What is Breed Type?

by Stephanie S. Hedgepath

Breed type consists of those characteristics which set your breed apart from all other breeds. Many years ago, Richard Beauchamp, at that time, Editor of the Kennel Review, challenged readers to describe their breed in 5 sentences or less. Can you do this for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi? This challenge really intrigued me, and I worked for weeks trying to define the German Shepherd Dog in only five sentences. It is not an easy task, but it taught me how to recognize those things that are essential to a breed. First, you must understand what the primary purpose for which your breed was developed. For most breeds, this is no longer the reason for breeding, but it most certainly defines why a dog would have certain characteristics not found in others. Let's see what we can come up with on the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Probably the most important characteristic of the Corgi is his outline, most specifically, the proportion of height to body length. There are few other breeds that are moderately long and low like ours, mainly Cardigans, Dachshunds, Dandie Dinmonts and Skye Terriers. This overall outline combined with his lack of a tail distinguishes them from it's nearest relative, the Cardigan, whose Standard calls for an even longer dog with a bushy tail. When you realize that a Pembroke should be 40% longer than tall from the withers to the base of the tail, you quickly realize that from the chest to the end of the bushy "pants" behind, you have a dog that is roughly twice as long as he is tall.

Several breed characteristics can be seen through the very easily visualized equilateral triangle described for the head. This gives eye and ear placement and neatly encompasses the proportionate length of muzzle to skull. If the sides of the triangle are longer than the top of the triangle, you have a muzzle that is too long (or an ear that is too short). If the top of the triangle is longer than the sides, then the ears are set on too low or may be too short in length. Top of triangle too short? A reason could be ears set on too high. Another triangle is visible when you view the Corgi head from above.

Another clue is the fact that a Pembroke’s body is described as slightly "egg shaped". When viewed from the front, the upper chest area of the body is larger than the bottom which forms the smaller part of the oval egg shape. This is vital so that the shortened, slightly inward turned legs can reach under the body when the dog is in motion and so that the elbows can move back and forth across the bottom of the ribcage unimpeded.

Next, we must remember that this sturdy little dog was used as a drover and an all purpose farm dog in the rugged land of the Welsh countryside. His structure must be so balanced that he could work all day at any task his master set before him. He must be agile enough to be able to move quickly and easily yet still be able to maintain a comfortable trotting gait all day. Therefore, gait which encompasses structure and soundness becomes a very important part of breed type. Combine this ease of motion with a double coat that could withstand all types of weather, and you begin to get a picture of what our beloved little dog should be.

A Corgi must have enough substance to enable it to challenge an animal much larger in size, and yet still be able to control that animal. But because of it's lowness to the ground, the Corgi could be at a great disadvantage if it should get too heavily boned or too large - a clumsy dog cannot get out of the way when a cow kicks!

A Corgi must also have a fearless temperament, because, again, it usually deals with a much larger animal. We all know that one of the things we love about our breed is its willingness to take on anything or anyone which challenges our safety or that of our home. Yet, the Corgi has an amazing capability to adapt to any situation. They get along well with other species, whether they be human children or adults, cats, goats, chickens and with other dogs. It is truly a thinking breed!

I have just scratched the surface on our amazing little-big dogs. I hope that I have stimulated you to put on your thinking caps. I won't give you my 5 sentence description, but I have given you some hints on where to start. I challenge each of you to try to describe the Pembroke in 5 sentences or less!

Copyright 1997, Stephanie Seabrook Hedgepath. All rights reserved.
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