Category Archives: Anatomy

TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION: Correct Cardigan Front Legs

Barbara Miller

TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION: Correct Cardigan Front Legs

from “Welsh Corgi Cardigan Purebred Information”

This topic was given to me by one of our members who asked why Cardigan legs are crooked and wanted to know if breeders are addressing this to make them straighter like those of a Pembroke. (Please keep those questions coming!)

So let’s talk about those beautifully, curvy Cardigan legs and why they are the way they are.

To begin, I have attached a stock photo of a Cardigan from the front, as well as a photo of one of the less ideally constructed bully sub breeds. One could argue that both breeds carry a lot of chest. In the Cardigan, the chest is deep and wide to provide for plenty of lung and heart space. Dogs carry approximately 70% of their weight on their front legs. In the Cardigan, the legs curve around the chest (called the wrap) and settle well beneath the shoulders so that the dog’s weight is supported by two pillars, the legs.

In the bully type, the shoulders are wide and set apart like an apex. The chest is suspended between them, causing the weight of the body to be supported primarily by muscle and ligament. Without the leg bones acting as a structural support, this dog would be prone to soft tissue injuries were it asked to conduct strenuous labor.

I have also posted two diagrams that illustrate the same principle on the Cardigan. A correctly built Cardigan has a scaffold supporting its weight. An incorrect one resembles a bridge with no arch to dissipate weight.

Here is an excellent article describing it further:

This brings us to turnout. The Cardigan’s front feet should turn out SLIGHTLY, no more than 30% or, if standing above the dog, the feet should aim to be no wider than clockhands at 5 minutes to 1, with the head at 12:00. Too much turnout, and structural weakness occurs, usually in the primary shock absorbers between feet and wrist, called the pasterns. Arthritis and strains might become an issue.

But we should not be aiming for straight front feet like the Pembroke. The Pembroke standard requires the feet to be neither in nor out. It is important to remember that although both breeds carry the generic Welsh word for common or cur dog (Corgi), these dogs are not the same breed, and they are not two types of the same breed. They were erroneously considered two sides of one breed for 7 years almost 100 years ago, and a very small handful of breeders did cross the two during that time, but most breed fanciers recognized that these were two breeds even at that time and did not cross them.

The Pembroke just plain is not built the same as the Cardigan. Its legs do not wrap around the chest like a Cardigan’s do. The Pembroke is built more like its Spitz ancestors, breeds that include everything from the Samoyed reindeer herder, with shoulders similar to the other Spitz drafting breeds, including Huskies, to breeds like the Schipperke and Pomeranian.

The Cardigan is a Teckel breed. Its family includes the Basset hounds (many different types still in Europe) and the Dachshund. Notice that if we straighten the legs and move them outward, as in the incorrect Cardigan diagram, the feet straighten. When the legs are under the shoulders, supporting the dog’s weight, the feet balance slightly outward. The dog would lost stability if the feet were straight or turned inward.

The Basset Hound breed standard requires a front end very similar in structure to the Cardigan, also recognizing that those front feet need to turn out slightly for balance.…

The Dachshund breed standard also requires a greatly similar front to the Cardigan and also mentions that the front feet may turn out slightly.

Here are some other articles that may help explain why the Cardigan’s front legs are just right the way they are. And I look forward to seeing the input from others, as well. front drawingfront


Overdoing it


by Patrick Ormos, Phi-Vestavia Cardigans, USA

“Overdoing It!”

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for breeders to do is to find a balance between all the different things which they are looking for in trying to produce a “perfect” Cardigan Corgi. In fact, finding that balance in any breed is very difficult. There are certain things about a breed which we, the breeders look at and value above anything else. We often characterise these things as “type”.

We will say something about the beautiful head type, or how the ears are so typically Cardigan, or how wonderful it is to see that extraordinary length of back on the dog. Or perhaps we will rhapsodize over the wonderful round feet, or whatever it is that we feel really makes a difference.

But, let’s just stop for a minute and think about things. What does this do to the breed which we all love? How do our Corgis turn out?

If most of us are honest, we will note that many of our dogs do not look markedly different than they did a few years back. In some ways we have not progressed a great deal. I believe that we have lost sight of the whole for looking at the parts. If we also look closely at our dogs we will note a disturbing trend, one which mirrors what has happened in German Shepherds, that is, that the extreme looking dog has begun to win…at the expense of the balanced dog.

I believe that we are forgetting that the Cardigan is not an extreme aesthetic dog, but a balanced moderate functional one.If the Cardigan is truly a moderate, balanced and functional herding dog, then what should his structure be like? That is the primary question for all of us who are breeders, and for those of us who judge the breed as well.Let me share with you some questions. I will try to express my opinions about them in future articles. You may not agree. In fact, I hope that some of you do not, and that we can get a real dialogue of articles going on this breed. Only in this way can we begin to learn more about it. The Cardigan front consists of more than the radius and ulna bones. Granted that those are understood as unique by many people, just how unique should they really be? What functional difference does it make?

What has happened to the scapular and the humerus. In most breeds the ideal relationship between these two is that they are almost equal in length. Check your Cardigans out and notice how many of them are very short in upper arm. What kind of shoulder layback do we want in this breed? Why?Toplines are easily seen, and quite obviously very controversial. There are some very different interpretations on what the Cardigan topline (backline) should look like. What do you think?What kind of ribbing should the Cardigan have? I have seen everything from slab-sided dogs to barrel-ribbed dogs, and their owners claim that each one of them is correct. I am not prepared to accept that both are correct interpretations of the Standard.How do the ribs interact with the front legs, the shoulder blade and the upper arm to influence movement in the Cardigan?

A good answer to this kind of question would go a long way to convince people, judges and breeders, as to the correctness of a certain kind of ribbing.How wide is too wide in front? How narrow is too narrow? How does that affect the working ability of the dog. It is not just all aesthetics, it is also practical working ability that we are breeding for.How long is too long? I have noticed some Cardigans coming into the ring looking as if they should be in the Dachshund ring. Can a Cardigan get too long?

Certainly they can be too short-coupled – but what exactly are we talking about? Is it a loin that is too short? Is it the impression that is too short? Is it that the vertebrae are too short, thus actually causing a shorter back (this is indeed a real possibility)? Is it just that when the dog looks too much like a Pembroke the first thing that we say is that it’s too short?Rear assemblies are a bone of contention. We run the gamut from under-angulated and straight to over-angulated like a German Shepherd.

The old UK breeders suggest that the hind leg should look “like a ham”. What does that mean? How long a hock do we want, and how does that affect movement?These are just a few questions. There are others. We all need to look at our dogs with clear and critical eyes. Malicious rumours are not the way to educate and improve a breed. Free and open discussion is.

Sent to Corgi Quarterly (June 29, 1989)

Cardi’s Anatomy

reprinted by friendly allowance of CARDIGAN COMMENTARY INTERNATIONAL

This  skeleton is drawn by Bea Quinio from  several X-rays provided by
Charlie MacInnes   through the kind assistance of
Dr. Michelle Travers DVM, Claremont Veterinary Services.This is what a Cardi looks like.
1.  shoulder blade / scapula
2.  point of shoulder / shoulder joint
3.  prosternum
4.  upper arm / humerus
5.  radius / ulna
6.  elbow
7.  ribs / ribcage
8.  pastern
9.  pelvis

10.  tail set
11.  upper thigh / femur
12.  knee / stifle joint
13.   lower or secondary thigh / fibula/tibia
14.  hock joint

15.  rear pastern / length of hocks

Measuring points for the body:
Length:   From prosternum to ischium / buttock point
Hight:      From highest point of withers to the ground.