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As a corgi owner, the health of your dog is important to you.
You may be asking yourself, are corgis healthy dogs?
The short answer is – yes, Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are both fairly healthy dog breeds.
The long answer is a little bit more complicated.
There are a handful of common corgi health problems corgi owners should be aware of.
Common Hereditary Health Problems found in Corgis
Fortunately, the Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are relatively healthy breeds, with just a few health concerns that affect them.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is an old-age disease affecting the spinal cord of senior dogs.
The white matter in the spinal cord degenerates, resulting in the progressive loss of function of the hind legs, traveling toward the front of the dog until full paralysis.
The condition is irreversible but painless.
Not enough studies have been done to determine the exact cause of the illness.
Many “at risk” dogs (those with two copies of the mutated gene) never develop any symptoms throughout their life.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is the most common inherited orthopedic illness in dogs, affecting their rear legs.
CHD develops as the dog grows and is the result of an improper fit between the ball of the femur and the socket of the hip.
It usually leads to increased looseness and lameness in the joint.
This results in arthritic changes and inflammatory processes in the joint.
CHD is polygenic, meaning that many genes are responsible for its development.
CHD can further be exacerbated by the environment and upbringing of the dog.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is the disease that causes degeneration of one or more of the spinal discs.
The degenerated disks have reduced shock-absorbing capacity.
IVDD can ultimately lead to disc herniation and spinal cord compression.
Increased IVDD risk is associated with the Chondrodystrophy CDDY gene – the gene which gives the two corgi breeds their short legs.
Although the CDDY gene can be tested for, all purebred corgis carry two copies of the gene.
Cataracts, persistent pupillary membranes (PPMs), and retinal dysplasia/detachment (PRA) are occasionally hereditary eye diseases affecting corgi health.
They are typically painless and non-lethal however, they can reduce the dogs’ quality of life.
Von Willebrand Disease – Type 1
Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is a disease that prevents the dogs’ blood from clotting properly.
VWD is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi-specific disease and is not found in Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
In dogs, it can range from mild bleeding to severe blood loss, with or without cause.
It is autosomal dominant with variable penetrance.
That is a fancy way of saying a dog only needs to inherit one copy of the gene (from either parent) to have clinical symptoms.
However, not all dogs who carry a copy of the mutated gene will be symptomatic.
Corgi Health Testing
To reduce hereditary diseases being passed on to future offspring, reputable corgi breeders should have their dogs tested for hip dysplasia and eye disorders.
Dogs used for breeding should receive annual eye exams once they are two years old.
These exams should be conducted by a canine ophthalmologist.
Additionally, Pembroke Welsh Corgi breeders should also test for von Willebrand disease.
As most health issues are a result of a single mutated gene, proper breeding practices and extensive health testing ensures the offspring will not have clinical symptoms for diseases like VWD, DM, and eye diseases.
Additional health screening tests are also available to a breeder if they choose to perform them.
These include tests for elbow dysplasia and cardiac myelopathy.
Reputable breeders should have their breeding dogs examined by OFA or PenHIPP. These agencies help determine if their joints are healthy or dysplastic.
Even with testing, issues like hip (or elbow) dysplasia are not 100% preventable as they result from many things.
However, by focusing on corgi health and breeding only dogs with passing joints vastly reduces the chance of clinical symptoms developing in future litters.
If OFA conducted eye and joint exams, their results can be looked up on OFA.org.
If conducted by a different organization, the results should be made readily available by the breeder if requested.
Purebred Does Not Equal Well-Bred
It all sounds scary, doesn’t it?
It shouldn’t be.
If you purchase a well-bred dog from a reputable breeder, the chances of ever dealing with any of those issues are tremendously reduced compared to getting a purebred dog from whoever is willing to sell you one.
There is a major misconception that purebred dogs are categorically unhealthy due to inbreeding/line breeding.
And, if you want a healthy dog, you should adopt a mix-breed dog instead.
While there are healthy mutts and mixes in the world, there are also many healthy purebred dogs too.
So, why does this misconception exist?
Unfortunately, the majority of purebred dogs that people see and encounter on a daily basis are, in fact, not well-bred.
And, at its core, being well-bred is what can ensure a healthy purebred pup.
Just because a dog is purebred, meaning it’s the offspring of two dogs of the same breed, that does not necessarily mean that dog’s parents were selected as breeding candidates with health in mind.
This concept makes a huge difference.
While all dogs deserve loving homes, if you are looking for a healthy Corgi to add to your family, you should not support unethical breeders that continue to spread preventable hereditary illnesses.
Instead, find a reputable corgi breeder who conducts the required corgi health tests and selects only the healthiest dogs for their breeding programs.
How To Keep Your Corgi In Good Health
In any case, prevention is the crucial first step.
There are genetic tests that will tell you whether your dog carries any hereditary disease(s).
Screening your pup’s hips and elbows if they show any lameness, or even if they don’t, will aid in finding any issues before they become too major.
Even if you don’t plan to breed your dog, preventative screening gives you good knowledge of your pup’s current health status and what can come up in time.
Preventative hip and elbow screenings can be done as early as a few months old. However, a conclusive opinion is given on radiographs of dogs older than 12 months in Europe (FCI) and older than 24 months in the USA (OFA).
Genetic corgi health testing can be done as early or as late as you like.
Discovering and treating any illness early can be key in slowing down any further developments. (Especially in cases like hip and elbow dysplasia.)
While we cannot change the genetics of the dogs we have, we can take the necessary steps now to ensure their health.
And while most diseases on this list look scary, proper breeding programs can ensure you have a wonderful, happy, healthy puppy.
Even though there are bad apples everywhere, we can confidently conclude that corgis are, in fact, one of the healthier breeds.