Whether a Pembroke Welsh corgi or a Cardigan Welsh corgi, you're talking about a bright little dog with a fun personality. The American Kennel Club recognizes both breeds of this herding dog. However, it doesn't recognize a miniature corgi because there is no such breed, despite what some breeders claim.
Centuries of Corgis
The Cardigan Welsh corgi and Pembroke Welsh corgi have earned their keep in the British Isles for centuries. Though they're known as herding dogs, they actually got their start a little closer to home, serving as a watch dog and occasionally as a hunting partner. Cattlemen eventually learned their size, build and herding instinct was a valuable cattle driving tool; the corgi was adept at nipping at the cows' heels, ducking and running to avoid the cattle's kicks. Though the two breeds have distinct bloodlines, they were interbred and considered one breed until 1934 in England. Despite the difficulty in distinguishing the breeds, corgis were separated and registered accordingly. Neither the Cardigan or Pembroke corgi comes in a miniature version.
Though the Cardigan and Welsh corgis are similar in build and size, there are small differences between the two breeds. The Cardigan is the larger of the two, standing between 10.5 and 12.5 inches at the shoulder and ranging between 25 and 38 pounds. The Pembroke is a smidge smaller, at 10 to 12 inches tall and 25 to 30 pounds. The Pembroke has shorter and lighter boned legs on his body, which is also shorter than his Cardigan relative's. The Cardigan's ears are rounded, in contrast to the Pembroke's pointed ears, and his tail is long, distinguishing him from the Pembroke's short tail.
Watch Your Miniatures
The corgi is a great dog -- affectionate, intelligent and he gets along well with children. Despite his many admirable traits, he won't fit in your purse. If you see an advertisement for "miniature corgis," understand that there is no such thing. A corgi may be on the small end of his size range, however, ethical breeders don't breed or market "miniature corgis." There are AKC recognized, healthy miniature dogs, such as poodles and schnauzers, however a breeder selling miniature corgis is likely breeding the smallest of corgis to perpetuate a smaller sized version of the breed, or promoting premature puppies as miniature corgis. Continually breeding the smallest, weakest dogs, as "miniature" dog breeders do, puts the dog at risk for a host of ailments, including heart, respiratory and liver problems, as well as deformities and other issues.
Dogs and Dwarfism
Though he's not available as a miniature version, the corgi is a dwarf breed of dog. However, his type of dwarfism isn't a defect in the corgi, unlike other dogs who suffer from genetic dwarfism or selective breeding for dwarfism or small stature. Like many purebred dogs, the Pembroke corgi has health vulnerabilities, such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and a progressive paralysis known as degenerative myelopathy. The Cardigan is also susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy, as well as intervertebral disc disease.