As a very old breed, the earliest history of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is lost in antiquity, but documented references exist from at least the eleventh century. Originating in the Pembrokeshire region of Wales, Pembrokes are uniquely built to suit their terrain. Wales itself is approximately the same size as New Jersey, and Pembrokeshire is even smaller, consisting of hilly, rocky terrain. This was the ancestral home of today’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Welsh landholdings, often called crofts, were typically small, and livestock was allowed to graze on Crown Land. The Pembroke (and his cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi) were developed over the years to help thrifty Welsh farmers with numerous tasks around the croft. This included the endurance task of slowly driving a variety of farm animals to market towns over twisting trails, often avoiding the toll roads.
Eventually, Pembrokes retained many Spitz characteristics, and the Cardigan more of the Teckel traits. This distinction is important to remember when judging the two breeds, as many of the essentials of type are related to these differences in background influences.
From an early UK champion in the breed, CH Rozavel Red Dragon (b. 1932), any fancier can follow the development of the breed on a continuum through the years until perhaps the late 1960s.
This beautiful UK champion bitch, CH Evancoyd Personality Girl (b. 1967), would easily be competitive today. A wonderful resource for any fancier interested in this progression is The Welsh Corgi League British Pembroke Corgi Champions 1928-1997, affectionately known as the “Silver Ch. Book.”
Our devoted breeders have worked hard over the years to maintain type since Personality Girl’s time. It’s frighteningly easy to allow a breed to continue to evolve over the years to the point where it is not at all recognizable from its origins. Moderation is something our Breed Standard emphasizes. Although trends toward one extreme or the other do occur, invariably it swings back to type and moderation. In large part, this preservation of type is due, thankfully, to Pembroke breeders and fanciers who are extremely dedicated to preserving the hallmarks of our breed. (See next page.) Veterans are cherished in the show ring and there are any number of Veteran top winners, including Best in Show, of the Pembroke National.
The Hallmarks of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi:
Low (10-12” at shoulder) with a decidedly rectangular, docked outline being 40% longer than tall from withers to tail.
Attractive head, foxy in shape and appearance with 3:5 muzzle to backskull proportions, medium-sized ears, oval eye forming an equilateral triangle.
Unique wrap front around characteristic egg-shaped rib cage with oval bone and feet that drop down straight from the wrist.
Outlook bold but kindly, never shy or vicious.
Free and smooth movement, particularly as viewed from the side, with a level,
Correct double coat in self colors of red, sable, fawn, black and tan with or without white markings. Any other color than listed is a serious fault. Please refer to the full color statement on the PWCCA.org website for further information.
You will note that our Standard states:
“Correct type, including general balance and outline, attractiveness of headpiece, intelligent outlook and correct temperament are of primary importance.”
Pembrokes are unique in size and shape, with a characteristic wrap front, docked outline, and a head that is foxy in shape and appearance and that must be prioritized.
Our Standard also states:
“Movement is especially important, particularly as viewed from the side. A dog with smooth and free gait has to be reasonably sound and must be highly regarded.”
Please note that the statements in the Standard about movement notes that “free” and “smooth” are the traits to be valued. Not how fast, not how much suspension, etc. In fact, in the Gait section of the Standard, the attributes “free and smooth” are reiterated.
The reason for this emphasis is due to the Pembroke’s original job. Droving all day at a sufficiently slow speed (to retain stock weight) requires endurance and efficiency. A dog can be a very free mover and be anything but smooth, which compromises endurance. Conversely, a dog with limited, but balanced, angles can be smooth but lacks the freedom of movement to competently perform the job. We want them both!
Last, but not least, is temperament. Unlike a fair number of Herding Breed Standards which mention “can be reserved with strangers” (or something similar), Pembrokes are extroverts. If you see a litter of Pembroke puppies in a pen, they will likely be jumping up saying “pick me, pick me!” That is our called for “bold, but kindly” temperament that we want and love.
As mentioned previously, our dedicated breeders and fanciers are devoted to keeping our breed stable in overall type. This is where knowledgeable judging of our breed augments our efforts. One of the icons of our breed, Anne H. Bowes, Heronsway Pembroke Welsh Corgis, has written the excellent article below to help all judges with procedure and prioritization.
Judging Procedure for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Priorities in Judging the Pembroke Welsh Corgi—Taken from the Standard
- General Balance and Outline
- Attractiveness of Headpiece, Intelligent Outlook
- Correct Temperament
- Movement, Particularly as Viewed from the Side
The first word in the Pembroke Standard is “Low-set.”
Also stated in the Standard: “Correct type, including general balance and outline, attractiveness of headpiece, intelligent outlook and correct temperament are of primary importance. Movement is especially important, particularly as viewed from the side.”
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are an outline breed on short legs. Therefore, judges must assess outline, balance, and side gait from at least 15 feet away from the dogs. This includes on the table and ground. When the class first enters the ring, make sure the dogs are lined up on a side of the ring that allows you the 15 ft. viewing distance. Determine outline and balance from that distance. Walk down the line, approaching each dog from the front to assess attractiveness of headpiece and front construction. Then, send them around the ring so you can assess side gait.
Next is the all-important table exam. Stand at least 15 feet away from the table and remember, this is the ONLY time you have Pembrokes at eye level, so be sure to spend adequate time assessing the all-important balance and outline of each exhibit. Also, be sure that the first and each successive dog is completely set up before you advance to the table.
After viewing the dog’s outline from the side, approach the dog from the front and perform your breed-specific table exam. Speak to the dog first before putting your hands on him to make sure he knows you are there. Some Pembrokes are so intent on their handlers (and the bait), they don’t see you coming!
Remember that the bite only (not the side teeth) are to be examined and that both scissors and level bites are acceptable. Missing teeth are not addressed in the Pembroke Standard.
Please do not try to get upright ears and expression from the Pembroke while he is on the table—the ground is the best place to evaluate expression.
During the judging of the class, you may need to recheck for fine points between exhibits. In that case, you must put the Pembroke back up on the table. Never bend over and touch a Pembroke while he is standing on the ground, no matter how quickly.
Pembrokes, like most herding dogs, are most comfortable moving in a circle than in a straight line. Therefore, on the down and back, Pembrokes gait best when sent to the diagonal corner of the ring instead of alongside the ring gates. When the dog and handler come back to you, allow the handler to get the Pembroke’s ears up so you can assess the correct ear placement and expression. Please do not throw any object or make funny noises. Remember to check both sides of the dog’s body to assess the amount and placement of white markings. After gaiting each dog individually on the down and back, send the dog around to the end of the line so you can again assess the side gait.
Pembrokes are very alert herding dogs, aware of any nearby disturbance. Therefore, if there are loud, sudden noises outside your ring, do not be surprised if the Pembrokes start barking! Give the handlers a minute or two to get their dog’s attention back on them and do not penalize a Corgi for being very interested in its surroundings. That is what Pembrokes were bred to do!
When making your final decisions, recall that the Standard states that side movement is especially valued and therefore should be given more emphasis than front and rear movement. If you remain undecided between two or three exhibits, remember the importance of general balance and outline before you make your class placements. If necessary, reassess the class from across the ring and move them again in a circle to be sure of your placements.
Please always bear in mind that our Breed Standard states,
“A dog must be very seriously penalized for the following faults, regardless of whatever desirable qualities the dog may present: oversized or undersized; button, rose or drop ears; overshot or undershot bite; fluffies, whitelies, mismarks or bluies.”
Judging Procedure for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi – Recap
- Assess outline and balance from 15 feet away, both on ground and on table.
- Allow the exhibitor to set up the dog on the table, then stand back and examine the outline before approaching the table.
- Send your exhibits on the diagonal for the down and back.
- Allow the exhibitor to get expression from the dog while on the ground.
- Watch side gait to the end of the line.
- Never touch Pembrokes on the ground—always put them on a table for additional examination if necessary.
- Side gait is important—spend time watching Pembrokes gait. Look for free and smooth.
About the Authors
Betsey Orman has been involved in breeding and showing Pembroke Welsh Corgis since the late 1980s, producing multiple champions which have all won at the Specialty level somewhere in their careers, including Best in Specialty. As a breeder/owner-handler, Betsey has also enjoyed success in the all-breed ring with Group wins and placements. She feels both specialty and all-breed evaluations are important to any breeding program.
As a judge, Betsey is approved or permit for half of the Herding Group and she continues her education and application for more breeds systematically. Betsey has served the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America in many positions, including the Board of Directors. She is currently the Chair of the PWCCA Judges Education Committee and says that the parent club’s JEC gets her respect, as she knows personally the challenges and objectives of these programs. “They are vital to good judging and I personally have been to nearly all of the National Specialty/JEC programs for the breeds I judge,”
Betsey hopes readers will enjoy and perhaps learn something about the wonderful Pembroke Welsh Corgi from this article. If you have any questions or are interested in hosting a Judges Education program on the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, please contact Betsey. She would love to help!
Anne H. Bowes
Anne H. Bowes has been actively involved with Pembroke Welsh Corgis for 55 years, having purchased her first Corgi in 1968. She has bred 119 Champions under the “Heronsway” prefix, 44 of which were breeder/owner-handled to their titles. Two Heronsway bitches have won BOB at the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America’s National Specialty Show. In 2007, Heronsway was awarded the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group Breeder of the Year. In addition, many Heronsway Pembrokes have excelled in Companion and Performance events such as Obedience, Rally, Agility, and Tracking.
As a member of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America since 1972, Anne has held numerous offices, including that of President for two different terms, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Newsletter Editor, Show and Membership Committee Chairman, and AKC Delegate. She has also served on the PWCCA Board of Directors for 40 years. In May of 2016, Anne was voted by the PWCCA Board into Honorary membership. In addition, she is a longtime member of Ladies Dog Club and a Founding and Honorary Member of Mayflower Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club.
For the past 33 years, Anne has been licensed to judge Pembrokes and has judged throughout the US for all-breed shows, including twice at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club. Also, she has had the pleasure of judging 15 Regional American Specialty Shows, three times for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, and Specialty Shows in seven foreign countries: England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Russia, and Finland. Anne is also licensed to judge Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Pugs.
Anne’s husband, Rick, has been her silent partner for 57 years and they have two daughters, Heather and Catherine, and three grandchildren, Matthew, Hannah, and Riley.
Are you looking for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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