6 Common Corgi Health Issues & How To Prevent Them

Corgis are achondroplastic, which is a form of dwarfism. As a result, they may suffer from spine- and joint-related health issues including Von Willebrand’s disease, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy (DM). They’re also prone to certain eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy.

On the whole, Corgis are a healthy dog breed. However, as with any purebred dog, there are some hereditary health issues that you should be aware of.

Due to their long bodies and short legs, some Corgis may experience joint and back issues like arthritis, and in more severe cases, Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).

Not all Corgis will face these health problems, but it’s better to be fully informed so that you can minimize the risk. 

In this article, we’ll explore 6 common Corgi health issues that affect Corgis and some tips to help prevent them. 

Let’s go!

Key Takeaways

  • A Corgi’s unique physical stature can contribute to certain joint and spine-related health issues
  • This article will explore 6 prevalent health concerns in Corgis.
  • Be aware of the risk of Corgi obesity and minimize the impact on their spine to keep your Corgi healthy and happy.

Understanding Corgi Genetics

Before we dive into specific Corgi health issues, first let’s look at the root cause of some of these problems.

Corgis are genetically predisposed to achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. This gives them their distinctive short legs and elongated body. 

While this trait contributes to their unique appearance, it can also lead to Corgi health issues such as hip dysplasia and IVDD.

6 common genetic diseases that can affect Corgis include:

  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): A serious nervous system disease that affects the brain stem and spinal cord, occurring when both parents carry the specific DNA.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Caused by a ruptured, slipped, or herniated disc, and can lead to pain, paralysis, and loss of mobility.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): An eye disease that leads to blindness due to the degeneration of the retina.
  • Hip Dysplasia: A condition that results in the loosening of the hip joint, which causes dysfunction and pain.
  • Von Willebrand Disease Type I: A blood clotting disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding after injury or surgery.
  • Epilepsy: A neurological disorder that causes seizures, which can manifest in Corgis between 10 months and three years of age.

Now let’s take a closer look at those 6 Corgi health issues in more detail.

6 common corgi health issues

6 Common Health Problems In Corgis

1. Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Canine degenerative myelopathy is a disease of the spinal cord. 

It typically occurs in Corgis over the age of 7 years old. The first sign is a weakness or lack of coordination in the back legs that gradually progresses to complete paralysis. There is currently a DNA saliva test to screen for the gene, which can be carried out by a vet.

DM is an irreversible disease that currently has no cure. To prolong the length of a Corgi’s mobility and help to increase their lifespan, hydrotherapy is recommended as well as the use of a belly sling or doggy wheelchair.

2. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Intervertebral Disc Disease is when a Corgi experiences a ruptured, slipped, or herniated disc.

It occurs when the discs between your Corgi’s vertebrae harden so much that they no longer cushion the vertebrae properly. These hardened discs bulge and compress the spinal cord. This damages the Corgi’s nerve impulses that control the bladder and bowel movements.

Unfortunately, IVDD isn’t always easy to spot. It may appear suddenly when your Corgi jumps or lands awkwardly or it may come on gradually. 

If you notice your Corgi arching their back or unable to walk or stand normally, contact your vet immediately.

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a non-painful eye disease that leads to blindness due to the degeneration of the retina. Cardigan Welsh Corgis are at higher risk of PRA than Pembrokes.

It progresses slowly over time. Initially, dogs suffering from PRA have a decreased ability to see well at night. Eventually, they will go completely blind.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PRA but owners can help by adding supplemental lighting to the home and keeping furniture in the same arrangement.

6 common corgi health issues

4. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that causes one or both hips to develop abnormally. 

When the ‘ball and socket’ joints don’t fit together correctly, this causes pain, swelling, stiffness and, eventually, arthritis. Speak to your vet if you notice that your Corgi is:

  • running with both back legs moving together
  • lame or limp
  • having difficulty getting up and down

The vet will check your Corgi’s weight, provide anti-inflammatory pain relief, and encourage rest and controlled exercise. If your Corgi has severe hip dysplasia, they may suggest surgery.

There is no cure for hip dysplasia. Corgis who suffer from it will need lifelong treatment as well as additional treatments like physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

5. Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)

Von Willebrand’s Disease is a genetic bleeding disorder that affects some Corgis.

It’s caused by a low amount of the protein von Willbrand factor, which is crucial to the process of blood clotting. Without it, your Corgi may bleed excessively if they injure themselves. 

There are three types of vWD. They range from mild symptoms after an injury or surgery (bleeding takes longer to stop than usual) to severe symptoms like spontaneous bleeding from the mouth, nose, or genitals. 

The average age of diagnosis is 4 years old. 

If you notice that your Corgi is bleeding more than usual, contact your vet. While there isn’t currently treatment for vWD, your vet can make sure not to give your Corgi any medication in the future that leads to increased bleeding. 

6. Epilepsy

Epilepsy normally presents itself in Corgis between 10 months and three years of age. 

Seizures typically happen during a shift in brain activity such as sleeping, feeding, or getting excited. Some seizures are barely perceptible. Your Corgi might briefly lose consciousness or stare blankly into the distance. During more severe seizures, they may collapse, become rigid with muscle spasms, or thrash uncontrollably. 

These can be frightening to witness, but they’re usually brief and unharmful to your Corgi. If you notice any symptoms you think might be epilepsy, contact your vet for a proper diagnosis. 

Fortunately, epilepsy is easy to treat with anti-epileptic and anticonvulsant medications.

6 common corgi health issues

The Significance Of Corgi Obesity

Corgis are prone to obesity, which is why it’s so important to monitor their weight and keep them on a healthy diet. 

An overweight Corgi is more likely to develop hip dysplasia and IVDD, which can negatively impact their mobility and quality of life.

I make sure that my Corgi Winston maintains a healthy weight by providing a balanced diet, regular walks, and appropriate physical activity. This helps prevent weight gain and ensures that he remains at an optimal size for his breed. 

I also do not let him jump up and down from high surfaces like the bed or the sofa. This puts unnecessary pressure on his joints and spine, increasing the risk of hip dysplasia, DM, and IVDD. 

Preventative Measures To Keep Your Corgi Healthy

While this article outlines all the possible health problems a Corgi might experience, it’s important to say that none of these is a certainty.

I rehomed Winston in January 2020 and (knock on wood) he has only experienced one health issue: a too-long tooth that had to be shaved down.

I do my best to keep him as healthy as possible by watching his weight and not allowing him to jump up and down from high surfaces.

Let’s look at these preventative measures in more detail.

Ensure a Healthy Diet

I know that providing a balanced diet is crucial to maintain Winston’s overall health. 

Overweight Corgis can suffer from various health issues, so preventing weight gain is essential. 

These are some steps I take to ensure my Corgi stays at a healthy weight:

  • Feed high-quality dog food that meets his nutritional needs
  • Stick to a consistent feeding schedule and monitor meal portions
  • Limit the number of treats he gets

Unique dietary requirements

Keep in mind that many Corgis have stomach problems. 

Common causes for this include eating too fast, eating too much, or eating foods their digestive system can’t handle. 

For example, my Corgi Winston is allergic to grains found in most dog food brands. Before I realized this, he would experience bouts of vomiting and diarrhea at least once per week. It was horrible for poor Winston!

After a few weeks, I took him to my vet who suggested that an allergy might be the cause. We moved Winston onto Hill’s Prescription Diet For Sensitivities and the vomiting and diarrhea stopped immediately. He’s been healthy and happy ever since. 

If you notice that your Corgi is off their food or routinely being sick, consider changing their diet.

What are the corgi races?

Importance of Regular Exercise

Physical activity is key to a Corgi’s well-being. 

Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents obesity-related problems. 

I include the following forms of exercise and activities for my Corgi:

  • Daily walks: I walk Winston at least twice a day for a minimum of 60 minutes total.
  • Engaging playtime: I use toys and games to keep my Corgi active and mentally stimulated.
  • Socialization: I take Winston to a park where lots of other people walk their dogs. This gives him a chance to exercise and interact with others (though he’s quite nervous around other dogs!).

Routine Veterinary Check-ups

I take Winston to the vet for his annual check-ups and if he ever displays unusual behavior (like excessive scratching or sickness).

That way I can identify and address any issues immediately. 

Genetic Testing and Choosing A Reputable Corgi Breeder

Choosing a reputable Corgi breeder is really important when you’re ready to get a puppy.  

A reputable breeder will prioritize the health and well-being of their Corgis and ensure that they’re raised in a loving and safe environment. 

When choosing a breeder, look for someone who is knowledgeable about the breed and can provide you with information about the parent dogs’ lineage, temperament, and health history. 

It’s also important to visit the breeder’s facility to see how the Corgis are being cared for and to get a sense of the breeder’s overall approach to breeding.

I recommend asking for breeder recommendations from friends, your vet, and local dog owners

Word-of-mouth referrals are always the best place to start.

Make sure you ask for genetic tests

A reputable breeder will be able to provide potential puppy buyers with the results of genetic health tests performed on the parents.

You can request copies of the results to help you make an informed decision about whether the breeder is producing healthy puppies.

Some of the most common genetic tests for Corgis include tests for hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, and degenerative myelopathy.

If a breeder is unwilling or unable to provide this information, it may be a red flag and a sign that they are not a reputable breeder.

What are fluffy corgis

Watch out for the health issues of “designer corgis”

If you’re considering getting a Fluffy Corgi, a Cowboy Corgi, an American Corgi, or a Blue Merle Corgi, it’s vital you find a reputable breeder.

When it comes to crossbreeds (Cowboy and American) or desirable purebreds (Fluffy and Blue Merle), there is a higher risk of irresponsible breeding.

Mixing two purebreds together to create a Cowboy or American Corgi can lead to health complications in the litter. Particularly when the parent breeds are different shapes and sizes.

There are also many people who breed Fluffy Corgis or Blue Merles on purpose. Trying to force a rare genetic mutation to occur increases the risk of health problems in the future.

Aurelie, the owner of Fluffy Marcel Le Corgi, had this to say on the subject:

Fluffies that happen by accident because of the gene in normal coated litters are one thing, but breeding a recessive gene back on purpose increases the risk of bringing back more of the health issues that the breed is prone to and increases inbreeding (which is already bad enough for Corgis). That’s never good for the dogs, DNA testing or not.

My advice is to avoid getting a Corgi based on its unusual appearance and instead focus on the health of the litter and the reputation of the breeder.

Female Corgi Health Problems vs. Male Corgi Health Problems

Most male and female Corgis share the same health issues such as hip dysplasia, IVDD, and certain eye conditions. 

However, female Corgis may be at risk for conditions related to their reproductive system, including pyometra (a severe uterine infection) and mammary tumors, especially if they’re not spayed. 

Regular check-ups and early spaying can help mitigate these risks. On the other hand, male Corgis, if not neutered, might face issues like testicular tumors or prostate problems.

Senior Corgi Care

As your Corgi gets older it’s important to adjust their care to ensure their golden years are as happy as their puppyhood.

Here’s your guide to age-specific diet tips, exercise routines, and potential health challenges to be aware of.

1. Age-Specific Diets for Senior Corgis

Nutrient-Rich: As Corgis age, their metabolism slows down. It’s essential to feed them a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet that meets their specific needs. Look for senior dog food formulas that have balanced proteins, fats, and added supplements like glucosamine for joint health.

Low-Calorie Options: Due to their decreased activity levels, senior Corgis are prone to obesity. A low-calorie diet can help maintain a healthy weight while still providing the necessary nutrients.

Frequent Small Meals: Instead of two large meals, consider offering your senior Corgi multiple smaller meals throughout the day to aid digestion.

2. Gentle Exercise Routines for Aging Corgis

Consistent, Short Walks: Long treks might be taxing for your senior Corgi. Opt for shorter, more frequent walks to keep them active without causing undue stress on their joints.

Low-Impact Activities: Activities like swimming or gentle play in a grassy yard can provide excellent exercise without putting excessive strain on their body.

Joint Care: Consider using orthopedic dog beds and introducing joint supplements to your Corgi’s routine to promote joint health and reduce the risk of arthritis.

3. Health Challenges in Senior Corgis

Joint Issues: Due to their long bodies and short legs, Corgis are prone to spinal and joint problems like IVDD. Regular check-ups and early intervention can help manage these issues.

Dental Health: Senior dogs are more susceptible to dental problems. Regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning (at home or professionally) can prevent severe dental diseases.

Vision and Hearing: It’s not uncommon for older Corgis to experience reduced vision or hearing. Regular vet visits can catch and address these issues early.

Organ Health: Kidney, liver, and heart issues might crop up in senior years. Regular blood work and check-ups can ensure early detection and treatment.

Recognizing Red Flags

Keep an eye out for any symptoms that might indicate a health problem in your Corgi such as: 

  • Eye discharge
  • Bad breath
  • Bunny hopping (running with back legs moving together)
  • Difficulty getting up and lying down
  • Stiffness
  • A wobbly walk
  • Limpness

If you notice any of these symptoms (and they persist), take your Corgi to see the vet for a second opinion.

Success Stories: Corgis Triumphing Over Health Challenges

There are two Insta-famous Corgis who have been dealing with health challenges.

One is Maxine from New York. The other is Marcel Le Corgi from London. Both are Fluffy Corgis.

IVDD in corgis

Marcel experienced sudden paralysis and a diagnosis of IVDD back in 2021. After a lot of physical therapy, his owner Aurelie says he’s made an 80% recovery. 

However, his spine has been weakened permanently and he may experience another episode of IVDD in the future. 

At the end of 2019, Maxine the Fluffy from New York had arthroscopic surgery to fix a limp caused by early-onset osteoarthritis.

Unfortunately, this is very common in short-legged dogs like Maxine. This is where one bone in the forearm grows at a different pace than the other bone. As a result, the joints rub up against each other unnaturally.

After a lot of physical therapy, Maxine made a full recovery. However, there is no cure for the osteoarthritis in her elbows, which may flare up again when she gets older.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Corgi?

The average lifespan of a Corgi is 12-15 years. Life expectancy may vary depending on factors like genetics and health care, but generally, Corgis enjoy a relatively long life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common neurological issues in Corgis?

Corgis can experience neurological issues, such as epilepsy, which is a seizure disorder that affects the brain. Additionally, they can also be affected by degenerative myelopathy, a progressive spinal cord disorder.

How often do Corgis face hind leg problems?

Corgis are known to face some hind leg problems, primarily due to their short stature and long bodies. IVDD is a common issue, which can cause back pain, spinal issues, and, in severe cases, paralysis. It is essential to monitor your Corgi for signs of discomfort and seek veterinary attention if needed.

Do Corgis experience breathing difficulties?

While not as common as in some other breeds, Corgis can experience breathing difficulties. One possible cause is brachycephalic airway syndrome due to their facial structure. Symptoms include noisy breathing, snoring, and issues during exercise.

What genetic disorders affect Pembroke Welsh Corgis?

Pembroke Welsh Corgis can be affected by various genetic disorders, including von Willebrand’s disease, a blood clotting disorder, and canine hip dysplasia, which impacts the development of the hip joint and can cause joint dysfunction over time. Regular vet check-ups and appropriate screening can help manage these conditions.

Are Cardigan Corgis prone to different health conditions than Pembroke Corgis?

Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis can face similar health problems, but there are some differences. For example, Cardigans may be more prone to progressive retinal atrophy, an eye disorder that can cause vision loss. Both breeds should receive routine vet care to prevent and manage Corgi health issues.

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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