Breed Temperament and Personality

AKC GAZETTE SEPTEMBER 2014
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column



The following was written by Jennifer Roberson.


I have often touted the loving, devoted nature of the Cardigan, and how he makes a wondrous companion for families and individuals. One thing Cardigan owners and breeders deal with on a regular basis, however—at shows, walking in a neighborhood, and elsewhere—is an invitation to explain the breed’s temperament and personality.

For the purposes of this column, I’m going to define temperament as the definition of the breed’s general attitude, and personality as to how each individual Cardigan navigates the world.

According to the standard, the Cardigan’s temperament should be even-tempered, loyal, affectionate, and adaptable. Never shy nor vicious. Considering one of the primary jobs of this breed when developed in Wales was to be a good family watch dog, temperament is a vital ingredient.

Personality, on the other hand, dictates the individual dog’s behavior. Most Cardis are extremely happy, cheerful, loving, intelligent, and biddable companions. It should also be noted that Cardigans are often very silly dogs with a pronounced sense of humor! Their love of play never fades, but they are not in general what one would call “hyperactive” or utterly “job-driven.” Cardigans greet people they know with enthusiasm and happiness, but after that first celebration of the visitor’s arrival, they will go lie down and gnaw a chewy or curl up on the couch to monitor the behavior of the humans under supervision. Or go to sleep.

One of the tasks is explaining to others that the Cardigan’s temperament is usually different from that of the Pembroke. My own personal description is that the Pembroke is the outgoing, popular, bouncy high-school cheerleader, while the Cardigan is president of the chess club. (And one may see everything in between!) Neither is better than the other; it’s simply a different temperament, and those interested in acquiring a corgi should examine their personal lifestyle to determine which may be best for them. The Pem tends to be more active, while the Cardi is considered more laid back. (Obviously, there are exceptions!)

In the show ring, exhibitors have for years done what they could to make their Cardis more showy. The Pem’s natural demeanor is to be on the go, and this is very appealing in the group ring. For decades the Cardigan has been considered very workmanlike. He trots around the ring nicely, but he doesn’t in general ask for the win. This is a normal function of the correct Cardigan temperament as a serious working dog. It took a discerning judge to see the overall quality of the Cardigan and not make a selection based on showiness. Nowadays, if we intend to special a Cardi, we reward a more outgoing personality and flashy movement.

Far more puppies go on to live in pet homes than see the show ring, however, and it’s vital that we explain the breed’s natural temperament, particularly to the prospective first-time owner. Buyers must also understand that this is a breed with a boatload of intelligence, plus reasoning and improvisational abilities. Precocious children can be a challenge; so can the precocious Cardigan Welsh Corgi. —J.R.


First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, September 2014.

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