Corgi Fairy Saddle: The Truth About The Legend

The Corgi fairy saddle refers to the patch of darker fur many Corgis have across their shoulders. This patch of fur, which resembles a saddle (or saddle markings), helps to fuel myths about the origin of the breed.

Have you noticed the magical Corgi fairy saddle?

The Corgi fairy saddle is the darker patch of fur said to be left by fairies who once rode on the backs of Corgis.

But where did this magical legend originate? And what’s it all about?

Keep reading to find out the truth about the Corgi fairy saddle and who is responsible for perpetuating the myth.

Key Takeaways

  • According to legend, fairies would ride Corgis into battle—and they still bear the marks of the saddle to this day
  • The saddle refers to a dark patch of fur found on a Corgi’s shoulders

What Is The Corgi Fairy Saddle?

The fairy saddle refers to a darker patch of fur found on many Corgis’ shoulder blades, which resembles a saddle or saddle markings. 

Take a look at the photo I took of Winston my Corgi to see if you can spot the saddle on his back!

Corgi fairy saddle

The Corgi Fairy Saddle Legend

Corgis are an ancient breed… in fact, you can trace the Pembroke Welsh Corgi lineage as far back as 1107 AD!

But, where did the Corgi fairy saddle markings come from?

It’s believed that the Corgi’s fairy saddle markings originate from their time as fairy steeds. These enchanting creatures would ride the Corgis into battle, pulling their carts and carriages.

According to Welsh legend, two warring fairy tribes, the Tywyth Teg and Gwyllion, would regularly mount Corgis as they faced off against each other.

One day, after a clash that led to the death of two Tywyth Teg warriors, some children happened upon the funeral procession. The children were given the deceased warriors’ Corgis as gifts to help herd their cattle.

That’s the great thing about Corgis. Their short stature makes them perfect for herding cattle. From their low position on the ground, they’re less likely to get a kick from a cow when they nip at their heels!

Anne G. Biddlecombe from Dorset, England deserves credit for popularizing this charming Welsh legend by writing the poem ‘Corgi Fantasy‘. She was a founding member of the Welsh Corgi League of London. Not to mention a top breeder of Pembroke Welsh Corgis during the mid-20th century.

In the poem, she describes the chance encounter between the children and the fairy warriors’ Corgis. She also refers to the distinctive saddle markings as evidence of the tale’s truth.

Anne’s poem gathered huge momentum among the Corgi community. Soon it became part of Corgi folklore, delighting Corgiphiles around the world.

Corgi fairy saddle

Here’s The Corgi Fantasy Poem

This was written by Anne G. Biddlecombe, founding member of the Welsh Corgi League, in 1946.

Corgi Fantasy Poem

Would you know where Corgis came from?
How they came to live by mortals?

Hearken to the ancient legend,
Hearken to the story-teller.

On the mountains of the Welsh-land
In its green and pleasant valleys,
Lived the peasant folk of old times,
Lived our fathers and grandfathers;
And they toiled and laboured greatly,
With their cattle and their ploughing,
That their women might have plenty.
And their children journeyed daily,
With the kine upon the mountain,
Seeing that they did not wander,
Did not come to any mischief,
While their fathers ploughed the valley
And their mothers made the cheeses.

‘Till one day they found two puppies
Found them playing in a hollow,
Playing like a pair of fox-cubs.
Burnished gold their coat and colour,
Shining like a piece of satin –
Short and straight and thick their forelegs
And their heads were like a fox’s.
But their eyes were kind and gentle;
Long of body were these dwarf dogs,
And without a tail behind them.

Now the children stayed all day there,
And they learned to love the dwarf-dogs,
Shared their bread and water with them,
Took them home with them at even.
Made a cosy basket for them,
Made them welcome in the kitchen,
Made them welcome in the homestead.

When the men came home at sunset
Saw them lying in the basket,
Heard the tale the children told them,
How they found them in the mountain,
Found them playing in the hollow –
They were filled with joy and wonder,
Said it was a fairy present,
Was a present from the wee folk,
For their father told a legend
How the fairies kept some dwarf dogs.
Called them Corgis – Fairy heelers;
Made them work the fairy cattle,
Made them pull the fairy coaches,
Made them steeds for fairy riders,
Made them fairy children’s playmates;
Kept them hidden in the mountains,
Kept them in the mountain’s shadow,
Lest the eye of mortal see one.
Now the Corgis grew and prospered,
And the fairies’ life was in them,
In the lightness of their movement,
In the quickness of their turning,
In their badness and their goodness.
And they learnt to work for mortals,
Learnt to love their mortal masters,

Learnt to work their master’s cattle,
Learnt to play with mortal children.

Now in every vale and hamlet,
In the valleys and the mountains,
From the little town of Tenby,
By the Port of Milford Haven,
To St. David’s Head and Fishguard,
In the valley of the Cleddau,
On the mountains of Preselly,
Lives the Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi,
Lives the Corgi with his master.

Should you doubt this ancient story,
Laugh and scoff and call it nonsense,
Look and see the saddle markings
Where the fairy warriors rode them.
(As they ride them still at midnight,
On Midsummer’s Eve at midnight,
When we mortals all are sleeping.)

Where Did Corgis Really Originate?

Pembroke Welsh Corgis originated from Flemish weavers who brought them to Wales around 1100 AD.

These dogs were exceptional at herding cattle, sheep, ducks, and even geese due to their innate herding instinct. The Pembrokeshire region in Wales was where they thrived, assisting farmers with their livestock.

In contrast, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi can be traced to dogs brought by the Celts to Wales around 1200 BC.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed made its first appearance in the show ring in 1925 after the formation of the Welsh Corgi Club, highlighting the importance of these herding dogs in Welsh culture. 

Corgis have come a long way since their early roles in livestock management, but their herding abilities remain exceptional to this day.

Corgi fairy saddle

Corgis in Popular Culture

Corgis play a significant role in popular culture, with various instances highlighting their unique connection to fairy-associated legends. People find their mythical background fascinating, which has led to their inclusion in movies, books, and TV shows.

The book ‘The Corgi Chronicles‘ by Laura Madsen focuses explicitly on the ancient story of Corgis and their fairy connection.

This whimsical children’s book serves to further promote the alluring legend of the Corgi fairy saddle. I bought it for my niece last year and she loves it! Especially since she already spends lots of time with my Corgi, Winston. It couldn’t have been a more perfect gift.

How to spot a corgi's fairy saddle

How to Identify a Fairy Saddle Marking

Here are some characteristics to look for when identifying a fairy saddle marking on your Corgi:

  • A darker patch of fur across the dog’s shoulder blades, often slightly rougher in texture than the surrounding fur.
  • A saddle-like shape that does not extend too far towards the dog’s hindquarters or neck.
  • A contrast between the fairy saddle and the lighter, more even coat color covering the rest of the dog’s body.

To determine if a fairy saddle is genuine or just part of the standard coat pattern, consider the following differences:

  1. Standard coat patterns for Corgis generally consist of color variations, such as red, sable, black, and blue merle. These coat colors can have white markings mixed in, but they do not typically display a distinct “saddle” shape.
  2. A fairy saddle marking should be clearly distinct from the rest of the coat colors and significantly darker, with a specific shape and placement on the shoulders.

Remember, not all Corgis will have a fairy saddle marking. It is a unique characteristic found in some, but not all, individuals. 

Does the Fairy Saddle Affect Corgi Health or Behavior?

Naturally, one might wonder if these magical markings have any impact on a Corgi’s health or behavior.

The good news is that no, they don’t! These markings are simply part of a Corgi’s unique appearance and don’t indicate any particular traits or predispositions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are corgi markings called fairy saddles?

Corgi markings are called fairy saddles because of the Welsh legend that claims fairies used to ride into battle on the backs of Corgis. The unique markings on their backs resemble saddles, only adding to the myth and making it more popular among folklore enthusiasts.

Where is the fairy saddle located on a corgi?

The fairy saddle is typically located on a Corgi’s back and often features slightly darker fur markings, giving the appearance of a saddle.

Do all corgis have fairy saddle markings?

No, not all Corgis possess these markings. Just like any other breed, Corgis can have various coat patterns and colorations. However, the fairy saddle markings remain one of the breed’s distinctive features and contribute to the enduring charm of these delightful dogs.

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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