Welsh Dog Breeds
Wales is a relatively small area of the UK, but it has none the less produced some interesting and, in some cases, immediately recognisable dog breeds. There can be few people who wouldn't know a Welsh corgi if it came up to them in the street. However, not everyone knows that there are two breeds of corgi - the Cardigan and the Pembroke.
The other Welsh dog breeds this article will consider are the Welsh springer spaniel, the Welsh terrier and the less well known Sealyham terrier.
It would be remiss not to mention the Welsh collie. This isn't a breed shown at Crufts and arguably is just a strain of the working sheepdog or border collie. However Welsh collie purists argue that the breed has an 800 year history and they are aiming to preserve bloodlines of dogs which haven't been out bred to other strains of the working collie.
Corgis were bred as cattle dogs and for stamina and robustness rather than speed. Their herding technique includes hurrying in to take a nip at the heels of a cow which is reluctant to move. When kept as pets this tendency needs to be discouraged so that they don't apply it when trying to keep their humans on the move!
The Pembroke corgi has fewer allowable coat colours in its breed standard than the Cardigan corgi. Pembrokes come in Red, Sable, Fawn, Black and Tan. If it has white markings these should be restricted to the face, neck, chest and legs.
If you are thinking of getting a corgi don't be beguiled by their short legs into thinking they don't need much exercise. They were bred to work so like to keep active.
Although less well known than the Pembroke corgi, the Cardigan corgi is believed to have be the older breed with historical references right back to 1200 (The Kennel Club).
Colourwise the Cardigan corgi can be any colour with white, but the white should never be their main colour. Their ears are a differentiating feature being larger, rounder and slightly wider set than the Pembroke's.
Unfortunately in spite of having similar appeal to the Pembroke, the Cardigan corgi is a rare breed and remains on the vulnerable native breeds list.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
The Welsh springer spaniel almost certainly has shared ancestry with the English springer spaniel, but is a bit lighter in build and smaller than its cousin. It has been known as a distinct breed since the 18th century. Of particular note is the colouration - always a deep burnished red with white whereas the English springer is black and white or liver (brown) and white.
The Welsh springer spaniel is a busy dog, so whilst their amenable nature makes them good pet dogs, they appreciate a couple of hours exercise each day with plenty of free running to keep them fit and happy.
I believe the Welsh springer deserves to be better known. As the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club reports in 2012 there were 12792 English springers registered with the British kennel club and only 348 Welsh springers registered that year. However numbers are healthy enough that it doesn't appear on the vulnerable native breeds list.
The Welsh terrier is a classic example of a working terrier originally bred for fearlessly hunting foxes and badgers. They would be expected to follow their quarry into its burrow or lair and seize it or flush it back out for the huntsmen. They should be tenacious and determined.
They stand reasonably square with a wiry black and tan coat and erect tail. Although only 15 inches high at the shoulder they are stronger than you would expect for a dog of their size.
The Welsh terrier is a vulnerable native breed.
Which is your favourite Welsh breed?
Some breeds arise from a general type of dog which was known in an area of the country and then refined by a number of breeders. Others arise because an individual decides to create a new breed. The Sealyham terrier is an example of the latter.
The breed was the creation of Captain John Edwardes who lived in Sealyham, Pembrokeshire 150 years ago. The Sealyham is his idea of the perfect terrier. Although most of the breeds which went in to making it were terriers, he also used that other Welsh favourite; the corgi, which is probably where the longer body shape comes from.
Colourwise the Sealyham can be all white or white with some markings on the head only.
Edwardes was determined to produce a proper working breed of terrier and only bred from dogs who could catch rats to his satisfaction.
The Sealyham terrier is another Welsh breed which is on the vulnerable native breeds list.