Corgi life expectancy
Pembroke Welsh Corgi is the variety associated with Queen Elizabeth (Photo: Adobe Stock)
helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on March 25, 2019
Fact Checked This article was fact checked by one of our writers on November 12, 2018.

Queen Elizabeth II’s final Corgi passed away at the age of 12 in 2018, but what is the average lifespan of this fluffy breed?

The British monarch was famous for having lots of Corgi dogs throughout her reign and the Queen helped the breed to remain in spotlight.

Netflix show The Crown has given Corgi even more airtime on our screens to further catapult them to stardom.

However, Queen Elizabeth II’s last Corgi, named Whisper, died on 26 October 2018 to bring to an end her long association with the breed.

According to reports, Her Majesty made the decision to stop breeding Corgis to ensure she leaves none behind when she passes.

The Queen had Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgis but the Cardigan Welsh Corgis have also grown in popularity.

Whisper died at the age of 12, which raises the apt question: what is the average lifespan of the Corgi?

A quick introduction to the Corgi

The Corgi has an average lifespan of 12-14 years (Photo: lynnyskynny_thecorgi / Instagram)
The Corgi has an average lifespan of 12-14 years (Photo: lynnyskynny_thecorgi / Instagram)

The Corgi is a small herding dog that originated in Wales. Indeed the breed’s name is Welsh for “dwarf dog”.

These tiny canines with robust bodies were initially used for herding, helping farmers to take care of cattle and sheep.

Indeed, Corgis would nip at the feet of cattle to help steer them in the right direction.

They are the smallest breed in the herding dog category.

Two different types of Corgi

While the Corgi breed is well known, you may be surprised to learn that there are two different types of Corgi.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is the more popular of the two. They are traced back to dogs in Sweden, whith some suggesting that they are direct ancestors of the Swedish Vallhund. The Vikings are accredited with having brought these diminutive dogs to Wales. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi isn’t as well known and has even been threatened with extinction in the past. However, their numbers have grown thanks to a number of breeders in the United Kingdom. They are rumoured to have first appeared in 1100 AD and were nicknamed the guardians of the farm.

The Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis do differ in a number of ways. Firstly, the Pembrokes don’t have tails – either a result of birth or they were docked at a few days old. The Cardigans, on the other hand, have long, bushy tails. Pembroke Welsh Corgi have pointed ears that are slightly shorter than the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Corgi life expectancy

Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the lesser known breed of Corgi (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the lesser known breed of Corgi (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Small dogs have a reputation for having long and happy lives and Corgis are no different. The average lifespan of a Corgi is between 12 to 14 years, so Whisper did achieve a great age before departing Buckingham Palace for good. However, as with all breeds, there are exceptions and plenty of Corgis can live until 16 or even older. Indeed, a Corgi with a healthy diet and regular exercise can easily achieve an age of 15.

Is there a difference in the lifespan between the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi?

Perhaps surprisingly, there is a slight difference. According to the Kennel Club Purebred Dog Health Survey conducted in 2004, the two breeds had similar average lifespans: the median age at death was 12 years 3 months for Pembrokes, and 12 years 2 months for Cardigans.

While age and organ failure can affect all dogs as they sadly grow old, the survey did find that a higher proportion of Pembroke Welsh Corgi did die of kidney failure or a urethral obstruction.

Corgi health problems

The Corgi is a healthy breed, but there are some issues that can affect whether they have a long life expectancy.

The average Corgi is a pretty healthy dog but they do have their fare share of problems which potential owners should consider before bringing home a Corgi.

It won’t come as a surprise that this breed can suffer from an array of back and spine problems due to their long, heavy bodies but notably short legs. There is quite a bit to carry around!

It is worth nothing that a lot of problems that Corgis can face are not life threatening.

Intervertebral Disc Disease is one such issue which can happen when a bulge or rupture in the discs occurs between the vertebrae. The symptoms of IDD include struggling to walk, refusing to jump, suffering a loss of appetite or struggling to go potty in the normal place.

Hip and elbow dysplasia is another health problem that can affect Welsh Corgis. This is a problem which occurs when the hip or elbow joint has grown abnormally or is misshapen. This results in the bones grinding against each other to worsen the issue. It is good practice to have your dog tested with X-Rays when they are around 18 months old to ensure such an issue hasn’t developed.

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease that occurs in a Corgi’s spinal cord. A weakness in the rear legs or lower back can be seen as a result of the degeneration of the nervous and supportive tissue.

The Corgi does have a tendency to develop a number of eye problems.

Cataracts is one such issue which can result in blurred vision or declining vision. A vet can address this problem with a relatively simple operation.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a number of different diseases that can affect a dog’s retina. It can result in night blindness or even deteriorating vision during the day.

The Kennel Club Purebred Dog Health Survey showed that Pembroke Welsh Corgi do have a trend of suffering from eye problems, which was less common in their Cardigan relatives.

Corgi facts

(Photo: Benjithebluecorgi / Instagram)
(Photo: Benjithebluecorgi / Instagram)

– A Corgi is a good watch dog and it will bark to alert their owner to strangers at the door.

– While they are a small dog, Corgis do need a lot of exercise given their history of being herding dogs.

– A word of warning: Corgis shed a lot! The breed has a double coat – an inner short insulated coat and the longer outer coat.

– The Corgi breeds are loving dogs that make great family pets – but they should never be left alone with children as they do have a tendency to playfully nip.

– Corgi pups have increased in price over the past few years due to their increasing popularity, and prospective owners should expect to pay up to $2000.