Origin and Purpose
The origins of the Corgi, like many other breeds, have never been officially recorded. A short-legged, long-backed dog from Wales has been known to exist since at least the late 1800s. The various pure-bred breeds came into being through selection for desired physical characteristics and mental traits that suited a particular purpose. The breeder in prehistoric time was a caveman, looking for a dog whose basic instincts assisted him in finding and catching food. Later, the breeder was the farmer, who found that keeping a plucky, hardy dog around helped keep meat on the family’s tale. Other farmers and stock men became breeders when they selected dogs whose instincts assisted them in the keeping of large animals, herding and driving goats, sheep or cattle from the barn to the fields and back home again.
Some dog historians theorize that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi originated from the Swedish Vallhund (brought into the country by the Vikings) and the Welsh Herd dog. The fox-like head of the Pembroke, they claim, was accented by cross breeding to members of the Spitz family of dogs. Flemish weavers settled in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire in the 12th century and brought the Schipperke and Pomeranian into the country. It is also thought that the Lancashire Heeler, a small black and tan cattle dog similar to the Corgi, could share in the breed’s ancestry. It has been written that the small dogs with prick ears and pointed muzzles depicted on the famous statue of Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Setting Sun, were direct ancestors of the Welsh Corgi.
Whatever his background, the final product exerted enormous appeal. Welsh people say the sturdy little Corgi has watched over their cattle and guarded their homesteads for many centuries. It is reported that every farm in the country had at least two Pembroke Corgis.
It is believed that the name “Corgi” comes from the word “cur” meaning “to watch over” and, it is significant that the Welsh pronunciation of the word is Currgi. Royal patronage brought the breed international fame. In 1933, King George VI, then Duke of York, purchased a Pembroke Corgi puppy from Thelma Gray, Rozavel Kennels, for his daughters. Queen Elizabeth’s keen interest in the breed continues to this day.