The Birth of A New BreedThe Pembroke Welsh Corgi
By Dai Rees
Had it not been for a chat over a drink after a dog show at the Castle Hotel, Haverfordwest, perhaps the Royal Household would never have seen their favourite pets. It happened this way. The Sealyham Terrier Club held their championship show at the Gold Room in Haverfordwest. When the show was over, some of the interested members drifted over to the Castle Hotel.
They included Mr. Dai Rees, who then resided in Fishguard but now at Carmarthen; The Baron De Rutzen; Captain Jack Howells, Solva; Captain Checkland Williams, St. Davids; Mr. Sid Bowler, Haverfordwest; Mr. Fred Munt, Haverfordwest; Mr. John John, Haverfordwest; Mr. Fred Lewis, Haverfordwest; Mr. D. T. Davies, Fishguard; Police Sergeant Fred Morse, Fishguard; Mr. Jack Symons, Fishguard; Mrs. and Miss Higgon, Treffgarne Mansion; Mrs. F. Lewis, Lower Fishguard; Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Smith, Morgan Hill; and Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Jones, Pantyblaidd.
At that time the Sealyham terrier was losing ground in popularity and some other breed would have to be found to replace him. I believe it was Mr. D. T. Davies who mentioned that the old breed which used to be called a corgi many years ago was still not extinct.
Having been brought up in Llangeitho he thought there could be a few still about in that district and we found a few rather rough specimens. It took a long time to tone them down to what they are today. Some had long bodies, some short, some were born with long tails, some short, and some with no tail at all.
However, we decided the best thing to do was to form a club so that we could deal with matters arising. Each one of us put £1 in the kitty and decided to call it 'The Welsh Corgi Club'. I am not certain whether this was 1924 or 1925.*)
Up to that time, we did not know what kind of dog we wanted to produce. However, after a great deal of arguing we decided on a standard of points which we presented to The Kennel Club and as luck would have it they accepted it, apart from a few minor details.
There was then the difficulty of registering the breed in the Kennel Club. Officialdom moves very slowly in these matters, but even when that was done we were not out of the wood by any means. I may mention in passing that the first time the corgis were ever registered they were called 'Any other foreign breed'**) and remained that way for quite a while.
Then the battle of the tails broke out and this more or less caused a split in the camp, as the litters that were born had such a variety of tails. By this time several Cardigan people had joined the club and they were in favour of long tails, so we decided that five of our members should meet five of the Cardigan people.
After a heated argument which I well remember, the late Dr. Lloyd of Tregaron was in favour of long tails, and being a doctor, his remark was that from an anatomy point of view no animal was correct without a tail. I quite agreed with the late doctor if only he could tell me how to fix a tail on a puppy that was born without one, so that settled the case of the tails.
We also decided at the same meeting to apply to the Kennel Club for separate registration-the long tails to be called 'The Cardigan Corgi Club'.***)
There is little doubt that the Pembroke Corgi has won over his rival in Cardigan in popularity throughout the world. There is hardly a Royal train leaving the stations of Euston, St. Pancras or Paddington without a Royal Corgi or two.
It is strange, a few men talking in an hotel in Haverfordwest and a district in Llangeitho should have been responsible for a breed of dog that has won worldwide popularity, and most important of all has become the favourite in the Royal Household.
The Pembroke Corgi is a heeler-that is a nipper of heels, whether of men or cattle and is absolutely fearless among a herd of cows or bulls. I have never seen the Cardigan Corgi in action. It was the Pembroke Corgi that was brave enough to nip the heels of a Guardsman at Buckingham Palace and gained full coverage in the Press!
The Pembroke Corgi is a small dog, but nothing misses him, for his eyes and ears are open and the little eyes sparkle with intelligence and almost cheeky humour, even though he may indulge in the short, sly, sharp nip at the heels of someone he does not like or does not know very well.
Published in The Welsh Corgi League Handbook 1973
*) Clifford L.B. Hubbard in his book The Pembrokeshire Corgi (1952) writes that: "In 1925 a not so small band of pioneers who were principally interested in the Pembrokeshire founded this club. It was at first called the Corgi Club and was already a powerful body by the end of that year, with nearly eighty members. This club was actually registered with the Kennel Club in 1926, the same year in which the Cardiganshire breeders registered their club, and at the time of registration the adjective 'Welsh' was incorporated into the title in order to satisfy Kennel Club requirements."
**) According to both Clifford L.B. Hubbard and Thelma Gray, Corgis or Corgwn (Welsh plural!) were first registered at the Kennel Club as 'Any Other Variety not classified' and first in 1928 they were added to the list of 'Non-sporting' breeds. From 1967 they belonged to the Working breeds and since 1999 the Corgis are listed in the Pastoral Group.
***) Today: The Cardigan Welsh Corgi Association.