dachshund also derives from. The Pembroke Corgi originated in Europe around 1000 AD, arriving in Wales with the Vikings. This breed is descended by the Nordic Spitz breeds.

A Cardigan Corgi Is Not A Cross-Breed

Many people get confused when they see a Cardigan Corgi and assume it must be a cross between a Pembroke Corgi and another breed but a Cardigan Corgi is a separate breed of its own. These two types of Corgis have some physical similarities, which we will examine shortly; however, they are two completely different dogs.

So, are we trying to tell you that the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are not related at all? Yep! These two breeds were briefly interbred in the 1930s but besides this short instance, they have remained completely separate.

Cardigan vs. Pembroke: Physical Appearance

In terms of physical similarities, the Cardigan and the Pembroke Corgi have many even though they’re derived from different ancestors. These two types of Corgis have the same general features: they’re both dwarf breeds with stocky long bodies, short legs, and upright ears. They also share a thick double coat which requires a low amount of maintenance. That said, there are a lot of differences between the Cardigan and the Pembroke Corgi as well.

Physical Appearance of the Cardigan Corgi

There are some very notable differences in the physical appearance of the Cardigan Corgi vs the Pembroke Corgi. These differences include:

  • A long, foxlike tail, that is held low to the ground
  • A slightly stockier appearance with bigger bones
  • A curvier appearance, with a round bone and sloping rear
  • Coat colors include brindle, black and white with brindle or tan points, red and sable with white markings, and blue merle
  • Large, wideset ears and an alert appearance

The Cardigan Corgi is known for being a somewhat larger, stockier dog than the Pembroke Corgi with males weighing up 38 pounds and females weighing up to 34 pounds. Having said this, the two breeds are generally the same height, ranging from 10 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder. A long, foxlike tail is also one of the most noticeable differences in appearance as most are used to seeing the short, docked tail in the Corgi.

Physical Appearance of the Pembroke

The Pembroke is the more typical looking Corgi of the two with some notable differences from the Cardigan. These include:

  • A tail docked close to the body. When the tail is not docked, it is still shorter and carried higher on the body than the Cardigan’s.
  • Smaller, oval bones with a squared-off rear end giving them the appearance of being linear and rectangular
  • Smaller, medium-sized ears that are higher set on the head
  • Slightly longer outer coat
  • Coats are red, sable, and tricolor with white markings

As mentioned, the Pembroke Corgi is the slightly smaller of the two Corgi breeds and the more typical looking, made famous by Queen Elizabeth II’s affinity for them. The male Pembroke Corgi weighs up to 30 pounds while the female Pembroke weighs up to 28 pounds. They are also more restricted in their coat colors with Pembroke Corgi’s coats only seen as red, sable, and tricolor with white markings.

Cardigan vs. Pembroke: Personalities

Is there much difference between the personalities of the Cardigan and the Pembroke Corgi? Although they are technically two entirely different dogs originating from entirely different lineages, they were historically raised the same way and bred to be the same type of working dog so they do have some notable similarities.

Both the Cardigan Corgi and the Pembroke Corgi are people-focused – meaning they love to be around people and are happiest when they’re around their owners. They’re both wonderful family dogs and love children. Possibly because they were bred to be at their owner’s hip helping out with chores on the farm, they love to be a part of whatever you’re doing. They’re both intelligent dogs that learn quickly and love having a job to do. Both Corgi breeds are vocal to other humans and animals, having been bred to move cattle along their way.

Experts have certainly noticed differences between the two breed’s personalities, even if they are somewhat subtle.

The Pembroke Personality

The Pembroke Corgi is generally the people pleaser of the two, adding to their status as the more preferred breed. This breed is more affectionate, happy-go-lucky, friendly, and high energy. They want to be with their owners at all times and are known for sticking right by your side – you likely won’t have to worry about them getting lost or wandering astray. They are delightfully funny dogs who essentially live to please their owners and love getting exercise, going for hikes, and participating in any activity with people, especially if their owner is involved.

The Cardigan Personality

The Cardigan Corgi is a little more laid back than the Pembroke. They are not as likely as the Pembroke to bound right up to you and might take a little more time to get used to a new person. but, as soon as they do, they are just as friendly. Generally, the Cardigan Corgi is the more reserved of the two, taking a little longer to decide if they want to take part in any situation. They are certainly the less high energy breed but are still ready and willing to take part in most activities – they just may have to think about it first. If you’re looking for a well-balanced companion in terms of personality, the Cardigan Corgi is truly an excellent choice. They’re not as much of a go-getter as the Pembroke Corgi – they’ll be happy to go for a long walk with you but also just as happy to have a nap with you on the couch. Either way, they’re incredibly adaptable and will show you a ton of love and companionship in whatever activity you choose.

Cardigan vs Pembroke: Exercise Requirements

As mentioned, the Cardigan Corgi and the Pembroke Corgi are built similarly. They both have long bodies with short legs and are somewhat on the stockier side. But, do they have different exercise requirements?

This depends on who you ask – both Corgis are energetic dogs and enjoy at least a moderate amount of exercise. They love playing fetch, going for walks, and generally tagging along with whatever it is that you’re doing. The Pembroke Corgi is known for being the slightly more energetic breed of the two and may require slightly more exercise than the Cardigan.

With either breed, keep in mind that, due to their body structure, the type of exercise they’re able to do is limited. Do not get a Corgi if you’re looking for a dog to go on runs with you – although Corgis do love going on walks and hikes, their short little legs are only so fast and only meant to do so much!

Cardigan vs. Pembroke: Health Concerns

As with any purebred dog, both the Cardigan and the Pembroke Corgi are more susceptible to genetic health conditions. While mixed breed dogs inherit genetic health conditions as well, the fact that they are not purebred lessens their chance of them being an issue. This is because they are essentially watered down by the genes from outside the breed.

Having said this, it’s important to look at whether there any differences in health risks between the Cardigan and the Pembroke Corgi since they are technically two different breeds? Let’s take a look.

Cardigan vs. Pembroke: Health Similarities

Because these two breeds are generally shaped the same way, this leaves room for the same types of health concerns when it comes to spine and bone-related issues. Both breeds are susceptible to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) which can become incredibly serious and require spinal surgery. It’s also common with any dwarf breed to suffer from pain and arthritis in the legs.

Both breeds are also susceptible to:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Degenerative myelopathy

Are There Any Differential Health Concerns?

There is only one notable difference in health concerns between the two breeds. The Pembroke Corgi is at higher risk for developing a genetic bleeding disorder called von Willebrand disease. This is a disease that affects both dogs and humans and can cause serious blood clots. It’s caused by the lack of a specific protein in the blood and there is unfortunately no known cure. The Cardigan Corgi does not seem to be at risk for this condition.

Cardigan vs. Pembroke Corgi: Which Makes the Better Pet?

This is an impossible question to answer – both the Cardigan Welsh and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi make fantastic pets! They’re both loving companions that are friendly, intelligent, and loyal. They make excellent family pets.

The only notable difference to consider is that Pembroke Corgis may be slightly more suited to an active lifestyle. If you’re looking for a dog that is ready to get into any activity at any given moment, go with the Pembroke Corgi. Bit, if you’re looking for a breed that is just as happy running around as it is cuddling on the couch, the Cardigan Corgi may be a better option. The Cardigan Corgi may also be slightly more difficult to train and socialize but these differences are very slight.


Whichever breed you choose, the Cardigan Welsh and the Pembroke Corgi are both excellent companions who have a ton to offer you and your family. If you’re looking to purchase your Corgi from a breeder, make sure they’re responsible and you’ve done your research. Ask as many questions as you can about the Corgi’s lineage and the health of the puppy’s parents. Best of luck in the search for your Corgi!

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