If you have ever read this column, you know I’m an ardent supporter of adopting, rather than buying, pets. The bottom line is that there are animals who die because people “commission” one. I’ve already told myself that the only way I’m going to get another Chow Chow is if one appears in rescue. It will be a sacrifice, I remind myself, but it is the right thing to do.
But then there are Corgis.
I just don’t know if I can live knowing that I will never own a Corgi.
There are very few Corgis in rescue. In fact, if I do a Petfinder search right now, Corgis make up less than half of a percent of all dogs available. If I look closely at the ones who do come up in the search, it’s clear that a lot of them are best guesses for odd and charming-looking dogs — dogs from the School of Corgi, but not actually Corgis.
Things You Should Know about Corgis
- First and foremost, they are herding dogs. Their job was to move groups of animals from place to place by following these animals closely and nipping at their heels. They still have a tendency to apply those skills if they feel the circumstances merit it. Corgis will herd children, other pets, and guests in your home from place to place. They also have the energy of herding dogs, or at least many of them do. They’ll need exercise, and to keep busy mentally.
- They have the confidence and focus of a working dog. I’ve heard Corgis called bossy, and I can see that. They do like to be in the middle of the action and seem to have an opinion on what is going on. But it’s really that they have a job to do, and they need everyone to step lively.
- You need to be able to tolerate barking. Corgis have a purposeful bark. It goes with the job. They bark frequently, and when they bark, it’s not a one-off — it’s like they are offering a running commentary (a reasonable comparison since they are often running while they are barking). It’s not an angry bark, it’s not an emotional bark, it’s a call to action. Now, if you are thinking that you can probably train your Corgi out of some of that barking, please choose another breed. You can reduce, but not dramatically limit, that behavior. Their bark is as much part of them as those ears.
- They have health problems that come with their build. Corgis are prone to serious back and hip problems. It goes with the long back and the short legs. You need to protect those joints as much as you can (for example, if your Corgi sleeps on the bed with you, it might make sense to put steps leading up to the bed so your dog doesn’t need to jump off and jar their joints every day), and make the commitment to care for these problems if/when they emerge. It’s what you risk when you choose to buy a dog designed by humans, rather than by nature.
- They are attention magnets. People will stop you on the street to meet your Corgi, and will look at you with naked envy on their faces. Please try to be gracious and humble. Also, remember that if you are going to take your Corgi for a walk, chances are it is not going to be a quiet exercise with just the two of you — Corgis belong to the world.
- There are two kinds of Corgis. They are Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis. They have differences in personality (e.g., Pembrokes are more extroverted), some differences in appearance (Cardigans can be merle with blue eyes) and a very slight difference in size (Cardigan are slightly bigger). If you want to find out more, I suggest checking out our good friend Google.
Characteristics of Corgi Companions
Corgi companions is another way of saying Corgi owner, but there is some thing about the word “owner” that just doesn’t quite describe the relationship. Most Corgis are so central to their households and take on so much responsibility (in their own heads at least) that they truly merit the title of companion animal.
What personality traits do Corgi owners share?
- A humble sense of wonder that they are lucky enough to have these dogs in their lives. No, I’m not kidding. No matter how many years someone owns a Corgi, no matter how many times they have heard those barks, most of them still can’t believe how lucky they are to have a Corgi trotting through their house on a daily basis.
- A respect for herding breeds. I’ve never met a Corgi owner who didn’t have a very strong understanding of what makes their Corgi tick. They know a ridiculous amount about herding. Some Corgi owners are bordering on experts on the subject.
- They are patient. A barking, smart, busy dog can be a bit of a trial. Corgi owners understand that, even if they have a throbbing headache and their adorable canine friend is repeatedly telling them that there is something that needs to be done.
- They don’t try to train their dog out of being a Corgi. They aren’t trying to make their Corgi into a Labrador. They work with the energy level, the noise, and the determination, NOT against it.
And what of us, those animal lovers who never want to buy a dog from a breeder, but who really want a Corgi in their lives? Well, for the moment I intend to befriend Corgi owners* and offer to dog-sit. We’ll see if it that suffices.
*Oh please, like you’ve never befriended someone for selfish reasons before. Also, as an animal rescuer I was regularly friendly and non-judgmental with loathsome people to achieve a goal, so why can’t I do it for my own benefit for once? Besides, chances are, if they have a Corgi, they must be fascinating, witty, highly ethical, and eminently likable — or so I’m telling myself.