I think that many of us who have seen herding trials or demonstrations on tv or in person have seen Border Collies working sheep.
I found this great video of a Cardi moving a herd of cows. This is no trial; from what I can see it's a working farm dog. Check out about a minute or so in when the back cow starts kicking and turns around to face down the dog!
So the next time your Corgi sits down and back-sasses you, or plants his feet and won't move, smile and think of the cows.
I know this is a week old, but I didn't see this so I wanted to comment.
Most coated ("fluffy") corgis are very functional and in fact are often sold to herding homes. I know that the conventional wisdom/line is that a longer coat would be less protective or more muddy, but it doesn't hold up to logic. The fluffy Cardigan or Pem has the same coat as a Border Collie or a Great Pyrenees, both breeds that work in the elements without complaining. In my house, the dogs with the most coat are the ones that never complain about being outside. Clue's banging on the slider while the puppy (who has a lot of coat) is curled up in a snowbank.
If you look at the standards of the breeds in the herding group, which range from extremely short-coated to extremely long (Polish Lowland Sheepdog, for example, or Puli), every single one swears that their coat type is the only truly functional one and any variation from it would be a disaster. Corgi people say long coats would let the dog get wet; Polish Lowland Sheepdog people say that a short coat would let the dog get wet ;).
The body shape MUST be driven by the dog's function as a herder. That's one of the reasons I prefer a smaller Cardigan who doesn't have a lot of body mass to drag around. But the coat really, in the end, comes down to personal preference as long as it's protective and double (has a hard topcoat). If somebody was breeding corgis with papillon-type coats I'd have a huge problem with it. A breeder who has some fluffs - or even breeds fluffs to non-fluffs - would be fine with me.
Any advantage in leg length is going to be lost as soon as the dog lies down, which it's going to be doing a huge amount of when it's herding or working. Besides, at least the fluffy corgis have slick hair on their paws and lower legs; the pulis and PONs are heavily coated down to the tips of their toes. If you look at the herding breeds still used seriously to work - Aussies, Border Collies, Pyrenean Shepherds, Beardies - they've got hair.
Fluffies aren't disqualified in either breed. Pems don't have ANY disqualifications and Cardis disqualify based on color and drop ears only. In both breeds it's a serious fault but I've seen, at least in Cardis, dogs that are very definitely fluffy (and nothing has been done to hide it) put up and LOTS finish their championships with a little wise grooming.
In terms of why it's considered to be a less than ideal coat, you get all kinds of justifications but, since the exact same language is used to tell everybody why a herding dog must have a long coat, the truth is that it comes down to preference and (in many breeds) a historic picture. The dog in 1910 looked like this, so our dogs should look like this. A perfect example is the Belgian Malinois and Lakenois (now called the Belgian Sheepdog) and the Belgian Tervuren. They're the same dog; the breeds were separated quite recently. In the Mal standard the coat is supposed to be short in order to resist the weather. In the Lakenois/Terv standard, the coat is supposed to be long in order to resist the weather. Long coat is a fault on the Mal; short coat is a fault on the Lakenois and Terv. Same dog, same job, different coats, same justification used for why the coat "must" be this way.
It's the same all over; Wirehaired Griffon men will tell you that the proper field coat is thick and wirey; GSP men will tell you that the proper field coat is smooth and short and the Irish Water Spaniel guys will tell you the proper coat is curly and dense. The dogs are doing the same job and hunting in the same cover after the same animals.
STRUCTURE is the important thing. If you understand structure and soundness and put a sound dog out there who is built so that his body can obey his brain, doesn't matter what the wrapping paper looks like.
I do think that most of the long-coated herders were primarily big-going pasture herders (who did some yard work too, but not as their primary job).
Corgis primarily worked yards and lanes, and cattle fields are a lot muddier than sheep fields.
The fluff coat needs a lot more grooming to keep tidy.
"Very Serious Fault-Fluffies-a coat of extreme length with exaggerated feathering on ears, chest, legs and feet, underparts and hindquarters. Trimming such a coat does not make it any more acceptable."
I'm thinking it would be very difficult for a fluffy to show successfully and the breeders I know put fluffs in pet homes. Fluff-factored is a different story, of course.
I don't know that Eddie has been officially DNA fluff tested but you can see that he's got enough coat to make a village of sweaters. He won some nice big stuff on the way to his championship.
Rottweilers and Bernese Mountain Dogs have a very similar history of being all-purpose close-in farm dogs. They pull carts (down lanes), they herd, they live in the yard to protect the house. One is short-coated and one is long, and the same language - "protective" and "weather resistant" - is used for each one.
I don't see enough Cardis that I can tell if he's a fluff or not. :-) A Pembroke fluffy has a coat more like a Sheltie. My Madison is fluff-factored and has a lot of softer coat, but still sheds dirt and is not long enough to get tangled.
Jack has a much harder coat but a fairly long ruff and pants (again not long enough to tangle). I know he can't be a fluff as his sire was fluff-factor free by DNA.
I can see why it would be a bit more tolerated in Cardis, as there are relatively so few of them and I'd imagine you'd need to be more conscientious to not end up with genetic bottle-necks.
A disqualification is a term that you can almost think of as legal. It doesn't mean "I don't like that." A dog that is DQd has it go on his or her record. After three DQs for standard issues (or one strike you're out for biting or attacking) the dog can never be shown again unless the owner applies to have it reinstated. So the difference between a serious fault and a DQ is substantial and breeds consider very carefully when and whether to have DQs in their standards.
When something is a serious fault it is left to the judge to decide whether a dog with that fault is otherwise so outstanding that he or she deserves to go up over the other dogs in the ring or not. Serious faults are very appropriate ways to leave the door cracked for a truly amazing dog with one glaring issue, especially a cosmetic issue. In Cardigans it allows dogs with too much white or longer coats to finish IF they are great otherwise.
I invite you (or anyone else, for that matter) to actually get INVOLVED in the world of show dogs - or, heck, go to a single show - before you get ugly about what's going on. It's very easy to armchair quarterback when you have never had to put in any effort, and easy to call people names when you've never met them. You're welcome to come visit my whelping box and I'll put puppies and adults up on the table and talk about why it is we care about certain things and don't care so much about others. I'll be happy to show you my financial records so you can see that I lose thousands of dollars on each litter. If you come to a show with me I'll introduce you to my friends and we will tell you about our chewed couch legs and scratched-up floors and the fact that we wear our husbands' flannel shirts most days because they don't stain so much with the dogs in our laps all the time. That's exactly how "important" we are. We are very, very proud of our dogs but they are a labor of passion, not ego.
Excuse me but I believe it is your approach and "tone" that makes people feel attacked and defending ones beliefs is not a an admission of guilt. Debating a topic is great when done in a civilized manor without name calling or belittling. For the sake of everyone's sanity I hope not all discussions are going to take this turn.
If you go to my page you can see pictures of Clue herding. Bronte I sent out to live on a working farm for six months; she brought in the sheep and goats every day. Friday is still a baby but she'll start herding as soon as her growth plates close.
The dog in the video is a show dog. So are mine, who are currently scattered over the couches. Clue has morning sickness so I am being very gentle with her but in a few minutes I'm going to throw all the others outside and they're going to run around in the snow. A few times a year they go to dog shows, which they love, but they spend approximately ten thousand times more hours chasing the cat than they do trotting around the ring :).
I wish I had enough money to bribe a judge, wow. If I did I'd get a Honda Element with a "Real Dogs Have Tails" bumper sticker; the judge can go hang!
Ladies, we all know this is a passionate point of debate! Joanna, I truly commend you for involving your dogs in their historical work, and I mean that sincerely. There are plenty of conscientious show breeders out there, especially among certain breeds, who do just that. There are a handful of working and gun breeds where the majority of the show dogs also do their job.
Kerry, I think it's wonderful that you breed real working Corgis, which is not all that common a thing to do. You obviously know a ton about Corgis and having been raised with working dogs, not show dogs, I know where you are coming from too.
I think that giving absolutes is really undermining your respective positions. Joanna, you also know as well as I do that there are show breeders out there with stables full of dogs, dozens of them, that are shipped off to professional handlers. You know there are show breeders who are breeding and showing mentally and physically unstable dogs who are absolutely nothing like what a working dog would look like. I know you must realize this because you are smart and involved and clearly love dogs, and you hear the rumblings, especially with some of the breeds. However, there are plenty (especially in certain breeds) who are NOT like that and I appreciate your desire to defend your passion. To be fair, you have contributed to the degradation of the debate by basically saying that no one who is not showing, trialing, or otherwise "getting out there" with their dogs should be breeding. I respect you believe that, but there are several smaller non-competitive breeders right here on this site, as well as people who got their dogs from those types of breeders and had wonderful experience, so you can't truly expect to repeatedly sling that arrow and not get a response, now can you?
And Kerry, you too are smart and involved and know dogs, and while yes, there are show dog (and show horse) people who do just what you say, there are also many breed clubs out there that go out of their way to preserve the working nature of their dogs, and many who have dual-titles or whose show dogs are the weekend hunting companion, or part of the fox hunt pack, or go out and do search-and-rescue in the area, etc.
I think that for the vast majority of us, we don't see these lines in the sand or absolutes. There are good show breeders and some truly horrible ones (and some of them have made the news for neglect and abandonment, so I know they are out there).
And there are conscientious small breeders who don't compete who still strive to maintain the integrity of the breed, who are most certainly not breeding for money or puppy mills or the rest.
SO if we could maybe just appreciate each other a little more, and see the world from both points of view instead of coming out each round from our respective corners, there might not be such animosity.
Thank you for the discussion, and I hope everyone enjoys the video of the lovely Cardi doing what she was bred to do, regardless of her background or her future.
I just saw a litter produced by a fluff and a non fluff and they are beautiful. The male is the fluff and he has great structure and disposition and the breeder decided the opportunity to breed him could not be passed by. I think there are several nice show prospects in that litter.
Harry's? Yeah, that's the nicest litter I've seen him have. They are REALLY pretty.
TONS of breeders use fluffs (in Cardigans, that is). Jon Kimes' entire group of bitches for the last three or four years are all fluffs. He just breeds them to non-coated dogs and goes out and wins everything. The breeder I got my three from will use a fluff without thinking twice and her dogs are amazing. The fluffs are often the prettiest dogs in the litter - I don't know why but it seems like the coat is associated with puppies that have the heaviest bone and shorter legs - and it's unsurprising that so many are kept to breed.
Yes, so you've seen them! I'm a Cardi addict and often keep tabs on all the current litters. :) They are a nice group. If I remember correctly, there was one that looks like it may end up a fluff but most don't appear to be of course only time will tell. I love the blue he kept from the last litter! I'm also glad to see he's opening his breeding circle, I think it will be beneficial.