The Cardigan Corgi from Years Gone By

by Joy Tonkyn, Willowglen Welsh Corgis, UK

Since the 10th century AD the Cardigan Corgi was kept as a working dog herding cattle but they also had many other jobs killing rats and other vermin, tackling a fox or badger when an occasion arose or rounding up chickens or ducks. In those days when they were kept purely for working they were a different looking dog from those of today, in fact they were a rough looking lot varying considerably in size but possessing the ideal sagacity and temperament which they have never lost. Early in the 20th century interest was taken in the Cardigan for exhibition and much work was put in to standardise them in size and type.

When Challenge Certificates were first on offer in the 1920's both Pembrokes and Cardigans competed against each other for them and invariably the Pembrokes took the upperhand but this changed in 1929 when two prominent dogs, Ch. Golden Arrow (the first Cardigan to become a Champion) and Ch. Nell of Turyn kept Cardigans in front.

The positions fluctuated over the years until the two breeds were separated in 1934 and both had their own Challenge Certificates. Five sets of Challenge Certificates were allotted to Cardigans in 1935 and 1937. Mrs Honey's Ch. Dinah of Wilmorton won her first CC and then at nearly 13 years of age at the CWCA Show held just after the war was Reserve Best of Sex which shows how well they last and they are a long lived breed.Like many other breeds Cardigans were in pretty low water at the end of the war but fortunately there were some deter­mined and dedicated breeders who made sacrifices for the benefit of the Breed showing their dogs whenever possible guaranteeing classes and helping newcomers to the Breed.

Among the few who kept the Breed going was the late Miss Sonnica Godden who consistently produced typical Cardigans of all colours under the world famous Kentwood affix and whose name is behind so many pedigrees of today. At her untimely death she still had winning dogs in her kennel and throughout the post war years the Kentwood's have had a terrific influence on the Breed.
Other prominent kennels after the war were the Parmel kennels of Mr & Mrs J Parkinson and indeed played a great part in the breeding programmes in Sweden as did Mrs Gwen Roberts' Robgwen Cardigans and these names can still be found in today's pedigrees. Another famous kennel was that of Mr & Mrs H Jones' Dilwel Cardigans who produced some lovely rich red dogs, sadly lacking these days, but they did produce other colours as well. Another prominent in the early days and one instrumental in getting Blue Merles off the ground was Mrs Thelma Gray's Rozavel kennels. Well known for her Pembrokes and GSD's, several kennels of today were founded on the Rozavels and particularly those interested in breeding Blue Merles.

Getting nearer to the present day the Rhiwelli kennels of the late Mr Eddie Young were breeding Blue Merles as well as other colours (and Pembrokes) and enjoyed the freedom of the Welsh mountains in rural Cardiganshire. The late Miss Pat Curties of Lees fame campaigned Lees Rhiwelli Blue Ray to her title and was the foundation bitch for later Lees breeding. In the sixties the late Mrs Doreen Dodd started showing her Wendac Cardigans and had great success with a dog bred by Mrs Gwen Roberts, Ch. Robgwen Midnight Special, who proved such a valuable stud dog and produced winning progeny. Among the kennels still very active today are the Joseter of Mr Peter Clifton who throughout the years has produced many Champions.
Mr & Mrs Viv Bailes introduced their Baileswood kennels and together with Mr & Mrs Keith Littlefair (Doldrum) were instrumental in promoting the breed in the northern part of the country with great success along with other breeders sadly not with us any more, Miss Sally Verity, Miss Kit Rob and others.

The late Mrs Vi Higgs played an important part in producing consistent type and conformation with her Apollinaris Cardigans. The Beckrow kennel was introduced in the late sixties by Miss Sandra Tonkyn who had considerable success in the short time she was active before her untimely death in 1998.
The late Miss Pamela Walker (Jezalin) was renowned for breeding red Cardigans but did have other colours also.

Other kennels who are still very active and again producing consist­ent stock are Mrs Aileen Speding's Antoc Cardigans whose foundation bitch was Lees Jet, and Miss Teresa Maddox' successful Salvenik kennel of Cardigans and Pembrokes.
Throughout the years the Breed has been troubled with PRA but thanks to the splendid work done by Cambridge University DNA tests have been carried out on many dogs from all over the world and breeders are now able to determine which dogs to use for breeding and can be assured of breeding clear stock.

There is quite a lot of interest shown in the Cardigan Corgi today and some of them are excellent taking part in agility and loving every moment of it. They also made good obedience competitors and some Cardigan enthusiasts are wanting to compete in flyball. Suffice to say that over the years although the Cardigan Corgi has changed appearance for a small dog they are very versatile, loyal, hard workers but equally being an affectionate dog make lovely pets. A Cardigan Corgi always wants to please his owner, will protect him as best he can but can also be great fun having a terrific, and sometimes wicked, sense of humour!

Due to the high cost of show entries and petrol, numbers being exhibited are sadly dropping but the only consolation, if it is one, is that the Cardigan Corgi is not alone with this problem which is affecting most breeds today.
In conclusion everyone involved and interested in the Breed owe so much to the few breeders in the pre-war days and, indeed, immediately after the war whose work and conscien­tiousness in maintaining and promoting the Breed was tireless. Without this dedication the Breed might well not have achieved all it has done today and it is hoped will continue for many years to come.New Zealand Kennel Gazette

February 2001 • Supplement
with the kind permission by the author

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