The recognizable corgi is a beloved dog breed for many—including the late Queen Elizabeth II, who owned 30 of them throughout her lifetime.
And while we always wish our dogs would live forever, sadly, they won’t. If you are thinking of owning a corgi of your own, or have one already, here is how long you can expect them to live, as well as tips to keep this herding dog healthy and how pet insurance can help support your dog as it ages.
How Long Do Corgis Live?
On average, corgis live to be about 12 to 15 years old. This is considered a long lifespan, since most dogs only live to be an average of 10 to 13 years old, according to PetMD.
However, different variations of the corgi breed may affect your dog’s lifespan, which we will cover below.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Life Span
The average lifespan for a Pembroke Welsh corgi (the breed that Queen Elizabeth II owned) is about 12 to 13 years.
The main differences between the Pembroke Welsh corgi and the Cardigan Welsh corgi can be seen in the ears and tail. The Pembroke Welsh corgi has pointed ears and a short tail; the Cardigan Welsh corgi has rounded ears, and a notably longer tail.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Life Span
The average lifespan for a Cardigan Welsh corgi is about 12 to 15 years, according to Dr. Antje Joslin, a veterinarian at Dogtopia, a nationwide dog daycare facility.
“Statistically, Cardigans live slightly longer on average [than Pembroke Welsh corgis], but practically speaking they are very similar,” Joslin says.
The Average Life Cycle of Corgis
Here’s what you can expect throughout the lifecycle of the average corgi.
A corgi is considered a newborn puppy for the first four weeks of its life, and then a puppy for the next one to six months thereafter. Much like other dogs, Corgis are born blind and deaf and require constant attention from their mother.
About two weeks after birth, corgi newborn puppies open their eyes and begin moving around. After about eight weeks, they will no longer require as much motherly care. As a puppy, they are curious about the environment around them, start developing social skills and are full of energy.
Corgis are considered mature at 1 year old—albeit their behavior may suggest otherwise. During this life stage, training is highly recommended—and considered crucial to their success as adults—since corgis are known for being an energetic breed.
At this point, male corgis will begin searching for a mate, and may even mount other female dogs and become territorial or aggressive. Female corgis may begin urinating around the house in an attempt to attract mates. It’s recommended that you spay/neuter your dogs to prevent these unpleasant behaviors.
Your corgi will reach its full growth potential when they’re around 4 years old. Ensuring that your pup gets enough attention and exercise is key to extending its lifespan. Due to their stubby legs, daily walks are recommended to help keep corgis in shape, as well as curb unwanted behavior such as digging or chewing.
When corgis hit 7 to 8 years old, they’re considered senior dogs. During their golden years, it’s important to look out for health conditions often associated with this breed, such as joint issues or obesity. As a senior, these dogs still require daily exercise to live a happy and healthy life, as they can be susceptible to stress and anxiety if not given enough stimulation or care.
How to Tell Your Corgi’s Age
If you’re unsure of your corgi’s age, perhaps because you adopted it from a shelter, there are a few ways to tell what stage of life your new friend is in.
The best way to tell how old your corgi is rather obvious—by looking at some of their features. Joslin says looking at their teeth, eyes, hair coat and overall body condition can help you make an educated guess as to their age. But keep in mind there’s always room for error when trying to determine a dog’s age.
“Telling a dog’s age is not an exact science,” Joslin says.
Adult corgis are typically about 10 to 12 inches tall and weigh roughly 23 to 28 pounds. If they’re smaller than that, it’s likely they’re likely still a puppy. Corgis will also have all of their teeth by the time they are 6 months old. As they age, their spine may also become more visible. Senior dogs are also characterized by their graying coat and cloudy eye lenses.
Factors Affecting Corgis’ Lifespan
While corgis are known to live slightly longer than other dog breeds, they are still susceptible to health concerns that may shorten their lifespan. Fortunately, there are preventative measures owners can take.
“Like any dog, factors that affect a corgi’s lifespan include a healthy diet, exercise, weight management and appropriate veterinary care including vaccinations, dental health and annual lab work,” Joslin says.
In addition, corgis are prone to certain health conditions, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Von Willebrand Disease
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
- Heart disease
Although not inherently lethal, cataracts in your corgi’s eyes can have a negative effect on their quality of life, or lead to other accidents due to not being able to see.
Often developed later in life, this cloudy film prevents light from passing through the eye, resulting in reduced vision and, in extreme cases, blindness. If you notice cloudiness in your dog’s eyes or think they may have developed cataracts, you should contact your veterinarian for an eye screening. In some cases, cataract surgery can restore a dog’s vision.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
This neurodegenerative spinal cord disorder causes your corgi’s spinal cord to deteriorate over time.
DM will first cause weakness in the hind legs, then the front legs, and can eventually progress to paralysis. According to a study by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), 53.4% of over 5,000 corgis tested had degenerative myelopathy, and one-third (33%) were carriers of the disorder.
DM typically occurs in middle- to older-aged dogs, and unfortunately has no cure. However, some studies suggest that intensive physiotherapy may slow the progression of the disease and help affected dogs live longer. It’s recommended that you contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice signs of this disorder, which include loss of bodily control and paraplegia.
The same OFA study found that 14% of corgis experienced epilepsy or seizures. Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by seizures and convulsions. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for epilepsy in dogs, however, there are treatments and medications available to help mitigate the symptoms.
Symptoms of epilepsy include behavioral abnormalities, shock, trembling, eye-rolling or thrashing. Epilepsy in corgis typically presents itself between 6 months of age and 3 years old. If you notice these symptoms, make your dog comfortable during the seizure and contact your veterinarian immediately for an evaluation and official diagnosis.
According to the OFA, 21% of corgis studied had dysplastic hips that ranged from mild to severe.
Hip dysplasia refers to an abnormal formation of the hip sockets, resulting in pain, stiffness and wobbly legs. This may also lead to the development of arthritis as the dog ages. There are several surgical options for treating hip dysplasia in dogs, including a femoral head osteotomy (FHO) surgery.
Without treatment, hip dysplasia can diminish your furry friend’s life expectancy, so it’s important to contact your veterinarian as soon as you observe symptoms such as limping or decreased activity levels.
Hypothyroidism is most common in dogs 4 to 10 years old, and usually affects mid- to large-sized breeds, including corgis. This disease is characterized by weight gain, lethargy, changes in appetite, haircoat changes and low concentrations of the thyroid hormone. If you notice any of these symptoms in your corgi, you should contact your veterinarian immediately as this may lead to other health conditions including obesity and alopecia, which will have a negative impact on your pet’s quality of life.
Fortunately, hypothyroidism can be treated with a daily thyroid hormone replacement.
Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
Intervertebral disk disease, commonly referred to as IVDD, is a disorder in which the spinal disc protrudes into the spinal cord. One OFA study found that 14% of corgis were diagnosed with this disease. Due to their long backs, an overweight corgi is at a heightened risk of IVDD.
Signs of this disease include back or neck pain, an unbalanced walk, complete loss of hind limb motor function or loss of pain perception. There are numerous treatment options for IVDD including rest, pain medication or surgery, depending on the severity of the disease. If you believe your dog may be suffering from IVDD, contact your veterinarian right away for an official diagnosis and course of action.
It’s no secret that dogs love to eat, and corgis are no exception. You should always keep an eye on your dog’s weight, as well as what they may be snacking on. Too many dog treats or too much food can quickly lead to your pooch becoming overweight. Obesity in dogs can lead to other medical issues, such as strain on their heart and joints. Regular exercise is critical to helping them maintain good overall health.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is the most common congenital heart disease in dogs. It occurs when a blood vessel (the ductus arteriosus) does not constrict properly and can lead to heart failure. It can typically be detected during your first examination at the veterinarian as a heart murmur.
According to The Cascade Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club, PDA typically presents itself in corgis before they turn 1 year old. Fortunately, it can be treated through minimally invasive surgery. Signs of progressive heart failure include shortness of breath, coughing, weakness and exercise intolerance. If you notice these symptoms, notify your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand disease is a genetic blood clotting disorder which may cause excessive bleeding if your dog is injured or undergoes surgery. According to one study, 6% of corgis tested were affected by the disease and 37% were carriers.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait until something happens to prevent this disease. There are blood test screenings available to check if your corgi inherited this gene; if they come up positive, your veterinarian will then take special precautions during any necessary surgeries to prevent excessive bleeding, such as a blood transfusion.
How To Extend the Life of Your Corgi
It’s common to want your dog to live forever, and while that’s impossible, it is possible to help them live longer.
“Lifespan can be optimized by good diet, exercise, healthy weight, appropriate veterinary care and healthy lifestyle choices,” Joslin says. The following lifestyle changes can help your corgi live a long and happy life.
Veterinarians recommend feeding your dog two to three times a day (depending on age), on an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved diet. As mentioned before, corgis are prone to being overweight, so it’s important to monitor their weight and diets closely. They may also benefit from supplements, such as joint supplements, Omega-3 fatty acids or probiotics. Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing new supplements to your corgi’s diet.
Since corgis are by nature a herding dog, they become restless without proper exercise and mental stimulation. Make sure to give your dog plenty of exercise through daily walks and playtime. In addition to their mood and behavior, frequent exercise can also help to moderate their weight.
Regular visits to the veterinarian are always recommended and can be essential to extending any pet’s lifespan. Several of the illnesses associated with corgis may progress slowly; routine checkups can help your veterinarian catch symptoms early.
Dental health is also important. Rotten teeth can cause infections, abscesses, pain, and in the worst cases, bacterial infection that can enter their bloodstream. This can lead to a slew of medical issues including kidney and liver disease, heart disease and even jaw fractures. Whether done through a dental cleaning at the veterinarian or by brushing their teeth at home, keeping your canine’s mouth clean will help improve their health.
Why Do Some Corgis Live Longer Than Others?
The longevity of your corgi’s lifespan can potentially be increased with your help and guidance. But when it comes down to it, some dogs are just biologically destined to live longer than others.
“Just like humans, some of us have longer life expectancy than others, which often harks back to genetics and lifestyle choices,” Joslin says.
The most important thing to remember is that your dog is relying on you to provide food, exercise and health care for them. It’s your responsibility to keep them happy and healthy to the best of your abilities. Investing in pet insurance can be a great way to help manage the cost of veterinarian visits and health issues that may arise.
Is there a recommended age for switching to senior dog food for corgis?
The recommended age to switch your corgi to a senior diet is around 7 years old, says Joslin. You should contact your veterinarian for a personal recommendation for your pooch, as many corgis may have different dietary restrictions or needs.
The corgi breed is a strong, affectionate and family-friendly dog if given the proper living conditions. If you train them correctly, feed them right, give them plenty of exercise and visit the veterinarian regularly, you will have a loving friend for years to come.