With thousands of dog breeds out there, it can be hard to pick them all apart. From poodles and schnoodles to terriers and malamutes, each dog breed comes with its own distinct sub-breeds.
There are many different ways to tell the difference between dog breeds, from physical appearance, size, and temperament.
When it comes to corgis, there’s only two breeds you need to know: Pembroke Welsh corgis and Cardigan Welsh corgis.
Pembroke Welsh corgis are small and outgoing with a foxlike face, while Cardigan Welsh corgis have a rounder face and are a little larger and more reserved.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi (left) and Pembroke Welsh Corgi (right)
What is the history of Pembroke vs Cardigan Welsh corgis
Corgis have long been a beloved breed in the British Isles and have been favored by the British Royal family for many years.
There are two main types of corgis: Cardigan Welsh and Pembroke.
Cardigan Welsh corgis are the older of the two and can trace their ancestry back to the German Teckel breed that was brought to Wales around 1200 BC.
Pembroke corgis, on the other hand, are a more recent development and are descended from northern spitz dogs like the Husky that were brought to the region by the Vikings.
Both breeds were originally bred for their skills as hunting dogs and were often used to tend to livestock on the pasture.
Now, over the years, their popularity has waxed and waned.
In late 2022, I ran a survey over on Instagram @myfavcorgi with 7,284 corgi fans to determine which was the more popular of the two breeds. The results were overwhelming.
A total of 91% of people preferred the Pembroke Welsh Corgi compared to 9% of cardigan welsh corgi fans.
That doesn’t mean the Cardigan is not without its advocates, with many Pembroke fans also saying they loved the cardigan just as much.
But it’s a stark different to the days of yore, when dogs were bred for the function, rather than their cute features.
In an online survey on Instagram in September 2022, MyFavCorgi found that 91% of people preferred the Pembroke Welsh corgi to the Cardigan Welsh corgi.
How to tell the difference between Pembroke and Cardigan corgis
While every corgi is special and unique, here are some common similarities and differences between the two to help you tell which is which.
Table of Contents
Hello! It’s your local neighbourhood corgis. Can you tell who is a pembroke and who is a cardigan?
1. Shape of the corgi’s face
Pembroke Welsh corgis have a fox-like appearance, with pointy ears that start out floppy and then stand upright as the dog grows from a puppy to an adult. In contrast, Cardigan Welsh corgis have a more denser flatter face, with a rugged and less fluffy appearance.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are the first thing you think of when someone says ‘corgi’!
They are the most well-known and popular type of corgi, and are often seen in the media, such as like Brooklyn 99 and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. They are also the preferred breed of the British Royal family.
The face of a Pembroke most resembles a fox, whereas a Cardigan is more like a basset hound. Cardigans also have more rounded ears than their Pembroke siblings – though not as round as some social media posts would have you believe. They also have flatter, more defined, cheeks than the Pembroke.
2. Size of the corgi
Pembroke Cardigans stand at a max height of around 10–12 inches, whereas Cardigan Welsh corgis get an extra half inch on average, standing around 10.5–12.5 inches at the shoulder.
When it comes to size, neither breed is much bigger than a stack of pizzas for a small family gathering. That’s one of the reasons that make such good pets.
When it comes to weight, Cardigan Welsh Corgis (weighing in at 25 to 38 pounds) come in a little larger than the Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Pembrokes only weigh up to 30 pounds – the same weight as the 100 baseballs you’ll need to keep them entertained.
3. Length of the corgi tail
Pembroke Welsh corgis usually have their tail docked short to conform with the breed standard. Cardigans do not often have their tail docked, and it remains as a long brush tail.
Corgis are well-known for their distinctive and adorable hindquarters, which are often referred to as a “momo” and resemble a heart shape. These adorable butts have gained a lot of popularity on the internet and are often seen on Pembroke Welsh corgis.
In the United States, the practice of tail docking, which involves surgically removing part of a dog’s tail, is performed on Pembroke Welsh Corgis to conform to breed standards set by the American Kennel Club. Some breeders also claim that there are health benefits to tail docking. If you prefer a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a natural tail, it is important to discuss this with your breeder.
The long tail is more common in Cardigan Welsh corgis and is often thick and bushy, resembling a possum’s tail.
As a general rule, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are often depicted as having short or no tails, while Cardigan Welsh Corgis are depicted as having long tails.
4. Temperament of the corgi
While corgis are generally social dogs, between the two, cardigan corgis are more reserved and pembroke corgis are more outgoing.
Forget Guardians of the Galaxy, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are your guardian of the home.
If you have guests over, it’s quite likely that your Cardigan will be suspicious, and may take a bit of warming up before being firm friends.
However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good with people: they are even-tempered, and very loyal. A Cardigan Welsh Corgi chooses friends wisely and keeps them close.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, on the other hand, is a social butterfly.
They are a bundle of energy, and often make welcome to new people – expect them to be waiting by the door when you get home.
The Pembroke is a born curious and inquisitive creature, so expect them to always want to know what’s going on.
5. Colour and style of corgi’s fur
Both pembroke and cardigan corgis have a thick coat, but the smoother coat is what really helps define the Pembroke from the Cardigan (which has a rough coat).
If it’s peacoat and gumboot weather outside, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a perfect fit. Its thick coat keeps it warm, and the rough texture (never wiry, curly or silky) draws back to its long hunting heritage.
Expect dark, brooding colours with the Cardigan: greys, browns and blacks (it’s the mystery novel of dogs!).
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is, these days, more of a beast of leisure. They have a smoother fur, that lies flat and straight against the body.
You can find Pembroke Welsh Corgis in brighter colours, like white, golds and oranges.
6. Direction of the corgi’s feet
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi has feet that turn away from the body, while the Pembroke Welsh Corgis have forward facing feet.
One way to distinguish between Cardigan Welsh Corgis and Pembroke Welsh Corgis is by looking at the orientation of their feet. At first glance, this is a little trickier to spot. After all, you’d expect similar breeds to have similar paws. Not true in this case.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi has feet that turn away from the body, giving them a more stable stance when they are working on rough terrain.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, on the other hand, has feet that face forward, which allows them to be more agile and quick on their feet.
This matches their temperament: the Cardigan more stable and the Pembroke always ready to go.
Quick Quiz: Here’s another look at the two corgi breeds
Can you tell which is which? Answers below.
Should I get a Pembroke or a Cardigan Welsh corgi?
Because there are so many similarities between pembroke and cardigan corgis, it really depends on what you want. If you want a social popular dog, pick the pembroke corgi. If you’re after a dog that’s more unique and a little more rugged, the cardigan corgi is a great choice.
Many people choose Pembroke corgis. They’re by far the most popular corgi breed on Instagram and they are easy to find from breeders. They are very social and friendly and make great pets for families and young kids.
Cardigans are fantastic choices, however, if you love corgis and want one that’s more reserved. While they still require exercise, they can be less demanding than their pembroke buddies.
Final thoughts on the differences between Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh corgis
So there you have it. You now know the common differences between Cardigans and Pembroke corgis – and can spot them in the wild! Here’s a quick summary for you to remember for each breed.
|Pembroke Welsh corgi
|Cardigan Welsh corgi
|Short (or no) tail
|Long brush tail
|Bubbly and ongoing
|Cautious and dependable
|Bright smooth fur
|Dark rough fur
Quiz Answers: A. Pembroke. B. Cardigan.