colours grooming moderate movement size tailset temperament


by Patrick Ormos, Phi-Vestavia Cardigans, USA (October '91)


"Overall silhouette long in proportion to height..." (1983 AKC Cardigan Welsh Corgi standard).

How long is long? Where do we measure length on a Cardigan? What is the relationship of height to total body length?

A recent nasty comment by another exhibitor about "cobby Cardigans" set me to wondering about the relationship between height and length. I immediately whipped out my photo albums and handbooks and began measuring. I measured height, back length, and total body length.
The standard suggests that "back length...should be approximately 1.5 times greater than the height. Given a 12" (30.48 cm) tall Cardigan, that would suggest an 18" (45.72 cm)  long back, measured "from the base of the neck to the base of the tail."

Immediately some questions come to mind: 1. Does the set of the tail change this measurement, and 2. does the layback and/or placement of the shoulder change this measurement? It seems clear to me that the obvious answer is "yes." A high tail set may vary a couple of inches from a low tail set...thus changing the measurement significantly (as much as 10+%). Shoulder placement is a little more difficult to verify. But given that most Cardigans have a placement
around the 2nd rib, rather than the correct 6th rib, it would seem that this, too could affect the measurement. Many people will actually measure from the withers, rather than from the base of the neck, and most people do not realize that the top of the shoulder blades is NOT the withers -
thus the actual measurement would be taken from the top of the shoulder blades. In the same way, as the shoulder layback steepens, the shoulder blades move forward on the rib cage, thus affecting the measurement...and most certainly affecting the visual perception of length! Our visual perception does not always equate to the actual underlying structure, that is why judges use their hands on a dog.

Clearly, the standard's attempt to provide a set of fixed points from which to measure back length, and therefore make some conclusions about the height to length ratio, which affects breed type, is a failure. Neither of those points can really be accepted as fixed. On the other hand, it is possible to find two points which are not variable and which can be used to compute total body length. These are the point of the forechest (the manubrium) and the bottom rear point of the pelvis (the ischium tuberosity). These two points can not be changed without affecting the total body length of the animal. The placement of the shoulders does not affect the absolute placement of the manubrium, though the visual perception will change (from no forechest to a lot of
forechest). The tail set does not in any way affect the pelvis, though the actual angle of the pelvis will affect length...but it affects it absolutely, not relatively. The German Shepherd standard uses these two points as reference points for overall body length, and therefore for its height to length ratios.

So the question becomes, "how long should a Cardigan Welsh Corgi be in total body length, measured from the manubrium to the ischium tuberosity?"

Certainly I do not have any absolute answers to this question...this is something which we need to debate in public. But, let me offer some observations.

As mentioned above, I measured about 50 or 60 photos of dogs, past and present. Of course, none of these measurements can be as accurate as they would be with the live animals, but, we can assume that the percentage error is probably about the same. I found only two animals (one male and one female) which had a ratio of 1:1.5:2, height:back length:total body length, and neither one was ever noted for their superior shoulder assemblies. In fact, the best shoulder assemblies seem to measure 1:1.2:1.8. Bitches seem to be slightly longer (this will surprise no
one), and are about 1:1.35.


Now, I am not of the school which says that we breed for what we actually can find, rather than for an ideal. But, given these kinds of actual ratios, do we really want to have 1:1.5?

At the end of this article you will find a drawing of a bitch with excellent shoulders who measures 1:1.45:1.9. You will note immediately that I am not a prize-winning representational artist! You will also note that this bitch needs to be almost twice as long as she is tall in order
to have a 1:1.5 height to back length ratio. Do we really want this? In order to get that kind of length we have to have long rib cages and very long loins. This is complete contradiction to the standard which says, "Loin - short, strong, moderately tucked-up." My personal experience with
dogs which approach this kind of length is that the back is weak and sags. Certainly we don't want that!


We need Cardigans which have strong backs, and short loins...and we should not sacrifice these important working characteristics for length. I would suggest, as a personal viewpoint, that the standard should be changed to reflect the reality of the breed, and to reflect an improved
theoretical understanding of the breed. The ratios should be 1:1.2:1.8 for males, and 1:1.3:1.9 for bitches. If we can find a way of increasing length while maintaining strength and correct shoulder angulation, then I would be more than happy to modify my views.


Some of you may disagree with me...if so, please write in and explain why I am wrong.


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