Fawn Lane Farm
I'm often asked "What is the difference between a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi? Are they really that much different?"
The answer is a resounding "YES!!" They are to VERY different BREEDS, much in the way a Golden Retriever and a Labrador Retriever are. Indeed Pembrokes are considered to be descended from "Spitz" type dogs (think Husky), while Cardigans are descended from "Teckels" (think Daschund).
The standard of each breed is almost 180 degrees different. Pems should have a almost completely straight front end, with a tight, "hair footed" foot. "Hair footed" means that the mid two toes on the foot are slightly longer, and more oval. Cardis should have a front in which the front feet should turnout out, though NO MORE Then 30 degrees. Feet should be tight and round, sometimes reffered to as "marshmallow shaped". The Cardigan front should look very much like an egg atop a cup.
Heads also differ between breeds. Pems have pointier ears, with a fox like appearance, while a Cardi has rounded ears with a stronger moderately heavy bone.
Both breeds should have a strong solid top line while standing stacked and moving. In Cardigans the ideal length/height ratio is 1.8:1 when measuring from the point of the breast bone (prosternum) to the rear of the hip (ischial tuberosity) and measuring from the ground to the point of the withers. Ideally, dogs should be from 30 to 38 pounds; bitches from 25 to 34 pounds. Pems are (from ground to highest point on withers) should be 10 to 12 inches. Weight is in proportion to size, not exceeding 30 pounds for dogs and 28 pounds for bitches. In show condition, the preferred medium- sized dog of correct bone and substance will weigh approximately 27 pounds, with bitches approximately 25 pounds.
Moving back one of the most obvious difference to the novice is the tail. Traditionally, Pembrokes are a docked breed, and therefore do not posses a tail. Recently, most overseas countries have prohibited docking, cropping and removal of dewclaws, leading to most imported Pems to be fully tailed. AKC standard however, continues to call for docking. Tail - Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the topline. Cardigans have always been a tailed breed, and the standard calls for the tail - set fairly low on body line and reaching well below hock. Carried low when standing or moving slowly, streaming out parallel to ground when at a dead run, lifted when excited, but never curled over the back. High tail set is a serious fault.
Colors vary greatly between the breeds, as well. In Pems Color: The outer coat is to be of self colors in red, sable, fawn, black and tan with or without white markings. White is acceptable on legs, chest, neck (either in part or as a collar), muzzle, underparts and as a narrow blaze on head. Very Serious Faults - Whitelies - Body color white, with red or dark markings. Bluies - Colored portions of the coat have a distinct bluish or smoky cast. This coloring is associated with extremely light or blue eyes, liver or gray eye rims, nose and lip pigment. Mismarks - Self colors with any area of white on the back between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters, or on ears. Black with white markings and no tan present. This means that Red/Blue Merle, Brindle, and any mix of colors outside the colors mentioned in the standard are NOT accepted by AKC. By contrast Cardigans come in all of the self colors, in addition to Black & White, Brindle, and Blue Merle. The expression of white is also different in Cardigans. It is generally accepted that Cardigans can have white anywhere on the body and head, providing the dog is at least 80% colored, and that the eyes are completely surrounded by color. From the standard, Color: All shades of red, sable and brindle. Black with or without tan or brindle points. Blue merle (black and gray; marbled) with or without tan or brindle points. There is no color preference. White flashings are usual on the neck (either in part or as a collar), chest, legs, muzzle, underparts, tip of tail and as a blaze on head. White on the head should not predominate and should never surround the eyes. Any color other than specified and/or body color predominantly white are disqualifications. Most of the restrictions on white hark back to a time when dogs bred with large amounts of white, particularly around the eyes and ears, were found to be deaf and or limited in sight. Excessive white can lead to both these issues, as can "double merles", and therefore both of these traits are not bred for by responsible breeders.
Personality also varies greatly between the two breeds. Pembrokes are generally outgoing, friendly, excited to meet new people. Cardigans are generally more reserved, generally taking in new sights and smells before testing the waters, and then gradually warm up to strangers. My very best analogy is that if you were t walk into a Bar, a Cardigan would be tending the Bar, where as the Pembroke would be dancing upon it! Both breeds generally adore children, will alert to strangers, and form extremely close bonds to "their" people. Both breeds are very much "Big Dogs in Small Package".