Pembroke vs. Cardigan: Breakdown of the Welsh Corgi

While the Pembroke and Cardigan are both Welsh Corgis, they are distinct breeds with separate personalities and looks. Learn the difference and which one would be best for your family.

Dec 1, 2023By Holly Ramsey
pembroke vs cardigan breakdown of welsh corgi

Queen Elizabeth was very fond of Pembroke Welsh Corgis, making them one of the most recognizable dogs in the world. What many people do not realize is there are two different types of Corgis: Pembroke and Cardigan.

The adorable Corgi has become very popular and commercialized, popping up in print ads, TV commercials, and even on kids' apparel and toys. Both are a Welsh breed and look very similar, but there are definite differences in look, personality, and health. Let’s dive into the breakdown of the Welsh Corgi.


cardigan welsh corgi in park
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Their history is similar, with both being confident, effective herders. Bred to move cattle to the fields, corgis also helped farmers protect their homes and barns. Surprisingly enough, they do not share a common ancestor and come from different regions in Wales. The Pembroke hails from Pembrokeshire, a flat or gently rolling terrain in southern Wales. The Cardigan originated in Cardiganshire, a rockier terrain in southwest Wales.

Corgi Personality

pembroke welsh corgi puppies
Image credit: Pinterest

Both breeds require training and plenty of exercise to ensure they become well-adjusted family members. They were originally bred to herd cattle by barking and nipping; therefore, without proper socialization and training may become unruly. Both breeds make excellent watchdogs and will sound the alarm when something or someone comes to your property.

Cardigans are a little quieter and more laid back but can also be much more reserved when facing a new situation. Expect a Cardigan to sit back and assess a new situation before diving in. The Pembroke is a more outgoing, higher energy, loving dog that does require more exercise and stimulation.

Both types of Corgis love to chew and can destroy most toys within a short time. This can be very frustrating for their owners. Experienced Corgi owners will know which toys are best for their dog and be willing to spend a little extra on chews and toys that will last longer than just a few days.

Corgi Appearance

pembroke welsh corgi hiding grass
Image credit: Classic Kennels

National breed clubs create a breed standard that is then posted by the American Kennel Club and other registries as a blueprint of what that breed should look like and its overall structure. An ethical breeder will study the breed standard and strive to breed accordingly.

Short legs, long backs, and large, erect ears are signature characteristics of a Corgi. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America states that the Cardigan has larger, rounder ears, heavier bone, and is generally larger than the Pembroke. The colors of the Cardigan are more varied, and the Pembroke is only red and white or tri-colored.

welsh corgis in grass
Image credit: Classic Kennels

Cardigan Corgis have a long tail, whereas Pembroke Corgis have a docked tail. Some Pembroke breeders are opting to not dock tails on their puppies, and in many European countries, tail docking is now illegal.

Even though both breeds have short hair, they are double-coated and will shed profusely, especially during the spring. Regular bathing, brushing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning are required for both varieties.

Health: Pembroke vs. Cardigan

pembroke welsh corgi grass
Image credit: Classic Kennels

There are genetic dog tests available through several reputable laboratories. Ethical breeders will utilize these tests to ensure their puppies do not inherit health problems that could become a nightmare as the puppy grows. Health testing the parents and pairing genetically clear dogs is a sign of a conscientious breeder.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America recommends breeders test for degenerative myelopathy (DM), exercise-induced collapse (EIC), von Willebrand disease (vWD1), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) can also be problematic in the breed. Cardigan Corgis have a few of the same health issues: DM, PRA, and IVDD.

Hip dysplasia is a condition that cannot be detected by a genetic test. It is a condition where the hip joint does not form properly, and severe arthritis develops. Dogs suffering from hip dysplasia will have difficulty walking and be in severe pain.

The Bottom Line

brindle cardigan welsh corgi
Image credit: cardiganwelshcorgiuk

Whether you are looking for a Pembroke like Queen Elizabeth used to have as her constant companion or a sturdy, low-stationed friend, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are fabulous choices. Both are generally good with kids; they are herding breeds and could nip at children as they run and play. This is why training is important for both breeds.

If you are looking for a bigger-boned, sturdy pup that will stay medium-sized and not be high-energy, check out the Cardigan. But, if you want a pup with the iconic, adorable “Corgi butt” with no tail and fluffy “skirts,” the Pembroke is right up your alley.

Whether you are purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder or fostering a Corgi that you are interested in adopting from a rescue, be sure to do your research to figure out which breed is right for you.

Holly Ramsey
By Holly Ramsey

Holly is a 2nd generation dog breeder/trainer and has over 25 years of experience with several different breeds. She enjoys working with her Japanese Chin and Rough Collies and helping her mom and daughter with their chosen breeds. Most evenings, Holly is hanging out with her daughter watching movies, crafting, or playing with the fur-kids.