In our May 27th 2020 issue we had a conversation with Kristen Francis & Anita Cameron of Stonecroft Pembroke Corgis.
1) How did you become involved in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed?
I am a 2nd generation dog person who was raised basically with Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds. While in my teens, when I was showing Hunter/Jumper horses, I discovered the breed I would like as my own at one of the horse shows we attended in the United States.
For my 16th birthday, my mother Dr. Suzanne Francis presented me with a Pembroke Welsh Corgi bitch puppy that she bought from the lady at the horse show for $75. This year, 2020, is my 50th year in the breed.
2) Is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi the only breed you have?
Yes, that we breed and show. We do have two Papillon’s that are pets only.
3) How many years have you been breeding them?
I have been breeding Pembroke Welsh Corgis for 47 years. Having been raised by someone who line-bred her own dogs, it was not new to me, my first litter in 1974, out of my horse show corgi, produced a multiple All Breed Best in Show winner Ch. Stonecroft’s Rain Check, he also was Top Pembroke in Canada for 3 years and also stood in the Top 10 Working Dogs for 1979 and 1980.
In all these decades I have changed my line of dogs 3 times. In 1990, I bought a bitch from the Jade Tree Penway kennel in California, whose dogs I had greatly admired and basically started afresh.
In 1990, Anita Cameron became my partner and she too was a Pembroke Corgi lover, she had bought a Corgi from me 4 years prior.
We have had great success with our dog’s, they have been awarded many Specialty shows in the last 30 years in Canada & the USA, as well as many Best in Shows in Canada showing on a very limited basis. Specialty shows are the shows we enjoy the most, getting together with like-minded breeders we respect, who have become great friends.
4) Describe the Pembroke Welsh Corgi in 3 words?
Alert, moderate and outgoing.
5) What to you, is the ultimate hallmark of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi?
A beautifully balanced outline.
6) When people ask what is the difference between a Pembroke and a Cardigan, your response would be?
There is a world of difference between the two breeds. Pems are smaller, shorter but not too short, different shaped ears and feet, different front assembly, different heads, Cardigans come in a variety of colors and markings, Pems come in only 4 colours. Cardigans are a breed that I do enjoy judging very much, I have had the opportunity to judge some lovely Cardigan’s through the years.
7) What are the “must have” traits, you must have in the breed?
The Pembroke MUST have a LEVEL topline, whether standing or on the move. They MUST have free flowing, effortless quiet movement with very few steps involved. They MUST have dark oval shaped eyes and black pigment. Proper oval feet only NOT round. Long rib cage with a short loin and not the other way around which we are seeing a lot of these days.
Way back decades ago, there was a breeder of Pembrokes that were just moving machines but not pretty in the least with very harsh looks. He made a crack “People can keep their pretty porcelain Corgis from England that can’t move”.
Right then and there, I said to myself they CAN have it all!!! They can be both pretty and move!!!!! So, I set my sights on proving him wrong.
8) Is exaggeration a problem in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi?
On the whole no, but in some you are seeing exaggerated length in loin with short ribcages, some have suspended gaits moving up and down rather than forward ground covering movement which results in bouncing toplines. Everything in a Pembroke must be moderate and balanced, not like some that are over angulated in the rear or higher stationed.
9) As a judge of the breed around the world has the quality of the breed improved or declined?
It really depends on the area of the world. To put it in perspective. When foreign breeder judges come to judge our specialties in Canada and the U.S. by far the majority always state, that bar none the best Pembrokes in the world are in North America.
10) What has been your most memorable assignment to date within your breed?
That would be judging at the 2009 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America National Specialty. A longtime dream fulfilled!!!!!!!
11) Which sex tend to have the most successful careers in the show ring?
I would say probably bitches, but there have been a few males of exceptional quality do some great winning as well but on the whole, I think the bitches own that distinction through the years.
12) Which do you personally find make the better show dog?
It depends on each individual dog, they either like it or they don’t. Some can like it too much and they are always a challenge, but then there are those that loath it and you must have a smorgasbord of treats, toys and crinkly paper in your pockets.
13) What do you find to be the hardest thing to improve upon in breeding?
I have always been told, never lose your good front assemblies, they are the hardest to get back. As luck would have it, our dogs have always been blessed with good fronts.
14) Is the genetic pool in the breed strong worldwide?
Thanks to fresh chilled and frozen semen…Yes, it is!!!!
15) What genetic testing is required for the breed?
Pembrokes can be tested for hip dysplasia, eye disorders, von Willebrand disease and degenerative myelopathy.
16) What are the acceptable colors?
Red, sable, fawn, black and tan, all with or without white markings on the legs, chest, neck, muzzle, underparts or as a narrow blaze on the head and foreface.
17) Are there differences in temperament, between the colors?
No there shouldn’t be. We’ve only had red & whites and red-headed tris and there has been no difference between them.
18) In your breed which has markings, there are those who are marked flashier, and those more plainly. Can you win with both equally, or is there a preference at All Breed or Specialty show’s?
No preference should be given on flashy or plain, it all has to do with correct structure and movement. A good balanced dog is a good dog regardless of color or markings, however a mismark should not be rewarded.
Some people have said that black-headed tris don’t win as much, but you have to look at the overall picture standing and moving.
19) Are there any disqualifications in your breed standard?
No, but there should be!!!
20) Do you know in advance if you will have fluffies in a litter?
There is a DNA test to see if your Corgi carries the fluffy gene or not. If either parent tests fluff free then you will absolutely not have any fluffs in the litter. If both parents carry the fluff gene, there is a possibility there will be fluffies in the litter, but you might be lucky and not get any. Russian Roulette…
21) Have you been receiving more inquiries since the Covid-19 Pandemic began, with so many people being home full time?
Oh yes, it is craziness. Every day we get several. My question is, what happens to the puppy when everyone goes back to work and isn’t at home as much????
22) The current population of our sport is aging, we have so many successful breeders who are slowly winding down, are you worried about the future of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi?
Never mind about the future, I am worried about it now. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has become so popular now, a fact we long time breeders are not happy about. The Corgi is now ranked #10 on the most popular breeds list.
They keep popping up in commercials, movies, TV shows etc. these days. Every time you turn around, you see one and we just shake our heads. Now all these people have popped up and are now breeding very poor examples of the breed litter after assembly line litter to make a buck.
These people that are now breeding up a storm have a stud force of a couple of dogs and a stable of around 10 – 15 poor quality bitches. Someone from Quebec is not only breeding poor Corgis, but they now have introduced a new breed they are offering to the public – Cowboy Corgis – which is a cross between Pembrokes and Aussies.
23) If you could give a new judge to your breed one piece of advice, what would it be?
Please read and re-read our standard, the word moderate is used in our standard many times. Go to some specialties if you can, and get mentored by knowledgeable breeders…The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America National Specialty is a good one that offers judges education and ringside mentoring. If there are no specialties to go to, then ask a longtime breeder of the breed who has had great success, ask around to find out who that is. They could also look on the PWCCA.org for lots of info on the breed, how to judge them, list of approved breed mentors etc.
24) What dog of the past and what bitch in your breed would you have like to have owned?
I absolutely was blown away by the beauty of a male Pembroke, I saw at the 1988 Welsh Corgi League Golden Jubilee in England, his name Eng. Ch. Bland’s Limited Edition of Belroyd. At that same show was a bitch I would have taken home in a minute she was so beautiful her name was Eng. Ch. Pendoggett Prelude.
Also, I loved and was honored to award a Specialty Best of Breed in the USA to a stunning bitch Am. Ch. Kingscote Woodbine Alibi.
Another male, I had great admiration for and we are lucky to have bred the best son and daughter he ever produced, he was Am. Cdn Ch. Jade Tree Penway Up Country who is behind all our present-day dogs.
25) Describe the routine of a dog you are actively showing?
Bath and blow dry and away we go. Good quality food. They get exercise running around together in the backyard. We have always said…we have to basically breed good quality, well put together dogs because neither one of us are good groomers. They are what they are, there are no magic hands here!!!!!
26) How many Champions have you bred?
Too many to count over the last 47 years, I’ve lost track.
Making more of a challenge for ourselves, we decided a good number of years ago to show and finish all our dogs only at specialties in the U.S.
We exported a male to England in the mid 90’s and of course he had to do 6 months of quarantine back then. He was released from quarantine in April of that year, his new owners started to show him. He finished his English Championship in 6 shows and ended up Top Corgi of the Year and became Can & Irish Eng. Ch. Stonecroft’s Second Stage. He then finished his Irish title in a weekend taking a couple of All-Breed Best in Shows and ended up the weekend as the Top Winning Dog on the Munster circuit.
This same dog also went to the palace to breed one of Queen Elizabeth’s Corgi girls. To say we were very proud of him is an understatement.
27) How many Best in Show Winners and Best in Specialty Winners have you bred or co-bred, or co-owned to date?
Typically, we only show our dogs just to finish their championships.
The only dog that was ever heavily campaigned was Ch. Stonecroft’s Simply Sinful.
We have bred 7 dogs who have won multiple All-Breed Best in Shows in Canada, Ireland, Wales and England. We have bred 11 different dogs that are Specialty Best of Breed winners in Canada, United States and England.
Simon Parsons once wrote in his column that “Stonecroft had the rare distinction of having bred the National Specialty winner in 3 countries – Canada, United States and England with 3 different, but related dogs”, Something that had never been done before nor repeated to date.
We also have accomplished another special feat that has never been done, our Mr. Bean won Best of Breed at the 2000 American National Specialty and his daughter also won Best of Breed at the American National 10 years later…then one step further, her granddaughter also won the American National…So, we have a pretty prolific specialty winning family.
28) What has been your most memorable win to date?
We have been fortunate to have many memorable wins on our dogs throughout the years, awards mentioned below are some that have meant the most to us.
1) Best of Breed with our Mr. Bean – Am/Cdn Ch. Stonecroft’s Second Sight at the 2000 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America National Specialty under breeder judge Mrs. Mary Magness from England in an entry of 550.
2) Best of Breed at 1998 Welsh Corgi League Diamond Jubilee show in England with Cdn/Irish/Eng Ch. Stonecroft’s Second Stage. Dog CC won under Peggy Franks breeder judge and then onto Best of Breed under Margo Parsons breeder judge. This Diamond Jubilee show was the 2ndJubilee and final one held…The first being 10 years earlier and we were there to witness it.
3) Best of Breed at the 2000 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Assoc (Canada) National Specialty with an entry of over 100 with Am/Cdn Ch. Stonecroft’s Simply Smitten with her son, Mr. Bean going Best of Opposite Sex under breeder judge Leif Wilberg from Norway.
4) We are so proud to have breeder/owner/handled Canada’s FIRST #1 Herding Dog in 1986, the first year of the new Herding Group in Canada, with Can/Am/Bda Ch. Stonecroft’s Simply Sinful and made history for my beloved breed.
An interesting fact, 3 years earlier when the US. split the Working/Herding Group, my friend, Robert Simpson, achieved the same accomplishment with his Corgi, Ch. Vangard Janelle.
5) Our “BillyJean” Can Am. Ch. Stonecroft’s Screen Star astounded us by winning a good-sized Best in Specialty under an English breeder judge at the amazing age of 6 months 4 days old, being lead broken in the ring. She finished her U.S. title by taking Best in Specialty in the US from the 12-18 month class in an entry of 233 entries. She went on to win 8 more specialty Best of Breeds in Canada and the U.S.
6) MBIS Ch. Stonecroft Surprise Surprise, “Sneakers” co-owned with and campaigned by John Heartz to 14 Best in Shows Top Corgi, he was the litter brother to Billy Jean, MBISS CH. Stonecroft Screen Star.
29) What has been your most memorable loss in the ring?
Probably when we had a specialty at a summer show and we had an Irish judge. He left me standing in the far corner of the ring and moved all the other dogs to the other side of the ring. There I was all alone in the corner with my multi-specialty winning bitch completely ignored, every other entry good or bad trotted on past me. That was it, he made his selections and I left the ring. Fellow exhibitors outside the ring were saying to me, what the heck happened? Yours was clearly the best one in there and the best mover as well. Oh well, just another dog show…you just had to laugh.
30) Besides conformation what else does your breed excel at?
They are very good at obedience, agility, flyball, herding, really anything you want to do…they are up for it.
31) What type of home do you require for your puppies sold as family companions?
We usually like our puppies to go to people that have had corgis before. Preferably not apartment dwellers. Corgis are usually good with kids.
32) For the companion puppies, which color is most requested, which sex, and are fluff’s hard to place?
Most people request red & white or those brown ones or the honey ones as they say, or any other wrong description. Usually people want females but this year they seem to want males. Fluffs are not usually hard to place as they are just so darn cute. People that have them, have told me that they tend to shed much less than the correct coated ones.