The purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi, one of the oldest breeds in the British Isles, descends, as does the Dachshund, from the old teckel breeds of Germany. Think long and low with prominent prosternum and front legs that wrap around the chest.
A breed that is more than 3,000 years old evolves over time, but farmers who depended on these smart, agile little dogs required characteristics that remain important in dogs we see today: correct conformation, effortless movement and solid temperament.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi breed standard states:
General Appearance: Low set with moderately heavy bone and deep chest. Overall silhouette long in proportion to height… General Impression: A handsome, powerful, small dog, capable of both speed and endurance, intelligent, sturdily built but not coarse.
Whether you view a Cardigan from across the ring or out in a field, the dog’s outline must unmistakably say “Cardigan.”
Although the standard devotes a lengthy paragraph to the “head”, the paragraph should not dictate a major portion of your decision when you evaluate a Cardigan. The important features are parallel head planes, the 3:5 muzzle to back-skull ratio and large, erect ears, set so that the tips are slightly wider than a line drawn from the tip of the nose through the center of the eye. Cardigans should also have a black nose (except the acceptable butterfly nose in a blue merle), a strong under-jaw and, preferably, a scissor bite.
The wrap-around front is the hallmark of the breed. The functional front allowed the Welsh farmer’s working dog to drop quickly, thus missing a blow from the hoof of a kicking cow. The upper arm wraps around the deep chest; the strong pasterns and feet that support the chest should not be set forward of an imaginary plumb line dropped directly from the withers to the floor. The feet may turn out slightly, think no more than eleven and one on a clock face; they should be large
The purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi should be penalized if it does not have round bone. Round bone is one of the distinct features that differentiates the Cardigan from the Pembroke, along with an outline that is a series of curves. In contrast, the Pembroke has oval bone and a more angular silhouette. Again, think of the Cardigan’s silhouette: a deep chest with a distinct tuck-up at the belly; a level top line that slopes into a long fox-line bushy tail at the croup. Soft curves.
The Cardigan’s double coast is harsh, medium length and dense. A soft, long and/or silky coat, even if trimmed, is a working fault and should be penalized. The only permissible trimming is to tidy up the feet. Well scissored grooming may attempt to disguise a long coat but it cannot after a soft or silky texture.
Cardigans exhibit a variety of coat colors with white markings on the head and body, however white should not predominate and should never surround the eyes. The dog should appear to have a colored coat with white sports or markings rather than a white coat with colored spots or markings.
The Welsh farmer’s Cardigan was a working dog and as such required an easy, effortless gait to do a day’s work. Today’s Cardigan is no different, whether in the show ring or competing in companion or performance events. The standard clearly describes this attribute:
Gait: Free and smooth. Effortless. Viewed from the side, forelegs should reach well forward when moving at a trot… Hind legs should reach well under the body, move on a line with the forelegs, with the hocks turning neither in nor out and in one continuous motion drive powerfully behind, well beyond the set of the tail.
Last, but definitely not least, is temperament. The standard says: “Even-tempered, loyal, affectionate and adaptable. Never shy nor vicious.” Adaptability is key. A loud noise may cause a reaction, but a well-tempered Cardigan will recover. Some Cardigans dislike the table examination. They tolerate it, but you can clearly see a return to a confident personality after all four paws are on the ground, which is where expression should be judged.
Although the Cardigan’s popularity has not changed position significantly in AKC ranking, the breed’s successes in the show ring have significantly increased. For many years, the Cardigan struggled to gain recognition at the group level. Today, however, Cardigans are placing and winning every weekend in the herding group and BISs are not out of reach for any of these excellent representatives of the breed.
The CWCCA invited all those interested in learning about the purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi to join the club and to attend our National Specialty. Meet our dedicated mentors and club members who are always available to share information about the breed. First-time attendees are even afforded a special ringside viewing section.
The parent club website, CWCCA club, which has recently been redesigned, is a valuable resource for owners, breeders and judges. Click on the drop-down menu under “Education” to access the “Resources” page to view the new movement video, the Judge Education Committee’s (JEC) article/position statement on white markings and a number of articles about the Cardigan in general and judging in particular.
Photo credit – © American Kennel Club