de la Vallée de l'Aumance
Fluffies, how to recognize them...
Text by Anne Indergaard, Annwn's Pembroke Welsh Corgi Kennel, Norway
In working breeds like the corgis, in addition to a sound conformation, a weatherproof double coat is of utmost importance. They need a harsh top coat to keep rain and snow out and a thick undercoat to keep them warm. If the top coat is too long, twigs and grass will tangle in it while working in rough terrain, and if soft and silky, snow will get attached and form snowballs in the armpits and under the paws, and they will get soaking wet in rainy weather. That is why a fluffy coat, or a long coat as they call it in the German Shepherds, is a disqualifying fault (according to FCI rules), same as in the German Shepherd.
But how do we recognize a fluff in the ring? The first, telltale sign is feathering behind the ears, on legs, tail and in trousers. These longer, softer hairs appear crimpled. In some dogs, this is all you will see. But this is enough to disqualify the dog (according to FCI rules).
If you then feel the top coat, it will feel soft and silky. In German Shepherds they say that a long coat has no under coat, but this doesn't hold true for the corgi - a fluff may or may not have a double coat. The one without undercoat is easy to disqualify, but don't confuse it with one that is out of coat for the summer! If it does have a double coat, the length and the texture of the topcoat is deciding. In some, you will find topcoats so long that they will nearly have a parting along the back, while others are only slightly longer than ideal. And with both, you will find the feathering behind the ears.
If you are in doubt, study the coat behind the ears and at the back of legs and look for any sign of the use of trimming knife or scissors!! If you see sign of trimming there, disqualification is easy!
The ideal length of top coat in a corgi would be around 3-6 cm, depending upon where on the body - the ruff and trousers will always be slightly longer than the rest. But to confuse matters even more, we have what they in England prefer to call a "glamour coat". This should not be confused with a fluff. The top coat here will be slightly longer and the ruff more pronounced, but the texture should be right and there should be absolutely no sign of crimpling behind the ears and in trousers and the coat not so profuse as to hinder free movement in rough terrain.
To recognize a fluff, it may be of help to know the historical background. One thinks that far back in the history of the breeds, the Welsh Collie might have been crossed in, and that is were the fluff gene comes from. It is a recessive gene and thus more difficult to breed out. If, looking at a corgi coat, you think this would be more suitable for a sheltie or collie, then it is definitely a fluff. You will be able to recognize the coat of a Shetland sheepdog even when it is totally out of coat by the crimpled feathering behind the ears, and that is how the corgi with not very much fluff will look, while others may look completely like a collie coat.
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Note: The texture of the top coat of a fluffy Pembroke differs slightly from the coat of a fluffy Cardigan. While the Pembroke's coat is soft and silky, the Cardigan's top coat is somewhat harsher but the coat takes just as long to dry in wet weather and the snow tends to cling to it.
A DNA test is now available to find out whether your corgi is carrier of the fluffy gene..
© Anne Indergaard, published with kind permission of the author.