So it’s the day before St Patrick’s Day, the day when everyone is Irish, everybody wears green, and everybody believes in pots of gold at the end of rainbows. I follow a lot of canine groups on Twitter and Facebook, and there is a proliferation this year of “Top 10 Irish Dog Breeds!” Well, I have a little Welsh dog and I love her more than anything, and no one wished us Happy St David’s Day this year or posted lists of the Top 10 Welsh Dog Breeds (except there are only 5, recognized by the AKC).
So with the daffodils in bloom, I bring you: the top 5 Welsh dog breeds.
Interested in any of these breeds? I’ll link you to the AKC site with the breed standard for each dog. These standards are a great introduction to the appearance and temperament of the various recognized breeds. I’ll be quoting liberally from these standards when I don’t have personal experience to go on.
NB: I’m not a dog expert, just a dog lover.
5. The Welsh Terrier. Terrier Group; recognized by the AKC in 1888. A “sturdy, compact, rugged dog of medium size” with a dense, wiry black-and-tan coat. 15 inches or so at the shoulder and about 20 pounds; females can be smaller. Rectangular head, dark brown eyes, small “V-shaped” ears and a “confident but alert” expression. The whole entry for temperament is worth quoting in entirety: “The Welsh Terrier is a game dog — alert, aware, spirited — but at the same time, is friendly and shows self control. Intelligence and desire to please are evident in his attitude.” The Welsh Terrier was originally developed as a hunting dog, and as such can be a stoic and persistent sort that can problem-solve creatively and efficiently. A “zippy and compact companion, always looking for action and entertainment.”
4. The Welsh Springer Spaniel. Sporting Group; recognized by the AKC in 1914. A slightly smaller, more compact look-alike of the English Springer Spaniel but a totally separate breed. 17-19 inches at the shoulder and of proportionate weight for the size. The breed standard calls the ideal WSS “compact,” “attractive,” and “handy.” The shape of the head should be in proportion to the body, neither too large (“coarse”) or small and delicate (“racy”). Eyes should be medium to dark brown with a soft expression; ears should be set at eye-level and come down toward the cheeks, “shaped somewhat like a vine leaf [and] lightly feathered.” Recognized coat colors are rich red with white markings, any pattern, and red “ticking” is acceptable among the white. An “active,” “loyal,” and “affectionate” dog, reserved with strangers but devoted to his family.
3. The Sealyham Terrier. Terrier Group; recognized by the AKC in 1911. The ideal Sealyham is 10 1/2″ at the shoulder, 24 pounds, and was originally bred to hunt badger, otter, and fox. This is how the AKC Breed Standard opens: “The Sealyham should be the embodiment of power and determination, ever keen and alert, of extraordinary substance, yet free from clumsiness.” And I think that says it all. Powerful without being bulky; a dynamo in a small package. A powerful (but not coarse) head, a strong jaw with a level bite, smooth flat cheeks, muscular neck set firmly on shoulders, strong forelegs with lighter hindlegs, large and compact feet. The coat is a double coat, good in the weather, soft undercoat and wiry topcoat. Color should be all white with lemon, tan, or “badger” markings. “Proud,” “charming and inquisitive,” and “spirited.” Sealyham Terrier Charmin won Best in Show at the AKC/Eukanuba Championship in 2007!
2. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Herding Group; recognized by the AKC in 1935. There are two breeds of Corgi and they are separate breeds: The Cardi is the one with the tail. This is a low-set dog with a deep chest, designed to do droving and farm work. These dogs may be 10 1/2 – 12 1/2 inches at the shoulder and 30-38 pounds (males; females may be of shorter height and 25-34 lbs.). The Cardi’s expression should be “alert and gentle.” Ears are large and prominent in relation to the rest of the body, and rounded at the tip. A moderately wide and flat skull, a distinct stop, and planes of muzzle and skull in parallel with each other. A “moderately long and muscular” neck, well-set on strong shoulders, broad chest, well-defined waist, slight downward slope to a low-set, bushy tail. Medium but dense, smooth, weather-resistant double coat can come in red, sable, brindle, black with or without tan, blue or grey merle, all with white flashings. Flashings can appear at neck, chest, muzzle, underparts, tip of tail, and as a blaze on the head. “Free,” “smooth,” and “effortless” gait; “Short choppy movement, rolling or high-stepping gait, close or overly wide coming or going, are incorrect.” The Cardigan temperament is “Even,” “loyal, affectionate, and adaptable.”
And the number 1 Welsh dog breed….could there have been any doubt?
1. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Herding Group; recognized by the AKC in 1934. This is the second type of Corgi: The one with the Queen. A “low set,” “sturdy,” “bold and friendly” dog, the P-Corgi is slightly smaller than its Cardigan cousins, with shorter, straighter, lighter legs and pointed ears (where the Cardi’s are rounded). Half the “General Appearance” part of the standard has to do with the Pem’s attitude: “Outlook bold, but kindly. Expression intelligent and interested.” The gait should be free and easy, the head “attractive,” with a smooth gait indicating a well-formed (balanced) dog. This dog should be 10-12 inches at the shoulder, males no more than 30 pounds, females not to exceed 28 pounds. Shoulders to base of tail should be 40% longer than the height of the shoulders. Foxy, triangular head; fairly wide and flat skull; slightly rounded cheek; oval, medium-set eyes in shades of brown to complement coat color. Erect, firm, mobile ears that react sensitively to sound (we call them satellite dishes!). “A line drawn from the nose tip through the eyes to the ear tips, and across, should form an approximate equilateral triangle.” Fairly long neck to balance the body; level topline; deep chest. No exaggerated lowness in the chest, please, as this interferes with free movement. Long, slightly egg-shaped ribcage. Docked tail or natural bob, if sufficiently short (and does not spoil the topline). Short, inward turning forelegs; parallel elbows; oval feet with two middle toes slightly ahead of two outer toes on each foot. Medium, thick, weather-resistant double coat; acceptable colors are red, sable, fawn, and black and tan with or without white markings. White markings acceptable on neck, chest, muzzle, underparts, and a narrow blaze on the head. Too much white, especially in the face, can be undesirable. Fluffy corgis, while eminently adorable, cannot be bred or shown. As in the Cardi, a short, choppy, rolling gait is not accepted. Forelegs should reach well forward and work in unison with the back legs to propel the dog forward evenly and strongly.
Happy St David’s Day (belated)!
Amy would like to know if this means there’s going to be cake.