AKC GAZETTE June 2022
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column
When I first became involved in Cardigans over 30 years ago, owners and breeders were in love with the yard-long, short-legged breed.
All-around judges less so.
In fact, one all-arounder said after judging the national that breeders had done a good job, that he used to think if you were to put a photo of a dog beside the definition for “ugly” in the dictionary, it would be a Cardigan.
I once asked a well-known pro handler what his initial impression was of Cardigans. He said they were ugly and crawled on their bellies around the ring
Judges and handlers don’t say that anymore. Judges stop breeders in the ring to thank them for their entry, to declare that the dogs are beautiful. Older judges with longer memories say the breed has come a very long way, thanks to hard work by the breeders. Well-known pro handlers have begun breeding Cardigans themselves.
Dwarf breeds are difficult. Breeders certainly do their best to achieve the ideal as exemplified in the standard, but the leg bones are not normal. Turnout is supposed to be more no more than 30 percent, yet we still see Cardis with severe turnouts. We don’t breed for that. But sometimes we get it. And sometimes they are rewarded in the ring
The correct Cardigan turnout is a living example of “Less is more.”
The correct movement, despite those short legs, is smooth, efficient, and flowing. Cardis can accomplish a suspended trot, if they are made right. Making them right is to breed for correct shoulders—layback!—and leg bones of equal length. The latter is very difficult to achieve. We battle short upper arms frequently
But judges these days do see many Cardis showing off balanced reach and drive. It’s important to remember that Cardigans are primarily drovers, and drovers needed to be able to move freely as they pushed livestock down narrow Welsh lanes.
Or pushing livestock in today’s herding arena. Even in all-breed herding trials, Cardigans can and do defeat breeds with more leg. Perhaps Cardis are more tortoise than hare in the doing of it, but we all know how that mismatched race turned out.
Yet in addition to better fronts, improved turnouts, and ease of movement, today’s Cardigan brings to the ring a happy temperament. Younger ones may prefer to levitate around the ring, or amuse everyone with the dwarf dog version of the Beardie Bounce. When judges ask younger dogs for attention, exhibitors may have to be ready to tame the enthusiastic “You want me? You got me!” reaction.
And they are pretty.
Made right, they are a harmony of curves.
At the national two years ago, I was able to visit with my original breed mentor, who had transitioned from the breed ring into herding and no longer bred. We sat at ringside watching a very large class of truly beautiful young bitches.
I said, “Better than they used to be, huh?”
Said she, “I can’t believe it.”
At that same national, one of the original breeders from the very early days here in America attended for the first time in decades. She stood beside the ring in wonderment. I said, “What do you think of the breed these days?”
Tears filled her eyes as she said, “They’re beautiful.”
Even in an all-arounder’s imagination, there isn’t a photo of a Cardigan next to the word “ugly” in the dictionary. And pro handlers have them taking Best in Show, not crawling around the ring on their bellies. (Though occasionally a 6–9 puppy may decide to take a snooze.)
Attend a regional specialty. Go to the national. Be amazed by what’s become of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves.”
Breeders? Take a bow.
Now go and bring another beautiful litter into the world.
Guest author Jennifer Roberson has been breeding and showing Cardigans for over 30 years under the Cheysuli prefix. She has also served as an officer on the CWCCA Board of Directors, as chair of Breeder
Education, and is a former gazette columnist. Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America
First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, June, 2022.
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