Difference in Temperament between Cardigan and Pembroke Corgi

The Pembroke says: "Hey, glad to meet you! What's up? Let's go out and have a beer!"
The Cardigan says: "How do you do, very nice to meet you. Can I get you something to drink?"

Jinnie Strickland
When asked what he thought the difference in temperament was, the (US) Cardigan breeder said:
"If this were high school, the Pembrokes would be the cheerleaders and the Cardigans would be in the chess club"

Quite a few people are curious to know the difference in temperament between the Pembroke and the Cardigan Corgi. It is the general opinion that Cardigans are more laid back, calmer and more reserved towards strangers than the sociable and amiable Pembroke. However, according to breeders of both breeds, Cardigan puppies are much noisier and boisterous than Pembroke puppies.

Here are some statements from owners and/or breeders of both breeds.

Jinnie Strickland (Solstice Shorthairs and Cardigans), USA
We are AKC k9 ambassadors and I do school programs. My Cardigan Stoney is great with kids. He is calmer than my friends' Pembrokes and that makes it easier to work with him in the schools since he isn't so excited around the kids. We have done "meet the breeds" where we have both Pems and Cardis and it is always interesting to see how people react to the calmer Cardigan.

Bridget Smeeton (Rodwell Cardigans and Pembrokes), New Zealand
has been visiting the geriatric ward at the local hospital and also a smaller retirement home with some of her Cardigans for over 10
years and she writes:
"My Pembroke is also popular with some patients but tends to be a bit too enthusiastic for old people but is brilliant for visiting schools and children at kindergarten."

Sarah Taylor, Bymil Pembroke & Cardigan Corgis, England
There are several obvious physical differences but there is also one pertaining to the character and temperament which is more difficult to describe and which will probably not be noticed unless you owe both breeds. In my own kennel I have had Pembrokes for more than 30 years and Cardigans for 15 years and I find that the Cardigan in many ways is the more sensible and more intelligent of the two although I am sure other breeders may not agree with me. I find that the Cardigan is quick to learn and he appears to be obedient by instinct. It is, of course, desirable that they all have a free, bold and open character. I find that the Pembroke in general has a trusting and friendly way towards strangers while the Cardigan, without being aggressive, is more reserved and takes longer to trust in strangers. But this doesn't mean that the Cardigan is shy or nervous (which would be a weakness in character).

In Dog World of September 29, 1967 was an interview conducted by Tom Horner with a panel of experts giving their views on the Cardigan Corgi. The experts were Mr J.E.J. Parkinson (Parmel); Mrs D. Albin (Hildenmanor); Miss S. Verity (Veritas); and Miss S.H. Godden (Kentwood).
Among many questions regarding the standard points Tom Horner also asked for the experts' opinion on the temperament:

Dickie Albin
In my opinion, having bred Pembrokes and Cardigans for years my Pembrokes are complete extroverts, taking everything and everybody in their stride but the Cardigan requires a more formal introduction to people. However, once having gained the confidence of a Cardigan you have a friend for life. They are certainly not so effusive as the Pembroke, but maybe their devotion goes deeper. I know my Cardigans would have defended me with their life. I do not know if I could say the same for the Pembroke. I feel they would be too busy showing the intruder "around the place".

Sally Verity
The temperament is entirely different. The Cardigan is wary and many people mistakenly take this as a sign of nervousness, this is not so. In its own environment the Cardigan is full of fun, energy and liveliness. At shows he is usually on his best behaviour and appears docile. This is far from being true, he has a mind of his own and uses it.

Sonnica Godden
The Cardigan is equally as lively as the Pembroke and lacking none of the Pembroke's acuteness. He is an intelligent character anxious to be in on everything and missing nothing that goes on around him. The Cardigan is very good natured, sensible and steady and one of the nicest dogs I have handled. He is discriminating and makes a loyal friend, is very biddable and easily trained.

J.E.J. Parkinson
The Cardigan has a temperament which is characteristic to the breed and quite different from that of the Pembroke as has been said. The Cardi is not usually the "hail fellow, well met" type but chooses his friends with a certain reserve and indeed one might say caution, in the initial stages. Once a Cardi has made his friendship it is something which he will honour always and, while he may be somewhat indifferent to the passer by he will show unbounded enthusiasm and loyalty to those with whom he is acquainted.