An Analysis of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Standard
by The Rev. Dr. Patrick Ormos

Both showpem and showcardi have had nice long discussions about the standard recently. Stephanie Hedgepath has seen some articles which I did for Cardigans in terms of analysing the standard, and has asked me to do the same for Pems. I have agreed to try -- though huge caveat - I am not a Pem breeder.
My basic academic training is in linguistic analysis of documents (texts) and their interpretation. [For those who don't know me, I am an Episcopal priest.] What I have done is to try and take this approach to the standards, and see if it helps me to understand them better.

One of the major issues which judges (like me) want to know when they go outside of their own breed is the question of priorities. What is more important, this or that? How important is that fault? etc. Without going into the philosophy of quality- vs. fault-judging, let me say that this *technique* benefits everyone by helping us to understand the standard in more depth. Personally, I am in favor of ANYTHING which helps anyone (especially judges) to look at a standard in depth!

Language can be divided up into three distinct categories: descriptive, permissive and normative. [for those interested this is fairly typical in terms of ethical analysis]

Normative language is the language of shoulds and oughts. It presumes several variations of the characteristic described, and suggests that one and only one of the options is the preferred one. For example, certain colors are forbidden in each of our breeds. Normative language may be positive or negative.

Permissive language gives equal permission ot various characteristics. Most usual is color (though not in all breeds): corgis may come in a variety of colors (as appropriate for the breed), and there is no preference given between them. Phrases like, *may be...* etc. are typical of permissive language.

Descriptive language is just that. Its importance lies in its clear understanding that this IS the way it is in this breed. For example, the opening paragraph of the Pem standard says, Low-set, strong, sturdily built and active, giving an impression of substance and stamina in a small space. A dog which is high-set, weak, weedy, lethargic, etc. is not a Pem. In other words, it is atypical - it no longer has breed type.

The standard goes on to say, Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so light-boned as to appear racy. This is Normative language (see above). Obviously there are variations of the first sentence which are seen. The standard goes on to say that while some variation is possible (note the word so as it modifies the two extremes), too much extreme variation is inappropriate. Could we be suggesting moderation here?

The third and fourth sentence fragments say, Outlook bold, but kindly. Expression intelligent and interested. Are both of these descriptive, or something else?

I suggest that you take a copy of the Standard at home and use three colored highliters. Go through first and highlight the normative language, then the permissive language, then read carefully what is left and decide whether it is truly descriptive, or is there a hidden should, ought, or may.

Outlook bold, but kindly sets up a comparison between two characteristics which *should* go together. Obviously it is possible for there to be *outlook bold and harsh* but that is not what the Standard asks for. And also obviously it is possible to have a dog who is *outlook timid and kindly* but that is not what the standard asks for either. I think there is an implied *should* in this sentence fragment. *Outlook bold, but (should be) kindly.* thus moving this into the normative section.
To make this manageable, I would suggest that we take the next section only for discussion: i.e. size and proportion. Hope this will be a fun exercise.

There is one more sentence in that first section of the standard, [quoting from memory], *Never shy or vicious.*
What do we do with sentences which include the word *never*? Obviously it is a normative statement -- should never be shy or vicious. But, does that mean that we should disqualify all shy or vicious dogs? There's no d/q in the standard. If the dog actually snaps at/bites either me [the judge] or another dog, then I can d/q under the general rules. But how do I handle this as a judge? And, since the standard is meant for breeders, how do I handle this as a breeder?

Obviously there is a sense in which we could simply d/q any dog from our breeding kennel which is shy or vicious. I feel fairly strongly that most of us (all of us?) would not want to keep a vicious dog. It is the shy dog which causes the problems. We often think that we can just work it out.

When a standard says never, it suggests that the characteristic it lists is not part of breed type. A *true* Pem is NEVER shy or vicious. All of a sudden this becomes not just a temperament problem but a breed type problem. While again most of us would agree that breeding whitelies or bluies is inappropriate in terms of breed type, would we all agree about breeding shy dogs?

Please note that I am discussing the Standard, not the dogs!
Size and Proportion:
As someone else mentioned, the use of phrases instead of complete sentences leads to a fair bit of ambiguity when trying to understand the intent of the standard writers. Is this first phrase *moderately long and low* descriptive of the breed or normative for the breed (a should be)? My guess would be that it is descriptive, because similar language was used in the General Appearance section of the standard as descriptive. A Pem IS moderately long and low. A high-set Pem is wrong, and a short, cobby-backed Pem is wrong.

But what about a long-backed Pem? The standard says *moderately* -- is it possible for a Pem to be too long? The standard would suggest, yes.

I think that the next two sentences are normative, suggesting that there are many possible variations, but only a few are correct. If I read these two sentences as normative, then it could easily be possible that the first phrase (moderately long and low) could also be normative, since the next two sentences could be an elaboration of the first one. Do you see the complications when people just use phrases, because we *assume* that others will know what we are talking about?

The explanation of distance is one which is clear in intent, but complicated in practice. The Cardigan standard had a similar sentence, which I pushed us to change because of its practical confusion. The intent is clear, a Pem should be decidedly longer than tall. The difficulty is where we have chosen to take the measurements.

If we accept that the withers are the topmost area of the scapula (which I do not), then the withers are a moveable point depending on the layback of shoulder. If we accept the withers as being the first few thoracic vertebrae (which I do) then which one do we measure from? If we accept the base of the tail as being the end point, then doesn't this move according to actual set of the tail? A dog with a high tail set measures shorter than a dog with a low tail set!

My suggestion in Cardigans was to pick two fixed points and measure from there. I did a study of the other standards, and found that many of them use the breast bone (prosternum) and the end of the pelvis (ischial tuberosity) as the two relatively fixed points for measuring. We measured a whole bunch of dogs and came out with a ratio of 1:2 -- A Cardigan in full coat will give the impression that it is twice as long as tall.

In terms of height (from 10 to 12 inches), the use of the words *should be* suggests to me that there was a time, perhaps early in the breed, when height variations were very large. The standard wants to limit those variations to two inches, anything over or under should be discarded.

The next sentences elaborate on this clear preference. The height section would suggest that a 10 inch male is as correct as a 12 inch bitch. I am not at all sure that this is what you actually mean! Especially when I note the ideal weights given as 25 pounds for a bitch, and 27 for a male. It seems to me that a 10 inch male who weighs 27 pounds would not be *weight in proportion to size.*

The last sentence in this section is normative, and requires judges to effectively eliminate oversize and undersize dogs from competition. I wonder whether we are doing that? Does very seriously penalized mean the same thing as a very serious fault? The way *Very Serious Faults* is used in the rest of the standard would seem to be a euphemism for d/q. So, does the standard want us to eliminate from points those dogs who are *obviously oversized...(or) diminutive toylike individuals*?

If indeed this is tantamount to a d/q, then should we use these individuals in a breeding program?

Head- The head should be foxy in shape and appearance. Expression-intelligent and interested, but not sly. Skull - should be fairly wide and flat between the ears.

Clearly this section is all normative. Note that the language has been cleaned up from the Standard I was working from to move from the subjunctive (skull to be fairly...) to the indicative + normative language, to reflect modern speech patterns (skull should be fairly...)

As an interested person, I would wonder what goes into making a sly expression? How is that different from an intelligent and interested expression? Does this refer to the set of the eyes? The shape of the zygomatic arch? The space between the eyes?

Skull-should be fairly wide and flat between the ears.
Again, a normative statement, obviously suggesting that there are varieties of skull shapes in the breed, varying from too wide to too narrow, domed with the nuchal crest (cf. Sheltie standard) clearly visible, to apple skulled, etc. Of interest to me is that the standard says *fairly wide and flat* and yet most Pem breeders I speak with over the years talk about being too wide in the backskull. For those who have been in this breed for a long time, does this indicate a change in fashion, or a change in terminology, or a development in breed type?

Moderate amount of stop.
This is again a phrase and thus difficult to define in terms of normative or descriptive language. For comparison, the Cardigan standard says *definite yet moderate amount of stop* -- an interesting difference in wording, and the obvious differences when you see two good heads of the two breeds beside each other.

Very slight rounding of cheek, not filled in below the eyes, as the foreface should be nicely chiseled to give a somewhat tapered muzzle.
Note the shift from descriptive (first two phrases) to normative (should be). Certainly all of us have seen *cheeky* corgis [i.e. with bunched cheek muscles]. This suggests clearly that this is not the kind of muscling we want on the face, and gives a reason why.

Distance from occiput to center of stop to be greater than the distance from stop to nose tip, the proportion being five parts of total distance for the skull and three parts for the foreface.
Again we return to the subjunctive, which I will interpret as normative given the precedents set in this standard through the re-wording of other subjunctives. As I have argued elsewhere this, too, is not an accurate measure. My experience has been that in a properly constructed head, the distance from nose tip to supra- orbital notch (the little v notch on the upper inside corner of the eye socket) is approximately equal to the distance from supra-orbital notch to occiput. I am always leery of measurements which require you to guess where to start and/or end. The Pem standard is better than the Cardigan one here, because it says * of stop...*

Muzzle should be neither dish-faced nor Roman-nosed.
A return to normative language describing what we don't want. My guess would be that these aberrations were often seen in the ring at the time that this was written. So the first part (see above) describes what we do want, and then is expanded by saying what we don't want.

Eyes - Oval, medium in size, not round, nor protruding , nor deepset and piglike. Set somewhat obliquely. Variations of brown in harmony with coat color. Eye rims dark, preferably black. While dark eyes enhance the expression, true black eyes are most undesirable, as are yellow or bluish eyes.
Descriptive + permissive + ?
Very clear about what is not wanted (round, protruding, deep set & piglike; truly black eyes, yellow or bluish eyes.) The standard does allow for some variation of eye color (in harmony with coat color), and prefers dark eye rims to be black.
Ears -- erect, firm, and of medium size, tapering slightly to a rounded point. Ears are mobile and react sensitively to sounds. A line drawn from the nose tip through the eyes to the ear tips, and across, should form an approximate equilateral triangle. Bat ears, small catlike nears, overly large weak ears, hooded ears, ears carried too hight or too low, are undesirable. Button, rose or drop ears are very serious faults.
Note that the standard describes them in the first two sentences as *erect, firm, and of medium size, tapering slightly to a rounded point.* I have not seen a Pem in the ring with dropped or drooping ears. I am certain that it can happen, as I have seen this in Cardigans. But, the Pem standard is very clear on not wanting those to be present. I also note the slight taper called for, thus avoiding ears which are shaped parallel right to the top 'til the slight rounding. Also note the difference between Pem and Cardi in terms of *hooded* ears. I would wonder why all the verbiage about ears which we don't want.

Nose -- black and fully pigmented.
That's it! No options are permitted. A Pem without a black and fully pigmented nose is not truly an example of breed type.

Mouth -- scissors bite, the inner side of the upper incisors touching the outer side of the lower incisors. Level bite is acceptable. Overshot or undershot bite is a very serious fault.
Again, descriptive. This is what there is -- period. Note that *level bite is acceptable* - a code phrase for "OK, but we don't really like it!" Good description of scissors bite as being defined by the incisor placement and not the front teeth placement. No mention here of wry mouths? Would suggest that a wry mouth with correct incisor placement would still be correct???

Lips - black, tight, with little or no fullness.
Again, descriptive of what is...anything else is faulty.

I have a problem with the bit in the Standard about head to be "foxy in shape and appearance" And then just a little bit later on..."Skull to be fairly wide..." If you know foxes, and I don't mean from Walt Disney, these two statementsare, in my opinion, contradictory. A fox head is narrow, both through the skull, AND through the muzzle, which is very snipy, and long.

I, too, was confused about this for years. But, I had the chance to see an English Fox head -- big difference! We need to remember each breed in context -- in our case, Wales. The English Fox head is very triangular, and not long and narrow.


Neck, Topline, Body - neck - fairly long. Off sufficient length to provide over-all balance of the dog. Slightly arched, clean and blending well into the shoulders. A very short neck giving a stuffy appearance and a long, thin or eve neck are faulty. This is a good example of a descriptive section. It simply tells us in a word picture what a Pem looks like. Note that it reinforces the notion of moderation (without using the word) by situating the description between the extremes. "Sufficient length" versus "very short" and "long, thin." The extremes are incorrect, and the moderate description is correct. Note that the Cardigan standard does not do this. It does say "moderately long" but it does not define the boundaries!

Topline - firm and level, neither riding up to nor falling away at the croup. A slight depression behind the shoulders caused by heavier neck coat meeting the shorter body coat is permissible.
This is descriptive (first sentence) and then permissive (second sentence). Note that this is the only mention of the croup and tail set (even though only by implication) in the entire standard! It would seem to call for a croup which is not too steep (falling away), and perhaps for a croup which is not too high (riding up to)...but that is unclear. Pem people have always suggested to me that they do not want a rounded off rear (falling away) but they do want a squared off rear. There does not seem to be any mention of this in the Standard!

Also note that the section about topline continues with a discussion of how the coat lies rather than a discussion of the anatomical structure underneath. Certainly what is said is true...but is this really the issue, or is it that when you get underneath the coat there is a slight dip where the spines of the vertebrae change direction?

Body - Rib cage should be well sprung, slightly eggshaped and moderately long. Deep chest, well let down between the forelegs. Exaggerated lowness interferes with the desired freedom of movement and should be penalized. Viewed from above, the body should taper slightly to end of loin. Loin short. Round or flat rib cage, lack of brisket, extreme length or cobbiness are undesirable.
Here we begin with normative language. Obviously there were several variations in ribbing in this breed. This standard makes a choice about which is correct. A description of the depth of chest follows, and then two normative sections. Again, it is clear that there was a problem with dogs being too low to the ground (dachshund-like?) and that this was considered wrong. On a passing note I believe this is a functional issue as well as a breed type issue. A word picture follows giving us the impression of a dog which is very slightly tapered from front to end of loin.

Tail - docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the topline.
Descriptive followed by permissive. Note that we still have no indication of the correct tail set. We know that a high tail carriage spoils the outline. So, can we get a high tail set (squared off look, slightly flatter pelvis) without high tail carriage? Are we looking for something which is an optical illusion? How will this affect movement?

Forequarters - Legs- short, forearms turned slightly inward, with the distance between wrists less than between the shoulder joints so that the front does not appear absolutely straight. Ample bone carried right down into the feet. This, of course, is one of the key indicators of achondroplasia -- the slightly twisted radius/ulna which results in the wrists being closer together than the shoulders. This section is descriptive. No mention is made of the shape of bone (round or oval), but I think we get a hint when we come to foot shape. bone is to be carried right down.

I wonder how many of us set up our dogs so that they will conform to the standard? Or do we set them up so that the front legs come down straight and foursquare?

Pasterns firm and nearly straight when viewed from the side. Weak pasterns and knuckling over are serious faults.
Again, descriptive. While the Cardigan standard does not address the issue of pastern angle, it is my personal opinion that here, too, is a difference between the two breeds, with the Cardigan having a more bent pastern than a Pem.

Shoulder blades long and well laid back along the rib cage. Upper arms nearly equal in length to shoulder blades. Elbows parallel to the body, not prominent, and well set back to allow a line perpendicular to the ground to be drawn from tip of the shoulder blade through to elbow.
Descriptive -- note how clear this standard is on the shoulder assembly. Not only are we looking for equal length upper arm and shoulder blade, but we want the whole assembly set well back on the ribcage, and we want the 90 degree angle between shoulder blade and upper arm. If that 90 degree angle isn't there then the shoulder blade has to straighten up if the line is still to fall through the elbow.

Feet-Oval, with the two center toes slightly in advance of the two outer ones. Turning neither in nor out. Pads strong and feet arched. Nails short. Dewclaws on both forelegs and hindlegs usually removed. Too round, long and narrow, or splayed feet are faulty.
My observation is that round feet go with round bone, and oval feet go with oval bone! A major difference between Cardigan and Pembroke is found in the feet (and therefore in the bone shape). Cardigans are round, and Pembrokes are oval...and so is the bone. That gives the Cardi a more dense bone than the Pem, and thus leads to some of the differences in weight. I would suggest that this is actually a breed type issue in helping to keep the two breeds clearly different.

I'm not sure what to do with "usually" -- does that mean that it's OK to judge a dog with dewclaws? Should we fault a dog with dewclaws? Is this permissive, or subtly normative? [I have an English bitch I imported who still has her front dewclaws!]

I hope you're having as much working through the standard as I am. Hindquarters - ample bone, strong and flexible, moderately angulated at stifle and hock. Exaggerated angulation is as faulty as too little. Thighs should be well muscled. Hocks short, parallel, and when viewed from the side are perpendicular to the ground. Barrel hocks or cowhocks are most objectionable. Slipped or double-jointed hocks are very faulty. Feet - as in front.
The first two sentences are descriptive, normative for the thighs, and then back to descriptive for the hocks. Of interest is the question of angulation, and that this is defined/described in relationship to two different points. What does it mean that the rear is described as *moderately angulated at stifle and hock.* Most of us know about moderate stifle angulation versus overangulated stifles. Why would they bring in the issue of moderate angulation at the hock? Might this have anything to do with *Thighs should be well muscled*? Does *Feet-as in front* really describe the rear paws?

Coat-medium length; short, thick, weather-resistant undercoat with a coarser; longer outer coat. Over-all length varies, with slightly thicker and longer ruff around the neck, chest and on the shoulders. The body coat lies flat. Hair is slightly longer on back of forelegs and underparts and somewhat fuller and longer on rear of hindquarters.
This is a great descriptive section. It tells us what is. Note the section which says *coat lies flat* - I dare say there are some dogs out there who are in violation of this sentence simply because of the grooming style. Is that appropriate?

The coat is preferably straight, but some waviness is permitted. This breed has a shedding coat, and seasonal lack of undercoat should not be too severely penalized, providing the hair is glossy, healthy and well groomed.
This is a permissive section - though some will ask why I put the lack of undercoat section in here, given the use of the word *should*. In this case, the object of the *should* is NOT the dog, but the judge! Thus, it is normative for the judge, but not for the dog. Note that the standard allows for some waviness in the coat. Several breeders have taken this permissive statement and turned it into a normative one - they tell me that no waviness is to be tolerated, that the Pem should have a straight coat. While that may well be a personal preference of some, or even most, breeders, that is not what the standard says!

A wiry, tightly marcelled coat is very faulty, as is an overly short, smooth and thin coat. Very Serious Faults-Fluffies-a coat of extreme length with exaggerated feathering on ears, chest, legs and feet, underparts and hindquarters. Trimming such a coat does not make it any more acceptable. The Corgi should be shown in its natural condition, with no trimming permitted except to tidy the feet, and, if desired, remove the whiskers.
This is primarily a normative section, except for the last two phrases. This is what should be, or should not be. Trimming of feet, and perhaps whiskers is the only thing allowed. Note that the standard would also allow for a Pem to be shown untrimmed (Oh, I hear the howls now!) Now, while the standard allows for that, the reality of the show ring is that this would be a detriment to the dog's competitiveness.

Color-The outer coat is to be of self colors in red, sable, fawn, black and tan with or without white markings. White is acceptable on legs, chest, neck (either in part or as a collar), muzzle, underparts and as a narrow blaze on head.
This is normative (*is to be*). Personally I think *with or without white markings* is redundant and confusing, since the white issue is addressed in the next sentence. Obviously since *white is acceptable* in certain areas, then it is also acceptable not to have white there. Had the standard said, white is to appear....then a self-colored dog with no white would not be acceptable.

Very Serious Faults: Whitelies-Body color white, with red or dark markings. Bluies-Colored portions of the coat have a distinct bluish or smoky cast. This coloring is associated with extremely light or blue eyes, liver or gray eye rims, nose and lip pigment. Mismarks-Self colors with any area of white on the back between withers and tail, on sides between elbows and back of hindquarters, or on ears. Black with white markings and no tan present.

Obviously a whole section of normative statements. The sentence *This coloring is associated....* is descriptive, and perhaps more aimed at breeders than judges, unless the intent is to say, *look for....these are indications of bluies.* The final sentence is an obvious attempt to eradicate a bi-color gene, which may or may not have ever been present.

Only gait left!

Gait - free and smooth. Forelegs should reach well forward without too much lift, in unison with the driving action of the hind legs. The correct shoulder assembly and well-fitted elbows allow a long, free stride in front. Viewed from the front, legs do not move in exact parallel planes, but incline slightly inward to compensate for shortness of leg and width of chest. Hind legs should drive well under the body and move on a line with the forelegs, with hocks turning neither in nor out. Feet must travel parallel to the line of motion with no tendency to swing out, cross over or interfere with each other. Short, choppy movement, rolling or high-stepping gait, close or overly wide coming or going, are incorrect. This is a herding dog which must have the agility, freedom of movement, and endurance to do the work for which he was developed.
Primarily a mixed section of descriptive and normative statements, it is obvious that the standards committee wanted to try and draw a word-picture of how a good Pem moves. I find it a rather well written section, though judging from some comments on the list, there still exists some confusion. Once again, I note that there is really no comment about pelvis (croup) nor about rear follow-through! In fact, just reading this with nothing else to go on, I would be tempted to think that Pems are supposed to have a fairly steep croup which allows for a good under reach and very little follow through, and with a high tail set. Somehow, I don't think that this is what they really had in mind.

Temperament - Outlook bold, but kindly. Never shy or vicious. The judge shall dismiss from the ring any Pembroke Welsh Corgi that is excessively shy.
Now that is interesting! In essence you are telling judges to dismiss an *excessively shy* Pem from the ring - or to d/q him (though we can't exactly d/q because it's technically not a d/q). What is excessively shy?

Patrick Ormos
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