My Corgi is always Hungry
Do I Feed Him as Much as He Wants?
Yes, Corgis are always hungry. You could never feed them enough
to curb their unstoppable desire for more food. I can relate to
their problem, but unlike people, dogs can’t open the refrigerator,
raid the cupboards, run down to McDonald’s, or make up their
own meals. So it should be relatively easy to put a Corgi on a
diet that will keep him at a perfect weight.
Unfortunately, many people who have Corgis as pets seem to be
taken in by the pleading looks, and plaintive complaints of starvation
coming from their very dramatic and manipulative little dogs. Corgis
are experts at getting what they want. Their expressive faces,
and artful begging, can make you feel terribly guilty for not giving
them just a tiny bit more.
I’ve enclosed here a story of the worst case of over feeding
of a Corgi that I’ve ever heard. It’s here because
I think that obesity is the greatest health risk that Corgis face,
and because it’s a risk that’s preventable. And the
story is here to prove once and for all that a Corgi’s appetite
is never satisfied by feeding him more than he needs to be healthy.
So how much should you feed your Corgi? When my puppies leave
here at eight weeks of age, they are eating almost half a cup of
puppy kibble twice a day, with a tablespoon of canned food, yogurt,
or cottage cheese, and enough water to mix. The amount of kibble
will vary a little depending on the size of the pup. As the puppy
gets older, the amount will go up. Never should you give the dog
what is called for on the dog food bag. It’s way too much.
It’s impossible to tell you exactly how much your individual
dog should eat without seeing him. There are a lot of variables
in picking an amount, and the amount will be different for different
dogs of the same age, and for your own dog at various stages in
his life. I’m always amazed when people pick a certain amount
of food and stick with it no matter what. Don’t do that!
Puppies will be able to eat more than adults, and still be a
proper weight. Dogs getting a tremendous amount of exercise can
eat more than the dog who sits on the sofa all day. A dog will
need more food when the weather is good and he can get out to play,
than he will when it’s the rainy season and he has to stay
indoors. An adult, neutered dog needs less food than a growing
Every day before you put food in your Corgi’s bowl, you
should look at him, and evaluate whether he needs more, less, or
the same amount he got yesterday, based on how he looks. You shouldn’t
be able to see his ribs, but you should be able to feel them. And
right in front of his hind legs he should have a waist.
Corgis who are neither under-sized, nor over-sized, should be
between 25 and 30 pounds full grown. This is for a dog who is 10
to 12 inches tall at the withers. The breed standard calls for
males to be 27 to 30 pounds, and females 25 to 28 pounds.
Most of the adult neutered pets that I know, who are the right
weight for their height, eat between one third and three quarters
of a cup of kibble a day. Half a cup a day is a common average.
This is the total amount for the day. It can be divided into two
meals to make the dog feel like he’s getting more. I also
add a tablespoon of canned meat and a good powdered vitamin supplement
to the food every day.
Also, for dogs who need to eat very restricted amounts to stay at a healthy
weight, non-fattening veggies such as canned green beans can be added to the
ration to make the dog feel more satisfied. Apple or carrot slices are good
treats for the Corgi who puts on weight easily. Remember, when evaluating the
amount of food your dog gets each day, include the snacks in the total.
Also, make sure the dog is not adding to his total food intake
on his own. The cat food should be put up high where the cat can
get to it but the dog cannot. And, though I hate to have to mention
it, put the litter box somewhere the Corgi can’t reach it.....
The following is the true story of Reba, the seventy pound
Reba the 70 lb. Corgi - Then...
70 pounds! 70 pounds? Reba was standing on the veterinarian’s
scale looking more like a huge pot-bellied pig than a Corgi. The
scale fluctuated between 69 ½ and 70.2 pounds as Reba shifted
her weight. The vet techs appeared from the examination room. 70
pounds? A 70 pound Corgi? They wanted to see the scale themselves.
Someone went to get the vet so that she could see the seventy pound
Corgi also. The whole situation would have been funny if it hadn’t
been so sad and disgusting. Reba lay down, resting her tremendous
bulk while everyone gawked at her.
Only the day before, Reba’s owners had called to ask if I ever take a
dog back that I had sold as a puppy. I had said yes, absolutely. They came
over in the afternoon. The husband carried her from the car and put her in
my fenced yard. I couldn’t believe her size. I didn’t want these
people to stay any longer than necessary. I didn’t want to talk to them
or look at them, I was so annoyed. The wife never got out of the car, and they
left the dog they had owned for two years, seemingly with no emotion at all.
They had told me on the phone earlier that Reba was unmanageable, didn’t
get along with other dogs, and was a little overweight. I had figured that
if they even mentioned the weight, Reba must be obese, but I was not prepared
for what I saw.
When the owners first took Reba as an eight week old puppy, I had, as always,
emphasized the importance of weight control with Corgis. They had seemed reasonably
intelligent people, and had a couple of other dogs of normal weight.
It was a hot, humid, summer day when Reba arrived and she was very hot. When
we tried to move her into the house, we hit our first snag. I put a choke collar
and leash on her and tried to get her to move. Her neck was so swollen with
fat that it was pushing her ears forward onto her head, and the collar just
slipped over her head and off. If I pulled her forward the collar would slip
off, and if I tried to pull to the side she would roll upside down with her
feet in the air. Then I would roll her back over, and she would get up and
run (?) a short distance. Whenever this happened, we would herd her in the
right direction. Finally we managed to get her in the house and settled in.
It quickly became clear that I wasn’t set up to deal with Reba’s
special needs. For one thing I had no air conditioning, and she couldn’t
take the summer heat. She also couldn’t manage my steps, even
though they have low risers, originally put in for a very old arthritic
I had when the house was built.
But there was no way I could place her in a permanent home in her condition.
Her health was just too much at risk at her current weight. I put the word
out with friends that I needed a place for Reba to live while she started her
reduction program. Thankfully I found a place for her with two wonderful people,
George and Nancy Stephens, who were interested in doing rescue work. And, happily
for Reba, they had central air-conditioning, no stairs going outside, and a
tremendous amount of patience and caring.
Nancy and I moved Reba out to her car with the help of a German
Shepherd sized harness that I had borrowed from a friend. Even
would start to
come off over her head if we tugged in the wrong direction. And
whenever she didn’t want to move, Reba would just roll over
on her back like a beached whale. It took both of us to lift her
into the car.
Once Reba was in her new temporary home, it was time to do some
research on her condition. The Stephens’ made Reba her
own web page and asked for dietary advice online. I checked with
dogs before. I also called the vet who had taken care of Reba
for the past two years.
Reba was purchased 8/96 as an eight week old puppy. According
to the vet records she was neutered 11/1/96. At that time she
feeding and was already
too heavy. In January of ’97 she was seven months old and was 34 pounds!!
Her vet suggested to the owners - no more free feeding and no table scraps.
His suggestion for feeding was 2 cups of food twice a day. I know this vet
meant well and was trying to help, but anyone who has ever had Corgis knows
that this amount was way too much. Even my most active dogs don’t
get this much; never mind a neutered house pet.
Not surprisingly by September of ’97 Reba was even heavier, 53 pounds.
At that time the vet suggested dropping the food to ¾ of a cup of dry
food plus ¼ can canned food twice a day. Still, unfortunately, not low
enough to drop weight. Also, I only knew the vet’s advice on feeding,
and not what the dog was actually being fed. At the September vet visit the
owners also complained they were having trouble with “attitude and housebreaking”.
After talking to friends who had dealt with such problems, although
no one had seen a 70 pound Corgi before (60 pounds seemed to be
the previous record),
we put Reba on a diet of Hills RD, a canned reducing food. A
vet check, blood work, and urinalysis showed her to be as healthy
as a dog in her condition
For Reba, losing weight could be almost as dangerous as keeping
her current weight. She had to be monitored carefully to make
steadily, but not too fast. And when the day came that she could
start eating dry
food again, the transition had to be made extremely slowly to
prevent bloat. Knowing
Reba’s parents, I figured she should weigh about 25-27 pounds; according
to George’s calculations, 280 percent less than her 70
Obese dogs are subject to skeletal problems (think back problems on Corgis),
heart problems, joint problems (probably mostly hip and elbow), metabolic problems,
and a host of other chronic problems that a vet could better explain. It can
also cause incontinence in females (and it did in Reba), digestive problems
(she came to me with loose bowels), and difficulty breathing.
Reba at 70 pounds panted heavily all the time, even in air-conditioning,
and could only move around briefly without having to lie down
and rest. Her throat
and chest were always wet with drool, her armpits damp and sore
under rolls of fat, and her rear messy with poop. Reba was a
by overfeeding. She was certainly an extreme example of obesity
in a Corgi, but
I see obese Corgis all too frequently. When asked by new, prospective
Corgi owners what health problems there are in the breed, obesity
(in spite of
the fact that it’s easily controlled) is at the top of
Let’s face it, when it comes to food, Corgis have no sense. They will
eat themselves into oblivion, and then tell you they’re hungry. Two things
one should never pay any attention to: a Corgi’s appetite,
and the feeding recommendations on the dog food bag.
In the Corgi breed standard, Pembrokes are listed as 25 to 30 pounds. There
are certainly dogs at the high and low ends of these weights, but if owners
are unsure whether their dog is overweight, they should first of all weigh
the dog, and, if possible, get advice from someone who is familiar with the
breed. If your dog has lost his waist, he is probably getting too heavy, or
if he reaches a certain weight a red flag should go up. For example, if you
have a Pembroke who weighs 40 pounds and it is not over-sized, it must be over-weight.
As soon as it is confirmed that the dog is over-weight, the food should be
cut back, and he should be weighed weekly to be sure the diet is working, and
that the weight is coming off gradually and consistently.
The feeding recommendations made by breeders to the owners of
a new eight week old puppy must be adjusted as the dog gets older,
must be based
activity level and metabolism of the individual. Once it is noticed
that the dog is putting on too much weight, THE FOOD MUST BE
includes all the food the dog is getting, including treats, table
scraps, the cat’s
food that isn’t kept up high enough, the other dog’s
food the Corgi is stealing, the snacks the kids are slipping
to him, etc.
Corgis can not open the refrigerator. They can not run to the store for snacks.
It is totally up to the owner what they eat! If they are gaining weight, are
getting fat, or are already obese, the only sure cure is less food. More exercise
also helps, but realistically, most people do not increase exercise enough
to make a difference. When putting a Corgi on a diet, since they are so obliging
about eating just about anything, giving them such low-cal items as green beans
in their dinners to add volume, or carrots as snacks, is easy.
Reba is now a real Corgi, sweet, affectionate, and playful. She loves every
dog or person she meets. It took her a year to get down to 30 pounds, and at
that point she was adopted by a permanent home. She greets her new owners each
morning with snuggles and kisses. She keeps a trim 25-26 pounds, and enjoys
playing, hunting mice, and going for long walks in the Maine woods. Hopefully
her story will inspire other Corgi owners to take another look at their pets,
and feed them a little less, and love them a lot more with hugs and kisses,
instead of cookies and treats.
Reba the 70 lb. Corgi - Now!