Paw-pularity of Corgis on the Rise

In 2014, the Kennel Club designated the Pembroke Welsh Corgis as “vulnerable” with only 274 registrations, a 16 percent drop since 2013. Many feared this dog breed would die out. However, the Internet came to its rescue.

Corgis are the new “It” animal of social media today, thanks to an incredible surge of photos and memes on the Internet — with 1,808,127 posts under the “corgisofinstagram” hashtag on Instagram. Get ready, you too will soon be contributing to the rising popularity of corgis.

According to the American Kennel Club, a non-profit organization and the largest purebred dog registry in the world, the popularity of the Queen’s favorite breed — the Pembroke Welsh Corgi — rose by a third since 2015, making them the eighteenth most popular dog breed today. Photos, videos and memes on the Internet have made the royal breed popular again and diminished fears about them dying out that arose in early 2010s. This rise in popularity, however, has also caused a rise in backyard breeding.

The Internet loves them. Hundreds of Facebook pages are dedicated to the attention-grabbing breed: “Corgi Overload” and “Corgi Addict” pages each garner over 350,000 likes. The pages share photographs and videos of corgis interacting with humans or each other.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is ranked the eleventh most intelligent dog breed in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. The Pembroke breed is the smaller of the two breeds of Welsh corgis — they are around 10 to 12 inches, weigh about 13 kilograms, and have no tails. Cardigan corgis, on the other hand, are a slightly larger breed with tails.

A visual representation of the differences between Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

According to Ania Campbell, Client Service Manager at Wag Hotel, corgis originally served as herding dogs. They helped with all sorts of farm tasks like corralling sheep to direct them towards where they need to go.

Some love them for their butts, others love them for their short legs.

“They are known for being happy, rambunctious and a little stubborn. And I love that,” said Jen Hugo, owner of two-and-a-half-year-old corgi — Grace the Potato. “They are short-legged little tater tots with a good personality.”

Buttons — the Chief Frapnancial Officer (CFO) of Corgi Con — is used to turning heads. As he trotted down to Ocean Beach for Corgi Con, more than a dozen girls tried to flirt with him — squatting by him in hopes for a lick.

“Corgis are trending now,” said Anne Marie, a regular attendee of Corgi Con since 2014 and the owner of Buttons. “Corgis come from all kinds of cultures and so do corgi owners. We become connected through social media and build a culture of our own through our dogs and our love for them.”

Corgi Con is a meet-up that features hundreds of corgis, corgi merchandise, corgi contests, corgi races, and many more, with all proceeds going towards Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue. What was initially a small gathering of a few close friends and neighbors in 2014 has grown over the past few years into a massive biannual celebration with over 900 corgis this year.

Navigating through thrilled corgi lovers and stepping over a handful of corgis, Marie walked over to the sign-in booth of Corgi Con. On her way, she greeted half a dozen other corgi owners and exchanged friendly hugs and hellos.

In fact, many of them met on social media through their corgis’ Instagram accounts before meeting in person. Buttons, for example, has over 26,900 followers on Instagram. As CFO of Corgi Con, he makes posts to promote Corgi Con events on social media and calls together hundreds of corgis from all over the country for the biannual festival.

“People just can’t get enough of them,” said Cynthia Lee, founder of Corgi Con. Lee herself owns two corgis — Maki Boo who has 42 thousand followers on Instagram and Bubba Bruster who has over eight thousand followers. “They love them because they have short legs and big butts. They bring us joy.”

They say that dogs are a man’s best friend. We’ve got the photos to prove it.

Left: Maggie Yue, 26, of Oakland, Calif., looks into the eyes of her beloved Corgi, Rory, 2, at Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif., on June 14, 2017. Maggie loves Rory unconditionally, but takes slight issue with the way she hogs the bed at home. “We have a king size bed and she thinks she owns half of it,” said Yue. Right: Mackenzie holds Maggie, 8, at NorCal CorgiCon Summer Edition on June 17, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
Carly Aozasa of Davis, Calif., poses with Romeo, 1, at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. on June 17, 2017. Davis is a rising third year at UC Davis and made the trip down south to enjoy a sunny beach day with her pup.
Left: Sonya Disterheft of San Anselmo, Calif., holds her Corgi, Rhys, 3 on the Ocean Beach boardwalk in San Francisco, Calif., on June 17, 2017. Disterheft calls her dog by the nickname “Rhysie”, and says that her favorite thing about Corgis are their personalities. Center: Julie and Daisy, 4 years old. Right: Chris and Denoza, 6 months old.
Left: Jacob with Nala, 1 years old. Right: Brenna Taylor holds her dog Mabel, 10, while she juggles a phone call at Corgi Con in Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. on June 17, 2017. Mabel is Taylor’s fifth Corgi. Taylor once thought that she wanted to adopt a pug, but her mind was changed after the first time she met a Corgi. “At 5 years old a corgi dropped at my feet to roll, and from that moment I knew that was the dog for me. I got my first corgi puppy a couple months later,” said Taylor.
Left: Barret and Abby hold a distracted Carlie, 9 years old. Carlie was adopted in 2011 and serves as an endless source of energy in her owners’ lives. "She pulls us on our skateboard like a husky," said Abby. Right: Matthew and Peach, 1.5 years old.
Left: Deborah and Keenan with Hugo, 4 years old. Right: Tina and Bill Doheny with Taz, 6 years old.
Kelsie and Paisley, 11 months old.
Left: Jenica, Joseph, and Sophia Ramos pose with their Corgi stuffed animal, Sweetie, and the photobomber, Karma, at Corgi Con at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. on June 17, 2017. Karma does not actually belong to the Ramos’s. The Ramos’s would like a pet Corgi of their own but are unable to adopt one at this time. They have Sweetie the stuffed animal as their pet for now. Right: William White and Stephanie Hughes-White hold Abby, 7, and Sarge, 6, as their dogs sport sunglasses at the beach. Abby (left) is currently battling cancer. Despite Abby’s health affliction, her owners make an effort to keep her life exciting. “We take them everywhere we can to socialize them,” said Hughes-White.
Left: Jeanette Baisch Sturman of Berkeley, Calif., holds the leash of Barnaby, 2, at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Glade on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Baisch Sturman appreciates how Barnaby cares about his owner’s emotional well-being. “When he hears me sniffle or cry he hops off the couch to run over and check on me,” said Baisch Sturman. Right: Addison and Laurie Beach of Lodi, Calif. relax in the sand with their Lady, 4, in San Francisco, Calif. on June 17, 2017. This is the Beach’s second Corgi after owning their first one for 16 years. Despite her smiling face, the Beachs explain that their Lady is actually very protective. “If someone’s at the door she thinks she’s a guard dog. She’s like a little piranha,” said Addison.
Isabelle, 10, lays with her dogs Lyla, 2, and Fluffy, 10, at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif., on June 17, 2017. Fluffy currently serves as Isabelle’s service dog, but plans on retiring in the near future. She will relinquish the throne to her predecessor, Lyla, within the next two years. “Lyla is being trained to be my service dog. She’s going to take over Fluffy’s job soon,” said Isabelle.
Left: Katie and Butters, 6 months old. Right: Rachel Malina and Olivia Florentino of San Francisco, Calif., pose with Alfie, 3.5, at Corgi Con at Ocean Beach on June 17, 2017. Alfie is wearing a life vest for precautionary safety reasons while near the ocean. “One time he jumped in a pond and Olivia had to go and get him, he’s very daring so we have to be careful at the beach,” said Malina.
Left: David and his Corgis Tank (black), 12, and Jeep (brown), 11, enjoy a day at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. on June 17, 2017. He explains that his two dogs have very different personalities. “Tank is the king corgi because he’s so big and Jeep is a love bug,” said David. Center: Mark Cortez and Sharon Lim with The Flash, 5 years old. Right: Kelsey Darlene of Rocklin, Calif. kneels with her two Corgis, Ladybug, 8 and Dexter Corgon, 2 at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. on June 17, 2017. Darlene’s choice to adopt Crogis was heavily influenced by their physical appearance. “I wanted a big dog on short legs,” said Darlene.

The rising popularity of the Corgi breed extends far beyond the Bay Area. The fame of these fluffy sausages on short legs has taken off faster than a dog playing fetch, and a quick Internet search for Corgi memes does not disappoint.

Left: From The Odyssey Online Right: From Memes.com
Left: From WhatEveryDogDeserves.com Center: From Pinterest.com Right: From Imgur.com

Even for those who do not own corgis themselves, these puppies are enough for people to travel from all over the country to come see them. Many make a vacation out of “frapping” with corgis on Ocean Beach — frap is an acronym for “frantic random acts of play,” explained Lee. She has seen devoted fans fly in from Hawaii and Nevada to spend a Saturday afternoon on the beach running around with corgis.

From Facebook to Instagram, corgis rule the Internet with their bright smiles and wiggling butts and the popularity of the breed will continue to grow, according to Lee.

Although the Internet rescued the corgi business with an overwhelming amount of positivity, there are some negatives. According to Bell Gewerth, Dog Groomer at Pet Smart in Rocklin, CA, backyard breeding is a serious issue with corgis.

Backyard breeders breed just for profit and do not practice adequate standards of care to the animals, according to Partnership for Animal Welfare. This causes a lot of mixes to end up in shelters because they aren’t exactly what a corgi should be or look like.

Pet store dogs from backyard breeders typically are not tested for genetic diseases and not adequately protected from infections, as documented Animal Court Cases. Thus, many pets lose their hearing, become crippled, die, or suffer from other breeding-caused illnesses.

“The Internet makes it so that there’s so much of ‘look at these cute things!’ And less of ‘here’s how to properly take care of them,’” Gewerth said. “Some corgis get shaved down because their owners can’t handle how much they shed.”

According to Darci Everitt, Adoption Associate at the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV), an independent, non-profit organization that connects people with pets, backyard breeding happens to any breed that becomes popular. Everitt said many of the dogs get abandoned because a lot of them have health issues from not being bred in a healthy environment.

“As a groomer, I say enjoy the corgis,” Gewerth said. “But if you can’t take on the responsibility of actually owning them, then don’t do it.”

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