The Corgi’s popularity is due in part to Queen Elizabeth’s open fondness for the breed. But before they showed up at Buckingham Palace, Corgis roamed other parts of the United Kingdom for centuries. There are two distinct types, and while they may share certain characteristics, each has its own unique origin story (or stories).
The Pembroke and the Cardigan, the two Corgi breeds, refer to the locations in Wales (Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire) where the dogs as we know them first emerged. But their roots can be traced farther back. The ancestors of Welsh Corgis were associated with two separate “families” of dogs, the Pembrokes descending from the Spitz family (characterized by long, thick fur and pointed ears) and the Cardigans from the Teckel (which also produced the dachshund).
An early form of the Cardigan is believed to have arrived in Wales in about 1200 B.C., when Celts migrated from Central Europe to Wales along with their dogs. Originally known as Bronant (another Welsh place name), they were bred to be low to the ground, a suitable trait for herding and driving cattle as it made it easy to nip at others’ heels. Eventually the Welsh term “Corgi” was used, the meaning of which can be roughly translated to either “dwarf dog” or “to watch over.”
The Pembroke’s true lineage is not crystal-clear, with some experts believing Flemish weavers brought them to Wales in the early 12th century, while others think they descended from Swedish Vallhund brought over by the Vikings. However they got there, they eventually bred with other local cattle dogs and took on the shape of the Pembroke we know and love today.
Although the Cardigans are generally believed to have the longer history, it was the Pembroke that was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club first (in 1934), with the Cardigans gaining recognition the following year.
This blog was kindly written and provided by: Conor LaRocque