15 Common Corgi Health Problems

Written by Courtney Wennerstrom
Published: October 20, 2023
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A corgi on an examination table

Corgis are fairly healthy dogs overall, but just as with every breed, they are susceptible to certain medical problems.

©Andrii Medvednikov/Shutterstock.com

Corgis are super adorable, friendly, and extremely smart dogs. As the late Queen’s beloved canine, they also enjoy great favor around the world, and rank as the 11th most popular breed in the United States.

In general, well-bred corgis do not have excessive health issues, and many of these will not appear until their senior years. Corgis tend to enjoy nice long lifespans – somewhere between 12-15 years – and usually do quite well with a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, enrichment, regular veterinary care, and mental stimulation.

Still, all breeds are susceptible to certain health challenges and corgis are no exception.

Here are 15 common corgi health problems to watch out for and some symptoms of each.

Note: If you notice any of these signs of illness or disease, please bring your corgi to the veterinarian ASAP for diagnosis and treatment options.

1. Hip Dysplasia

Despite the fact that it most often occurs in large-breed dogs, particularly in German shepherds. hip dysplasia is a genetic musculoskeletal condition that can affect Corgis, particularly Pembroke Welsh corgis. This extremely painful, progressive condition happens when the hip joint develops improperly, making it so the ball and socket grind against one another. This misalignment thus leads to instability and inflammation and ultimately, to the complete degeneration of the hip joint.

Classic symptoms of hip dysplasia include struggling to get off the floor, moving slowly, hesitating to exercise, walking with an odd gait, lameness, or limping. While the condition is genetic, environmental factors within your control – such as diet and exercise – can influence the severity of hip dysplasia. Moreover, if a veterinarian diagnoses it early (through X-rays), various treatment options – including medication, weight management, and in severe cases, surgical procedures like hip replacements – can help give your dog their life back. So it is best to seek professional advice if you notice anything concerning with your corgi’s mobility, particularly with their back legs.

2. Hypothyroidism

If your corgi’s thyroid gland isn’t producing sufficient thyroid hormone, they may experience a range of concerning symptoms. From weight gain and lethargy, to skin issues, a dry coat that is thinning or has lost its shine, a poor appetite, and an abnormally slow heart rate – hypothyroidism takes a toll on overall health and well-being. So if you notice that your corgi seems to have lost their luster, blood work can determine if this is this is the culprit. Luckily, this is usually treatable with levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone.

3. Obesity

Dog, Overweight, Diabetes, Measuring, Scale

Just like many people and other breeds of dogs, corgis are prone to obesity. This is one of 15 common corgi health problems that can lead to or exacerbate others issues.

©iStock.com/PongMoji

Just because an overweight corgi is still as darling as ever doesn’t mean the the extra fluff is by any means ideal. Corgis have small frames, so carrying around a few extra pounds is a big deal and strains both joints and organs. Above all, obesity can cause or exacerbate other serious health issues, including diabetes, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and intervertebral disc disease. Therefore, if you realize that your corgi is gaining weight, please seek advice from a veterinarian to help get them back on track. It is also important to make sure the weight gain doesn’t have an underlying medical condition, like hypothyroidism.

4. Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is a blood-clotting condition caused by a lack of a vital protein – referred to as the von Willebrand factor (vWF) – which is crucial for facilitating the adhesion of platelets (the blood cells responsible for clotting). In healthy dogs, vWF does the important work of clotting blood and sealing damaged blood vessels.

Interestingly, vWD is the most prevalent hereditary bleeding disorder in humans and dogs alike. And while it occurs most frequently in Doberman Pinschers, it can manifest in several other breeds, including corgis. While some dogs present zero symptoms, others experience prolonged or severe bleeding, even from minor wounds or during and after surgeries. In serious cases, vWD can cause spontaneous bleeding from the mouth or nose, and/or from the reproductive, urinary, or intestinal tracts. Occasionally, dogs will require transfusions if they have lost a significant amount of blood due to this condition.

5. Degenerative Myelopathy (CDRM)

A debilitating and crippling condition, degenerative myelopathy – or chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) – is hereditary, progressive neurological disorder. It typically manifests in dogs approximately eight years of age or older and ravages the spinal cord. CDRM initiates a gradual process of muscular atrophy and hind limb coordination issues, and ultimately loss of mobility within six to twelve months. Clinical signs include trouble getting up from the floor, swaying, lack of coordination in the hind limbs, paw dragging, and other loss of both muscle and mobility.

Fortunately, the condition isn’t painful. Tragically, however, it eventually causes paralysis of the hind limbs. Veterinarians often recommend supplements, medications, or physical therapy to alleviate the discomfort and pain that accompanies this condition. But there is no cure at this time, so a veterinarian will simply help you manage your dog’s symptoms.

6. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Ruptured, slipped, bulging, or herniated discs all fall under the category of intervertebral disc disease, which is one of the most common forms of back pain in dogs. Like hip dysplasia, it is a progressive, inherited, and extremely painful condition. If your dog has difficulty walking, standing, or holding themselves upright; has muscle spasms; cannot seem to hold their own weight; experiences incontinence or any of these many other symptoms, IVDD may be to blame. Corgis, with their long bodies, are prone to this disorder. Treatment can include surgery, physical therapy, and/or anti-inflammatory medications.

7. Gastrointestinal Issues

Unfortunately, Corgis tend to be more prone to digestive problems than other dogs. In fact, the Queen’s dogs have royally sensitive stomachs. From diarrhea and vomiting, to gas, bloating, and stomach cramping, corgis often suffer from upset tummies. Stress, a rapid change in diet, food allergies, or anything that throws off your corgi’s microbiome (the good bacteria in the gut) can cause your corgi to feel unwell. However, out of the 15 common corgi health problems, stomach sensitivities are often the easiest to control by carefully regulating your dog’s food and environment.

8. Ear Infections

Veterinarian examines dog ears with otoscope closeup

Be sure to keep your corgi’s ears clean to help avoid infections.

©megaflopp/Shutterstock.com

Corgis are prone to ear infections primarily due to the anatomy of their absolutely charming little listening devices. Dogs with long, droopy ears, like the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, for example, have reduced airflow to the ear canal, which can create a warm, moist environment that is a hot bed for an excess of bacteria or yeast to grow, leading to infections.

As we will discuss below, Corgis, like many other breeds, also tend to have allergies, which can cause inflammation in the ears, making them even more vulnerable to infections. Poor kids!

In dogs, ear infections typically manifest as head shaking, scratching, redness or inflammation of the ear canal, foul odor, and/or discharge from the ear. They might also tilt their head to one side or at an unusual angle – clear signs of pain and discomfort. Ear infections are serious and can lead to balance and behavioral issues and even hearing loss.So they need to be taken seriously. Fortunately, they usually clear with cleaning solutions, oral antibiotics, or antifungal medications.

9. Allergies

Sadly, corgis tend to have sensitive skin to match their sensitive stomachs. Similarly to huskies, golden retrievers, Australian shepherds, akitas and many other gorgeous fluffy breeds, corgis sport thick, luscious double coats. Their extra fur might keep them warm, but it can likewise make them vulnerable because their twin layer of fur traps allergens close to the skin, potentially leading to systemic overreactions. Itching, redness, inflammation, and rashes can illicit scratching, chewing, or biting. In turn, these cause hair loss and the development of sores and scabs. Chronic scratching can further weaken the skin’s defenses, making corgis susceptible to infections. Additionally, skin allergies can cause corgis to obsessively chew their paws or develop ear infections.

Non-skin related allergies might present as respiratory distress – coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, for instance. Conversely, food allergies might irritate the gastrointestinal tract, causing chronic diarrhea and vomiting. Exposure to allergens in the environment or diet can make your corgi miserable, so getting to the root cause is key to figuring out a treatment plan.

10. Epilepsy

Epilepsy in both humans and dogs is a neurological disorder that causes recurrent and unprovoked seizures -or episodes of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures are fairly terrifying to witness as dog in the midst of seizing will likely convulse, lose consciousness, and twitch uncontrollably. Corgis are believed to have a genetic predisposition to epilepsy..Treatment typically involves anticonvulsant medications to manage and control seizures, with ongoing monitoring and adjustments as necessary.

11. Urinary Stones

Urinary stones – also known as uroliths or bladder stones – are crystalline formations that develop in the urinary tract. These pesky stones are very painful and corgis, particularly Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh corgis, are prone to these due to their genetics.

It is not normal for your corgi to urinate frequently or strain to do so. If urinating seems painful or if there is blood present, these symptoms can signal a urinary tract infection (UTI) or the presence of a stone. This is a very serious problem that requires immediate medical intervention. Treatment ranges from dietary changes to medications to (in severe cases) surgery.

12. Eye Disorders

Corgis suffer from several eye disorders. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), for instance, is a group of inherited diseases that bring about gradual vision loss. Cataracts cloud the eye’s lens. Collie eye anomaly (CEA), is a congenital disorder capable of severely impairing vision. Cherry eye results from the prolapse of the third eyelid’s gland. Glaucoma puts increased pressure on the eye, causing optic nerve damage. Entropion, wherein the eyelid rolls inward, causes pain and discomfort. And corneal ulcers, often stemming from eye injuries. All of these require medical intervention. If your corgi’s eyes are red, irritated, watery, roll inward, or otherwise look strange, bring them to the veterinarian.

13. Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital birth defect in the heart that can affect Corgis, particularly the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed. In a healthy heart, the ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects two major arteries but typically closes shortly after birth. In dogs with PDA, this connection remains open (patent), allowing blood to flow in an abnormal pattern.

Common symptoms of PDA in Corgis may include heart murmurs, coughing, rapid or labored breathing, weakness, an inability to exercise, and in severe cases, fluid accumulation in the lungs and congestive heart failure. It’s crucial to diagnose and treat PDA early, as it can lead to serious heart complications and a reduced life expectancy if left untreated.

14. Cutaneous Asthenia

Cutaneous asthenia, also known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or dermatosparaxis, is a rare genetic disorder that affects the connective tissues in Corgis and other dog breeds. This happens when their bodies do not produce enough collagen. Since connective tissues include collagen – which is responsible for strengthening and supporting the skin, joints, and various body structures – corgis with this condition develop fragile, loose, and hyper-elastic skin.

Put another way, your corgi’s body doesn’t produce enough collagen, which renders their skin susceptible to tearing and places additional weight on your dog’s frame.

15. Cysticercus

Cysticercus is an infection caused by the larvae Taenia crassiceps. When a dog ingests the eggs of the tapeworm – usually via drinking or consuming contaminated food or water, or through contact with infected animals – the eggs hatch in the dog’s intestines, and the larvae can migrate and form cysts in various tissues and organs, including the muscles.

Abdominal discomfort, weakness, muscle pain, weight loss, yellow skin, difficulty in moving or lameness, are all clinical signs. While the condition is relatively rare, it can potentially cause health issues, and in extreme instances, the cysts may need to be surgically removed.

Handy Table of 15 Common Corgi Health Problems

15 Common Corgi Health ProblemsSymptoms
1. Hip DysplasiaLimping, lameness, stiffness, and lack of overall mobility, especially in the hind legs.
2. HypothyroidismWeight gain, lethargy, skin issues, a poor appetite, and/or an abnormally slow heart rate.
3. ObesityExtra weight can cause or exacerbate other serious health issues, including diabetes, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and intervertebral disc disease.
4. Von Willebrand’s DiseaseA blood-clotting disorder that leads to excessive bleeding, either from surgery or spontaneously without any apparent trauma.
5. Degenerative Myelopathy Immobility and lameness in the hind legs.
6. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)Difficulty walking, standing, or holding themselves upright; muscle spasms; and/or and/or incontinence.
7. Gastrointestinal IssuesDiarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and/or vomiting.
8. Ear InfectionsHead shaking or tilting, scratching, redness or inflammation of the ear canal, foul odor, or discharge from the ear.
9. AllergiesItching, redness, inflammation, rashes, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, ear infections, and gastrointestinal distress.
10. EpilepsySeizures – manifesting in mild to severe convulsions, muscle twitching and spasms, loss of consciousness, and even altered behavior.
11. Urinary StonesFrequent urination or straining or experiencing pain while urinating.
12. Eye DisordersEyes that are red, irritated, watery, roll inward, or otherwise look strange.
13. Patent Ductus ArteriosusHeart murmurs, coughing, rapid or labored breathing, weakness, an inability to exercise, fluid accumulation in the lungs, and congestive heart failure.
14. Cutaneous AstheniaA lack of collagen which leads to fragile, loose, and hyper-elastic skin.
15. CystinuriaAbdominal discomfort, weakness, muscle pain, weight loss, yellow skin, difficulty in moving or lameness,

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jus_Ol/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Courtney Wennerstrom is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pet wellness and the human-animal bond. As an animal welfare professional, Courtney has been writing and researching about animals for over a decade and holds an PhD (ABD) in English from Indiana University, Bloomington, where she taught for 15 years. A resident of Colorado, Courtney loves to hike, travel, and read. She finds inspiration from her rescued huskies, Sasha and Saint, and her beloved rescued cat, Mojo.

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