Genetic Testing and the Welsh Corgis.
Generally speaking the Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgi breeds are considered a lower risk for known inherited diseases. Currently on HGTD, you can see that there are 8 disease-related tests (Cardigan LINK, Pembroke LINK) offered, and a few tests related to aesthetics such as coat colour/length. Of the disease-related tests, most of the tests are quite rarely seen clinically in the breed (with the exception of Chondrodysplasia – the “Short” mutation!). Looking at Breed Club advice, it is interesting to note how different the genetic testing recommendations are around the world. In the US, for example, only degenerative myelopathy (DM) testing is mentioned in the health information from the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America (www.pwcca.org), but there are a number of clinical examinations (eyes, hips, etc.) that are considered very important. Looking at the UK, The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme (www.thekennelclub.org) mentions the DNA test Progressive Retinal Atrophy rcd-3, but not DM. Does this mean that different corgi populations are experiencing different risks? Or just prioritizing different testing? It is hard to know, as there is research out there discussing how many breeds have different health priorities based on their country/location, but clearly there are some aspects of the corgi that remain the same – like their short stature (Chondrodysplasia).
For breeders, most consistent recommendations from international breeding advisors – such as breed and kennel clubs - focus on advising to breed for good temperament, sound conformation, and eye testing – both clinical examinations, and DNA tests.
In my personal experience as a Pembroke corgi owner since childhood, they are far more likely to be at risk for the common challenges for all dogs – temperament, and obesity if you get a real foodie. Personally, I believe genetic testing for these breeds is a very valuable tool in the breeder’s toolbox, but it is even more important to always breed for whole dog health – temperament, sound conformation, low-risk genetic test results, breed diversity, and ultimately a dog you want to live with and enjoy for their fairly long lives.
Note: I write this with my own sweet boy, MacDuff (Duffy) resting his head on my feet, so I admit to some bias!