Thanks to the internet, corgis have experienced a resurgence in popularity (seriously, just cruise Buzzfeed for a slew of corgi-related material). Which is a good thing since they were considered to be near endangerment just a few short
legs years ago. Now you will see all sorts of social media lit up with floofy bunny butts, giant ears, stubby legs, and giant smiles.When we originally selected the corgi as the dog we wanted, we had done a fair amount of research. We wanted a breed that was highly intelligent so we could train it. A breed with a friendly & outgoing temperament in case we planned for a future family. What we did not realize that we were signing up for, were all the the quirks that make a corgi so much like a corgi. We now have two of them. Dash, our handsome 5 year old and Dodge, the rambunctious puppy who will be two in January.(above: Kara calls this his “Heeeey gurl” pose)
A brief history: Corgis are a highly intelligent working dog. Yes, it seems strange that such a small, stocky thing is considered a working breed. They are a herding dog, originally intended for keeping livestock in order. Their ears and eyesight give them incredible alertness, and they make excellent watchdogs. While Dodge may not have the opportunity to herd sheep, he’s extremely adept at letting us know when a bird has landed on our fence, or a leaf has blown by. Constant vigilance, that one.
So let’s cover the basics. What makes a corgi a corgi? Let’s break it down.
*Disclaimer* All these photos are of our boys. Some from our phones, so ‘scuse the quality.
- Chewing ability – A jaw so powerful it can chew through a cowbone. No, seriously. For such a small dog, they have the jaw of a mastiff. It’s a little unsettling at times. We only buy Cowbones, Nylabones, & Kong toys in our house. Anything else is in for a woefully short lifespan.
- A long snout equipped with razor sharp teeth – For nipping heels of livestock (or us) for anything that strays outside the
herdkitchen. Oh, and sharpening aforementioned cowbone into a deadly shiv that dents your hardwood floor when dropped.
- Barking – While not incessant, their bark will knock you back three feet and potentially burst your eardrums. There is no “yipping” or “yapping” here. Their barks go all the way to 11. It’s all for the “herding” you see. Their commanding bark is helpful for getting everyone’s attention, waking up neighbors, startling fully grown adults, displays of false bravado, etc.
- Ears – So large they double as radar dishes. The are always up, and rotating independently of one another. They can hear a crumb hit the floor from across the house. Dash can be upstairs, asleep on the bonus room couch…but if I pull out the popcorn making pot, rest assured I will have a friend at my feet in less than 11.6 seconds.
- Eagle eyes – I will never stop being amazed at their eyesight. Dodge routinely barks at birds 3 houses down and Dash can spot a fellow dog out for a walk a good 1/2 mile before we do.
- Stubby legs (aka stumpers) and meaty paws – This adds to the cuteness factor, but it is a desirable trait for herding. Short legs give them a low center of gravity and the ability to tuck and roll under livestock without being trampled. Their paws rival those of a bulldog. Dash is endearingly known as “sir fat-paws” in our house.
- Dat Bunny Butt – I mean, it’s even heart shaped.
- 16x time world-champion shedding ability – The fur: Oh. Dear. God. the fur. On top of blowing their coats TWICE a year, they also just shed…non-stop….year round. Regular brushings don’t really make that much of a difference. I know. We’ve tried. I brushed our boys regularly with the furminator for weeks and didn’t notice a difference with how many tumbleweeds we had floating down the hallway. I’m convinced that the corgi hair is sentient and if enough of it gathers, it will form another corgi.
- Sploots (one or two legged) – Corgi’s preferred method of lying on their belly relaxation. Just a quick Google search will give you the idea.
- World class agility – I can’t tell you how many times they have surprised people with how fast and agile they are. You see a small dog and think “awwww, cute” but are shocked when you see they have the speed of a mongoose and the handling of a MINI Cooper. Since they are bred for herding (more on that in a minute), their tiny bodies are a tough little package. I read somewhere that corgis are bullets of muscle. That couldn’t be a more accurate description.
- High Energy – With a dog that is alert and physically capable of herding, it means that they can indeed handle physical activity. People see a corgi and think “small dog” that would make a good apartment dog, or needs little exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. They need daily exercise for their physical and mental well-being. If they are bred for running around and herding livestock, they absolutely need exercise to keep them in peak form. However, take comfort in knowing that a corgi can veg out with the best of them. A tired corgi is a good corgi. They are hardcore sleepers.
- The Herding Instinct – If you set them loose at the dog park, you may as well equip them with a striped shirt and a whistle. Corgis specialize at getting other animals to do what they want them to do. It’s their nature. Corgis like order. If there is disorder, a corgi will puff out it’s majestic chest floof and say “challenge accepted” and attempt to herd all things back into place. You’ll be mortified at the dog park when all the other dogs are wrestling, racing, playing fetch, and there’s your corgi…circling around a playful cage match like a soccer referee. If Kara & I are not in the same room, it’s total chaos. They are physically incapable of relaxing. They must know where both of us are at all times, safe and secure. They will herd you, other animals in the house, and especially small children. You can train your corgi what is acceptable, but you will never rid them of their instincts. It’s who they are at the core.
- Smarts – Corgis are consistently recognized as one of the smartest breeds around, and boy…it’s a problem. High intelligence lends itself to a dog that is willing to learn and eager to please. It also leads to other things, like boredom, or power struggles. They need a TON of intellectual stimulation and training or else you will find your rug, furniture legs, baseboards, drywall, etc. as recent target of whittling practice for their razor sharp snappers. Just ask the guy who replaced all of the following like…the week before their condo was supposed to go on the market. Corgis have the ability to make well-thought out decisions, and act on them independently. They know what they want, and how to go about getting it. They will push you around if you let them. Obedience training is 100% necessary with a corgi. They can and will out-smart you if you let them.
- Bold-faced defiance – Goes hand in hand with the above. They can go from stubborn to outright defiant if you give them any slack. Dogs have a pack mentality and look up to their leader. They will respect you if you are a strict disciplinarian (aka, the alpha). And sometimes they will extend their imaginary double middle fingers at you just for the sake of testing boundaries. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself standing out on the back porch in your PJ’s yelling “Do NOT eat that rabbit poop!” while they stare back at you indignantly.
- FRAP – I could place this under the physical since it is an activity, but this is definitely a mental thing. There are only a few breeds that succomb to frapping. Corgis are absolutely one of them. F-R-A-P means Frantic-Random-Acts-of-Play because it is just that. Suddenly, as if possessed, they will burst into sonic speed, running around in circles (or figure 8’s), mouth agape, eyes glazed over and they WILL. NOT. STOP. until the FRAP spirits release them. While Dash reserves his for a freshly mown lawn (or snow), Dodge usually prefers an early morning session while we’re getting ready. We hear the familiar sound of what sounds like a horse race taking place in our bedroom, and come out to find the rug displaced, the dog beds several feet away from their rightful spot and a panting, smiling corgi looking up at us with self-satisfaction.
- An unrivaled love of food – The most food motivated breed I have EVER encountered. Some dogs can be fed easily. Just fill the bowl and they can nosh as they please. Uh, not a corgi. No sir. We feed them twice a day, at the same time (remember they like order) and the same amount. We do this to control their weight. If left to their own devices, I’m convinced a corgi would eat until it explodes. They are never NOT hungry. And they will eat ANYTHING. I’m not joking. Dash tried to eat a rock once. Learned quickly that he couldn’t, but that’s the first place their brain goes “Is this food? I’d better find out” – Owner’s tip: Teaching your dog that you are in control of their food supply is the fastest way to establish who’s the boss. Our corgis LOVE breakfast and dinner. Even if we can’t say those words out loud.
- That Corgi Smile – Corgis are one of the few breeds I’ve seen with an actual smile. It’s probably akin to their physical features, but they actually smile. It can melt even the coldest of hearts. At least there’s no question when they are happy or not.
- Maximum cuddling ability – Dude. Corgis can cuddle with the best of them. And their compact size makes it so easy.
- EMO – I suppose that the smarter the breed, the wider array of emotions they can display. I may be wrong, but what I DO know is that Corgis have a ton of personality and are a very expressive breed. It’s certainly one of the most endearing things about them. They are odd, eccentric, OCD, talkative, affectionate, and just flat out goofy.
- Social Life – Corgis are a very social breed. They need friends. They thrive on and excel at personal relationships. They love to be around people/other animals and get easily upset when they are confined away from them. It’s rare that a corgi would ever intend harm toward anyone. They are assertive and protective, but always give the benefit of the doubt at first. Also, Dash’s theme song is “Part of your world” from The Little Mermaid …I wanna be, where the people are….
Now, many of these traits are not unique to corgis, but what cannot be denied about them is their uh…how do I say this delicately?….strong personalities. If you find yourself questioning whether or not to own one, let me be brutally honest. As with any dog, if you’re unable to commit to a lifetime of seeing their daily needs are met, then it may not be in the cards for you. If you can’t deal with the hair, don’t want to commit to a regular training regimen, then it shouldn’t be in the cards for you. If you live an inactive lifestyle or don’t have a space to at least exercise them regularly, then pick another breed. Bottom line: If you take the time to train a dog and keep them healthy, then you will be rewarded with a very quirky, unique, and devoted companion.