Buying A Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppy
Where should I get a puppy?
Cardigans are indisputably adorable, and they’re great companions. However, if that’s all you need – an adorable puppy and a great companion – we would like to encourage you to seek out a rescue rather than a purpose-bred dog.
Rescues are just as “good,” just as rewarding, just as wonderful and deserving of life as purebreds. There are thousands of adorable puppies and rewarding, terrific companions out there looking for homes. Our babies and adults never “need” a home, because they always have one … with us.
However, if you need a dog who is not just a wonderful companion but a partner with very predictable skills and talents – in other words, if a rescue dog would be a poor fit for you – a reputable breeder is where you should go.
I've decided I want to get a purebred puppy from a breeder. How do I tell if my breeder is good?
We would like you to read Ian Dunbar’s article before you visit any breeder’s home. Don’t necessarily look for a slavish adherence to the specific details of his article – for example, Dunbar thinks Kongs are the answer to everything, and we prefer to give raw bones and edible chews – but do look for the general idea. Breeders should have an organized plan for socialization and exposure, and a set of criteria for knowing if they have succeeded. Puppies are just as individual as any other living creature, but all should be happy to see you and show clear evidence that they’ve been exposed to many people and situations before you walked in the door.
Apart from socialization, it’s our strong opinion that good breeders breed for a reason (not just to sell cute pet puppies), and they work to prove that their dogs are really good at something. That doesn’t always have to mean the show ring, of course – it can be field work, performance, service, sport, or any other job that dogs do for humans. But it should be in some way subject to peer review, which is what keeps us honest as breeders. For us at White Raven, that peer review comes in the form of trials and shows, and also in the form of health and DNA testing so we understand how best to build the next generation.
What kind of temperament does a Cardigan Welsh Corgi have?
Honestly, the best way to know what kind of dog your puppy will be is to look in the mirror, not at a breeder or a temperament test or a pedigree. Puppies are like little sponges, and that’s especially true of intuitive herding dogs. Whatever surrounds them, they will become. Puppies from all breeds need a secure, encouraging home that is predictable and stable. And they must be properly socialized in order to ensure a healthy emotional development.
A well-socialized Cardigan will be happy, active, fun-loving, and silly. They will make you laugh every day. They will surprise you every day with how well they understand you, and how human they can be.
Cardigans need a job to do. They are the result of hundreds – if not thousands – of years of deliberate breeding to be all-purpose farm dogs. The closer your home looks to an all-purpose farm, the more naturally a Cardigan will fit. Families that have a more conventional home or apartment can raise a thriving and happy Cardigan, but those families will need to provide exercise and stimulation, and value their dog as the working dog that he or she is.
Cardigans get along very well with other animals, including dogs, cats and other pets, as long as you do not let a chase get going. Cardigans are herding dogs, which means anything that runs past them needs to be followed and turned around. A cat or rabbit that panics and runs will be followed, and things can escalate if you do not intervene. During the formative puppy months, plan to supervise interactions with other animals and guide your puppy in the right way to deal with that tempting cat who just bolted down the hallway.
Cardigans are wonderful with children. Most of them would rather spend time with kids than any other humans.
Cardigans are extremely trainable, but many are not natural retrievers. Games of fetch may not be in your future.
What's the average Cardigan Corgi puppy price?
Across the US, for 2018, the price of a purebred Cardigan ranges from $1,200 to $2,500. Some breeders may charge more or less; these are just averages. We fall in the middle of that range.
The cost of a purebred puppy is often misunderstood. Many buyers assume that what we ask for puppies must be profit-making; we’ve actually had people congratulate us for making so much money on dogs.
In fact, if you are a show breeder (or serious performance breeder, working breeder, or other breeder that titles and tests their dogs) the expense of breeding is so vast that selling puppies doesn’t even come close to a break-even income, let alone any profit.
Our c-sections are $2500, and about half of our litters are ultimately born via c-section. In 2017 we switched from a $40 DNA screening to a $175 DNA panel, in order to increase the amount of information we have on each dog’s genetic health. A single x-ray (for hips or elbows or pregnancy or to check for injury or illness) is $170. Entry fees are now $40+, which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that a weekend for three dogs is now $350-400 just in entry fees, and add a couple hundred more for food and hotel and travel.
We absorb the costs of vaccines, worming, microchipping, vet checks, and (if needed) eye and hearing certification for each litter. That adds up to hundreds of dollars per puppy, and that’s before we feed them and provide the stellar care we’re devoted to giving each puppy.
The stuff we’re doing is well worth the cost. Better care is always worth the money. The expensive x-rays are because the clinic is using a digital machine with extremely low radiation. The high c-section price is because the moms and babies are getting state of the art specialist care, bloodwork, and pain meds. We use the safest and best raw food, vet-quality wormer, expensive vaccines, and make every choice to provide the absolute best for our puppies with no thought to cost.
But all that means we almost never make money on a litter, and most of our litters represent a substantial loss. The amount we ask for puppies is in no way representative of what we have spent – which is fine. We’re doing this because we love and believe in Cardigans, which is worth far more than a bank account.
What health problems are common in Cardigan Corgis, and what should I expect my puppy's parents to be tested for?
Cardigans are one of the healthiest breeds out there, which is wonderful. Your puppy is likely to be active and happy well into his or her teens. However, living things are unpredictable. Excellent health of the dam and sire does not always prevent problems in the puppies. While we strive to produce only healthy puppies, new owners should be prepared to deal with unusual health issues. We strongly recommend health insurance for those who own one or two dogs.
We believe that all Cardigans should have their hips checked before breeding. Because of the unique (and unusual) shape and fit of the dwarfed dog hip on x-ray, many breeders prefer to use private screening instead of submitting their x-rays to OFA. That’s very acceptable in this breed. But the hips must be checked.
You should also ask about a DNA test for PRA (progressive retinal atrophy). PRA is an eye disease common to herding dogs; it is rare in Cardigans, but all responsible breeders either test for it or know that their dogs are “line clear” (meaning that both parents are clear and therefore cannot produce affected puppies).
Many breeders check for DM (degenerative myelopathy) in their breeding dogs. DM is a disorder that causes painless hind-end weakness in old dogs, which (after a couple of years) may progress to the point that a wheelchair or euthanasia is needed.
DM is a disease that has gotten a lot of attention lately because a relatively new test is available. However, the DM test is not like the PRA test, which is a simple affected/not affected. The SOD1 gene mutation, which is the only one we currently have a test for, makes a dog “somewhat more likely” to have symptoms, and dogs “clear” or “carrier” on the test may also develop DM. Other modifying genes, which we do not have tests for yet, increase or decrease the risk. Making the situation even more difficult is the fact that a huge number of dogs are either carriers or have two copies of the single mutation that we currently have a test for. In order to completely eliminate it from our breed, we would have to breed away from almost half of our gene pool.
The issue of whether to use the currently available DM test results to decide whether or not to do a breeding is a very personal one, and it’s a decision that each breeder has to wrestle with. You as a prospective owner should educate yourself and understand what you’re comfortable with. We at White Raven have decided to test all our dogs, but we do not (at this point) avoid breeding carriers to carriers; it’s our opinion that the potential damage to the breed by narrowing the gene pool is greater than the risk of having DM symptoms. Our actions will change as testing becomes more sophisticated and more modifier genes are discovered.
If you have a strong feeling about a DM result, we are willing to discuss this with you. Most of our breedings produce Clear dogs. However, you must realize that a Clear result is not a guarantee that your dog will not get DM. It just weights the scales.
Should I expect to meet the parents of my puppy?
We know that “meet the parents” gets put on a lot of lists of how to buy a puppy, but it’s actually not correct. It’s unusual for good breeders to have both parents on site. Since we work as a group and therefore have more dogs to access, we sometimes own the right boy for one of our girls – but, far more often, we’re using an outside stud dog. You are of course welcome to meet the mom dog as soon as the puppies are old enough to be safely seen – and as long as having strangers handle her puppies does not stress her. The health and comfort of our dogs and puppies always comes first. We also have regular reunions with our current and prospective puppy buyers where you can meet all of our dogs and many grown puppies, and get to know the families who own and co-own Cardigans from us.
I want a very specific color of Cardigan puppy, like a blue merle female with two blue eyes or a brindle male with a very large white collar and perfect blaze. Can I get one?
We are tempted to reply “Get in line!” But all flippancy aside, the likelihood is pretty small.
The vast majority of Cardigan buyers have come to the breed because they fell in love with the unusual colors that are characteristic of the breed.
But careful breeders cannot breed as though color is more important than health, longevity, talent, and a sound body. Even though we love loud colors and lots of white just as much as you do (and we do!), we often find that the best pairings to achieve overall excellence do not make those puppies. As breeders, we define success in terms of sound, happy working dogs – even if they are plain in color.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having strong preferences about color. But we may not be able to give you that perfectly colored puppy in a certain litter, or the next litter, or the next. The short story is that the more flexible you can be about color, the shorter your wait for a puppy will be.
We also want to promise you that color is going to matter to you for exactly as long as it takes to get from our house out to your car. Once that puppy is yours, that puppy is the most beautiful and flawless one that has ever been born.
What if I want a mismark (too much white) puppy, a weird color, or a fluffy (long-haired) puppy? Can I get one of those?
This very much depends on the breeder you choose. It’s sort of like asking whether someone prefers to color inside the lines or out of them! Fluffy coats are relatively common across the Cardigan world, and many breeders will occasionally have them. White faces tend to run in lines, so some breeders have them all the time and some almost never do. Unusual colors depend on whether the breeder breeds merle with colors other than black, or if unusual recessive colors pop up.
At White Raven we love fluffy Cardigans and we’re happy to say that we often have them born in litters. We rarely get white faces, but (because we tend to like dogs with big white markings or very little white) we often get more or less white on the body than is usual in the breed. We DO breed merle to non-black if the breeding is of high quality, so we occasionally have brindle and sable merles. We have the chocolate gene in a few of our dogs, though we have never produced it. As far as we know, we do not have any chance of producing slate blue.
What kind of grooming does a Cardigan Welsh Corgi need?
The Cardigan has three downsides: They shed, they bark, and their nails grow like wildfire. We are (thankfully) past the era of bathing a dog once a year when the sheep are being shorn. You should plan on a bath once every couple of weeks; a clean dog is a wonderful thing. Be sure to dilute and then rinse out all the shampoo. The biggest grooming requirement is keeping nails short. Plan on cutting or grinding (with a dremel) nails once a week or so.
How much exercise does a Cardigan Corgi puppy need?
Cardigans need exercise to stay healthy both mentally and physically. Putting a dog in the yard by itself, even if it is a big yard, is not enough exercise. They need exercise where the human interacts with them. Plan on long daily walks in addition to whatever job (herding, tracking, therapy, service, showing, breeding, etc.) your dog does.
You do not need to have a big yard or a tall fence to own a Cardigan. A Cardigan can be a great fit in an apartment if adequate exercise is provided. In fact, we’ve seen far more issues with dogs who are raised “in the country” without supervision and regular training than we’ve seen in city dogs. However, no fence equals on leash. Unsupervised “just put the dog out” exercise is never, ever allowed. We also do not recommend electronic “invisible” fencing. This fencing does not keep other animals out, and will not keep a determined Cardigan in. Any Cardigan will go through an invisible fence if they feel they need to.
And, of course, no Cardigan should ever live outside. We expect any family who comes to us to be looking for a house dog and a valued working member of the family.
We both came to Cardigans as a second AKC breed after years with other breeds, because we were looking for the perfect do-it-all dog. Cardigans have all the talent and drive and instinct of any breed in the Herding group, but come in a beautifully portable size – and, let’s face it, they’re just adorable. Before we knew it, the other breeds were enjoying a beloved retirement and we had focused on this magical little Welsh workhorse.
We co-bred our first litter together in 2010, and since then have co-owned and co-bred dogs that have gone on to achieve advanced herding titles, agility titles, rally titles, flyball and barnhunt, and of course champion and grand champion titles in AKC and UKC conformation.
While we are very proud of our AKC group placements, UKC Best in Shows, and international titles, we are most proud of the dogs who have gone on to be successful full-time service dogs for those with special needs and disabilities. We have placed multiple dogs in full-time service work for physical and emotional disabilities, and (unlike many breeding programs that advertise service dogs) we are deeply involved in the service dog world, train service dogs, and several of us use full-time owner-trained service dogs ourselves.
All our dogs live in our houses as our companions. This ensures that we know each dog’s temperament, character, strengths and weaknesses, which in turn allows us to make the best breeding decisions possible. As breeders, we focus on good-natured, confident, stable dogs brimming with drive and work ethic. Our Cardigans can work all day and hang out watching movies or playing with the kids at night, then wake up and do it all again. Puppies are deliberately and intensively socialized from birth, registered and microchipped, and come with a written three-year health warranty.
If you are interested in being an active, involved home for one of these super little dogs, read through our Frequently Asked Questions section below and then get in touch. We always enjoy discussing Cardigans, and we are not possessive of any puppy buyers. We’re happy to refer you to other reputable Cardigan breeders, so we’d love to hear from you even if we don’t have available puppies.
Do you guys (at White Raven) have any available puppies?
Since we are a group of co-breeders, not a single home, we usually have four to six litters per year between the group of us.
We often do not announce breedings before the puppies are safely here, which we know is different than what many breeders do. That’s a personal decision that for us is based on the fact that we want to know that everybody is safe and sound and thriving before we open the floodgates to applications.
We very occasionally have puppies who are “available,” meaning ready to go and unsold. That’s usually because someone who had a deposit on a puppy decided that now is not a good time. However, a wait for a puppy more typically lasts from six months to two years, especially if you have specific requests regarding gender, color, markings, or coat length.
If you are interested in a White Raven puppy, the best thing to do is download an application and send it us via e-mail.
Do you ship your Cardigan puppies?
Yes, we ship puppies, but we do so very carefully. We use only a few airlines, and we will ask you to drive to an airport that has non-stop flights from Boston, the airport that we use.
The cost for shipping a puppy is approximately $450, which covers the flight and an appropriate crate for your puppy.
We do not ship puppies, nor sell them sight-unseen, for pet/companion purposes. At a minimum, we expect that you will achieve an AKC Therapy Dog title.
What kind of stuff do I need before you'll let me take a Cardigan puppy home?
There are many things that will help ease the transition with a new puppy. We recommend having the following items handy:
- Crate with a pad or several layers of thick towels in it – an Intermediate, or 36-inch-long crate will accommodate your baby from when when he arrives until he is full grown.
- Food and water dishes, and a good supply of food (we recommend a raw diet or Fromm kibble).
- Treats so you can start rewarding good behavior immediately.
- Lots of edible chews (antlers, bully sticks, beef tracheas) and stuffable toys (Kongs and their many siblings)
- Veterinarian (make sure you have identified a vet, and make plans to schedule an appointment within 5 days of your puppy’s arrival)
- Shampoo (a gentle human shampoo is fine), and nail clippers or a Dremel
- Toys (things to chew, retrieve, or squeak)
- Cleaning supplies for housetraining accidents: We especially recommend Biokleen Bac-Out.
How do you decide which Cardigan puppy will match my family?
All White Raven puppies are evaluated for temperament, structure, service potential, herding instinct, and anything else we can throw at them!
We generally think of puppies as falling into four basic categories:
– Performance/Service Prospects
These are the best-structured puppies in the litter, with strong drive and lots of talent.
– Show/Breeding Prospects
Show puppies are very strong in “type,” which is basically “Cardigan-ness.” They may have a minor structural flaw, but they must be sound and balanced. Our ideal is a puppy who is both structured for performance and typey enough for show.
– Flatwork Prospects
Flatwork puppies have the drive and talent to be extremely successful working dogs, but they are not structured appropriately to withstand the continual jumping of agility or flyball. They often have a straighter front, or are built heavier than the rest of the litter. They will do beautifully in farm work/herding, tracking/detection, obedience/rally, nosework, etc.
– Therapy Prospects
Therapy prospect puppies are the “couch potatoes” of the litter. They lack the drive to be successful herding dogs, but they want to be intensely involved with humans.
You may have realized that we do not have a “Pet” category. We do very occasionally have puppies with a major fault who will become a pet, but we do not breed for pets. We expect that you will involve your adult dog in a job.
Will you make us spay or neuter our Cardigan Corgi puppy?
We do not. As a matter of fact, we encourage you to keep your dog intact into adulthood; many studies have shown that avoiding spay/neuter is healthier for the dog. However, dogs on Limited registration, whom we feel are not appropriate breeding prospects, may not be bred. Any dogs on Full registration must be health tested and titled before breeding. You must, at minimum, check your dog’s hips and eyes, and screen for genetic diseases. Acceptable titles include AKC Champion, UKC Grand Champion, AKC Therapy Dog (THD or above), various Herding titles (not just instinct tested), tracking titles, obedience titles, advanced Rally titles, etc. Working as a successful full-time public-access-trained service dog for at least one year is considered a title.
At what age do you sell your Cardigan puppies?
We never place a puppy before eight weeks of age. The age that a puppy comes home depends on that puppy, on the needs of the purchasing family, and (if shipping) on the weather and flight schedule. We may charge a nominal care fee for any puppy who is sold but is still with us substantially past ten or eleven weeks of age.
Will you take an adult Cardigan back if we can no longer keep him or her?
You are contractually required to return any puppy or adult dog to us if you cannot keep it. Our policy is that we never sell a dog twice – if a dog is returned to us, we do not resell it. We either keep it in our own homes or we find a wonderful home where it may be placed successfully. That means we do not refund your purchase price except in extremely rare circumstances.
Does White Raven have a health warranty?
We will replace any puppy diagnosed with a fatal, crippling, or life-limiting heritable disease or disorder before their third birthday. We require veterinarian confirmation, and we may (at our expense) get a second opinion. “Heritable” means that research has shown that the disorder has a heritability index greater than .5 (in layman’s terms, the disease is more than 50% inherited and less than 50% environmental). Examples of covered diseases and disorders are liver shunts, heart defects, crippling hip dysplasia, structural eye defects, etc.
Our health warranty is immediately void if owners give a leptospirosis vaccine before the age of 12 months. It is also void if owners spay or neuter their dog before 12 months.