American Corgi Breeder Reveals All In This Exclusive Q&A!

This interview is with Jessica Hodge, an experienced Pembroke and American Corgi breeder based in the US. All photos are courtesy of Jessica.

The American Corgi is a crossbreed, created by mixing a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. This interview with an American Corgi breeder addresses common myths around mixed breeds. It also highlights what buyers should watch out for when researching breeders. 

The American Corgi has caused controversy in recent years. For some people, creating a breed that isn’t recognized by an organization like the American Kennel Club (AKC) is unacceptable.

Other people worry that increased demand for hybrid “designer dogs” will result in more backyard breeders. These are the people unethically mixing purebreds to capitalize on ‘trendy’ dogs. 

With so much noise around the pros and cons of purebred vs. crossbred dogs, it’s hard to know what advice is best.

That’s why I wanted to speak directly to an American Corgi breeder.

To understand the reasons for creating this hybrid Corgi and to help others know what to look for when researching breeders.

Keep reading for the full interview with Jessica, a US-based breeder of both Pembroke and American Corgis.

Key takeaways:

  • American Kennel Club recognition isn’t the be-all and end-all 
  • Anyone advertising “Pembroke merles” is a red flag 
  • Signs of a reputable American Corgi breeder
  • The reason why American Corgis are bred at all

Let’s go!

Sweet American Corgi

How and why did you start breeding Corgis?

When we began breeding Pembrokes, there were very few Corgi breeders around. Corgis were a breed rarely seen outside of dog shows and occasionally horse events. 

I had lots of herding breed experience when my husband and I got our first Corgi, a Pembroke. I was raised with Australian Shepherds, Catahoulas, and Australian Cattle Dogs (Blue Heelers) and had a few years of experience training these breeds and border collies for stock dog trials (herding). 

All that to say, I was no stranger to similar dog breeds. But once we got our first Corgi, we fell head over heels for the breed. Their size, looks, tenacity and sass fit right into our lifestyle. 

We quickly got a second, then a third. Eventually, we started breeding them to share these amazing dogs with others. After a few years, as the breed gained popularity, we began breeding American Corgis. The reason for doing this was to make a more beginner-friendly version of a Pembroke-style dog. 

This is what an American Corgi looks like

What’s the difference between a purebred Corgi and an American Corgi in terms of personality and energy?

Two breeds of Corgi are considered purebreds—the Pembroke Welsh and the Cardigan Welsh. While they have many overlapping similarities in both looks and personality, there are some differences as well. 

Cardigans are a lot more aloof with strangers and naturally more serious. Pembrokes tend to be the “never met a stranger” type. People often joke that they’re the goofy sibling to the Cardigan. 

Cardigans are probably an “easier” dog to own than a Pembroke, personality-wise. However, Pembrokes are more popular due to their looks and happy, outgoing nature that we see all over the internet.

You can achieve the best of both by mixing the two breeds responsibly and with an end goal in mind. The goal being to have a more Pembroke-style dog that is easier for less experienced dog owners to handle. 

Because as cute and wonderful as they are, Pembrokes are not a great breed for most people or families. American Corgis (at least the ones we produce) are a lot less intense than Pembrokes. 

They’ll still have all the goofy, loveable Pem traits, but with the harder-to-handle personality traits dialed back a few notches. Energy levels are pretty equal. But American Corgis may need slightly less physical and mental stimulation than your typical Pem.

American corgi puppy

Do they shed as much as regular Corgis?

Coat types and colors are the same as both parent breeds. This means they can come in both Pembroke and Cardigan colors. Standard coats shed the most.

Fluff carriers or ‘glamor coats’ shed slightly less than standard coats. Fluffs shed the least but have higher grooming requirements than the other two coat types. When you compare their coat type with the same coat type on a regular Corgi, they shed the same amount. 

Why AKC recognition isn’t everything

One reason why some people are against hybrid breeds like American Corgis is because they are not a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

However, it’s important to note that AKC recognition and registration don’t guarantee quality. The fact that a dog is purebred doesn’t mean it is better, healthier, or has been raised responsibly.

The only way to guarantee that is to visit a breeder yourself and do all your due diligence. Speak to the breeder’s previous buyers, ask lots of questions, and pay a visit to the breeder’s home (or wherever the puppies are). Look out for red flags like a breeder who is charging less than normal for a Corgi (less than $1,500-2,000) or who doesn’t do health testing.

American corgi running in the sunshine

How to find a responsible crossbred breeder 

If you want a hybrid dog like an American Corgi, you must do your research carefully.

One of the appeals of American Corgis is that they look like merle Pembrokes. They are not Pembrokes (they are a mix of Pembroke and Cardigan) but that’s what they look like to the untrained eye.

Because of this unique look, some people breed Pembrokes and Cardigans together for one reason only: a striking appearance that they can charge more money for. They aren’t experienced breeders who comply with health screenings and prioritize the well-being and temperament of their dogs.

You want to avoid these kinds of breeders.

Instead, you want to look for an American Corgi breeder that: 

  • Can tell you why they’ve decided to breed American Corgis (health and temperament should be a major factor)
  • Isn’t charging too little or too much (less than $1,500 or more than $3,000 is usually a red flag)
  • Has testimonials from other owners that they can share with you
  • Health tests their breeding dogs and can provide evidence of this
  • Has been breeding Corgis for generations 
  • Will happily answer all of your questions 
  • Offers ongoing information support after you take your puppy home 
  • Provides a purchase contract and health guarantee 
American corgi smiling

Are there any specific health risks that people should be aware of?

They have the same health risks associated with both parent breeds, which are mostly the same in each breed already. DM, VWD1, EIC, and PRA are inheritable genetic concerns, and disc and back issues are a possible concern. This is due to the long-backed structure of Corgis and other similar breeds like Dachshunds.

What kind of person/lifestyle is an American Corgi most suitable for?

The reason I breed American Corgis is because it makes all the great qualities of Pembrokes more accessible to potential owners who lack the experience needed to own a Pembroke. 

People who may not be able to handle the more tenacious sides of Pembrokes can be successful American Corgi owners. We’ve even had several former Pembroke owners say they will only own our Americans from now on because it truly is a significant enough difference in all the right ways. 

American Corgis are highly adaptable dogs who can thrive in multiple types of homes and lifestyles. They can do equally well in apartments, urban, suburban, or country homes with owners who are mildly-to-moderately active. 

American corgi on a leash

What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting an American Corgi?

While they are an easier dog than Pems to own, they still need dedicated owners who are able and willing to provide them with enough physical and (especially) mental stimulation.

If someone is looking for a big dog in a small but sturdy, adorable package—a dog that is loyal, loving, smart and easy to train—a Corgi (of any kind) may be a good choice!

Corgis make great additions to a variety of home types and family lifestyles. The most important thing is to ensure they are getting adequate mental stimulation. They can have relatively low physical activity requirements (aka they make great couch potatoes with minimal physical activity) but you can’t skimp on their mental stimulation needs. 

This can be a challenge for less experienced owners who aren’t prepared or knowledgeable on how to provide this. Games, puzzles, training and other canine enrichment are crucial to having a happy, healthy and well-behaved Corgi. Researching DIY enrichment ideas is a great way to prepare for Corgi ownership.  

American corgi

As with any crossbreed, some breeders are doing so to capitalize on the trend for unique-looking designer dogs. What red flags should someone look out for when researching American Corgi breeders?

The easiest way to spot someone who is breeding this cross but lacking ethics is anyone producing merle-colored Corgis and calling them Pembrokes or “Pembroke merles”.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with crossing established breeds of dogs—that’s how established breeds were created in the first place. 

Hopefully, breeders like myself who are making this cross for a reason and with a purpose stand out from those who are only breeding them for the sake of adding additional color options and calling their dogs Pembrokes, despite them being (obviously) mixed. 

American corgi with a dappled nose

This doesn’t mean every breeder calling their dogs American Corgis is automatically ethical. However, it’s the number one biggest red flag in my opinion.

I want my Americans to have their own name because they are different enough in personality that I consider them a different breed. They’re not an extension of Pembrokes with extra colors, or Cardigans with docked tails. 

There’s also zero financial incentive with our pricing. I charge more for the Pembrokes than I do American Corgis. Yet, I can confidently place American Corgis into significantly more homes knowing they’ll be successful. 

I have several friends who only breed Pems and I’ve seen the issues they’ve experienced with owners they thought they had vetted well enough for Pembroke ownership, only for it to fail 10-18 months in. Again, they’re a great breed for the right people, but they aren’t the right breed for most people.

What are some clear signs that an American Corgi breeder is reputable and safe?

Someone who is health testing and breeding towards clear goals. Not only for appearance but for health and temperament as well. A breeder who has spent many years (and several generations) perfecting the cross and their vision for it. A breeder who has references and proof that their breeding goals are being achieved.

American corgi

As crossbreed personalities can be less predictable, how will someone understand what they’re going to get? 

Personalities when mixing two like breeds—such as a Pem and a Cardi—already have more overlapping similarities than differences. 

Once you are 5, 6, 7 (or more) generations into cross-breeding, personalities are just as predictable as a purebred. Which, objectively speaking, can actually vary widely based on how well-bred the dog is, how it is raised, etc.

What would you say to someone who isn’t sure about getting an American Corgi because they aren’t recognized by the AKC?

If you’re looking to breed, I would advise against it. It’s much easier to stick to AKC-recognized breeds. If you’re looking for a family pet, companion, sport dog, etc—and a Pembroke or Cardigan seems like a good fit—I’d consider an American Corgi

I wouldn’t personally try to convince anyone, but I’d be happy to let them connect with the many families who do have our American Corgis (both those who lacked much dog experience as well as those who came to us with Pembroke experience). That way they can get some first-hand feedback about all the amazing attributes that American Corgis have.

American corgi

Read all about the personality, health, and ideal owner of American Corgis in our essential guide!

Bella is the founder of Doggy & Pooch. She rehomed Winston the corgi in Jan 2020 and now shares her best tips and interesting facts with corgi lovers globally.

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