The older of the Corgi dog breeds, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is commonly known as the yard-long dog and goes by the names Cardigans, Cardis or CWC. The breed is distinguishable by his long tail – like the sleeves of a cardigan sweater. Sensible and affectionate, the Cardigan is related to the Pembroke and were both once considered to be a single breed. 


Descended from the same dog family as the Dachshund and Basset Hound, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi’s ancestors are believed to come from Central Europe. More than 3,000 years ago, Celtic tribes migrated to Wales with Spitz-type dogs crossed with the original Corgi to produce the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

The Cardigan was a working dog who helped herd the farmers’ cattle and protected them from predators. The dogs would drive the cattle to the fields to graze and to the market. Cardigans were treasured as guardians, vermin exterminators and family pets, and an ancient Welsh law placed severe penalties on anyone found harming or stealing the dogs.

The first showing of the Cardigan was in 1919, and later in 1926, the English Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association was formed. At the time, Cardigans and Pembrokes were often interbred and considered one breed. This changed in 1934 when the British Kennel Club declared them separate breeds.

Physical Characteristics

The Cardigan and Pembroke have similar physical characteristics. Notable differences include the Cardigan’s long tail, slightly larger size, longer body, heavier head and more prominent rounded ears. 

Cardis have a double coat. The undercoat is short and the topcoat is longer and thicker. Their coats usually have white markings on the muzzle, neck, chest, belly, legs and tip of the tail. Their heads might have a blaze, a white stripe in the centre of the dog’s face. Coat colours include:

  • all shades of red, sable and brindle
  • black with or without tan or brindle points
  • blue merle with or without brindle or tan points

Some Cardigans have fluffy soft coats, but the length varies on the body. Like Pembrokes, they have a ‘fairy saddle” over their backs from the legend that fairies rode the dogs like horses.


An adult Cardigan Welsh Corgi can stand tall at 10.5 to 12.5 inches (25cm to 30cm) at an average weight of 25 to 38 pounds (11 to 14kg). 

Character & abilities

Bred to be cattle herders, Cardigans are alert with strong herding instincts. They love children but might nip at their feet and ankles during play. 

They make excellent watchdogs, vocal at the sight, sound or scent of anything out of the norm. They are friendly towards other pets in the home but can be aggressive towards any dog that isn’t part of the family. Two Corgis brought up together in the same household get along well. 

Cardigans have adaptable personalities. They can be less friendly and more territorial than Pembrokes. They are responsible, independent thinkers but still require early socialisation to ensure they grow up well rounded. 

Trainability & Intelligence

Among the easily trainable breeds, the Cardigan is considered one of the best dogs for inexperienced owners. This dog is intelligent and learns quickly. If living on a farm with horses, the Cardigan will enjoy helping load the horses into their trailers. 

Cardigans can be stubborn. Challenges during housetraining might require crate training. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

Cardigans have long bodies, but they are fast and active. They need daily physical exercise like walks or training for dog sports. 

This small dog has been known to over-indulge when given a chance. To keep the Cardigan in top form, it is best to measure food intake into two servings a day instead of leaving food in the bowl. The recommended daily amount is 1 to 1 ½ cups of premium quality dry food.  


Cardigans shed continuously with heavy shedding twice a year. Frequent brushing can keep shedding under control with warm baths to remove the excess hair. 

Dental hygiene involves brushing the Cardigan’s teeth two or three times a week. This removes bacteria and tartar build-up. Nail care involves trimming once or twice a month to avoid painful tears and getting caught in upholstery. When you hear the dog’s nails clicking on the floor when the Cardigan is walking, they are too long. 

Weekly examination of the skin and ears will catch any early signs of infection. The Cardigan’s outer ears can be cleaned with a cotton ball damp with a gentle ear cleanser. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

Cardigans are happy living in an apartment or a home with a yard. Although they have a weather-resistant coat, they are not meant to live outside. They need human companionship and daily interactions with their family. 

This small dog breed has short legs and a long back making him susceptible to back injuries. Cardi puppies have incomplete skeletal development and should be picked up supporting the front legs and rear end. A wise investment in dog stairs and ramps can prevent injuries when jumping on and off furniture. 


Like all other dogs, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is generally healthy but genetically predisposed to specific health conditions:

  • Intervertebral Disk Disease (IDD): Their long backs make them prone to spinal disc ruptures. Symptoms include difficulty walking and jumping, knuckling over of the limbs, weakness and paralysis.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): this condition involves the gradual deterioration of the retina in the eyes, beginning with night blindness. Some dogs can adapt to limited or complete vision loss as long as their environment is adapted to their new condition. 

Cardigans have a life span of 12 to 14 years. 


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is an active dog who forms loving bonds with his human companions. With a friendly, outgoing temperament, this brilliant small dog has a handsome facial expression and a sparkly personality to go with it. The Cardigan makes the perfect companion for active families. 

Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds do all the research, so you don’t have to. Our dog breed descriptions provide up-to-date information, whether you are learning more about your current dog or looking to adopt a small dog. We have all the details you need. 


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