Nowadays, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are used primarily as companion dogs and proud Cardigan owners swear by the loyal, affectionate, and protective nature of their little canine friends. While they don't need an excessive amount of exercise, they are active dogs and owners find that their Cardigans greatly benefit from participating in a wide variety of organized competitions. One of the Cardigan's favorite competitions is the sheepdog trial; indeed, it may seem strange when looking at the stature of this dog, but the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is one of the oldest and actually most formidable herding breeds man has ever bred.
They were originally bred for many functions, including watch dog and hunter, though they most excelled at herding sheep and cattle. Their exact origin still is largely unknown; experts believe they've been in Wales for more than 3,000 years and probably descended from the Teckel dog family, the same family of the Dachshunds. They are probably one of the earliest dog breeds found on the British Isles and were brought there by central Europeans, Vikings or the Celts. The name corgi actually has an ancient meaning, though its exact significance is still disputed by scholars. There are some who claim that the name derives from cor or to gather and gi or dogŁ; this name makes sense given the herding function the dog has had throughout most of its history. Others disagree with this take on the dog's name and believe that corgi comes from the Celtic word for dog, while still others believe it comes from the Welsh word for tiny dog.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is an excellent example of form following function; while most people are used to seeing larger, more imposing dogs used as herders, the low stature and large ears of the Cardigan made this dog extremely suitable as a highly efficient herding dog. They would herd their sheep or cattle by running alongside the animals and barking and nipping at their heels; cattle were especially annoyed by this behavior and occasionally would attempt to show their displeasure by kicking back at the dog. The long, low body of the dog allowed it to easily duck or even roll out of the way, completely avoiding the potentially fatal cattle kick unscathed. Those very large ears also served their purpose; thanks to those ears, Cardigans have an amazingly acute sense of hearing and could actually hear the kick of a cow coming, so they knew the exact moment to get out of the way. Like all other herding breeds, their instinct to herd is very strong; indeed, they will nip the heels of their family members in attempt to herd them. Fortunately, it is not extremely difficult to train them to avoid this behavior.