The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a sturdy short-legged herding dog breed. This affectionate and intelligent companion dog comes in a small number of coat colors and patterns.
Standard Welsh Corgi Pembroke Colors
Let’s have a closer look at the different Pembroke Welsh Corgi coat colors and patterns:
Fawn Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Fawn is one of the official breed colors of the Welsh Corgi Pembroke.
Looking specifically at Pembroke Welsh Corgi colors, fawn refers to a clear sable coat (Ay/-) with a yellowish to strawberry blond or a light red phaeomelanin intensity. The term “fawn” is mainly used to distinguish these lighter-colored dogs from dogs with darker red pigment.
A fawn Pembroke Welsh Corgi can have some shading in its puppy coat and look quite grayish at birth. But any black-tipped hairs will clear into solid fawn within the first few months after birth.
The majority of fawn Pembroke Welsh Corgis have white markings.
Red Pembroke Welsh Corgi
On to the next Pembroke Welsh Corgi color, red.
Genetically, the red Pembroke Welsh Corgi is also a clear sable (Ay/-). They have little to no black shading in their adult coats but can be born with noticeable dark puppy shading that will fade over time.
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi in red has the same pattern as a fawn dog. But unlike the fawn variety, his phaeomelanin is red and comes in shades from a rich tawny red to a deep orangey fox red.
Again, these dogs can come with or without white markings. However, red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgis seem to be the norm and there don’t seem to be any solid red dogs.
Sable Pembroke Welsh Corgi
In Pembroke Welsh Corgi colors, sable refers to any dog with a shaded sable (Ays/-) pattern. Puppies will be born with varying amounts of black-tipped hair and can look quite mousy at first.
When changing into their adult coats, they will keep some of this black overlay.
Typically, a sable Pembroke Welsh Corgi expresses some black-tipped hairs mostly along their topline and tail as well as around the ears and on the head, often forming a widow’s peak on the forehead.
Pembroke Corgis don’t always come with two copies of shaded sable (Ays/Ays). There are other A-Locus patterns in this breed that a sable Pembroke Welsh Corgis can carry. This is important since heterozygous genotypes at the A-Locus are known to give intermediate phenotypes.
A sable Corgi can carry saddle pattern (Ays/asa) or it can carry tan points (Ays/at). It is not an exact science, but saddle carriers often come with a little less head shading while tan point carriers often express an overall darker sable pattern with more black shading.
And we can’t fully rule out that some dogs that just barely pass as sables in this breed are actually genetically clear sable, but maybe carry for saddle pattern (Ay/asa) or tan points (Ay/at) which can re-introduce some small amounts of black hairs to their pattern.
Like all Pembroke Corgi colors, sable has white spotting. But unlike in fawns or reds, the Corgi color terminology does not seem to make a distinction between pigment intensities in shaded sable dogs.
Red-Headed Tricolor Pembroke Welsh Corgi
In Pembroke Welsh Corgis, “red-headed tri” refers to a saddle pattern (asa/asa) with white markings.
Puppies are born with lots of solid black coat and smallish tan point markings. However, over time, these red markings expand until the dog has only a black saddle left.
In the end, most of the black from the original pattern is replaced by red coat and the back of the ears and head is red. Dogs with this pattern are called red-headed tricolor Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
A variation of this pattern is known in saddle-patterned dogs that carry tan points (asa/at).
This creates a creeping tan phenotype where the red parts of the coat do not expand into a full saddle pattern. Instead, adult dogs still have lots of black hair on the top of their head (which is sometimes called a cap), and a larger saddle than a true red-headed tri.
Black-Headed Tricolor Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Among the recognized Pembroke Welsh Corgi colors, black & tan (at/at) plus white markings is called black-headed tricolor.
Dogs are born with the same pattern as red-headed tri but will keep their markings into adulthood. A black tricolor Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a normal tan point pattern with red markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, on the chest, lower legs, and under the tail.
In other words, on a black tricolor Welsh Pembroke Corgi the colors will not blend over time. All black, red and white sections of the coat should be clearly defined.
Non-Standard Pembroke Welsh Corgi Coat Colors
Non-standard colors can happen in any dog breed.
Sometimes these non-standard colors occur by accident due to recessive alleles.
Recessive traits can only be expressed in dogs that have inherited one copy from each of their parents. However, dogs with only one copy can carry and pass on these traits for generations.
In purposefully color-bred dogs, a color or pattern deviating from the standard is often achieved by crossbreeding and introducing a new trait on purpose.
Bluie Pembroke Welsh Corgi
A gray Pembroke Welsh Corgi with diluted black eumelanin is called a “Bluie“. This happens when both parents pass on a gene variant for color dilution (D/d).
Dogs with a d/d genotype produce blue pigment instead of black pigment. All black hair in their pattern will be blue. This turns a red dog into a “Red Bluie“, a sable into a “Sable Bluie“, etc.
Bluie puppies will be born gray since all the dark hair tips in their puppy shading will be blue. But the most prominent giveaway is the slate gray pigment on their nose leather, lips, or eye rims. Also, dogs with color dilution tend to have pale puppy eyes that later darken into hazel, amber or grayish blue.
Whitelies Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Corgis normally come with symmetrical Irish spotting.
Too much white on the head is equally undesirable, especially if white covers the ears. The same goes for piebald patterns that make the dog mostly white with patches of color on the body.
In Pembroke Welsh Corgis, dogs with too much white are called “Whitelies“.
Black & White Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The AKC breed standard is very specific in listing “black with white markings and no tan present” as a mismark. So, no, Pembroke Welsh corgis don’t officially come in black & white.
Surprisingly, a 2019 study found recessive black in British Pembroke Corgis, albeit extremely rare.
Brown Pembroke Welsh Corgi
A very, very small number of British Pembroke Corgi lines seem to be carriers of a recessive b allele . Passed on from both parents (B/b), this would turn all black pigment into chocolate brown pigment.
Silver Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Some sable-patterned dogs born from normal fawn or red parents have very light phaeomelanin that appears silverish or cream-white. The dogs still have black hair tips but very low contrast between their body coat and their white markings making them look mostly pale off-white.
This is a rare phenomenon and seems to be a curiosity that runs in some lines.
Brindle Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Unlike their cousin breed, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, this breed does not come with brindle.
Blue Merle Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Merle is not a recognized pattern in this breed. As a non-standard color, blue merle Pembroke Welsh Corgis are unfortunately mostly backyard-bred from Cardigan Welsh Corgis or other crosses.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Coat Colors Overview
The breed standard describes all the different traits a Pembroke Welsh Corgi should have.
This includes his conformation and temperament but also the coat texture and color of an ideal representative of this breed.
The major kennel clubs often use their own standards provided by their affiliated breed club. These standards are usually similar in their general outline but can differ in many details like coat color.
Let’s see what different clubs have to say about the different colors of Pembroke Welsh Corgi[1-3]:
|Black Tricolor (black-headed tri)
|Saddle Tricolor (red-headed tri)
Welsh Pembroke Corgi Color Genetics
A dog’s coat gets its colors from two pigment types called eumelanin and phaeomelanin. Different proportions of colors in a particular dog’s coat create different patterns.
But the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, like most dog breeds can only produce some of all the possible colors. These are the genes and alleles involved in the Pembroke Welsh Corgis standard coat colors and patterns:
|Em = melanistic mask (rare!)
E = normal pattern
eG = domino (rare!)
e = recessive red (rare!)
|ky = normal pattern
|Ay = sable
Ays = shaded sable
asa = saddle pattern
at = tan points
a = recessive black (rare!)
|B = black
b = brown (rare!)
|D = normal pigment
d = color dilution (rare!)
|S = no spotting
sP = white spotting (rare!)
|m = non-merle
Pembroke Welsh Corgi should have black pigment (B/B D/D).
The phaeomelanin intensity in Pemmies is called either fawn or red. Colors span from more yellowish and tawny colors to orangey and deep shades of red.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis can have countershading turning some of the red pigment to off-white. Since this mainly happens in areas that are already covered in white by Irish markings, it can be hard to spot.
But look at the edge between white and red on the face or the lighter areas above the eyes to spot some countershading in action:
Historically, dogs without white in their pattern were very common. But due to breeding trends in decades long past, this type of pattern seems to be lost.
Today, Pembroke Welsh Corgis officially come with or without white. But to be exact, almost all dogs today actually do express some white markings in their pattern.
Ideally, these come as Irish spotting located on the legs, tip of the tail, chest and underparts as well as on the muzzle. They can form a narrow blaze and a partial or full collar around the neck.
True Irish markings are not caused by any of the testable spotting traits. Dogs may test as S/S.
But Corgis also come with whitehead patterns (untestable) and piebald spotting (sP), although both are rare and considered mismarks. These traits can cause “Whitelies” patterns with extended white markings that grow into the colored areas on the back and flanks or cause irregular wide blazes, split faces, white on the ears or overall patchy color patterns.
Extended head white, although rare, can cause blue eyes in some Pembroke Corgis.
The accepted patterns in a dog breed describe the distribution of colors in a dog’s coat. Dogs can be solid-colored or have a pattern with more than one color.
Breed standards almost always use breed-specific and purely descriptive terms. It’s sometimes on us to translate breed standard terminology into more universal genetic terms.
And that can be quite tricky… Sometimes the same term is used for colors that are caused by different genes. And in other cases genetically similar phenotypes have many different names.
|E/- ky/ky Ay/-
+ fawn phaeomelanin
|E/- ky/ky Ay/-
+ red phaeomelanin
|E/- ky/ky Ays/-
|Saddle Tri (red-headed tri)
|E/- ky/ky asa/asa
|Saddle Tri (red-headed tri “capped“)
|E/- ky/ky asa/at
|Black Tri (black-headed tri)
|E/- ky/ky at/at
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Nose and Eye Colors
All standard Pembroke Welsh Corgi have black eumelanin (B/B D/D).
So whatever a Pembroke Welsh Corgis coat color pattern, he should always have brown eyes, a black nose and black pigment on their lips, eye rims, paw pads or nails.
In Bluies, all eumelanin is blue due to color dilution on the D-Locus (B/B d/d). This causes the skin and nose pigment to be blue as well as pale greenish, amber or hazel eyes.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Coat Types
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are genetically short-haired with a thick double coat.
Other Coat Types in Pembroke Welsh Corgis
A considerable amount of Pembroke Welsh Corgis carries the recessive variant for long coats. Pairing two carriers can produce a non-standard long-haired “Fluffy” coat with lots of ear and leg feathering.
What are Corgi fairy markings?
Lighter patches of fur on both sides of the withers are called fairy markings.
These markings are quite normal in dogs with a sable-patterned coat and are caused by changes in growth direction, hair length and lighter undercoat. In Corgis, they are said to mark the spot where the fairies tied a saddle to the dog.
What are the Pembroke Welsh Corgi coat colors?
The officially recognized coat color in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed according to the breed standard are fawn, red, sable and black & tan with or without white markings.
What is “black-headed tri” in Pembroke Welsh Corgis?
This term refers to Welsh Corgi Pembroke with a traditional tan point pattern.
What is “red-headed tri” in Pembroke Welsh Corgis?
This term refers to Welsh Corgi Pembroke with a saddle pattern.
What is “Bluie” in Pembroke Welsh Corgis?
Bluies are dogs with diluted black eumelanin. In sable-patterned dogs, all dark hair tips will turn to blue, resulting in a smoky gray tinge. In tricolor Corgis, all the black portions of the coat will be blue. Bluies come with gray skin and nose pigment as well as pale eye pigment.
What is “Whitelies” in Pembroke Welsh Corgis?
What is a “Fluffy” in Pembroke Welsh Corgis?
This term refers to long-haired dogs. Pembroke Welsh Corgis typically have a smooth double coat without exaggerated feathering on ears, chest, legs and feet, underparts and hindquarters.
 American Kennel Club (AKC): Official Standard of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi (pdf)
 Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI): Welsh Corgi Pembroke Breed Standard (pdf)
 The Kennel Club (KC): Pembroke Welsh Corgi Breed Standard
 Dreger et al. (2019). True Colors: Commercially-acquired morphological genotypes reveal hidden allele variation among dog breeds, informing both trait ancestry and breed potential. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0223995. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0223995