Red Corgi: Pictures, Facts & History
By Kit Copson
There are two distinct Corgi breeds—the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Both breeds come in various colors, including red (Pembroke Welsh Corgi) and a combination of red and white (Cardigan Welsh Corgi). Cardigan Welsh Corgis can also be red merle and white, though this is an alternative, not standard, AKC color.
A Corgi’s red coat ranges from a pale golden/orange shade to a fiery reddish gold. Cardigan Welsh Corgis can also have a wide range of markings including a black mask, brindle points, and ticked, whereas Pembroke Welsh Corgis can only have white markings.
In this post, we’ll explore the history of both Corgi breeds, share some unique facts, and look into whether or not Corgis make good pets.
The Earliest Records of Red Corgis in History
If you’re interested in history, you’re sure to be intrigued by the Corgi’s long and exciting tale. Though the Corgi’s exact origins are shrouded in mystery, we know that they originated in Wales and that they may date back as far as 920 A.D. One theory is that the Vikings brought their dogs to Britain around this time and bred them with Welsh dogs.
However, it’s also possible that the foundation stock for Pembroke Welsh Corgis as we know and love them today came over to Wales from Flanders with the weavers invited over by Henry I in 1107. The Cardigan, which is actually one of the oldest British dog breeds, possibly migrated to Wales with the Celts in approximately 1200 BC.
Both Pembrokes and Cardigans have worked throughout history as herding dogs and watchdogs due to their short stature (which helps to control cattle), agility, and natural alertness. The word “Corgi” may come from the Welsh word “curgi” which translates to “to watch over.” However, it is also claimed that the word is a mix of the words “cor” (dwarf) and “ci” (dog), which later changed to “gi”.
How Red Corgis Gained Popularity
Corgis have been popular for centuries as both working dogs and family dogs thanks to their herding abilities and companionable natures. When Corgis were commonly working as herding dogs, it is said that after their farm chores were done for the day, they would head home to spend time with their families.
In the mid-nineteenth century, most Welsh farms kept Corgis—Cardigans up north and the spitz-Pembroke in the south. They were eventually retired as working dogs and replaced by Border Collies due to an increase in pasture-raised sheep but remained popular as companion dogs—later for some very high-profile figures.
In 1933, the royal family acquired their first Corgi, whose name was “Dookie”. Queen Elizabeth II owned more than 30 Corgis over the course of her lifetime, which meant that they were always in the public eye.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are ranked number 11 on the AKC’s 2021 most popular dogs list. Cardigan Welsh Corgis are much further down the list at number 67.
Formal Recognition of the Red Corgi
The Kennel Club first recognized Corgis in 1920 and recognized Pembroke and Cardigans as separate breeds in 1934. The first Pembroke Welsh Corgis arrived on US soil that same year and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America was founded in 1936.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1934 and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi a year later in 1935. In addition to red, the AKC accepts three other colors and combinations for Pembrokes—black and tan, fawn, and sable.
As for Cardigans, standard colors and combinations are (in addition to red and white) black and white, blue merle and white, brindle and white, and sable and white.
The 3 Most Unique Facts About Red Corgis
1. Corgis Have Long Been Associated with Legend and Folklore
One legend is that children adopted a pair of puppies they had found on royal lands that their parents told them were gifts from the fairies. According to folklore, these served as carriage pullers for the fairies who also rode them into battle—the “fairy saddle marks” can still be seen on Corgi’s upper backs today.
2. “Wolf Corgis” Are Not Corgis
You may have heard the term “Wolf Corgi” used to describe a dog that looks very similar to a Corgi but with wolfish features. These dogs are actually a separate breed called Swedish Vallhunds. It’s possible this breed was created as a result of breeding spitz dogs with Welsh Corgis.
3. Corgis Are Often Super Affectionate
Many Corgis love nothing more than a good cuddle. They’re typically very sociable, extroverted dogs that enjoy meeting new people as well as spending time with family.
Does a Red Corgi Make a Good Pet?
Yes! Both Pembrokes and Cardigans make great family dogs because they tend to be very friendly, intelligent, affectionate, and fiercely loyal. They’re best suited to families who can offer them plenty of love and time in return because many Corgis greatly enjoy physical touch, attention, and simply being around their favorite humans.
Corgis typically take to training easily because they’re such smart dogs, but just bear in mind that they can also be a tad stubborn and willful, so consistency is key. Grooming-wise, they shed their undercoats during shedding seasons and also shed daily, so it’s a good idea to slicker brush your Corgi and go through their coat with a comb on a daily basis.
So, Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are ancient dog breeds whose ancestors go back more than 1,000 years. Red is a standard AKC color for Pembrokes, whereas red and white is a standard color combination for Cardigans. They’re famous for being royal dogs, farmhands, herders, watchdogs, and—most of all—excellent companion dogs.
Featured Image Credit: Michel van der Vegt, Pixabay