The Row About The Brindle Pembrokes

From the time the first standard was drawn up by the pioneers in 1925 the colour was 'any, other than pure white' and thus it remained after the Kennel Club in 1934 had recognized the Cardiganshire and the Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi as two different breeds.

In her first book The Welsh Corgi. Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire Types, published in 1934, Thelma Gray writes: 'The fox-red colour is the most common, and the most popular. Other usual and much-favoured colourings are sable-red, dark sable, fawn, black-and-tan, tri-colour (black, tan, and white), also brindle and blue-merle, both of which are uncommon in the Pembrokehsire type, though they may often be found among the Cardigans'.

In the second, revised edition, published five years later, Thelma Gray writes about the Pembrokeshire type corgi (chapter IV): 'Blue merles are practically unknown in this type today, and brindles are also comparatively rare, though the brindle colour, which comes from one particular strain only, is very dominant and usually produces itself in every brindle-bred litter'.

When the Pembroke standard was being revised in 1945, the Committee of The Welsh Corgi League proposed that brindle should be left out of the list of desirable colours as it was considered a Cardigan colour. According to John Holmes this got Thelma Gray really 'hot under the collar' and like her he regarded the arguments for this move as quite ridiculous, especially as all the brindle Pembrokes were descended from his Nippy of Drumharrow (Bowhit Pontius x Sparks) who before the war had gained one CC and 2 Reserve CCs. Both John Holmes and Thelma Gray were of the opinion that it was a step in the wrong direction to penalise any colour that was already accepted in a breed.

Nippy of Drumharrow,
John Holmes' brindle Pembroke bitch.

After many heated, sometimes bitter arguments, John Holmes and Thelma Gray forced a referendum of the League membership to again include the brindle colour in the standard arguing that it was one of the original colours in the breed and asking the members whether they thought 'the breed will be improved by penalising a typical, sound brindle of good temperament when there are so many lacking in these essentials'? But they lost. The result of the Welsh Corgi League's postal ballot on the question of the re-admission of brindles to the standard showed that 'the Noes have it by 97 votes to 74'. Thus ended a paper warfare which had continued unabated for several weeks in the breed columns of Dog World.

Brindle is not a disqualification, only a fault, but the result of the ruling is that there have been none of that colour around for many years, a fact which the late John Holmes after 50 years still deplored. His Nippy had ten litters, five of which with Rozavel Red Dragon, and out of the total of 41 puppies 19 were red or red sable and 22 brindle.

In the mid-1950s, that is about 10 years after the revision of the standard, a brindle puppy turned up in a Pembroke litter, the first for years and years in this breeding line. On tracing through the pedigrees of both parents, it has been found that they have a mutual brindle Cardigan ancestor, eight generations back on one side and ten generations removed on the other. All the other breeding is Pembroke, whilst neither of the parents nor the grandparents have ever produced a brindle before. (Pat Curties in Welsh Corgi League Handbook 1957).

Some twenty years later, a brindle Pembroke was born in Canada from registered Pembroke parents. It would be interesting to find out whether he is another throw back to some Cardigan ancestors.

brindle Pembroke
Canadian KC # JT 36646 Burtman Jody, born 25 Sep 1977
(Sire 898101C Bhilwara Hermit - Dam FQ A 947 Burtman Topsy)
Breeder: Mrs M Welsch, Calgary, Alberta
(Thanks to Laurie Savoie for supplying the photo and info)