Corgis and the Queen: Celebrating the breed that the Queen made popular

Kennel Club reminder about the ‘disappearing breed’ as Queen’s last Corgi passes away

The Kennel Club has asked people considering buying a dog to remember the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, which has only recently come off its list of ‘At Risk’ breeds, after the death of the last of Her Majesty the Queen’s Corgis has caused it to lose one of its most high profile owners.

Willow, who passed away at the weekend, was the last of the Pembroke Welsh Corgis bred by the Queen, and was the fourteenth generation descended from Susan, a Corgi gifted to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944.

The peaks and troughs of the breed’s popularity can be related to the Queen as the breed enjoyed its heyday in 1960, seven years after the Queen’s coronation, when nearly 9,000 puppies were registered. Over the years its popularity started to decline, dropping to just 1,806 registrations twenty years later.

The decline continued and the breed was added to the Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list of British breeds, which is for breeds that number between 300 and 450 registrations, in 2009. Those that number fewer than 300 annual puppy registrations are on the Kennel Club’s ‘Vulnerable Native Breeds’ list, with the Pembroke Welsh Corgi added to that list once, in 2014, with just 274 registrations.

However, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi came off the Kennel Club’s list of ‘At Risk’ breeds at the beginning of this year for the first time since 2009 after it featured in popular Netflix television series, The Crown. There was a resurgence as searches increased by 22 per cent in December 2017, when the second season aired, and registrations increased by seven per cent over the year, with 456 puppies registered by the Kennel Club.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a bold, funny and loyal breed and its former popularity can be linked back to Her Majesty The Queen, enjoying the height of its popularity shortly after her coronation.

“Over the years this interest has waned, meaning that the breed was added to our At Watch list of breeds, and other breeds linked to of-the-moment celebrities and other high profile owners started to take its place. It was only when Netflix series The Crown, featuring a young Queen and her dogs, aired on TV, that their profile started to rise.

“There are 220 pedigree dog breeds, each with their own distinctive characters, so we hope that people will look beyond their high profile owners and take time to find a breed that is right for them.”

The Kennel Club’s new Save Forgotten Dog Breeds campaign aims to remind people about the 220 breeds of pedigree dog in the country, including those historic native breeds that are at risk of disappearing, as they become forgotten.  Overall, puppy registrations of the 36 breeds on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds and At Watch lists have declined by 28 per cent in the last ten years.

Fun Pembroke Welsh Corgi Facts

  • The two Corgi breeds, the Pembroke and Cardigan, were originally registered as one breed when they were first recognised by the Kennel Club in 1925. They have been registered separately in 1935.
  • Popular with movie stars in the 1950s and ‘60s such as Ava Gardner and Dirk Bogarde.
  • The Corgi has been Reserve Best in Show at Crufts but has never won the big prize.
  • The Queen’s preference was for red Corgis, but they also come in fawn, black/tan and sable, with or without white markings on the legs, chest, neck and head.
  • Was formerly in the top five most popular breeds in the UK in the 1950s but added to the Kennel Club’s list of At Watch breeds (breeds with 300-450 annual registrations) in 2009. Added to the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds list once, in 2014, when registrations fell under 300.
  • Came off the At Watch list for the first time since 2009 this year, after Netflix series The Crown lead to a small resurgence.