You Be The Judge

by Robert W. Cole

Originally published in Dog News, 1997. Reprinted here with permission of the author


Which Front Is Correct?

One of the most important Cardigan Welsh Corgi functional breed characteristics is this herding breed’s unorthodox front end which departs greatly from the norm. It takes the form of a wrap-around front, an unusual forequarter assembly difficult for concerned breeders to describe and for judges to fully appreciate…Graphics are required.

I have focused first on the front end because an appreciation of the correct Cardigan front is crucial to understanding the breed. The Cardigan has a wrap-around-front – the front legs from elbow to wrist wrap closely around the b0dy. This unorthodox assembly is similar to but not quite the same as the Basset Hound’s front or those of the Dachshund, Welsh Pembroke Corgi. or Dandie Dinmont Terrier, each having varying degrees of wrap-around.

I have drawn four fronts, only one is correct… which one? The heads have been bagged so as not to disclose too early the characteristic shape and position of the Cardigan’s ears.


If you decided on Fig 2 as the correct Cardigan front, you were close, you selected the straight-to-the-front oval pointing feet of the Pembroke wrap-around-front, right for the Pembroke, wrong for the Cardigan.

Fig 4 departs even further in that in addition to the feet pointing directly forward, the short forelegs are incorrectly straight from elbow to foot. This front is very incorrect for the Cardigan being both a structural and a breed type fault.

Fig 1’s front is that of the Dachshund taken from the British book The Show Dachshund ISBN 09520649-0-1, by Dr Sylvia Kershaw and myself. An earth digger, the classic wrap-around front of the Dachshund is similar to but not quite the same as either the Cardigan or the Pembroke fronts.


Fig 3 represents the correct wrap-around Cardigan front. The feet(the feet not the toes) point slightly outward. “This outward point is not to be more than 30 degrees from center line when viewed from above”. If you stood behind and over this dog and looked down at his front feet from above, pretending he was standing on the face of a clock, the center of his left foot would point to 11 o’clock and the center of his right foot would point to 1 o’clock. More outward angle than this produces an unsound front.

Fig 5 and Fig 6

The Cardigan’s front is an important breed characteristic highlighted in a CWCCA Judges Education Committee letter from which I shal quote. To compliment this quote I have drawn a Cardigan skeleton in profile and one head-on.

These two unofficial drawings compliment the direction in the fore mentioned letter by Andrea Turnus which reads:

“Cardigans mus have the correct front end structure and this is probably the hardest thing for judges to understand. The upper arm must curve around the correct egg-shaped rib cage, with no daylight showing between the chest and leg, and with the wrists closer together than the shoulders. The front feet must turn out, even if only sightly.”

There are fifteen related features involved, each depicted in either Fig 5 and/or Fig 6. The are 1. moderately broad chest; 2. well sprung ribs; 3. deep brisket well let down between the forelegs; 4. viewed head-on the shoulders slope downward and outward from the withers; 5. shoulder blade is long; and 6. well lad back; 7. upper are is nearly as long as shoulder blade and meets at close to a right angle; 8. elbows fit close; 9. elbow positions well up on body; 10. brest-bone is prominent; 11. forearm is short, covering deepest part of the chest; 12. slight slope to pastern viewed in profile; 13. pasterns straight (viewd head-on) from wrist to foot; 14. feet turn out slightly; and 15. wrists somewhat closer together than points of shoulder.

The club advises that you examine on the table but judge teh soundness of the front visually on the ground because a poor front can be greatly improved stacked on the table. Unsound fronts take many forms sucn as bowed front, fiddle front, out at elbows, and knuckling over. Untypical fronts include straight legs and feet that point directly forward.



Which Ears Are Correct?

Three similar heads, but only one has ideal size and carriage – which one?

Fig 7’s ears are not quite large enough and position too high. Fig 9’s ears are about the right size but are carried too low (acceptable carriage for a puppy). Fig 8’s ears are just right.

Correct Cardigan ear size, shape and carriage are important. They must be large and prominent in proportion to the size of the dog. They are slightly rounded at the tip and of good strong leather. They are moderately wide at base, carried erect and sloping slightly forward when alert. When erect the tips of the ears are slightly wide of a straight line drawn from the tip of the nose through the center of the eye. Small and/or pointed ears are serious defaults. Drop ears are a disqualification.

Judges are asked to make every attempt to se if the ears of a puppy or adult will come up to the erect position and are advised not to expect the ears to be continually held erect nor to expect them to be erect at the trot. Further on in this article you will be invited to view a fourth head face-on and in addition to finding three ear faults take unusual color markings into consideration.

Fig 10 And Fig 11

One of these two heads in profile is correct the other is not. Which one is correct’?

I have taken license with color between the two however this does not conceal the one fault. If you picked Fig 10 as correct you appreciate that the length of muzzle from tip of nose to moderate stop should be shorter than length of skull from the base of the stop to the occiput, the proportion being about 3 parts muzzle to 5 parts skull.

Fig 12

Aside from color markings what three things are wrong with the ears? This Cardigan’s ears are too small, pointed, and held too high. Small and pointed are serious faults. As for color markings the white on the ear is acceptable. the white surrounding the left eye is a fault according to the’ CWCCA however the revised Standard states, “white on the head should not predominate and should never surround the eyes.” The strong word “never” is used and both eyes are included. This leaves the Standard open to interpretation, for instance this could be interpreted to mean that one eye surrounded by white is faulty but white surrounding both eyes should never happen.

Which Body Length Is Correct?

Cardigans are long bodied, longer than the Pembroke Corgi. The ideal overall body length to height ratio measured from the point of forechest to the point of buttocks is 1.8 to 1. All three of these sound dogs measure 12 inches at the withers. Dogs and bitches should be 10.5 inches t0 12.5 inches in height. Dogs should weigh between 30 to 38 pounds. bitches 25 to 34 pounds. Oversize and undersize are serious faults. One of these dogs is the ideal length, one is acceptable and one is not. Which is which?

We are advised that the desired pants and fullness of tail will give the appearance of a dog approximately twice as long as it is high. Fig 14 is such a dog and can be considered acceptable. However the ideal would be 1.8 to 1 as in Fig. 15. A dog too short in body and neck is represented by Fig 13. A short or cobby body creates an incorrect silhouette and is a major breed type fault.

Body Markings.

A body predominately white is disqualified, Cardigan splash and body spots are acceptable. I included both on the best two of the three different body lengths because white splashes and white Islands are serious faults in certain breeds concerned about marking uniformity, and if you were not aware of Cardigan marking acceptance you might wrongly not place Fig 13 last in this class of three.

Fig 16

Returning to the correct head viewed face-on, I have attempted to provide refinement and chiseling. Coarse heads, cheeky heads. and snipy narrow heads ate wrong. The expression is alert, gently watchful yet friendly. The eyes are “medium to large”, not bulging with dark rims and distinct comers, widely set, and in harmony with coat color. Not completely oval, the upper rim is more arched than the lower.

Blue eyes or partially blue eyes, or one blue and one dark eye are permissible only in blue merles. Check for blue spots and specks In the iris of dogs other than blue merle as they must be disqualified.