These enchanting little dogs are the favorite of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth since she was a young child. The Queen has always had a group of these marvelous animals by her side since her father, King George VI, brought home Dookie in 1933. Three Welsh Corgis entertained the crowd at the London 2012 Olympics in an opening ceremony video skit that also featured movie hunk Daniel Craig. The trio of charming dogs became the talk of the town, managing to temporarily upstage even James Bond. How did these little dogs capture the heart of the English monarch and the fancy of dog lovers throughout the world?
One of the first features one notices about the Corgis is their famous smile. The breed standard calls for them to have black lips, so when they pull back the corners of their mouths, their faces are like happy little clowns. Behind those smiles is a happy spirit, and they have an exceptional ability to bond with humans. They look like they are about to tell a joke or pull a prank, and then are ready to scamper away as fast as their little legs take them. The Corgis approach all activities with glee. This attitude made them valuable on the Welsh farms where both types of Corgis – – the Pembroke and the Cardigan – – earned their keep for centuries.
Corgis were bred to be herding dogs in the agricultural areas of Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire in Walks. Farms in the region were situated on rocky hills, and a sturdy breed of cattle grazed there under rather harsh conditions. The cattle had a propensity or kicking the larger dogs that tried to herd them. A shorter, tough dog was needed to handle the job. The Corgis had an amazing abiity to herd, and a willingness to do the bidding of their humans.
The name “Corgi” is derived from the Welsh word “cor” which means dwarf and “ci” which means dog. The Cardigans trace their roots as far back as 1200 B.C when they were brought to Europe by Celtic invaders. Their ancestry may be traced to the Tekel dogs, the group of low, long-back dogs that include Dachshunds and Basset Hounds. By the 19th century, these dogs were plentiful in Wales, nipping at the heels of livestock and guarding flocks of geese on their way to market.
With less demand for their skills in the agricultural market, Corgis mastered the ability for the next big growth industry for canines and became pampered house pets. In early British settlements, these prized family members hunted game and guarded children. Described as handsome, powerful, capable of speed and endurance, and intelligent, these dogs became popular in both the English and American Kennel Clubs. Incredibly cute, their bright and intelligent eyes connect with humans. Their handsome fox-like faces containing that famous smile ensure that many first meetings are love at first sight. Eager to engage, the dogs are ready for anything whether it be dog paddling in a pond or exercising on an agility course.
The Queen’s current group of Corgis include Linnet, Monty, Holly, and Willow. While they have access to the royal apartments, they have their own Corgi room at the palace where they sleep in wicker beds. Each room has a supply of blotting paper, as even royal dogs are not immune from an occasional accident. A daily menu is posted for them, with meals such as chuck steak, poached chicken, or liver. The meat is chopped up and mixed with boiled cabbage and white rice. While not every dog can reside in Buckingham Palace, the Corgis’ cheerful spirit will make them little princes and princesses in your home.