Cardigan: unique in Working Group

by Jean Georgiou, Rhossili Cardigan Welsh Corgis, N.S.W., Australia

Each breed of dog has something about it which differentiates it from other breeds and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi has its individual characteristics which not only make it different from its cousin, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, but make it unique in the Working Group.

The forequarter conformation of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is different from that of any other working breed and therefore requires some special consideration from judges. It is a sad fact that some judges are not prepared to extend the eye to take in an understanding of why these forequarters developed and judge the breed accordingly.

The Standard requires that the legs be short but well clear of the ground and that the forearms be slightly bowed to mould around the chest with feet turned slightly outwards.

This does not denote unsoundness in any way. Judges should understand that it is not a crooked front. The Cardigan was bred to work in a mountainous area where grass grew short. It was therefore not necessary to have a dog with long legs, but what was necessary was to have a dog which had a good turn of speed plus plenty of spring to get over rocky and marshy terrain.

This type of terrain was quite different to the lowland and hilly areas over which the Pembroke Welsh Corgi was bred to work.

The feet of the Cardigan were developed to turn out slightly to cope with the marshy areas and were designed with thick large round pads to enable it to move quickly over rough and wet terrain.

The bowed forearms with the turned out feet gave balance of stance, and the long body in proportion to height permitted added spring, giving the dog plenty of mobility.

Judges should not expect the Cardigan to have the straight front legs of other breeds within the Working Group or the front of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi whose structure is totally different. This front is a distinctive feature of the breed. However the bow should never be exaggerated. The bow of the forearms is seen from the front view of the dog only.

In many breeds the head is considered of major importance and certainly the head of the Cardigan is a very distinctive and attractive feature of the breed. The Standard likens the shape to that of a fox. The head of a fox tapers from skull to muzzle and it is important for judges to keep in mind a picture of a tapering head, shorter in muzzle than in skull, with a moderate stop.

A special feature is that the skull should be slightly domed above the eyes. This is of great importance as the doming forms the eye socket and gives an extra degree of definition to the stop. Without this feature the eyes would not be deep enough to give the watchful, kindly expression which is characteristic of the Cardigan.

Erect large ears, clear dark eyes and good dark pigmentation are all features of the typical head.

Any deviation from these points such as equal planes of muzzle and skull, lack of doming, small ears, light eyes which detract from the correct expression, or lack of dark pigmentation are atypical and should be penalised.

The body of the Cardigan is required to be long in proportion to height. The late Harry Spira would have called a long body on short legs an anatomical deformity - however the Cardigan's length of body encompasses well-placed shoulders, well carried back ribcage, short loin, well turned stifles and short hocks. When all are present the desired length and level topline are achieved.

It is important for judges to assess these points thoroughly, particularly the length of ribcage, because without the correct length of rib there is lack of support for the topline and severe back problems can occur

However, each of these factors are equally important in a short-legged breed where it is essential to have these parts correctly placed if good movement is to be achieved.

The tail of the Cardigan is the rudder of the dog and whether swimming or at play the tail is constantly brought into use for balance. It should be set in line with the body and preferably touch the ground, finished with a brush such as that found on the fox.

The Standard permits the tail to be lifted above the body when moving but not to be curled over the back. This fault is usually synonymous with a high set tail and should be penalised.

I have deliberately started with those parts of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi which form and define breed type - the forequarters and the head, followed by the body. The front and the head contain those characteristics which differentiate the Cardigan from other breeds and I would suggest to judges that before evaluating a tabled Cardigan Welsh Corgi, they stand in front of and well back from the dog, in order to educate the eye to view and appreciate the main characteristics of the breed.

Carrying out an appraisal in this manner enables the judge to see immediately those parts which make the typical speci-men and from that point onwards other features such as bite, coat and movement can be assessed at any stage.

The Cardigan was bred to work cattle in the harshest of environments and many generations of breeding have gone into producing the strong, even tempered, attractive dog which we know today.

It is recognised that it is the original working Corgi of Wales and not only is it unique in the Working Group of dogs due to its special conformation, but it is also probably the oldest breed in the group as well.

I would ask evaluating judges - please give the breed the special consideration it deserves.


Published in National Dog November 1992

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