Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis might look similar, but they also have some big differences. But what if you’re looking for the best of both? That’s the guiding principle of this controversial designer dog. American Corgis are a cross between the two breeds of Corgi, not a breed on their own. They often have many traits of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi but sport the beautiful merle coat of a Cardigan. However, any mix between the two breeds can properly be called an American Corgi.
Tan, sable, fawn, red, black, white, merle (marbled)
Active families, experienced owners
Loyal, active, intelligent, friendly
You’d think that crossbreeding the two cousin breeds wouldn’t be a problem, but this designer breed is full of controversy. Because of disreputable breeders and dangerous health conditions like the double-merle gene, many breeders warn against buying an American Corgi. These dogs are also sometimes advertised as purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgis instead of as a designer breed, adding to the backlash.
American Corgi Characteristics
American Corgi Puppies
American Corgi puppies are a mixed bag, with some taking more after the Cardigan side and some after the Pembroke Welsh. However, potential owners should expect a high-energy, energetic puppy that will only calm down a little bit as it matures. Luckily, these puppies tend to be friendly and highly trainable, but it’s vital to put in the work when raising one. A well-trained American Corgi is a joy to have around, but a poorly trained or badly socialized one is a terror.
Temperament & Intelligence of the American Corgi
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
American Corgis can be great family dogs. They tend to love playing with children, and they do well in the high-energy environment of a multi-pet or multi-kid household. However, consistency and solid training are important to this breed, too, so they don’t do well in chaotic homes. The herding instincts of Corgis can also be a problem, leading them to herd and nip at small children. Don’t leave children and dogs together unsupervised unless you can trust both to treat each other well.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
This breed also gets along very well with other dogs. Some socialization is needed to make sure that all dogs in the household have a good dynamic, but Corgis tend to love other dogs, and the American Corgi is no exception. Because these dogs are high-energy, they can get on the nerves of placid dogs or seniors. If you plan to get an American Corgi to replace an ailing family pet, it’s best to wait until after your senior dog is gone.
American Corgis sometimes struggle to be in a household with smaller pets like cats and small mammals. Although they aren’t as aggressive as hunting dogs, their herding instincts can cause them to chase or nip at smaller animals.
Things to Know When Owning an American Corgi:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Corgis are known to overeat if fed freely, so it’s important to control your pup’s portions. Your dog might act hungry even when it’s getting plenty of nutrients, but giving regular, portioned meals will help it stay healthy and happy in the long run. Food should be split into two or three meals a day. You can also give your pup a few treats throughout the day.
American Corgis require a healthy diet with plenty of protein and healthy fats. Depending on your dog’s age and activity level, a diet of 18–30% protein is appropriate. They should also eat approximately 5–8% fat in their diet. You should always buy high-quality dog food formulated for small breeds when feeding your American Corgi.
American Corgis are known for their boundless energy, and they need a lot of exercise to keep it up. Regular exercise helps your dog burn off energy and reduces misbehavior. You should expect your dog to exercise for an hour or more every day. Some owners prefer to take one long walk or run, while others might split the exercise up into several smaller bursts of exercise throughout the day.
Their long, short bodies mean that Corgis are prone to back issues, especially as they age. This means that certain types of exercise may not be appropriate for your American Corgi. Running for more than a few miles and high-impact games that include jumping may injure your Corgi or stress its back.
Corgis are intelligent dogs that get bored easily, so it’s important to give your dog mental exercise as well as physical. A variety of exercise types, new walking routes, and mentally stimulating toys can help keep your dog happy and healthy.
Corgis are intelligent and loyal, but they can also be stubborn. That means that it’s vital to have a good relationship with your Corgi when it comes to training. A good training relationship is based on firm boundaries and praise for good behavior, not shouting, punishment, or inconsistency. Since it can be difficult to start the training process, American Corgis are often better for more experienced dog owners. First-time owners might consider enlisting professional help to start training. Once you’ve won your Corgi’s obedience, however, they are highly trainable.
Because the American Corgi is a designer mix, its coat can take after either the Cardigan or Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Although Cardis shed a bit more, both breeds of Corgis require frequent brushing and shed year-round. Your American Corgi might need grooming anywhere from twice a week to daily.
Health and Conditions 🏥
One of the biggest worries with American Corgis is their propensity towards health conditions. Many American Corgis bred by amateur breeders are at risk of “double merle” issues. That’s because a merle or marbled coat is highly sought after in the breed. This coat color is caused by a dominant gene but receiving two copies of the gene can lead to extensive health problems. Many double merle Corgis are deaf, blind, or have other serious health issues.
In addition to this issue, American Corgis can inherit any of the issues common in parent breeds. These include back, hip, and eye issues, obesity, and several other conditions. Because of their long, low bodies, back issues can develop with age.
3 Little-Known Facts About American Corgis
1. American Corgis are bred for the Merle—but not all of them have it.
The number one reason to breed American Corgis is that breeders want a pup resembling the smaller Pembroke Welsh Corgi but with a Merle coat that is only found in the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. The beautiful black and gray marbling is very popular, and many breeders try it. However, any Pembroke x Cardigan mix is called an American Corgi, even if it doesn’t have a merle coat.
2. American Corgi isn’t a real breed (yet).
There are only two recognized breeds of Corgi—Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh. That means that American Corgis are properly designer dogs or mixes, not a real breed. However, some breeders have talked about getting breed recognition for the American Corgi. This would require a new breed standard and a group of dedicated breeders working with the breed. As of today, no breeders are seeking formal recognition of the breed.
3. The American Corgi is controversial.
Designer dogs are controversial in general because it allows backyard breeders to sell puppies without meeting the health and safety standards that purebred registries require. But the American Corgi is extra controversial because of the health conditions Corgis are prone to.
The most dangerous is a “double merle” gene. Having two copies of the gene that causes the merle coat can cause serious birth defects, including blindness and deafness. Registered Cardigan Welsh Corgi breeders will always cross a merle with a non-merle dog to avoid this, but many American Corgi breeders don’t realize the danger.
Male vs Female
There aren’t many differences between males and females when it comes to American Corgis. Males tend to be slightly heavier and bigger, but both sexes have similar personalities. It matters much more whether your American Corgi takes more after a Cardigan or Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
American Corgis are friendly, loyal and can be amazing companions for their owners. However, it’s extra important to vet your breeder when you buy an American Corgi because there isn’t a kennel club or registry to give their seal of approval. There’s also a range of traits your American Corgi may have depending on which genes it inherited from each parent breed. That being said, the right American Corgi can make an amazing pet.
Featured Image Credit: Elisabeth Abramova, Shutterstock