American Kennel Club sees rise in corgi ownership after The Crown becomes hit show in US

Josie Ensor
·3 min read
Olivia Colman, who took over the role of Queen Elizabeth from Claire Foy for Season 3 of The Crown, with some of her co-stars, including the Pembroke Welsh Corgis  - Netflix
Olivia Colman, who took over the role of Queen Elizabeth from Claire Foy for Season 3 of The Crown, with some of her co-stars, including the Pembroke Welsh Corgis - Netflix

Golden retrievers, beagles and pointers have long been the pets of choice for American owners. But now there’s an unexpected new dog in town - the corgi.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has made the top 10 of the American Kennel Club’s rankings for the first time, which breeders put down to the popularity of the Netflix series The Crown.

The show chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II, the most famous corgi fancier, and has become a hit with American audiences.

Corgi popularity can be traced alongside the Queen’s reign. In 1944, the Queen’s first Pembroke Corgi, Susan, was born. She has since owned more than 30 - all descended from Susan.

Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II with two corgis and a footman during the film shown as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II with two corgis and a footman during the film shown as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

The short-legged cattle-herding breed went out of fashion for several decades until the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee in 2017 and officially came off the “at risk list” in 2018, when The Crown began airing in the UK.

"They're really darned cute ... and they're just fun to be with," said Bobbe Lord of New Jersey, a longtime owner, breeder and fan of the show.

Ms Lord said she appreciated the interest in her beloved breed but also worries about inexperienced people thinking they can make big money by breeding trendy puppies.

"If you're doing it right, that doesn't happen," she said.

The Pembroke was also California's social-media-friendly "first dog" for a time during former governor Jerry Brown's administration in the 2010s.

Ink, a Welsh Corgie is groomed during the first day of Crufts 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham - PA
Ink, a Welsh Corgie is groomed during the first day of Crufts 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham - PA

The rankings, which were released on Friday, indicate the relative popularity of different breeds among the 589,868 purebred dogs that joined the nation's oldest dog registry last year.

The list includes the 193 breeds that the American Kennel Club recognises - no Labradoodles, puggles, Yorkipoos or other "designer" hybrids. Breeds sometimes get added over time.

There are an estimated 77 million canines in US homes and the number is rising as the coronavirus spurs an unprecedented number of adoptions from shelters.

Logan Mikhly, a co-owner of Boris and Horton, a dog-friendly cafe in the East Village of Manhattan, told the New York Post they were the new “It breed” and the corgi meetups had been the cafe’s most popular event.

“[Their] proportions are ridiculous, their walk is funny and they are always smiling,” said Ms Mikhly, who is not a fan of the breed herself. She thinks another draw for the corgi cohort is that they are a fairly small dog — weighing in at 30 pounds — with more of a “big dog personality”.

The rest of the top 10 includes German shepherds; golden retrievers; French bulldogs; bulldogs; poodles; beagles; Rottweilers; German shorthaired pointers.

The English foxhound is the rarest breed in the new rankings. The sizable, high-stamina and vocal hounds have a long history in the US, but are not often found as purely house pets. Fans tend to deploy the dogs for their traditional, pack-hunting purpose.