Are Corgis Herding Dogs? The Truth + 3 Surprising Facts

Are Corgis Herding Dogs

If you’re reading this, you know Corgis are nimble and energetic dogs. But can they really herd with their small and stubby legs?

Can they become your reliable and trustworthy companions on the farm?

Prepare to learn the truth.

You’ll discover:

  • 3 herding dangers for your Corgi’s legs and tips.
  • What history has to say about Corgis and herding.
  • 3 proven and effective commands to control your Corgi during herding.
  • And much more…

Are Corgis herding dogs?

Corgis are herding dogs. As early as 1200 BCE, the Welsh used them to guide farm animals across fields. Their small legs and long builds provided them with the agility and height to both chase animals and duck in case they retaliated at them. Some Corgis still herd even today.


3 reasons why Corgis are good herding dogs


#1: They have an active personality

Corgis have a surprisingly active personality. They are extremely playful and have high energy. In fact, it’s a requirement to walk them at least twice a day so they don’t get bored. 

During their 1-year socialization period, they are also very open to new things. You can expose them to new guests, sounds, and even other animals.

As a result, it’s often good to engage them in various physical activities. Take advantage of your Corgi’s personality by playing outdoor games and taking regular walks. These will help your Corgis physically and emotionally.

Note: Some owners may need to deal with difficulties due to anxiety issues. These can prevent your Corgi from herding well. Head over to Tips #1 and #2 to see what they are and how to deal with them!

#2: They learn more quickly 

Dogs are intelligent creatures. On average, it’s been shown that dogs possess the intellectual capabilities of 2-2.5-year-old children. 

In a study, it was detailed further that they could make simple mathematical computations and are able to understand up to 165 average words.

However, Corgis are able to beat these averages. According to Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, Corgis are unique in terms of adaptive intelligence.

This means they are more efficient at solving problems than a lot of other breeds. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi comfortably occupies the 11th spot. On the other hand, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi sits slightly behind at 26th place.

Their way of herding is unique as well. They don’t just chase animals around; they nip their heels from behind. This allows them to control the direction in which they’re retreating.

In other words, with the right commands, you can easily guide your pet animals with your pet Corgi acting like a remote control.

Note: Check out Tip #3 for the 3 basic commands you can use to help your Corgi herd better.

#3: They have high endurance

Corgis have surprising endurance for such a small breed. For one, they can tolerate heat and cold alike.

This is due to their double coats. Corgis shed heavily during the summer and winter for specific reasons. 

During the summer, they shed to lessen fur density. This helps them cool off when it’s particularly sunny as it encourages airflow. This also means they are able to tolerate outdoor temperatures between 78-87°F (25-30°C).

During the winter, they shed to make space for even thicker fur. They can comfortably walk on snow naked and stay warm even if it’s 50°F (10°C).

Corgis are also able to herd for long periods. They can generally work their joints for 30 minutes to 1 hour at a time. This is more than enough time to bring farm animals from one spot to the next.

Note: Before herding, pay attention to the weather. Make sure your Corgi only works between 50°F-87°F (10-30°C) as breaching this average can mean heatstroke or hypothermia. If the temperature isn’t conducive, don’t let your dog herd.


3 surprising facts about Corgis and herding


#1: They have an extensive herding resume

Corgi Herding Resume

Despite what some may say about their height, Corgis are no joke as herders. The American Kennel Club’s The Complete Dog Book says Corgis have been around since 1200 BCE.

The Celts transported Corgis to Ceredigion (Cardiganshire), where they served as companion dogs. They would protect the household from invasion, play with children, and herd.

Back then, people depended on natural barriers and rough estimates to establish borders between farms. Corgis would serve two purposes here. First, they would keep their cattle inside their respective space by nipping at their heels.

Second, they would do the same to other people’s cattle to drive them away from their owner’s space. Since the space was big, owners often relied on whistling as a way of recalling their Corgi.

The fun part? They can still herd after 3000 years! Here’s a fun video displaying just how good they are at herding:

#2: Herding can be risky for Corgis too

Although herding is a fantastic way to exercise your Corgi, there are limits to this. Corgi legs are small and usually unable to support their height evenly on non-flat ground.

As such, owners are encouraged to only let their Corgis herd for 30 minutes to 1 hour at a time. Corgis should also only sprint and take regular breaks during the herding.

Bear in mind also that they’re vulnerable to certain bone conditions like hip dysplasia due to their physiology. As such, take your Corgi for yearly checkups and be vigilant. 

Note: Tip #4 lists in great detail what these conditions are and how you can deal with them. Head over there to find out how to help your pet!

#3: Only one person on earth can outrun them right now

When herding, you need speed to keep up with farm animals. On average, human beings are able to run at only 15 mph (24 kph). Most farm animals that can run on all fours will easily outpace a running human.

Thankfully, Corgis are much faster than us. The healthiest Corgis are able to run at 25 mph (40 kph). This means it takes a thunderbolt (or at least a professional sprinter named Usain Bolt (27 mph/43 kph) to overtake them.

With their speed and wits, Corgis will easily guide other animals as long as you give them proper and consistent exercise.


5 tips to help Corgis herd


#1: Help your Corgi get comfortable with other animals first

Like human beings, every animal has a language barrier with other species. As such, your Corgi might think your farm animals are about to attack despite them acting neutral. This causes a wide array of reactions.

For example, a study of about 200 dog owners with cats in their homes revealed that 25% of pets treated each other with indifference. 

On the other hand, 10% of owners said they attack each other regularly.

One of the reasons for this is that different species often give different signals, leading to misunderstanding.

Reading Tip: Are Corgis Good With Cats? 9 Tips To Make Them Get Along

As such, you should facilitate exposure to as many things as possible. Begin by visiting your local farm regularly.

Have your Corgi run around in the open field to make sure they have a good feel of their surroundings. You can also take walks first if you want to keep the pace slow.

Note: You should also consult your vet or dog trainer as they may recommend certain medications. Follow their instructions and don’t bring your Corgi to the farm until they’re fully active again.

#2: Make herding sound fun

Corgi Enjoys Farm Sounds While Herding

Not all Corgis are going to be happy with a farm visit. After all, farms can be notoriously noisy at certain times during the day. 

For one, cabless tractors and pigs squealing in unison can intimidate a Corgi easily. Both are capable of reaching 100 A-weighted decibels (dbA). Chainsaws can also reach 110 dbA, which the Noisy Planet indicates is about as loud as a concert.

If your Corgi has a fear of sound, you need to overcome their fear of noise first as their symptoms will interfere with their herding training:

  • Yelping.
  • Digging.
  • Shaking.
  • Chewing.
  • Scratching.

Note: According to the AKC’s Canine Health Foundation, 40% of dogs with noise phobia also develop separation anxiety.

If your Corgi is triggered by any of the noises mentioned above, focus on desensitizing your dog. You can do this by exposing them slowly to the same noises at increasing volumes.

Begin by individually recording all of the loud farm noises. You can also record the entire background noise and bring it over to your house.

Show your Corgi a treat and play the same noises on low volumes. If your dog doesn’t show any reaction, reward them, and slowly increase the volume.

Continue desensitizing until your dog is able to overcome their fear of each noise. Play each noise separately too, as it’s possible that only certain noises can trigger your Corgi’s anxiety.

You can do this for about 5-10 minutes each. If your dog starts to feel scared again, postpone the session and reassure them.

Note: You should also consult your vet or dog trainer as they may recommend certain medications. Follow their instructions and don’t bring your Corgi to the farm until they’re fully active again.

#3: Teach them herding commands

Herding is a complex task that requires the use of multiple, well-timed commands. If your Corgi doesn’t know the commands, you run the risk of having your cattle run all over the place.

As such, your Corgi needs to learn the following:

‘Find’ command

Tracking is an essential skill for herders since it teaches both focus and persistence. The command that best represents this is the “find” command.

If your Corgi is able to master this, they will be less distracted and more focused on their target.

Here’s how you can teach them the command:

  1. Show your dog a toy.
  2. Put it near your dog and say ‘find it.’.
  3. Reward your dog for finding the toy.
  4. Increase the distance by several steps.
  5. Tell them to ‘find’ the toy again.
  6. Reward them.
  7. Rinse and repeat.

The goal is to make sure they associate the treat with the act of finding. Corgis are already experts at tracking due to their heritage as herders, so they’ll master this quickly.

‘Come’ command

This command will help you bring your Corgi back after herding. It also allows you to keep them near you while training.

To teach your dog, simply do the following:

  1. Put your dog on a harness.
  2. Let your dog move away from you.
  3. Show your dog a treat.
  4. Make eye contact.
  5. Wave your hand.
  6. Say their name and say ‘come.’
  7. Reward them when they reach you.

You can pass the leash and treats around to the people around you to help your Corgi socialize. Demonstrate the command and urge your partner to do exactly as you would do it. This will establish consistency.

Note: When using the harness, gently pull your dog while telling them to come. Avoid using a leash as it can put pressure on your Corgi’s neck and risk injury later.

‘Speak’ command

A Corgi able to bark on command is more efficient. This is because the sound they make will naturally intimidate farm animals into running faster.

Also, when they are able to bark on cue, your pet will be less noisy. Here’s how you can teach your dog:

  1. Show your dog a treat.
  2. Say ‘speak.’
  3. Treat after exactly one bark.

Despite the simple nature of this command, you should note that timing is still everything here. Do not treat them if they end up barking nonstop. Repeat the command until they can bark without treats.

Note: Consider using a clicker. The clicking sound will tell your dog that you only need them to bark once. After one bark, give them a treat and repeat until they’ve mastered it.

Once your Corgi has mastered these three commands, they are ready to herd. Here’s what you need to do to start training:

  1. Pick any herd (chickens, etc).
  2. Put on a harness for your dog.
  3. Show your dog with the herd.
  4. Let your dog feel relaxed around them.
  5. Bring your dog to the herd.
  6. Let your dog chase the herd from behind.
  7. Alternate between ‘come’ and ‘speak.’

After some time, reward your dog for chasing the herd. Repeat this setup until they no longer need a leash.

#4: Be careful with their bones

Corgis are achondroplastic dogs. This means they are dwarf breeds with uneven proportions. In this case, they have small legs. This predisposes them to certain bone-related diseases which can prevent them from herding.

These include: 

Osteoarthritis

This degenerative disease affects older, obese, or malnutritioned Corgis. It involves the protective cartilage between the knee bones weakening over time. This makes movement harder and often results in dogs needing wheelchairs.

The symptoms of Osteoarthritis often involve:

  • Limping.
  • Inability to stand.
  • Stiffness in posture.
  • Whining when petting the affected area.
  • Loss of muscle mass in the affected legs.

If your Corgi is hit with this, it typically means they’re done with herding altogether as there is no cure. However, you can prevent it by making sure that Corgis don’t overexert themselves. 

Keep their body weight at optimal levels. After 1 year, female Corgis should stay at 22.1-28.4 lbs (10-12.8 kg). Male Corgis should also stay between 22.1-30.4 lbs (10-13.78 kg).

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is another common condition that Corgis might start having when they herd. In a study of nearly 1 million dogs and their health records, it was shown that 15.56% of them had it.

Although it’s hereditary, poor diet and exercise can also increase your Corgi’s chances of getting it. When your dog starts limping, excessively splooting, or preferring one joint over another, take them to the vet.

They will typically recommend either physical therapy or a complete hip replacement. The earlier you detect hip dysplasia in your Corgi, the faster they’ll be able to return to normal, so observe their movements while herding.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

IVDD is the condition in which the protective disc that keeps the spinal cord in its place is ruptured and ends up pressing against it. This results in a slow loss of neurons until your dog is permanently paralyzed.

Typically, this disc is associated with both genetics and too much movement. It can also happen suddenly while your dog engages in high-impact activities like herding, resulting in extreme pain.

Corgis with this disease are advised to either take surgery to save their lives or take prolonged bed rest. To prevent this from happening, make sure that your Corgi is fit and doesn’t exercise above the prescribed time limit.

Read next: 13 Common Corgi Health Problems

#5: Always prepare first aid

Herding is a strenuous activity and can sometimes take you to places far from veterinary clinics. As such, you need to bring a first-aid kit in case of accidents.

You’ll need to bring the following to have a complete set:

  • Towels.
  • Ice packs.
  • Tweezers.
  • Bandages.
  • Wire gauze.
  • Cotton balls.
  • Alcohol wipes.
  • Hydrogen peroxide.
  • Saline eye solution.
  • Scissors with blunt ends.
  • Veterinary contact details.

Make sure to ask your vet regarding dosage for any medication or hydrogen peroxide to prevent overdosing your dog. Promptly take your pet to the vet after giving first aid.