If you’re a Corgi parent…
… Or if you’re thinking about becoming one…
You should know about these 13 Corgi health problems and issues!
By the end of this article you’ll know:
- How to prevent health issues (65 tips).
- The #1 Corgi health problem (and how to recognize it).
- Fact: 95% of dog parents don’t know if their pooch is overweight.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
- 13 common Corgi health problems
- #1: Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)
- #2: Von Willebrand’s Disease
- #3: Intervertebral Disc Disease
- #4: Obesity
- #5: Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
- #6: Hyperthermia
- #7: Osteoarthritis
- #8: Cataracts
- #9: Canine Cystinuria
- #10: Epilepsy
- #11: Retinal Dysplasia
- #12: Patent Ductus Arteriosus
- #13: Dystocia
13 common Corgi health problems
Note: At the end of every Corgi health issue I give some simple and effective tips to protect your pooch (as much as possible).
#1: Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)
Corgis are small dogs, and their hip joints sometimes cannot support their weight.
Sometimes, this causes the joints to grind against each other when moving. This is called Canine Hip Dysplasia.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information has noted that CHD accounts for 18.4% of all Corgis.
How severe can it be?
Corgis with CHD may hesitate to walk across any slope.
Their movements on normal terrain may also seem sluggish or unbalanced.
If it isn’t treated, your Corgi may permanently have to use a wheelchair.
And even if they don’t, walking will be an uncomfortable experience for the rest of their lives.
Can I protect my Corgi from CHD?
You can protect your Corgi from CHD. Although it is genetic, many Corgis often do not contract it.
And the first step to that is being fit.
Corgis have short legs and a wide build. This means the legs need to keep up with the weight.
The less weight their legs have to support, the better.
On that note, here are a few tips to keep CHD away:
- Follow timetables. Do not let your Corgi’s sweet eyes distract you from your 30-45 minute walk rule.
- Control how often they eat. Adult Corgis (1 year and older) can’t afford to be overweight. One bowl per day is enough.
- Be careful with stairs or slopes. Any elevation means more pressure on your Corgi’s legs. Learn more about Corgis and stairs here.
- Take your Corgi for regular walks. It will help keep their legs strong, especially on flat ground.
- Consult your vet before exercising. Each Corgi is different, and it takes a vet to help customize your Corgi’s training methods.
#2: Von Willebrand’s Disease
Another genetic disease that Corgis may contract is Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD).
This disease happens when their genes lack enough blood-clotting proteins known as von Willebrand’s factor.
Ideally, when Corgis are wounded, their bodies immediately try to seal the wound in seconds.
However, dogs with VWD not only bleed or bruise frequently but even randomly!
Because they can’t close their wounds as quickly, a wound deep enough could endanger your Corgi.
How bad can it get?
Imagine you’re going for a walk with your Corgi… then you suddenly find them having a nosebleed!
As gross this sounds, this is sadly frequent for dogs with VWD.
And lest you forget, Corgis are very playful and physically inclined.
As a result, they are more likely to get hurt with this disease than most dogs. Their moment in the sun can literally be a bloody experience.
While Corgis can live normal lives even with this disease, they will need to be maintained a lot.
How do I prevent VWD?
VWD is entirely luck-based. Sadly, this means there are no external triggers. Your Corgi either has it or doesn’t.
But while prevention is off the table, there are a few things you can do:
- Be prepared to spend a lot of money. Corgis may need costly blood transfusions for extreme cases.
- Limit physical activity. Corgis with VWD can’t afford to get hurt. They need to play in a controlled environment.
- Avoid mutilating your dog. Even clipping your Corgi’s toenails for fashion’s sake can cause bleeding.
- Avoid hard-to-chew meals. Bones and tough meat can cause gum bleeding. Ask your vet for advice on your dog’s diet.
- Have family members watch your Corgi at all times. They may sometimes bleed in random intervals. Bleeding can be remedied with bandages and pressure, but severe episodes are a possibility. Be ready for vet sessions.
#3: Intervertebral Disc Disease
The Intervertebral Disc is a very important component of all dogs.
After all, the little discs that lie between the chain of bones protecting your dog’s spinal cord are responsible for their ability to walk upright.
Unfortunately, these discs can be forced out of place with enough shock.
This is especially true for Corgis, whose builds often rely on upper body strength.
When one of them presses on the spinal cord, it can be life-threatening to your Corgi.
We know this as Intervertebral Disc Disease, and there are two types:
- Type 1: The disc’s outer layer hardens and can end up breaking with the right amount of pressure. This is more sudden and extremely painful.
- Type 2: The disc grows gradually until it presses up against the spinal cord. Symptoms will take time to set in.
What’s the big deal?
Corgis have disproportionately large bodies. This means they tend to absorb shock a lot less than bigger dogs.
Think of it as bouncing a short wheel and a large, off-road wheel.
One of them will wiggle as it bounces, while the other stays firm.
However, if a Corgi’s spinal cord “wiggles,” it could result in them being permanently injured.
And since they’re active, smaller dogs, they are more susceptible to Type 1 IVDD.
Can I keep IVDD from happening?
Type 1 IVDD can be prevented partially. On the other hand, Type 2 IVDD is gradual and can’t be stopped:
For Type 1, There is no medicine that prevents the intervertebral disc from hardening.
However, you can limit your Corgi’s movements to keep it from breaking.
Warning: You should totally still visit your vet if you think there’s a problem! Accidents can happen after all.
For Type 2, the only prevention is to go to the hospital immediately when you start detecting symptoms. These include:
- Lack of activity.
- Pained howling.
- Uneven posture.
- Difficulty walking.
Any combination of these symptoms could indicate a spinal problem.
You should get your Corgi checked as soon as you see the signs.
Is there anything else you can try?
There are 5 more things you can do:
- Buy a back brace. It may cost over $100, but it straightens a dog’s back efficiently.
- Keep obstacles away. Type 1 IVDD can happen when your Corgi runs on uneven objects.
- No complex movement. This means no jumping or rolling unnecessarily. Running should be fine.
- Do not overwork your dog. Playing with Corgis more than usual is a risk factor.
- Keep social calls to a minimum. Separate the afflicted Corgi from all your other pets to prevent roughhousing.
If you look at a Corgi, you tend to see two things: fluff and cuteness.
Sometimes, however, a Corgi can get too fluffy. Adult corgis become officially obese when they exceed 10-14 kilograms.
Obesity is a risk factor for many common Corgi diseases, especially those involving the hips or spine like CHD and IVVD.
This is because more weight puts more pressure on these crucial body parts.
When you start seeing irregularities in your Corgi, exercise is the best way to go.
What does obesity look like for your Corgi?
Knowing when your Corgi is obese can be tricky.
First, every Corgi has a decently big build. They’re also too cute that you barely notice any changes.
In fact, about 95% of dog owners, in general, don’t know if their dogs are overweight.
Thus, observe how your Corgi reacts.
If your Corgi gets too tired a little too quickly, this might be an indicator.
If they prefer cuddling over fetching, that means they’ve become lax.
Obese Corgis are also voracious eaters. They will munch on whatever you put in their dog bowl.
What can I do to manage Corgi obesity?
When your Corgi becomes too big, it can be problematic because they’ll dislike moving around.
Like stubborn kids, you’ll meet resistance as you bring them along.
Here are some tips to deal with this:
- Play with your dog. Nothing gets a Corgi more motivated than seeing their owner invite them for a day of fun.
- Take exercises slowly. Just like human beings, Corgis love being tricked into working out. Do it slowly and methodically.
- Have a schedule in mind. Like all dogs, Corgis learn by habit. Making them exercise at certain timestamps will help them.
- Go for low-calorie meals. Dogs are very similar to humans here; losing calories is our idea or shedding weight.
- Adjust your dog’s environment. Think of it as converting your home into a dog gym. Obstacles and slopes will help Corgis work out.
If you are exploring a diet option for your Corgi, have a look at it with your vet because their bodies may not agree with your style.
#5: Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. It eventually takes away all of a dog’s functions.
It usually happens at around 11 years on average. From there, your dog may live for about 3 months to several years.
This disease is often fatal as it takes away your pet’s breathing.
But with enough patience and care, your Corgi will still live a happy life.
The 4 stages of DM
Degenerative Myelopathy occurs in several stages, each more taxing than the last.
The progression varies between each dog, but the signs are clear enough to be categorized.
Knowing how to help your Corgi means learning each of these in turn:
- Your Corgi will start off with weakness on their hind legs. They can still walk without help, but their steps will be jagged.
- Your pet will lose control of their hind legs entirely. They can’t stand upright. Walking will be laborious.
- The front legs will be affected. Without assistance, your Corgi will remain motionless on the ground.
- All voluntary movement ceases. Your dog won’t be able to control their bowels or even their breathing.
Due to DM’s severity, some doctors may recommend euthanasia in the earlier stages.
Here is a video you can watch depicting DM in said stages:
Can DM be prevented?
DM can’t be prevented. Once your dog has it, you need to start managing the symptoms.
The disease is a long, emotional, and physical experience, but it can be a blessing.
These steps below should help your Corgi through these times:
- Prepare the wheelchair. The fun doesn’t end when your dog stops walking. You still have places to go to!
- Keep your Corgi close to you. Corgis are affectionate dogs, with or without DM. Doing this will mean a lot to them.
- Exercise as much as possible. DM may be progressive, but you can slow it down with activity.
- Bring new friends for your dog. Even when weak, Corgis still love to play with others. Introduce your dog to other dogs or people!
- Consider death as a last resort. Euthanasia is a painful topic, but your doctors may suggest it to save your Corgi from painful experiences.
Hyperthermia is a condition that owners may tend to miss or overlook.
Its early symptoms are often confused as manifestations of their dog’s energy.
It can be easy to ignore the environmental causes which lead to the disease, for one.
And with Corgis being fun-loving dogs, you may not notice until it’s too late.
The disease is known for having two types:
- Fever hyperthermia is a complication of some underlying condition (particularly inflammation).
- Non-fever hyperthermia is acute and happens due to too much exercise or external heat.
What should I look out for?
Have you ever observed your Corgi drool or pant excessively while walking on a hot day?
If so, a couple of those episodes could have been early signs you narrowly prevented from worsening.
Dogs’ bodies tend to handle heat poorly.
And with how small Corgis are, their bodies will often signal the alarm early.
However, things can get worse. When they do, you need to be ready for these symptoms:
- Frequent seizures.
- Labored breathing.
- Problems with movement.
- Lack of response to stimuli.
Your dog may also start feeling lethargic. When one of these happens, contact your vet swiftly.
Can I prevent Hyperthermia from affecting my dog?
Hyperthermia is easy to prevent. In fact, you can apply many of the steps on yourself directly.
Here are a few things you can do to beat the heat:
- Time your sessions together. Don’t let your Corgi play too much. Make sure it’s only 30-45 minutes and have them rest.
- Attend a seminar on dog CPRs. You won’t always be near your vet. Knowing so will prolong your dog’s life in an emergency.
- Use fans or the AC on a hot day. Keeping your house ventilated on a hot day will keep your dog happy and healthy.
- Check weather forecasts before going out. It’s okay for your dog to miss exercise if it means avoiding hyperthermia later.
- Don’t leave your dog inside cars or enclosed spaces. Doing so is a one-way trip to disaster. Leave your Corgi outside with a leash if needed.
Note: Keep your Corgi away from hot environments, and everything will be fine.
As your Corgi grows older, certain parts of their body will become worn.
This includes the cartilages that allow them to move their joints painlessly.
When the cartilage disappears, the bones begin to rub on each other when moving.
This makes the affected area extremely painful to move.
When does Osteoarthritis kick in?
Corgis start to develop Osteoarthritis at around 8-10 years of age.
It does not affect every Corgi, but it’s typically a one-way street when it does.
It begins with Corgis limping as they avoid using the affected joint.
If you touch this part, they might yelp in pain. This also means your dog might be reduced to cuddling now, as playing becomes painful.
As such, owners whose Corgis have Osteoarthritis should focus on long-term care.
Can we cure and prevent Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is an incurable disease. The damage to the cartilage is irreversible and gradual.
However, there are certain medications that your dog can take to blunt the pain:
- Painkillers: Dogs can take painkillers to allow for temporary, painless movement. It’s a good short-term solution and provides comfort.
- Food supplements: Some food-based substances can be used to keep the joints strong. Ask your vet for the right kind for your Corgi.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: These include a combination of steroidal and non-steroidal drugs. They reduce swelling.
Osteoarthritis can be prevented to a degree. In fact…
These steps are helpful in treatment and prevention:
- Regularly exercise. Joints rely on exercise to stay strong. Regularly playing with your Corgi will allow them to walk strong even in old age.
Caution: There is an emphasis on regular. Too much exercise can damage the joints. Too little of it will cause atrophy.
- Keep track of their weight. Oversized Corgis often develop arthritis because the joints can’t handle the weight.
- Cuddle during your breaks. Corgis who move too much can develop arthritis. Cuddling effectively restrains them while maintaining emotional bonds.
- Check for something serious. Arthritis can also be a complication of some underlying disease. Be ready for multiple trips to the vet.
- Remove anything that stresses the joint. This includes unnecessary elevation, such as low-seated chairs or slopes.
As long as you maintain control, arthritis should be easy to handle.
Canine cataracts develop when the lenses of the eyes become opaque.
This can blur your Corgi’s vision or even blind them permanently.
It is primarily genetic, although trauma and old age are factors as well.
It also worsens over time if untreated. Take your Corgi to the vet once you see these signs:
- Disordered walking.
- Continuous eye pawing.
- Cloudy spots on either eye.
- Bumping on walls or minor obstacles.
Can you prevent cataracts from forming?
Cataracts tend to form due to genetic issues.
A paper from the University of Florida shows that Corgis are predisposed to acquiring inherited cataracts.
It can start developing anytime between the date of birth to 8 weeks after.
It also develops during the Corgi’s final years.
Despite this, you can do certain things to keep your Corgi safe when this happens:
- Don’t go anywhere dim. Corgis with eye problems may start to feel scared in areas with little light.
- Save money for treatment. Cataracts can only be cured through surgery. For that, you need about $2700 – $4000.
- Talk to your Corgi frequently. A Corgi’s sense of touch and smell are especially potent. Communicating with them will train these senses.
- Give your dog their personal space. Corgis have a sense of territory. If their vision fails them, their instinct for home will protect them.
- Avoid going out when you see cloudy spots. The outdoors can be too dangerous for a Corgi with eye problems. Have them stay at home until surgery.
#9: Canine Cystinuria
Ideally, a dog’s kidney is able to filter and urinate their bodily wastes away.
However, things can go very wrong if a Corgi is unable to filter cystine.
Cystine does not mix with water and builds up in the kidneys instead.
If enough of it is present, kidney stones can form.
How bad is it?
Kidney stones make urination painful and bloody. They also block passageways.
This means less waste is removed from the body.
It can be lethal to dogs if the stones are not addressed.
However, even with this, there is no actual cure for Canine Cystinuria.
Note: Not every dog with Cystinuria produces kidney stones. Those who do, however, will require constant care.
This makes the disease a long-term problem.
What can be done to manage it?
Cystinuria is a genetic condition. No pill or surgery will eliminate the problem.
However, your Corgi can still live out their entire lifespan.
To ensure this, bear the following in mind:
- Drink, drink, drink. Water will help keep your dog’s kidneys clean and stone-free.
- Keep your Corgi fit. This won’t help with kidney stones alone, but it will help prevent other illnesses.
- Pay attention to first symptoms. Some owners tend to not notice until complications arise. Don’t make the same mistake.
- Ask for a diet plan from your vet. Some vets will recommend low-protein, strictly regulated meals. Following this will keep your Corgi healthy.
- Pet insurance is your best friend. Your Corgi may need to have surgery every year to clear kidney stones. Scrotal urethrostomy also works as a long-term solution, but it’s even more expensive. Think on this.
Epilepsy is a condition that makes dogs move uncontrollably at certain times.
Its causes can vary widely between brain tumors, allergies, poisoning, and head trauma.
It can be painful for owners to see their Corgi seize. However, it is actually very manageable.
There are two different types of epilepsy:
- Localized epilepsy (partial seizures) involves dogs being unable to control certain body parts at times. One limb might shake, but your dog will remain conscious.
- Generalized epilepsy (grand mal seizure) involves your dog falling unconscious and spasming violently on the ground.
How bad is it for my dog?
It is bad for two reasons.
First, your dog might bump their head onto things as they shake. This can lead to serious physical injury.
It can also worsen existing conditions such as Hip Dysplasia because of sudden movements.
It can also cause hyperthermia because body temperature rises with activity.
The whole experience can also be traumatizing for you and your Corgi.
Second, a seizure is not normally considered a disease by itself.
It is treated as a sign of something more worrying.
For this reason, your vet will likely run a lot of tests on your dog after their first seizure.
What can I do to stop my dog from seizing?
Unfortunately, there is no cure nor a way to fully prevent epilepsy.
Further, any underlying condition will have to be addressed first.
However, there are things you can do before and during a seizure. With these five tips, your Corgi will remain safe.
Before a seizure, you must:
- Get a timer. A Corgi will often seize for 1-2 minutes. Anything longer than 5 minutes means this might worsen.
- Prepare a towel. It will act as a cushion for your dog’s head and help you clean your dog afterwards.
- Ready your phone or medical supplies. Your Corgi might bump into things as they seize. Be prepared to bring them to the vet or administer medical aid.
During a seizure, you should:
- Not restrain your pet. It can injure both you and your Corgi. If necessary, move them to a better spot gently by the collar.
- Move other animals away. Some may interact with your Corgi while they are spasming. This can be dangerous. Keep them away from your dog.
Here’s another video for more tips on seizures:
Bonus Tip: Don’t be discouraged when your Corgi is seizing. The experience is often physically painless. Stay calm, and all will be okay.
#11: Retinal Dysplasia
Retinal Dysplasia is an eye disease characterized by a poorly-developed retina.
Corgis that have this condition have underdeveloped photoreceptor cells.
This means that they will have problems with their vision for the rest of their lives.
The disease has three known stages:
- Mild retinal dysplasia – Some parts of the retina are not developed. Your dog will have obstructed vision, but can still see without assistance.
- Geographic retinal dysplasia – Much of the retina is underdeveloped. Their vision is very blurry.
- Detached retinal dysplasia – A lot of the retina is detached. This means your dog can’t see at all.
Retinal dysplasia shows itself at birth. Puppies which have it might exhibit different behavior.
They might also have problems moving past obstacles.
Owners will have to help their dogs from the day they are born.
Can it be prevented or cured?
Unfortunately, animal science has not reached this point yet. RD is a genetic-based disease, so one can’t prevent it.
However, your dog has all its other senses. Unlike humans, they have better noses and ears.
When they get older, they should be able to function like most dogs.
Nevertheless, there are things you need to do so you can care for your pet better:
- Give your dog a halo. A halo absorbs the shock of bumping objects. It protects your dog’s head perfectly.
- Keep everything as is. Young, blind Corgis memorize every corner of your home. Switching things will only confuse your dog.
- Flatten the environment. Block staircases with a gate. Put away pedestals and small furniture.
- Make sure the house is loud. Corgis prefer company. Talking or playing loudly informs dogs that they’re not alone.
- Have your dogs remember certain smells. Blind Corgis have a great sense of smell. They can walk up to your fridge and even poop in specific places.
#12: Patent Ductus Arteriosus
Some Corgis can develop heart problems at birth.
The most common of these is Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).
This happens because the vessel that connects the heart to the lungs does not close at birth.
Because of this, not only does blood not leave the heart, it even leaks into the lungs.
This also causes the heart to pump harder to sustain the body.
The result is a heart that’s guaranteed to fail in a year without treatment.
Studies have shown that 25-30% of all heart-related cases in dogs are caused by PDA.
How fast does it progress?
Corgis with PDA do not immediately show signs. For a while, they will seem as healthy as any dog.
As they grow, however, their hearts will be exhausted, keeping up with the body’s demands.
Corgis will then start to show symptoms within a year…
It can begin with a lack of desire to play, weakness, constant coughing, and finally, death.
If one of your Corgis starts feeling weak in a few months, go to the vet. Waste no time.
Hence, you need to remember these tips to save your Corgi:
- Commit to surgery. It can be expensive, but the results will be priceless. Listen to your vet if they suggest this.
- Mind the recovery period. Recovery for surgeries can be a while. Do not press your Corgi to exercise at this time.
- Walk them only for a short time. A balance between getting exercise and having a healthy heart is essential.
- Assign designated areas around the house. You don’t have to be idle while you wait for your Corgi. Train them once they’ve recovered.
- Use the resting period to know your Corgi better. Your pet will be eager to know about you. Make some memories while your dog recovers.
Bringing life into this world is truly a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, the experience isn’t equal between all pregnant Corgis.
Some Corgis can have problems giving birth. This is the primary symptom of Dystocia.
Here, the mother has problems pushing her puppies out, with labor typically exceeding the 72-day period.
The reasons may include the uterus being too small (in the case of younger Corgis) or simply a lack of contractions.
Owners are typically asked to let their dogs have a C-section to save both mother and offsprings.
Can you keep it from happening to your puppy?
There is currently no method for completely ensuring a smooth delivery.
However, you can keep your chances high by doing the following:
- Do not let your Corgi breed early. Corgis are small dogs and reach their biggest size in a year. Be patient and let them develop first.
- Do not intervene during delivery. Your dog delivers in various stages and can change moods rapidly. Do not agitate your dog.
- Contact your vet once labor starts. If possible, your dog should give birth in a clinic. The experts and their supplies will make the process easier.
- Go for C-section at the first sign of danger. Do not hesitate on this. The mother’s life rests in the birth’s success…
- Keep your Corgi in a comfortable environment. Corgis love having their loved ones close to them. Let your dog know you care!
Whatever problems your Corgi might have, the last and best advice any doctor would give you is to stay calm.
Do not let the symptoms get to you. Focus on treatment and cure…
And your dog’s future will be secure!