What About That Front?

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

Cardigan breeders and breeder judges often say, “The front is the hallmark of the breed.” Yet the front seems to be the part that is the most difficult to “get.”

The correct Cardigan front is not out atthe elbows; the ankles don’t collapse inward; the paws shouldn’t turn out beyond 30 degrees; the chest is not flat between the legs; the legs are not straight and set far apart. The prosternum is not flat, the shoulders are not straight, and the prosternum and the elbow should not be so close together that the dog sets up over himself. The rib cage should not be flat.

The correct Cardigan front has a wrap that cradles a well let-down chest. The chest should fit into your cupped hand with an obvious rounded point; we in the breed refer to this as an inverted egg.

The pasterns should be sturdy and relatively short. The paws should remain within the 30 degrees suggested for ideal turnout.

The prosternum should be pronounced, like the prow of a ship, and the distance between the prosternum and elbow should make up approximately one-third of the body length.

The shoulder and upper arm are supposed to be set at an approximate right angle, with good layback, and the flowing neck ties into the shoulders behind the elbows. Ideally, the upper and lower arms are of equal length.

The rib-spring should be rounded and generous. The deep chest should flow in a curve up to the rib cage, blending easily.

In motion, from the side, a correct front allows for good reach. The forward-back rotation of the shoulder will show equal reach and matching extension under the ribs. In motion, from the front, the legs tend toward one another as if to single-track but are too short to actually do so. 

Movement should be clean coming, with sturdy legs; short pasterns aid the appearance of strength and correctness.

Legs should neither be too close nor too wide and without pronounced twist at the ankles. Leg bone should be moderate but appear sturdy enough to match the mass of the body. And while the Cardigan front carries more weight and mass than the rear, it should not be so heavy as to mimic muscle-bound body-builders.

Rather than judging Cardigans only in the ring, a visit to a herding trial will show why the Cardigan is built as he is and why correct structure is vital. The rear propels the front, and the correct front allows for physical balance as the Cardigan works like a cutting horse, moving quickly and efficiently from side to side. Because of the mass in the front end, the turned-out paws aid balance as the dog moves laterally. However, too much turnout can case the dog to break down in front, and a straight front can throw too much stress onto the shoulders.

Current, provisional, and prospective judges visiting the CWCCA national specialty should seriously consider attending the herding trials to gain important perspective on the breed.

—Jennifer Roberson

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, September 2013.

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