This edited article about the corgi originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 721 published on 8 November 1975.
Extremely popular in Britain, Australia and New Zealand is the Welsh Corgi. There are two types – the Cardigan with its long, bushy tail and the Pembroke which has hardly any tail at all.
The name Corgi originally meant “cur dog” or working dog. The word “cur” has come to mean something quite different today, and to apply it to the Corgi in its modern, uncomplimentary sense would be completely wrong: these dogs were highly regarded for their working ability, particularly herding cattle. In South Wales today, “corgi” is an affectionate term for rascal.
They were also called “heelers” because of their characteristic habit of nipping the heels of the cattle when controlling the herds.
The Cardigan is the older breed of the two, probably descended from the cattle-dogs of the Celts. It is believed that the Corgi also carries the same blood as the small dogs introduced into Wales during the great Viking raids.
The much more well-known Pembroke is of more recent origin. It may have been brought to Britain by Flemish weavers who were summoned by King Henry I to start up their craft in Wales.
Corgis were excellent cattle drovers and it is very likely that they enjoyed this kind of work. Having very short legs also made them suitable for much less pleasant tasks, unfortunately. These included running continuously for long periods in a turnspit used for roasting meat or in a watermill which churned butter. Such jobs would be regarded as too cruel even to be considered today.
The fondness of the royal family for the Pembroke Corgi has played a large part in the breed’s immense popularity. The Queen has favoured them since childhood.
Cardigan Corgis, with their long tails and heavier bodies, are less easy to spot as there are fewer of these to be seen. Pembroke Corgis, however, with their handsome foxy heads, watchful expression and short, straight legs, are seen everywhere nowadays. They are often tan in colour with a hard-textured coat and white markings, standing about 12 inches (304 mm) high.
This article and image(s) are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.