Breed History

presented by Kennel Benfro

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The unknown

So take your pick - the first 4 dogs pictured on this page are - in some way or pomeraniananother - in theory - thought to be the origin of the Welsh Corgi Pembroke.If we overlook the legends and the faeries - please don't, it do belong to the breed as well as the facts.

The origin and early history of The Welsh Corgi is lost in the mist of time. The only thing certain is that the Corgi has existed in Wales for several hundred years. When excavating an old castle from around 800 AC in 2004, several hound bones were found as well as a skeleton of Corgi like size, long body and short legs so let's just cross fingers and hope it will bring some more light to our breed's history.

västgöta spetzThe Pembroke is a Spits type of dog and it's similarity to the Swedish Vallhound, not only in looks, but also in genes (both breeds can have natural bob tails, so does the Schipperke), nourishes Thomas Hubbard's theory of Scandinavian and Flemish influence.


schipperkeThat bring in the above mentioned Schipperke as well as the Pomeranian. The earliest written statement is found in the laws of Hywel Dda (Howell The Good), King in South Wales. The Laws were codified around year 900, based upon older unwritten Welsh laws. They stated that the value of a herdsman's cur was to be the same value as of an ox.

Not bad for a little dog, but again, - was that cur the origin of today's Corgi?

The more I read about the Welsh history and culture, the more connections I find puffin dogbetween Wales and Norway. So when Iris Combe published her book, "Herding Dogs, Their Origin and Development in Britain", her theory was that the Vikings brought along the Puffin Dog and that dog bread to the Welsh Cur Dog, gave the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. That could encounter for the color, but the Puffin Dog does not carry a natural bob tail gene.

It's all guesses - yours as good as mine. We shall just be grateful that the Welsh Corgi exists and gives us so much pleasure and joy.

The name of the breed is as difficult to pin down as is it's origin. Some combines the Welsh word "cor" which means "to watch over or gather" with "gi", a form of the Welsh word for dog. This was certainly a responsibility of these small cattle herders and homestead guardians. Others links the word corgi as the Celtic word for dog and that the Norman invaders thereafter referred to any local dog as a "cur" or mongrel.

Finally, legend pops up again with the interpretation that the word "cor" means "dwarf". Combine that with the Welsh form for dog "ci" and you have "dog of the dwarfs or "dwarf dog". For many years Corgis (both breeds) were referred to as either 'Ci-llathed' meaning "yard long dog" (we're talking a Welsh yard here) or as 'Ci Sawdlo' due to its nature of nipping at cattle's heels.

The known

We do a large jump up to present and traceable history in 1925, the year when when the first Corgi was known exhibited and The Welsh Corgi Club was formed. At the first annual meeting, the Honorary Secretary, Capt. Checkland Williams could report of 59 members and a bank balance of £5 13s.

shan fach 1928Those were the days. At this meeting the first official Standard was evolved - weight 18 to 20 lb., height not exceeding 14 inches at shoulder and feet like a Collie. A lot has changed since then. The Corgis at that time came in all shapes and sizes, and if we look at an article from 1934 written for "Our Dogs" by the late Mr. R. H. Voss, it must have been a sight to see.

"Although the popularity of the Welsh Corgi has increased by such leaps and bounds during the past two years, yet it must be admitted by the unbiased person, going the rounds of the shows, that there are still many dog lovers, addicted to other breeds, who assert that the Welsh Corgi has a crossbred and mongrelly appearance. It is the duty of Welsh Corgi breeders, by careful breeding and selection, to so improve both types that such ideas as this, which still have a substratum of truth, shall be knocked on the head once and for all."

- I wonder what his comments would have been today.....The little herder has come a long way since then.

In 1938, Mrs. Thelma Gray and Mrs. Barbara Douglas-Redding, with the help of Mr. Knapp, drew up a rough scale of rules and put them right with The Kennel Club rules for the founding of a new club. So on June 21st 1938, The Welsh Corgi League came to life.

red dragonSpeaking about Corgis, there's no way to go on without mentioning Eng. CH Rozavel Red Dragon, the most potent Pembroke stud force of the breed. He sired 11 Eng. Champions in his lifetime, numerous others throughout the world - and if you trace your own dogs pedigrees back in time, you are most certain to find him there.


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