Welsh Corgi vs. American Corgi: What’s The Difference?

With the rise in popularity, a lot of people jumped on the Corgi bandwagon and began offering American Corgis. What is the difference between a Welsh and an American Corgi?

Feb 6, 2024By Holly Ramsey
welsh corgi vs american corgi what is the difference

Corgis have been herding livestock for hundreds of years and originated in Wales. There are two types of purebred Corgis: Pembroke and Cardigan. The American Corgi is a mixed breed that was created by crossing the Pembroke and Cardigan Corgi.

American Corgis are being advertised as registered but the public does not fully understand that these puppies are registered with a lesser registry that welcomes mixed breed dogs. American Corgis are not American Kennel Club registerable.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Appearance

pembroke welsh corgi standing
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According to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, the Pembroke Corgi is a sturdy, low-set, active dog that is intelligent and outgoing. Pembroke Corgis are smaller than the Cardigan Welsh Corgis but should never appear fragile or undersized, weighing between 22-28 pounds.

They have a short, double coat that does require weekly grooming. Purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgis do not carry the merle gene; therefore, they cannot be merle in color. Their ears are large and set wide and should stand erect, never flop or droop. In the United States, tail docking is still acceptable and most Pembroke Corgis have their tails docked.

American Corgi Appearance

merle corgi standing
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There is no national breed club or approved breed standard for the American Corgi. This is a cross-breed between the Pembroke Corgi and Cardigan Corgi and their appearance will vary depending on which breed the puppies take after. They will have a short, double coat that will shed quite a bit. Their color and size will be unpredictable and can range from 20 pounds to 40 pounds.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi does not have its tail docked and most American Corgis also do not have docked tails. There are several Pembroke Welsh Corgis that produce natural bobtail puppies and some American Corgis may have a shorter tail if their Pembroke ancestors produced natural bobtails.

The American Corgi is not considered an established breed and no concerted effort among the breeders producing these corgis to develop the breed into a unique breed with a set standard and preservation breeders diligently working toward uniformity and health. Like the Auggie (Corgi/Aussie cross) and Cowboy Corgi (Corgi/Cattle Dog cross), the American Corgi is simply a mixed breed dog that was produced to make a profit for the breeder.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi vs American Corgi: Health Problems

pembroke corgi puppy in grass
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The Pembroke Welsh Corgi does have its share of health issues that preservation breeders have been diligently working to eradicate from the breed. Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a big issue and can cause pain and loss of mobility. Other genetic diseases include von Willebrand’s disease (vWD1), exercise-induced collapse (EIC), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and hip dysplasia (HD). There are genetic tests available for DM, vWD1, EIC, and PRA.

The American Corgi, being a mixed breed, can inherit diseases from the breeds that are crossed. In this case, the Pembroke Corgi with its set of genetic diseases, and the Cardigan Corgi, which also has PRA, vWD1, and HD as genetic conditions. If you have an American Corgi, it is a good idea to have them genetically tested for these diseases and screened regularly for hip dysplasia.

American Corgi Danger Zone

merle corgi in woods
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American Corgi breeders will hype their puppies as hybrid, rare, unique, and even healthier than their Welsh counterparts. These words are gimmicks used by breeders to make the public believe that the puppies they are offering are something special.

Welsh Corgis are dwarf breeds with stubby legs and elongated backs, but the overall structure of each breed greatly varies. There is a set breed standard for both the Pembroke and Cardigan Corgi and ethical breeders will study the standard and learn how to apply it in their breeding program. The overall structure of the breed is important for them to be able to properly perform the tasks they were bred to do.

American Corgi breeders do not have a breed standard and most likely have not spent time educating themselves about the structural differences between the Pembroke and Cardigan. These breeders will not have a blueprint of what the overall structure of an American Corgi should look like to be able to perform the tasks they are being bred to perform. In many cases, puppies are being produced that are not structurally sound because there is no standard these breeders are following.

american corgi in grass
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The merle gene can be a tricky thing to understand and most American Corgi breeders are breeding merle Cardigan Welsh Corgis to tri-colored Pembroke Welsh Corgis to produce merle American Corgis.

If a breeder is not educated on the pitfalls of the merle gene, they can irresponsibly produce double merle puppies. A double merle dog has received the merle gene from each parent. Double merle puppies can be born deaf or blind, and sometimes both. When a breeder purposely breeds merle to merle, puppies can even be born deformed and suffer from severe health issues their entire life.

Many American Corgis are winding up in shelters and rescues, especially the merles and double merles due to birth defects, long-term health problems, and behavioral issues due to poor breeding.

The Takeaway

corgi puppies
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When searching for a Corgi to add to your family, take into consideration the overall facts and not just the cuteness of the puppies. Pembroke Welsh Corgis have been an AKC recognized breed for hundreds of years and there are preservation breeders around the world working together to ensure the integrity of the breed standard is upheld.

The American Corgi is a cross-breed between the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgi. No preservation breeders are working together to make the breed better or set a standard. Health testing is virtually nonexistent. While an American Corgi puppy is adorable, it is still a mixed breed, and therefore predicting what that puppy’s appearance, health, and temperament will be as an adult is extremely difficult.

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.