In celebration of St David’s day, we are taking a look at some wonderful Welsh dog breeds. Each breed has its own unique history and how they came to be firm favourites not just in Wales, but expanding to Hollywood and Buckingham Palace. With all the breeds having previously been used for hunting, herding or pest control, they are all intelligent, energetic and protective.
First up is the Pembroke and Cardigan Corgis. Their name translated from Welsh literally means ‘dwarf dog’, which is an accurate description of their build! You probably know of the Corgi as they are potentially the most well known of the Welsh breeds. They are a favourite of the Queen and the internet can’t get enough of their cute appearance and quirky personalities. But do you know where they originated or what job they were bred for?
There are varying stories of how Corgis came to be in Wales but it is believed that Pembroke Corgis came over with Flemish weavers in the 10th century, while Cardigan Corgis arrived with Norse settlers. They even appear in mythology, as legend has it that fairies would use Corgis to pull their carts and ride them into battle.
Originally used to herd large cattle, they now make great companions for families as they are sociable, cuddly and playful whilst also being smart and obedient. Despite their small stature, they are known to be great guard dogs with a ‘big dog bark’.
Next up, we have the Welsh Springer Spaniel. These gundogs are active, sociable and smart. They are ideal for owners who lead active lives and can offer plenty of quality time. They thrive on human contact and can become attached to their owners, but with training from an early age and lots of socialisation, you can avoid them becoming too codependent.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel was incredibly popular in the 18th century but their existence predates this by two centuries. They appear in paintings dating back to the 16th century at their master’s sides!
The Welsh Terrier is a classic Welsh breed. Originating in Wales, these boisterous dogs are bred to hunt and these hunting tendencies still run deep. They are known to chase small animals whenever they have the chance including squirrels, rabbits and cats.
Despite their boisterous nature, they are also intelligent and friendly with a steady temperament. Just like with the Springer Spaniel and so many other breeds, early training and socialisation are key. They make lovely family pets who just want to protect you (but may occasionally dig up your garden).
On to the rarest breed on this list: the Sealyham Terrier. Listed as a Vulnerable Native Breed by the Kennel Club, the Sealyham Terrier has been declining in popularity since the post-war period.
Developed as the perfect hunting dog in the mid-19th century by Captain John Edwardes of Sealyham House in Pembrokeshire, they were originally used as pest control and would hunt small game like badgers on Captain Edwardes’ estate. They grew in popularity after the second world war as Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Alfred Hitchcock owned them.
They are ideal as a family or working dog as they are less demanding than other working breeds. They are highly adaptable and can be content in the countryside or city. They love human company and form deep bonds with their owners but they can also be left alone for small periods of time without becoming restless. They are a great choice for first-time dog owners as they are easy to train and can be rather laidback.
Finally, we have to talk about the Welsh Sheepdog, also known as the Welsh Collie. The biggest dog on our list who are attempting to make a come back in Wales.
After being in existence in some form for 800 years as droving dogs, they have slowly been replaced by Border Collies. Recently there has been an attempt by the Welsh Sheepdog Society to ‘conserve and protect the traditional breed of indigenous Welsh Sheepdog’.
They are highly independent and energetic which requires an assertive owner and lots of exercise. Equally, they are incredibly loyal and affectionate and like to have a home with an owner who is home most of the time and can give them plenty of affection and exercise throughout the day. They are also office-friendly which means if you have a dog-friendly office then they become your favourite colleague! They are taller, broader and stronger than the standard Border Collie and are less sensitive which means they don’t require as strict a routine.
We hope you discovered something new about Welsh breeds. Whether there was a breed you hadn’t heard of or a history fact you didn’t know, it is clear that Welsh breeds are fascinating and historic. If you want to find out more about Welsh dog breeds or dog ownership in Wales, we recommend taking a look at the Kennel Club.
Interested in borrowing a Welsh Breed? Take a look at the pups in your area to see if there’s one nearby!