When deciding what breed to buy or adopt, it is always sensible to consider the health of that breed. Similarly, those who already own Corgis will want to know if their dog is prone to any specific health conditions and what their lifespan may be.
Certain breeds are known to suffer from certain health issues more so than others, so how do Corgis hold up in the health department? Let’s find out.
Are Corgis a Healthy Breed?
Corgis are generally considered a healthy breed. Although their small size and elongated bodies can cause spinal issues, as well as purebreds having an increased chance of overall health issues, most Corgis go on to live long happy, pain-free lives.
Purebred Corgis Might Be Prone To More Health Issues
To create a purebred dog such as the Corgi, one has to breed closely related dogs together. While this produces puppies with a uniform look and a similar temperament, it can also create a shallow gene pool.
Inbreeding dogs make it more likely for two ‘bad’ copies of a gene to be inherited and for genetic diseases to be passed on. Unfortunately, most purebred dogs are less healthy than cross breeds due to this. The Corgi is no exception.
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How a Corgis Shape Affects Their Health
The shape of your dog will dramatically influence their health. When you realize that all dogs descend from the wolf, it is evident how much the Corgi has changed in a short period of time.
Through selective breeding, dogs with short legs and long backs slowly became more popular (mainly due to many people liking that “look”). However, this is technically an unnatural shape for a canine, therefore creating many health issues down the line. One good example is a spinal disease called ‘Intervertebral Disc Disease’. The long-backed Corgi is far more prone to this condition than the average canine.
Additionally, both the Pembroke Welsh and Cardigan Welsh Corgi are chondrodystrophic dogs. This is a form of dwarfism that causes the limbs to be abnormally short and to grow irregularly. This can (and does) create significant joint disease and chronic pain. Oftentimes, arthritis will develop as the dog gets older.
While we can say that cross-breeds tends to be healthier than pedigree dogs, how does the Corgi compare to other pedigrees? Well, they probably fall somewhere in the middle. It is likely they would be a lot healthier if it weren’t for their shrunken proportions.
How Long Do Corgis Live For
The average Corgi will live between 12 and 14 years. This is relatively good, though is somewhat expected due to their small size. It is important to remember that this is just a rough guideline and there will be plenty of Corgis who don’t fit the mold and will live longer or shorter lives than this.
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What Health Issues Are Corgis Prone To?
There are a number of diseases that occur more commonly in the Corgi than in other dogs. These include:
- Intervertebral Disc Disease
- Hip Dysplasia
- Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
- Periodontal Disease
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
As discussed, the impossibly long back of the Corgi puts it at real risk for spinal issues as they age. IVDD can be a ‘wear and tear’ disease or can come on suddenly after a trauma. Those affected by IVDD can have symptoms that range from mild pain all the way up to complete paralysis. The prognosis will depend on how compressed the spinal cord is. Those who are not severely affected can recover well with strict cage rest and a course of anti-inflammatories and pain relief. Due to the real risk of IVDD within this breed, owners are advised to keep their Corgi lean, to use body harnesses rather than neck collars, and to avoid steps. It can also be useful to have ramps around the home, to prevent big jumps.
While we may associate hip dysplasia with larger breeds, small dogs can be affected too. Hip dysplasia can be genetic but is also affected by a dog’s environment and can be influenced by e.g. diet and exercise. Those who have hip dysplasia may run with a ‘bunny hop’, sit with their knees out and struggle to run about for too long. To prevent hip dysplasia from being passed on within the Corgi breed, it is strongly advised that all breeding dogs be screened and only those with good hip scores be used in breeding programs.
Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
DM is strongly associated with the German Shepherd but is known to happen within the Corgi community too. This is a progressive disease of the spinal cord that causes wobbly walking, hind limb weakness, and a lack of sensation in the hind limbs. Sadly, there is no known treatment for this condition though dogs can benefit from physiotherapy and certain assistive equipment.
Epilepsy causes seizures and tends to show up during the first few years of a Corgi’s life. As seizures can have other causes (such as liver disease, toxin ingestion, or a brain tumor) it is important to run some diagnostic tests to determine we are truly dealing with epilepsy. While it can be alarming to see your Corgi fitting, epilepsy is a condition that can usually be well managed with medicine. The medication can cause an increased appetite and weight gain so it is very important to make an effort to keep these dogs slim.
Those dogs with smaller jaws are more prone to dental disease than others. Thankfully, there are lots of things we can do to minimize risks. This includes brushing your Corgi’s teeth every day with a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste, feeding dry kibble rather than wet food, and using products such as enzymatic gels to break down plaque. Many dogs will also need a dental cleaning under an anesthetic a few times during their life to give their teeth a deep clean.
While obesity itself is not a disease, Corgis are prone to booming over-weight. This is not a good look for the Corgi as it can put even more pressure on their already taxed joints. To prevent obesity, stick to a calorie-controlled diet and ensure they are getting plenty of exercise. We advise analyzing their ‘Body Condition Score’ every month and ensuring they stay between a healthy 4 or 5 out of 9 during their lifetime.
Related Read: 5 Tips To Help a Corgi Lose Weight: Correct Corgi Weight
How to increase the odds of having a healthy Corgi
We all want a healthy doggo and there are several things we can do to ensure our Corgi lives their best life:
- Try to ensure your Corgi comes from a reputable breeder who health screens both parents for serious diseases such as Hip Dysplasia.
- Keep your Corgi sufficiently exercised and active
- Provide a complete, high-quality diet from puppyhood.
- Ensure they are seen at least once a year by their vet for a full check over.
- Keep them up to date with their vaccines and parasite prevention
- Brush those gnashers on a daily basis.
- Treat any medical issues promptly.
- Consider a cross-breed. While this may sound like an unusual suggestion, considering a ‘hybrid’ or cross-breed Corgi (such as a Dorgi, Corgipoo or Corgidor) makes for a larger gene pool and can help create a healthier dog.
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In general, Corgis are no more prone to health issues than most other dogs. Their small size can increase the chances of spinal issues, and purebreds might be prone to more issues than crossbreds. But in general, Corgis are a relatively healthy breed that usually lives long and happy lives.
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