by Patrick Ormos, Phi-Vestavia Cardigans, USA

"Overdoing It!"

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for breeders to do is to find a balance between all the different things which they are looking for in trying to produce a "perfect" Cardigan Corgi. In fact, finding that balance in any breed is very difficult. There are certain things about a breed which we, the breeders look at and value above anything else. We often characterise these things as "type".

We will say something about the beautiful head type, or how the ears are so typically Cardigan, or how wonderful it is to see that extraordinary length of back on the dog. Or perhaps we will rhapsodize over the wonderful round feet, or whatever it is that we feel really makes a difference.

But, let's just stop for a minute and think about things. What does this do to the breed which we all love? How do our Corgis turn out?

If most of us are honest, we will note that many of our dogs do not look markedly different than they did a few years back. In some ways we have not progressed a great deal. I believe that we have lost sight of the whole for looking at the parts. If we also look closely at our dogs we will note a disturbing trend, one which mirrors what has happened in German Shepherds, that is, that the extreme looking dog has begun to the expense of the balanced dog.

I believe that we are forgetting that the Cardigan is not an extreme aesthetic dog, but a balanced moderate functional one.If the Cardigan is truly a moderate, balanced and functional herding dog, then what should his structure be like? That is the primary question for all of us who are breeders, and for those of us who judge the breed as well.Let me share with you some questions. I will try to express my opinions about them in future articles. You may not agree. In fact, I hope that some of you do not, and that we can get a real dialogue of articles going on this breed. Only in this way can we begin to learn more about it. The Cardigan front consists of more than the radius and ulna bones. Granted that those are understood as unique by many people, just how unique should they really be? What functional difference does it make?

What has happened to the scapular and the humerus. In most breeds the ideal relationship between these two is that they are almost equal in length. Check your Cardigans out and notice how many of them are very short in upper arm. What kind of shoulder layback do we want in this breed? Why?Toplines are easily seen, and quite obviously very controversial. There are some very different interpretations on what the Cardigan topline (backline) should look like. What do you think?What kind of ribbing should the Cardigan have? I have seen everything from slab-sided dogs to barrel-ribbed dogs, and their owners claim that each one of them is correct. I am not prepared to accept that both are correct interpretations of the Standard.How do the ribs interact with the front legs, the shoulder blade and the upper arm to influence movement in the Cardigan?

A good answer to this kind of question would go a long way to convince people, judges and breeders, as to the correctness of a certain kind of ribbing.How wide is too wide in front? How narrow is too narrow? How does that affect the working ability of the dog. It is not just all aesthetics, it is also practical working ability that we are breeding for.How long is too long? I have noticed some Cardigans coming into the ring looking as if they should be in the Dachshund ring. Can a Cardigan get too long?

Certainly they can be too short-coupled - but what exactly are we talking about? Is it a loin that is too short? Is it the impression that is too short? Is it that the vertebrae are too short, thus actually causing a shorter back (this is indeed a real possibility)? Is it just that when the dog looks too much like a Pembroke the first thing that we say is that it's too short?Rear assemblies are a bone of contention. We run the gamut from under-angulated and straight to over-angulated like a German Shepherd.

The old UK breeders suggest that the hind leg should look "like a ham". What does that mean? How long a hock do we want, and how does that affect movement?These are just a few questions. There are others. We all need to look at our dogs with clear and critical eyes. Malicious rumours are not the way to educate and improve a breed. Free and open discussion is.

Sent to Corgi Quarterly (June 29, 1989)


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