By Freeman Lloyd from Dog Breeds of the World (somewhat abridged)
AKC Gazette March, 1936 - Part II
Let me continue the history of the Pembrokeshire corgis, a breed that I began discussing last month. Haverford has supplied the chief market place for these dogs. For a while, at least, the Sealyham terrier "industry" has been relegated to second position in the local marts: the call for corgis has placed in the shade the other kennel enterprises in a locality where it has been jocularly said, "there are more dogs than human inhabitants."
Such a statement, of course, is a wild exaggeration, but the fact remains that the seat of the Corgi Club (Pembroke type) is at Haverford, and nearly all the official business connected with the breed is conducted in the time-honored town on the Western Cleddau, which is among the places said to have been built (circa 368) by the Roman Magnus Maximus, the murderer and successor of Gratian.
The Flemish settlements in Pembrokeshire took place in the years 1107, 1111, and 1155. The Welsh-speaking farmers and others withdrew northwards and eastwards from what is known as the Old Town. With them, went their corgi dogs which became known among the immigrants as Welsh curs.
It was not until recently, when the ancient breed was again brought into prominence, that the upper parts of the county were scoured for typical specimens of the variety. A description of the Pembroke breed and a scale of points were drawn up by prominent local people - men and women possessed of practical knowledge regarding dogs, their origins, and their uses. Among these were Sir Charles Price, Baron De Rutzen, Mrs. Victor Higgon, A.L. White, Miss Higgon, Mrs. Vaughan, Capt. G. Cheekland Wiliams, Capt. J.H. Howell, Oliver Jones, J.M. Symmons, D.T. Dawes, Frederick Munt, V. Rees, D. Rees, S. Bowler, W.J. Jenkings, and A. L. Roberts.
You may remember I wrote of Mrs. Higgon in the February issue of the Gazette. She is particularly well informed regarding Welsh history, customs, and manners. Time and again I have been indebted to her for firsthand information; valuable results that only research can obtain.
Following is an abridged paragraph or two from a recent letter written by the lady at Treffgarne Hall:
"You know the old laws of Wales were mostly in the form of triads, such as: 'There are three people you may kill at sight, a lunatic, a murderer, and a stranger.'
"So here are triads for the Welsh corgi, which are well known in North Wales:
'A gentleman is known by his three creatures: his horse, his hawk, and his greyhound.'
There are three proud things of Wales, a cock upon a dung-heap, a petty official at his desk, and a corgi on his mistress' lap."
First Pembroke corgi believed to have been imported into America.
Ch. Little Madam,
bred by Mr. and Mrs. Bowler, in the heart of the corgi country.
Owner: Mrs. Lewis Roesler
As ladies have been the first to import corgis into the United States, I feel sure they will like to read the last triad, and if they do, extend forgiveness for the publicity given to the objectionable paragraph taken from Howel's Laws, which had something to do with the privileged dominance of the stronger sex, at a period around a thousand years ago.
Miss Edith Morgan, The Dingle, Crundale, near Haveford, is another lady who has made corgis her particular and constant study. In reply to my request in 1934, she wrote:
"There are two kinds of Welsh corgis, a Cardigan type and the Pembroke type. We will take the Cardigan first: He is longer in body, heavier, has bowed legs, and possesses a long bushy tail. The head has to be like a fox's head, in both types. There is quite a variety of colors seen: Blue-merles are much liked, and these have wall-eyes as seen in sheepdogs. Pure white is a disqualification in both types. Pembroke type is a smarter little dog, with straight front, a medium-sized body, a short tail or no tail at all. The feet are shaped like the hare's foot. The most popular color is red, but there are other colors: black-and-tan, brown-and-white, etc. There are records of these little dogs in the ancient laws of Wales - over a thousand years ago.
Cor means dwarf and gi means dog. Sometimes these dogs were called 'swadlur,' which means 'heeler.' The cow kicks over the head of the dog when he bites at the heel of the beast. The corgis are very hardy, and can withstand all weathers. Their erect ears are very keen of hearing; and their nose sharp to recognize the faintest smell of friend or foe. They are very intelligent and splendid playfellows for children.
"The fact H.R.H. the Duke of York bought a corgi puppy (Pembroke type) for Princess Elizabeth, demonstrates how reliable they are. Corgis come under the non-sporting dog classification, but I think they are very sporty and excellent ratters. We have now a class for Cardis and a class for Pems at the shows which is a good thing, as they are so different from each other...I am so glad they are taking up the breed in America."
In England and in Wales, the corgis are becoming more and more popular. At the Kennel Club Show held in 1935, there were 86 entries in Pembroke classes, with 39 in the section devoted to the Cardigan type. Some writers appear to believe that the presence of two types will do much to help along both kinds, there will exist a rivalry, they contend, which might add stimulus to the production of the short-tailed and the long-tailed breeds.
In the old days of the Maenclochog fairs, were seen scores of corgis as well as Welsh sheepdogs of the small drop.eared "collie" kind; also the smooth-coated modern collie-eared sheepdogs, mostly blue-merle, black-and-tan and red-sable in colors.
The corgi, as before mentioned, was looked upon as a general guard for the homestead. His duties were those of a fold dog; to bark on the approach of strangers, of which, by the way, there were very few. The corgi was also looked upon as a capital rat dog during the spring threshing, when often scores of rodents, which had taken up their winter quarters in the wheat stacks, were destroyed with picks, forks, dogs, and even clenched fists of the farm laborers, used sideways and hammer wise on the surprised rats.
The farm cur has to be a dog of all trades; he is as much a part and parcel of the agriculturist's establishment as the plough, horse and milch cow.
In the Maenclochog, Pembrokeshire, district, where probably there used to be more corgis than anywhere else in the country, it was usual to see at least half a dozen dogs resting on the stairs that led up to the gallery in a chapel during divine service. It was the bounden duty of the pastoralist to count his cattle and sheep just as the sun went down - on Sundays as well a week days. So the sheepdogs and corgis had to be taken along while the country men prayed, and the pastor preached.
On a wet winter's night as many as 15 dogs were counted in the little bethel; and there was not a snarl or whimper of any kind. Those church or chapel dogs were tired dogs. They were allowed in the sanctuary as long as they were known to be non-quarrelsome.
There were corgis aplenty - some with long tails and others with short tails. The Pembrokes and Cardigans of the Borderland corgis were no more mixed in blood than possibly many of their owners.
I have seen an ancient meat-roasting apparatus that formerly was put in motion by dog-power for turning the spit before the large fireplaces in the larger farm houses and mansions in Wales. Furthermore, I was informed by those who had seen such a contrivance in action, that the corgi dogs were used in those tread wheels. The small dogs supplied the initial power for turning them around, just in the same way as a caged squirrel acts in a circular box provided with inside lateral "perches" or gripping places.
In the older books written about dogs, the turnspit or long-bodied, short-legged country dog, is always mentioned. There were two varieties, the straight and crooked legged. In Pembrokeshire, in my boyhood days, there was still a turnspit box in an aperture on the right hand side of the large fireplace in the kitchen at Crickmail, Pembroke. Crickmail was built by Ann Freeman, after whose family I was given one of my Christian names. Stories were told to me about turnspit dogs. It was related that the fold dog actually knew which days were roasting days, and on such days he should make himself scarce, and hide away. For would it not be a hard-working day? It would take hours and hours of working in the wheel - plodding on stairs that seemingly had no ending!
The short-legged and moderately long-bodied corgis would, above all others, be the most suitable as turnspit dogs. Size and weight would be considerationsl The wheel at Crickmail had a diameter of about 20 inches. Part of the fireplace, in my time, had been bricked-up and shortened in length, demonstrating, as it seemed that the Freemans of old, by the aids of dogs, roasted the entire body of a lamb or small pig.
As a life-long observer of the dogs in my own country, it is to be reasonably certain that the German dachshund was never seen until many years after my birth, in most parts of Wales. So the turnspits must have been corgis, of a long-backed, short-legged, tailed or untailed type.
It was common conversation to talk about turnspit dogs and their cunning. Such would be a natural characteristic of the corgi, if we use the word cunning to describe cuteness and sagacity.
It will be interesting to note the corgi varieties of farm dogs may be as old as some of the monoliths grouped on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, known as Stonehenge. Some of the large stones, or monoliths are said to be of Prescelly Range origin. If so, they must have been conveyed over land for quite 200 miles. It takes little imagination to surmise that even in those far off days, the corgis from the Prescelly Mountains, on the borders of Pembroke and Cardigan, accompanied the bullock and horse-drawn stone carriers into England. Where man goes - there journey his dogs, be the men adventurers missionaries of peace or soldiers of war.
If some of the Stonehenge stones came from Prescelly, they in a sense would likely be of the same grain as the stone slabs used, instead of hurdles, to confine the mountain sheep at Maenclochog on fair or market days. In my youth there were stone "kraals" for harboring the livestock. The days of posts and rails, hurdles and other modern livestock protections had not arrived.
It was in this district the corgi breed was observed in its tens, if not in its hundreds. Indeed, it is truthful to relate that every farm had one or more of the breed. When bona-fide farm dogs of Great Britain were exempted from taxation, corgis became more plentiful than ever, but were of little money value in the dog-dealing markets.
Consequently, not much care was taken in their production: the breed as a purebred as yet was not recognized by the Kennel Club. Still the little beggars were of distinct type. You would say: "That's a Welsh cur," not necessarily for the reason he might be a mongrel, but because the corgi, under consideration, would be of a long and low description, and possessed a collie head. He was suitable for a fold or farm yard dog's work.
Now, of course, all has changed, and the corgi is a registered or pedigreed dog and accepted as such among dog owners in many lands.
Unfortunately, the rest of the article is missing.