Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Barri J. Morrison, DVM
Written by:
Published: September 19, 2022
Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, or Pembroke for short, is one of the most popular herding-dog breeds in the world. The Pembroke was initially bred to herd cattle and sheep in Great Britain as part of the carpeting, textile, and tapestry industry.

One famous fan of the breed was Queen Elizabeth II, who was not without a Pembroke Welsh Corgi since her childhood. She got her first Pembroke, Dookie, in 1933.

The Pembroke is a short, sturdy, muscular breed of dog with a medium stature. They typically weigh around 30 pounds and are between 10-12 inches tall.

While very similar, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi are two separate breeds. They can be distinguished by their ears and their tail differences.

Caring for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a very smart dog that enjoys having a human family and being part of the “pack.” Pembrokes are loyal and can make great watchdogs, as they are fearless, independent, and highly adaptable.

The Pembroke’s characteristic long body and short stubby legs can be misleading, as these are powerful and hard-working herding dogs. Although low to the ground, they remain very agile in their daily tasks.

Pembrokes have medium-sized erect ears that taper to a rounded point. Their coat is short and made of two layers—a coarse topcoat and a soft, thick, waterproof undercoat. The double coat means that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi sheds a lot. Pembrokes do not do well in extreme temperatures and should not be outdoors much during extreme hot or cold weather.

Other than routine brushing to maintain coat health and decrease excessive shedding, the Pembroke’s grooming needs are minimal. These dogs come in a variety of colors—red, sable, fawn, and black/tan—with or without white markings. The Pembroke is known for its adorable hind end and waddling fluffy backside.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Health Issues

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has an average life expectancy of 12-13 years. The breed is prone to several health issues, so whether you adopt a Pembroke as a puppy or later in life, routine veterinarian visits and examinations are crucial to address any health issues as soon as possible.  

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia

Elbow and hip dysplasia are defined as abnormal growth or development of a tissue or organ. In this case, Pembrokes can be born with or develop abnormal joints, primarily hips and elbows. This affects both the bones and the surrounding soft tissue, such as muscle and cartilage.

These conditions cause pain, lameness, and eventually arthritis. They can be diagnosed by your veterinarian with an x-ray.

Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication, joint protectant supplements, and even surgery, depending on the severity of the dysplasia.

Cataracts

A cataract is an imperfection, an opacity, or a cloudiness of the lens of the eye. Cataracts can be too small to interfere with vision, but they can also develop over the entire lens of the eye and cause blindness.

If you notice any whiteness on the surface of your dog’s eye or pupil, or your dog shows signs of vision loss, have your Pembroke evaluated by your vet or a veterinary ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

Patent Ductus Arteriosis

Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is a congenital heart condition in dogs, meaning it develops in the womb and is present at birth.

The ductus arteriosis is an area of the heart that should only be present in the womb, as it acts to shunt—or divert—blood away from the lungs, which are not used until after birth. A PDA occurs when this shunt does not close the way it’s supposed to when the puppy is born. This results in the puppy not getting enough oxygen in the blood. The left side of the heart enlarges, and this can lead to congestive heart failure.

Many dogs won’t show any clinical signs of PDA other than a heart murmur picked up by their vet. However, others may have symptoms that include:

  • Coughing

  • Trouble breathing

  • Blue foot pads

  • Episodes of collapse

  • Weakness/lethargy

  • Exercise intolerance

After your vet hears a heart murmur, chest x-rays (heart and lungs) and an echocardiogram must be performed for diagnosis of this condition. A PDA in dogs requires surgical correction by a veterinary cardiologist.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a slow, progressive deterioration of the spinal cord. This condition is caused by a gene mutation, and dogs are usually 8 years or older when symptoms begin. DM often starts with a nonpainful unsteady gait and weakness in the back legs, and progresses into paralysis.

A DNA test is available to diagnose this neurological condition. Unfortunately, there is no treatment and there are no supplements that can help with this disease. Most dogs are euthanized 1-3 years after diagnosis because of a poor quality of life.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. It is caused by a faulty or deficient amount of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which helps the blood to clot. vWD is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs.

The most common clinical sign is bleeding in the mucosal regions of the dog’s body (gums in the mouth and inside the penile sheath or vaginal area), as evidenced by bruising seen in the area or on the skin. The bruises can be tiny, like the size of a pinpoint, but can also be much larger and look like an injury.

Von Willebrand's disease is suspected after blood work—such as a complete blood count (CBC) and coagulation panel and a special screening test called buccal mucosal bleeding time—has been performed. The diagnosis is confirmed with a DNA screening test or identification of low levels of vWF in the plasma. Treatment might include a blood transfusion and special IV medications.

What to Feed a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgis, like all other dogs, thrive on a high-quality complete and balanced diet approved by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Pembrokes are prone to being overweight, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much food they consume and if it is causing them to gain pounds. If so, a reduced-calorie diet, along with minimal to no treats or human food, is recommended.

Fresh vegetables and fruit, such as carrots, blueberries, cucumbers, and apples (with seeds and core removed) are good low-calorie snacks for Pembrokes, especially during training. Maintaining a lean and healthy body weight is also best for dogs like the Pembroke that are prone to orthopedic issues. Hill’s/Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Purina are among the most recommended brands of food for dogs.

How to Feed a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgis under one year of age should be on a diet formulated especially for puppies. Puppy formulas have added nutrients to aid in mental and physical development during this crucial time of a dog’s life.

After one year of age, your Pembroke should be switched to food labeled for adult dogs. When your dog gets to be 7-8 years old, talk to your vet about switching to a senior diet to meet specific needs at this age. These senior diets are often leaner and have added vitamins and supplements, such as glucosamine for joint health.

How Much Should You Feed a Pembroke Welsh Corgi?

In general, puppies should be fed 3–4 times per day and adult dogs should be fed twice a day.

How much you feed your Corgi is determined by the specific food your Pembroke eats and your veterinarian’s recommendation. You can ask your veterinarian, follow the package instructions, or contact the dog food manufacturer, as AAFCO-approved diets have veterinary nutritionists who help determine these requirements.

Nutritional Tips for Pembroke Welsh Corgis

In general, if dogs are on a well-balanced, AAFCO-approved diet, they are getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to grow and develop. Depending on life stage, your Pembroke might benefit from additional supplementation, including:

  • Joint supplements—Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM supplements are great for promoting joint health. MSM has all-natural anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that reducing inflammation helps to control pain associated with osteoarthritis, which is a common problem in dogs with joint issues.

  • Essential fatty acids—Omega-3 fatty acids (high-quality fish oil) are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties as well when given in appropriate doses. They are also known to help support eye and heart conditions.

  • Probiotics—These are used to improve digestive health, strengthen a dog’s immunity, improve ability to fight disease, help with urinary tract infections, and reduce allergic reactions by decreasing the ability of allergens to absorb into the intestines/bloodstream. A generally healthy dog can maintain this balance without probiotics, but during times of illness, stress, or malnutrition, these are valuable to help restore balance to the body.

Behavior and Training Tips for Pembroke Welsh Corgis

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Personality and Temperament

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are known to be very friendly and energetic dogs, with a large-dog mentality in a medium-sized body. They are very eager to please, so they enjoy training and learning new things.

Bred as herding dogs, Pembrokes do require significant mental stimulation—such as a job or an activity. Exercise and stimulation will also help decrease their propensity to dig and chew if they’re left alone too long or get bored.

Pembrokes do bark a lot and can be very vocal, which can make them an excellent guard dog. Due to their herding nature, Pembrokes make excellent farm dogs and are known to successfully herd animals much larger than themselves.

Most Pembrokes are fine with other pets in the house, and children if they are raised together. They can have an instinct, due to their herding background, to bite or nip at the heels of children who are running.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Behavior

Social interaction and training, from a young age, are very important to curb the herding behavior in Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Training is also important because Pembrokes will explore things using their mouth by biting and/or chewing, which can be painful, destructive, and not conducive to living with other dogs or children.

Pembrokes are energetic and enjoy playing with dogs that can match their high energy level.

Pembrokes can have a pack mentality and will protect their family—making them great guard dogs. They require exercise in the form of regular daily walks to help burn off energy and curb bad behaviors.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Training

Despite their appearance, Pembrokes are athletic and excel in herding and agility competitions. If you have nothing for your Pembroke to herd (for example, no farm animals), activities such as Treibball—a game where dogs learn to “herd” giant rubber balls—would be a great idea.

A fenced yard would be a good idea for Pembrokes, so they are able to run out their energy, but they can thrive in most any home environment due to their medium stature.

Consistent training that focuses on positive reinforcement and rewards will help Pembrokes master basic commands and learn new tasks. These are sensitive dogs, so avoid harsh training methods.

Fun Activities for Pembroke Welsh Corgis

  • Obedience training

  • Agility training

  • Treibball

  • Rallying

  • Tracking

  • Herding

  • Mental stimulation (such as puzzle toys)

  • Hide and seek

  • Indoor fetch

  • Frisbee

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Grooming Guide

Pembroke Welsh Corgis have a waterproof double coat that requires frequent grooming. Brushing once or twice a week with help remove loose hair and prevent some shedding, as Pembrokes tend to shed significantly.

Skin Care

Regular bathing, especially in the spring and summer, is essential to help with seasonal shedding, as Pembrokes do tend to shed more during those times of year. A mild, soap-free aloe or oatmeal-based shampoo is best for keeping the skin healthy and coat shiny.

Coat Care

Daily brushing with a slicker brush or comb is important to maintain a healthy coat and strip the undercoat to help reduce shedding. If your Pembroke has been out in the mud, it will be easier to remove the dirt once the coat has dried.

Eye Care

Since some Pembroke Welsh Corgis have white or light-colored fur around the eyes, it’s a good practice to clean the eyes and surrounding areas daily to prevent tear-staining. Brown or reddish-brown fur around the eyes is caused by a normal stain in their tears, called porphyrin. Pet wipes, such as  Angels’ Eyes, are available to clean around the eyes safely.

Ear Care

A Pembroke’s ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection, such as redness, debris, and/or odor. Mild ear cleaners are great to use at that time to keep the ear canals clean and dry.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Pembroke Welsh Corgis can be excellent, loyal, and happy companions for the right household, as long as their exercise, grooming, and training needs are met. Too much unreleased energy and a lack of training can lead to excessive barking and other behavior problems, including aggression. These dogs also have a herding instinct, so without proper training, they are not an ideal pet for homes with small children.

Pembrokes require minimal maintenance other than routine brushing (but they do shed a lot) and regular nail trims every 2 weeks or so.

Obesity will shorten your dog’s lifespan, so keep Pembrokes lean and in proper body condition by feeding them dog food twice daily. Giving too many treats or any human/table food is not generally recommended.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi FAQs

Is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi a good family dog?

Pembrokes can do well with kids and other pets in the family as long as they have been properly socialized from a young age. Since they are herding dogs, they have an instinct to bite or nip at the heels of running children if they have not been taught, starting as puppies, not to do so.

Overall, Pembrokes are friendly, playful, energetic, and great for families, even if this is your first time as a pet parent.

Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis smart dogs?

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a very smart dog that enjoys having a human family and being part of the “pack.” Pembrokes are a loyal breed of dog, and they are fearless, independent, and highly adaptable.

How much does a Pembroke Welsh Corgi cost?

If you’re purchasing a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from a breeder, expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $4,000 or more, depending on the lineage of the dog.

What’s the difference between a Cardigan Welsh Corgi and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi?

While Pembroke Welsh Corgis might resemble Cardigan Welsh Corgis, the two breeds were developed at different times and come from separate lineages. The most noticeable differences between the Pembroke and the Cardigan are the ears and the tail. The Pembroke’s ears are pointed and erect, while the Cardi’s are rounded. The Cardi’s tail is also much longer than the Pembroke’s.

Are Pembroke Welsh Corgis unhealthy?

In general, with responsible breeding and routine veterinary care, your Pembroke Welsh Corgi should be healthy and live to approximately 11-13 years old.

Smaller dog breeds, like the Pembroke, tend to live longer than larger ones. It has also been noticed that female Corgis will often outlive males by one or two years.

Featured Image: iStock.com/Ирина Мещерякова


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