The Welsh Corgi (Pembroke) in
By Thelma Gray (1946)
You are an "old hand". How does the breed look to you at the present time.
This was a question I could not answer without some consideration. Nearly twenty years have passed since I first became interested in Corgis, and that is quite a long time in the evolution of a breed, especially a breed that has progressed as rapidly as ours. Changes have been inevitable, and some have crept in so slowly that it is difficult to say when such changes became definite. Some changes, gradually made, remained unnoticed until they became very general.
Take size for instance. In the old days we worried very little about a dog's weight. We had them very large, and very small, and were so concerned with fronts, heads, ears and coats, that size was quite a minor consideration. The large and medium sized Corgis certainly outnumbered the small ones, which were comparatively rare. Certainly there were fewer small light boned ones than we see today. When and how did the tendency to small size creep in? That dangerous tendency which has been the subject of so much controversy, first in the year or two preceding the last war, and right up till today. It is difficult to pin it down to any special time, and it must be supposed that Corgis had been diminishing in size for a year or two prior to 1939.
If breeders were not concerned with size, and were not trying to breed to a standard weight, why did this happen?
Well, it was probably due to in-breeding and line-breeding. Owing to the limited number of outstanding bloodlines available, and to the intelligent efforts to standardize certain points, breeders did mate dogs and bitches both containing much of the same breeding. That they attained the points they wished to fix, is apparent in the excellent general type seen at any large show today. But it is well known that inbreeding tends to decrease size, and so the Corgis inclined to become smaller. They tended to get too small, and the lovers of the old type sounded a warning. If awards at current shows are a true indication of the present standard, and I think they are, this warning has been heeded, for the majority of Corgis benched, do not lack size and weight.
The breed today, therefore, looks medium sized and appears to be largely free from the very wide variation in sizes and weights characteristic in the old days.
Then there are ears? How often do we see a soft-eared Corgi? Fortunately seldom, but in the old days there were plenty. The improvement is marked, but it has been obtained at a price since, whereas we seldom saw a Corgi with "pussycat" ears in the pioneer days we see far too many now. Small ears seldom fail to stand erect it is true, but they are very undesirable. So admittedly are large, bat-like ears, though we see these less often than in the past. It should be possible to standardize the size of ears in proportion to the head measurements of the individual dog, and it would be a good thing if breeders would make a New Year resolution to consider this point very carefully when mating dogs and bitches.
Fronts are better - much better. They were often bowed, toes or elbows turned out and bad movement in consequence.
Coats still vary too much, but we see fewer "fluffies" and fewer very close coats.
Teeth are better too. It was usual to get an over-shot puppy, sometimes two or three, in a litter. How often does that happen now? Very, very seldom.
Eyes? These have altered very little. There are still too many light eyes about, and there always were. Very dark eyes have never been common.
Heads are better in some ways, but not in others. We had plenty of rather coarse heads in the 1930's. But also plenty of perfectly proportioned heads, foxy-masks. Now I think we have a limited number of really superb heads, and just a few heavy heads, with an alarming number of snipey small heads, with prominent occiputs and "popeyes". These are very untypical and ugly.
Bodies - much improved. We had too many short backs, too many "drainpipes" and not enough medium length Corgis. Most Corgis have nice bodies now, but a few are too short. Very few are over-long.
We had better and heavier boned dogs in the past, and the present day tendency to lightness of bone could be corrected if breeders would use dogs and bitches with good thick legs, and also feed the bitch in whelp and the growing puppies adequate amounts of a good-quality diet.
These are the main points that strike an "old-hand" today. We have made good progress since the early days, but there is still much to be done. Indiscriminate breeding will not take us to our goal, and using the dog down the road because he is near to hand will never give us perfect Corgis or their close imitations. Consider every point and every name in the first few generations of each pedigree - and then choose a dog for your bitch. Let us go forward together - all with one aim - better Corgis.
The Welsh Corgi League Handbook 1946
Photos from The Welsh Corgi League Handbook 1949