Why Do Corgi Mixes Always Look Like Corgis?

Thanks to Brilliant for supporting this episode
of SciShow! Go to Brilliant.org/SciShow to learn more. [♩INTRO] You might have noticed that a lot of corgi
mixes look exactly like… a corgi in a costume of a different dog breed. The Internet certainly has. Go pull up some pictures. We’ll wait. No matter what, though, something about these
pups always screams “corgi.” It’s the stumpy legs that gives them away. Those legs aren’t just a coincidence, though. They’re actually the product of thousands
of years of breeding. Or… inbreeding. And those little legs come from a funky mutant
gene that’s been passed down the whole way. Every corgi carries genes for dwarfism. And purebred corgis have been bred to make
sure that trait gets passed on every time. But when corgis breed with other dogs, their
pups often have those same little legs, because that gene is dominant so even if a dog has only one copy of the
gene, short legs will win out. Except that’s not the whole story. In corgis, dwarfism isn’t caused by any
old gene. It’s caused by a mutant gene called a retrogene. A retrogene forms when the usual system for
building proteins doesn’t go as planned. In a normal case, a gene, made of DNA, is
transcribed into a molecule called messenger RNA, or mRNA. The cell then interprets that code and uses
it as an instruction manual to build a protein. Which usually works great! Except, in rare cases, that mRNA code which is only supposed to act as a messenger gets converted back into DNA. And in even rarer cases, that converted DNA manages to slip back into
the genome—in a different place. Usually that gene doesn’t do anything; it
just sits there. But under special circumstances, that duplicated gene can even produce proteins. That’s exactly what’s happening with the
short-legged dog imposters. Multiple genes can cause dwarfism in dogs,
but in corgis, and corgi mixes, dwarfism is caused by a retrogene. Specifically, there are multiple retrogenes
derived from a gene called FGF4. It codes for a type of protein called a growth
factor that tells the body’s cells how to grow. And that’s a normal gene that all dogs have
on chromosome 18. But it’s become a retrogene and copied itself
back into the genome — more than once. There’s one of these retrogenes on chromosome
12, and one on chromosome 18. Either one is enough to cause dwarfism in
dogs. But some really stumpy breeds — like corgis
and dachshunds — have both. Scientists think that the expression of these
extra growth factors may alter the dogs’ development. In fact, similar genetic changes are linked
with dwarfism in humans. In short-legged dogs, the extra FGF4 tells
limbs to stop growing early, so the ends of their bones harden, and you end up with a regular-sized dog with
stubby legs. And many breeds, from Pekingese to basset
hounds, have short legs for similar reasons! That tells us two things. One, this mutation appeared a really long
time ago, back in the early days of domesticating dogs. And two, humans throughout history have found
this trait so attractive that they bred these waddly dogs into existence
all around the world. The cuteness is not without its downsides,
though. The same retrogene that gives dogs their adorable
waddle is also linked with spinal disease that can
cause pain and neurological damage, which scientists are still trying to understand. So next time you see one of those dogs in
a corgi-shaped package, remember it’s because humans have a soft
spot for those little, furry mutants and probably have ever since our long friendship
with dogs began. Now that you’ve had your dose of cute internet
dogs, if you’re up for a challenge, you could
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100 Responses

  1. SciShow says:

    Go to http://Brilliant.org/SciShow to try out Brilliant’s Daily Challenges. The first 200 subscribers get 20% off an annual Premium subscription.

  2. The Artist's Corner says:

    So a corgi great dane mix makes a great corgi?

  3. boromirtheboring says:

    Everyone that watches this video will spend the next hour watching corgi videos

  4. Bat 42 says:

    Stubby-legged dogs weren't originally bred for cuteness but for hunting burrowing animals like rabbits and badgers.

  5. Snazz says:

    It’s because they’re incorgnito

  6. notkyleschultz says:

    Jfc can we get rid of the word stumpy.

  7. Grant Flippin says:

    Spine issues are better than kicked in the face by a sheep

  8. Spencer Chase says:

    My favorite dogs

  9. chickenalpaca03 says:

    I still think it's just a corgi in disguise

  10. saddlepiggy | The Purple Pig says:

    You taught me how MRNA works better than the entirety of Freshman biology

  11. Adam126402 says:

    Quite a long time ago I stopped by a rescue shelter on a whim to have a look, came across a corgi/Rottweiler mix. Imagine a corgi colored like a rotty short legs big feet and the giant head of a rotty. He was quite the spectacle and a sweet dog, I'm sure he found a great home.

  12. Taylor Geier says:

    Well a lot was selective breeding. Dachshunds are the perfect shape to hunt underground (what they were bred to do), bassets are closer to the ground and can follow a scent easier (that’s what the long ears are for as well), and corgis are herders and with those short legs and the breed’s agility, they can easily maneuver herds and are at perfect levels to bite the livestock’s ankles.

  13. SillehMermaid says:

    I had a Corgi/Papillon mix. I love all the pets I have had in my lifetime, but that was one of the best dogs I have ever had. She was smaller than a corgi but had the same body type and colors, and she had long hair, with the typical papillon hair around the ears. I miss her so much, she was incredibly smart and intuitive ?

  14. Nicola Pelos says:

    Nice video on how human really like to mess even their loved ones. I cared for 7 years for a wanderful bassethound, and trust me he had not an easy life.

  15. tea wrecks says:

    marvel: "infinity war is the most ambitious crossover event in history"


  16. Allah Turbo says:

    She looks like pregnant

  17. boddilyfluids says:

    Fire this uncomfortable person.

  18. Jenny Simon says:

    I have 2 cavalier spaniels and my friend has 2 corgis. At first glance they seem like small dogs but they are really medium size dogs with short legs and can rough house like them. Too overwhelming for my puppies. I often have to carry my female dog around in a baby sling and put a heat diaper on her to keep their noses out of her crotch. They play too rough so anyone considering getting a corgi and have another small breed should keep this in mind. They are a lot bigger, sturdier and agile on those short legs than they look.

  19. Midnight Sonnet says:

    Yeah, it's so sad. So many dog breeds were created for our own benefits and they suffer for it. 🙁 Corgis are cute, but they have shorter lives and lots of health problems. Same can be said for any "pure bred". Always get a mut. They tend to be healthier.

  20. lohphat says:

    Animal breeding is just eugenics based upon some sort of fetish.

    How about just adopting animals who need homes instead of treating them like a pair of shoes to match your wardrobe. The obsession over purebreds is not healthy.

  21. Cilly Honey says:

    When I was a teen I had a Border Collie Corgi mixed dog. She looked like a Border with short legs. She was smart as a whip and would hunt rabbits, climb trees and round up my neighbor's cows. My brother's baby rabbit's got loose one day and she rounded them up without hurting any of them. I miss that dog. She was a great companion.

  22. Al13n1nV8D3R says:

    One day a superior Alien species will find humans with dwarfism cute and will force inbreed us to carry on this trait. We humans will live on as pets in their civilization on Persei Omercron X.

  23. BAD DAY GAMING says:

    We had a litter of 6 black lab/corgi pups. One of them actually grew to a normal size Lab height. We named it Moose because of it.

  24. MrAB2357 says:

    So we've bred dogs to be cute, even at the expense of their spinal health, since ancient times?
    Sounds about human

  25. Oliver B says:

    Dachshunds are better than corgis… fight me

  26. Sam says:

    My wife's uncle got a dog they were told was a corgi. It did not have short legs. They never knew what kind of dog it was, but they were pretty sure it wasn't a corgi.

  27. Grey Aria says:

    In other words, corgis are nothing more than more proof of our need to keep animals as fashion accessories. It's sad.

  28. case styer says:

    You look EXACTLY like my sister in law!

  29. panda says:

    I don't even know what other breeds my corgi mix is. She looks like a mix of so many different things with the body of a corgi.The only non-corgi body shape traits she has are a long, straight tail and floppy ears.

  30. Isaiah Henderson says:

    I love my little low riders little stubs.

  31. Carprincess says:

    I never knew that those itty-bitty stubby legs were dominant genes!

  32. Diego Rodrigues de Souza says:

    Wonders of evolution.

  33. MrDeathBunny says:

    I live on an Indian Rez and there's a ton of dogs here that have corgi in them. We're actually fostering a previously stray momma dog and her newborn puppies that have the short legged gene.

    Don't look corgi at all, but dem legs tell all.

  34. Nobleknight747 says:


  35. Andrew Carlson says:

    Wolf with dwarfism 1000s of years ago:…..
    Some caveman: stubby legs cute

  36. Sail Oria complete refit says:

    Nice nose slave ring!

  37. cat moth says:

    …why is dog breeding still allowed

  38. Ry f says:

    I have a corgi Pekingese mix but he straight up looks like a corgi

  39. ZeroColdx911 says:

    And the butt! ?

  40. Wendy Maldonado says:

    a. we needed more pictures of mixed Corgi dogs
    b. somebody tell that girl to take that septum ring out, very unflattering

  41. unepommeverte17 says:

    My friend has a shiba/corgi mix and my favorite thing is how this dog was described to me the first time: "he got all the wrong genes and now just kinda looks like a dingo" lol he somehow didn't get that dominant retrogene

  42. Navnik BHSilver says:

    SciShow: "Now that you've had your dose of cute internet dogs…"
    Me: "The video is over and I go look for more"


    She needs to wipe her nose

  44. POVadventure says:

    But they don't. Not even close. I had a corgi mix and she was the only one of her litter that looks like a corgi. I've also been searching for a corgi mix in the shelter for a long time. Every time my local shelter has a corgi mix I get a phone call and I go to take a look. Out of dozens of corgi mixes they have had in the past year only one of them had short legs and that one had major medical issues.

  45. Leopard Gecko says:

    This was super interesting. I once saw a bloodhound crossed with a Staffordshire bull terrier. Very strange combo, the dogs poor head was too big for its body.

  46. Morgan Sparhawk says:

    Corgis are a herding breed. Their shortness comes in handy as a cow kicks right over them as they are herding them up. Have been around corgis all my life and have never run across a more intelligent lovable breed.

  47. Khu NoPie says:

    I married my wife because she has short legs

  48. That1NerdyBlackGirl says:

    It's called incorignito, get it right, secondly most dogs were breed for helping with tasks that give them their traits. So please stop trying to say that most dogs were bred for "cuteness points" and causing more harm than good for respectable breeders that work hard to make sure that you get healthy continuations of dog breeds across the world. I'm all for "adopt don't shop" but videos like that slander humans breeding animals is doing nothing but guilt tripping people into something they don't wanna do

  49. Scythela says:

    because baby legs

  50. werelemur1138 says:

    Now I'm imagining Elvis singing "You're a Corgi in disguise … oh yes you are … Corgi in disguise!

    Corgis are herding dogs: their short legs let them duck out of the way if a cow tries to kick them.

  51. FanofAlmostEvery says:

    Anyone here because of Philip Defranco?

  52. M.R. Weaver says:

    It's worth noting that many dog breeds were bred to fulfill a purpose: Corgi for cattle herding (bred short so they weren't easily kicked by the cattle), Dachshunds for going down badger holes, etc, so the short legs weren't always aesthetic only.

  53. LoveStrangeDr says:

    My ex owned a corgi, loved it but it was the dumbest dog I’ve ever met lol

  54. Gerardo Tellez says:

    No, Corgis don't have short legs because people found it attractive. Corgis were bred to be working on farms, with short legs it's able to nip at the sheep's' legs to keep it going. It also lessens the chance of them getting kicked in the face.

  55. Sean Barry says:

    Well many of these dogs originally were hunting dogs. Going after weasels and the like. So it wasn't just for aesthetics. The shortness lets them get into the holes.

  56. TheLankieMidget says:

    i love this video, my grandparents had a Labrador/ corgi cross and he was the cutest little boy ever, he would immediately run at you and flip onto his back for a fuss… but he sadly passed away a few weeks ago due to a sudden stroke, i miss him

  57. Samantha Darling says:

    I love the furry mutants because I am a fuzzy mutant

  58. Tommy Crosby says:

    What would happen if we breed a Corgi and a Great Dane?

  59. CallinicusHu says:

    I guess welsh peasants 1000 years ago started to breed workdogs for cuteness, not for herding effectiveness. :-/
    Other dwarven dogs are effective on hunting rabbits and foxes even hogs. Cuteness is just happened.

  60. king james488 says:

    no, sometimes they look like w.e they crossed with. idiots.

  61. Vapez says:

    "we will wait" doesn't even wait 0.5 seconds.

  62. Vixen 525 says:

    I would happily give them permission to use an image of my Corgi/Shih tzu mix. He’s adorable as can be.

  63. Fruit Cat says:

    Because Corgis are awesome.

  64. Jordan Jessamine says:

    I have a Jack russell/corgi his fur and face are like a corgi, but he has jack russel build

  65. joelgz1 says:

    She called my dog a mutant ???

  66. TippyRoh says:

    I'm getting a pomeranian and corgi mix today! ^^ i wonder if she aswell will have the short legs x) her past siblings have not tho

  67. Jack Danny says:

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi owner here. Nah it wasn't for being cute it was so they could do a job. You see tall dogs kept getting kicked in the face when herding cattle. Corgis were nimble and short. Extremely hard for cattle to kick in the face they also have very sharp teeth and a habit of nipping stuff from an early age that has to be trained out of them. They are designed for a purpose like a lot of dogs hunting dogs, attack dogs, guard dogs, and cattle dogs are pretty common.

    Humans require help sometimes and cheap effective labor often came in the form of doggys. Dogs are cool with it too so we have a mutal need for one another that becomes a friendship. They are also adorable little critters. But make no mistake they are designer built cattle herding machines everything about them is geared for that purpose that's what they were designed for and yes dogs are designed, through selective breeding. Some are designed to be cute but not the corgi they were designed to herd cattle. They just happen to be cute.

  68. hhhhhheyyyyyyyyyyy says:

    off topic but genuine question. where do girls learn that "sorority accent" the host has? I used to live in the states when i was very young and without knowing it i picked up that accent even though nobody near me had that accent

  69. psammiad says:

    Humans didn't breed short dogs like this because they "looked cute" – we did so because short legged dogs are useful, either for going into rabbit warrens, badger sets or fox holes for hunting, or as with Welsh Corgis, nipping the ankles of sheep to keep them in line.

  70. Amanda M says:

    I just love all of the comments about people wanting these mixes. A lot of them have joint issues and other health issues. Most people commenting hate breeders, so let's support backyard breeders who are probably the ones that would even cross 2 different breeds to begin with, tend to not be as knowledgeable about their breed, and don't breed for the betterment of the breed? Makes total sense ??

  71. MixNMatchName says:

    As someone who works with dogs' corgis are over-rated af.

  72. NightOdin says:

    Cause good boys mix with good boys still get good boys.

  73. Martha Bixler says:

    I had a corgi pekinese mix corgi with an underbite she had to wear a back brace for a couple of months for a slipped disc but recovered quickly lived to 18

  74. Kashatnic K says:

    because corgi's are the master race.

  75. Chris Boucher says:

    So cute, but insane we did that to another lifeform.

  76. trublue Pensfan says:

    In corgnitto ? corgis are the best dogs

  77. 佐々木アキ says:

    Ohh, so wait… then that means that there can be a pure breed corgi with long legs? Omg…

  78. Kyle James says:


  79. Tra Lp says:

    They propably weren't bred to be cute. Humans of that time didn't afford cute dogs. They were propably bred to fit into burrows and stuff, which gave them a use. Breeding them just to be cute is how you end up with abominations like chihuahuas and pugs that can't breathe.

  80. Eken 17 says:

    Who pronounces Daschund like Doxins?

  81. Username says:

    I have a dog that has a normal size but is small. I think its dwarfism

  82. lauren r says:

    Not just cute- useful. Corgis being so short allows them to go under sheep legs easily. And breeding other breeds with Corgis can sometimes mean an uber-herder. (see – Aussie Shepherd Corgis)

  83. Levi Skioury says:

    So basically you saying that humans are responsible for their suffering (spinal problems, etc) ?
    Thanks, but I already mistrust people and this doesn't help the case..

  84. cherub girl says:

    it’s all cute until they end up with leg and back issues

  85. MrFr0stycave says:

    Huh, I wonder why.

  86. Claxvii 177th says:

    And they say quantum physics is hard…

  87. S.K Naturegirl says:

    Poor like all dog's in the world

  88. Mike Wade says:

    Because they're stupid!

  89. Mike Wade says:

    Really! Really! How, how do they bread with other dogs!?!…. I have 4 Shih tzo's and a big lanky Lurcher.

    Still ain't got no lanky balls of fluff!!!

  90. Agentofthe1Truth says:

    "Attractive"? Heck no- functional! Corgis are cattle dogs. They were bred to be short because it kept them from getting kicked.

  91. Quirky Mender09 says:

    No it’s the butt

  92. Kelly Draws says:

    My mind with the dna : is my corgi part mint Azusa named lovey ok.

    And she looks just like a corgi just 3in taller

  93. Adam Lamb says:

    Thank you for this! I have a purebred Pembroke Welsh Cogri and I always wondered this when seeing a mixed one. So cool. Corgis has super genes. Well…super mutant genes. Super cute mutant genes!

  94. Marcus Aurelius says:

    not enough body modifications, expected eyeball tatoos for max youtube cred

  95. Alexandra says:

    This is hella fascinating. I didn't know DNA could act like that

  96. smurfyday says:

    I'm not into cuteness for the price of pain and damage. I'm not into dogs.

  97. radzewicz says:

    Olivia has a good voice for science.

  98. Corgi Corner says:

    I have a corgi mixed with a Dalmatian he looks like a corgi with beautiful fur lmao

  99. Georgi Georgiev says:


  100. Ace Diamonds says:

    pure breeds suck. mutts for life.

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