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Famous for their short legs and fluffy butts, corgis are Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dog and for good reason. These short, sturdy pups make spunky companions who will provide hours of entertainment. But, does that spunk have a dark side? Are corgis aggressive?
Questions about dog aggression have plagued many breeds — from German Shepherds to English Bulldogs. Ultimately, any dog breed can be aggressive if it doesn’t receive proper training and socialization from a young age. But there are other facts we can look at to see if a breed is at a high risk of aggressive behavior.
To see if this is a commonly aggressive breed, we’ll look at the corgi’s disposition, inherited health issues that could contribute to aggression, and the data surrounding corgi bite incidents. Whether you’re considering a Pembroke Welsh corgi or a Cardigan Welsh corgi, this guide will help you understand the corgi’s temperament and their training and socialization needs so you can decide if this dog is right for you.
In individual animals, the main risk factors that create an aggressive dog are its personality and health (certain medical conditions can lead to aggression). Because corgis are a purebred dog, we can look at what they’re bred for and their commonly inherited health conditions. We’ll also look at dog bite data to see if it shows us anything about corgi aggression.
Many people choose purebred puppies because they think all dogs of this breed have certain personality traits. But, the truth is, breed is a much better indicator of what a dog will look like than how it will act. According to The New York Times, recent research found that only 9% of a dog’s behavioral variations is affected by their breed.
Much like human siblings, even corgi puppies from the same parents can have vastly different personalities. But, to the extent that breed does affect personality (that 9%), the best way to predict a breed’s inherited traits is to look at what they were bred to do.
The corgi breed originally worked as herding dogs — they used to herd cattle, which can be more stubborn and less docile than sheep. This job requires a tenacious and intelligent dog, which allows this breed to excel in obedience training but can also lead to behavioral problems if the dog isn’t properly trained.
Because of their herding instincts, corgis can be heel nippers. In the field, they use this technique to move cattle. In the home, they may use it to move their family members into position for playtime. Corgis need to be trained not to nip heels — especially in a household with both corgis and kids.
Also, corgis bark a lot. It’s their way of telling the cattle to move, but it can be mistaken for aggression. You can train your corgi to bark less by showing them that barking doesn’t get them what they want. For example, if they’re barking to get an extra treat, remove the treat box from the room.
The most common health problems that cause aggression in dogs are cognitive dysfunction, rage syndrome, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism. Corgis are considered a healthy breed overall, but they are at a slightly higher risk for epilepsy and hypothyroidism. These conditions can cause aggressive behavior when left untreated, but are manageable with treatment.
If your typically laid-back corgi suddenly starts showing signs of aggression, take them to the vet immediately to rule out an underlying medical condition. Even if your corgi isn’t suffering from epilepsy or hypothyroidism, they may be in pain. Corgis are prone to hip dysplasia and back issues — although these issues aren’t directly associated with aggression, any animal that’s in pain may act out.
You can reduce the risk of health problems in your corgi by working with a responsible breeder that runs health screenings on their male and female corgis before breeding them.
Now that we have a better understanding of the corgi’s underlying risk for aggression, let’s look at how these risk factors play out in real world data.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) conducted an in-depth review of dog bite data and concluded that the more common a breed is, the more often it’s connected to bite incidents. This makes sense: If all dogs are equally likely to bite, and most of the dogs in your community are Labrador retrievers, there’s a higher chance of getting bitten by a Labrador retriever.
The Pembroke Welsh corgi is the 11th most popular dog breed in America, so based on the same logic, it should have the 11th highest number of bites. However, the corgi doesn’t appear on any lists that rank dog bite incidents by breed — implying that this dog actually has a lower-than-expected risk of biting.
However, that same AVMA review also found that dog owners and veterinarians report that small and medium-size dogs — like Pomeranians, pugs, and Boston terriers — can behave more aggressively than large dogs, like Great Danes. According to recent research, smaller dogs are much less likely to receive consistent dog training than larger dogs, which is likely the main reason behind their behavioral problems.
Remember that although corgis look like medium dogs, they are actually large dogs with a short stature. As such, a corgi bite can do as much damage as a large dog’s bite. Make sure to give your corgi consistent training from an early age to prevent this dangerous scenario.
Training and socialization play a much bigger role in preventing aggression than breed. That’s good news for dog owners because it means you have a say in whether your puppy grows up to be a well-adjusted adult corgi. Use these techniques to get your new pet on the right path.
Take your dog to parks, cafes, and any place they’re welcome. Introduce them to as many different types of people and animals as possible, and provide lots of treats to create a positive association.
A dog trainer can help you teach your corgi to look to you for guidance, which can help prevent fearful or aggressive behavior in unfamiliar situations.
Whenever your dog is calm, quiet, and well-behaved — especially in new situations — provide treats to reinforce the behavior.
Don’t respond to your corgi’s bad behavior with aggression, like yelling or spanking. Some dogs will meet aggression with aggression. Instead, defuse the situation by ignoring unwanted behavior or removing something your dog wants from the scenario.
For example, if your corgi is barking for your attention, leave the room and shut the door behind you — their behavior achieved the opposite of what they wanted, so they’re less likely to do it again. Respond the same way every time an unwanted behavior emerges.
While we can answer the question “Are corgis aggressive as a breed?” with a clear “No,” even well-behaved dogs can act aggressively if they feel frightened or cornered. If your dog starts snarling, barking, lunging, crouching, or tucking their ears and tail, remove your dog from the situation. Take them to a safe, quiet place, and offer them a calming chew.
Are corgis aggressive? Corgis are playful dogs with big personalities. They usually learn quickly and are eager to please, which makes them easier to train. As long as corgis receive consistent training from a young age, they make devoted and reliable family dogs.
This breed can inherit some medical conditions that contribute to aggression, including epilepsy and hypothyroidism. Work with a responsible breeder to minimize your dog’s risk of these health problems. If your typically reliable corgi suddenly shows signs of aggression, take them to the vet.
Ultimately, dog owners play a much bigger role in preventing aggressive behavior than breed. Provide your new dog with lots of love, patience, and training, and you can raise a well-adjusted corgi.
For more information on your favorite breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.
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