Two of the main six (or five, depending on how you view it) types of Welsh fairies were said to have done battle in the past, killing two Tylwth Teg’s as they rode on the back of Pembrokeshire Corgis.
This is an amusing sight to consider, even though it makes perfect sense. The “Dwarf Dogs” make the perfect riding beast for a fairy, being a good height for the fairies to jump onto, and they even crafted tiny saddles to make their journey on the back of a Corgi even better.
These Corgis played a key role in a supposed war between Tylwth Teg and Gwyllion, although this legend may not be as old as you might expect.
The War Between Tylwth Teg and Gwyllion
It has been said that the Tylwth Teg engaged in warfare with the Gwyllion, although this is a more modern folk tale. It was written that the Tylwyth Teg rode Pembrokeshire Corgis into battle during a war against the Gwyllion, in which two Tylwth Teg were killed in the fighting.
The Tylwth Teg were said to have created the dogs themselves using their magic, as the perfect size of dog for the diminutive fairies. It was the perfect size for towing the carts for the fairies, as well as for riding – saddles were allegedly created by the fairies, so they could ride them, like tiny horses. Another version of events claims the fairies actually rode miniature white horses.
The first known time that references to fairies riding Corgis was made in the 1946 poem titled “Corgi Fantasy“, by Anne G. Biddlecombe – a top Corgi breeder from Dorset, England (so, not even Wales!). The poem spoke about two children who wandered off into the mountains to find two small dogs “Playing like a pair of fox-cubs”. These dogs were described as “Burnished gold their coat and colour, Shining like a piece of satin – Short and straight and thick their forelegs. And their heads were like a fox’s. But their eyes were kind and gentle; Long of body were these dwarf dogs, And without a tail behind them.”
The use of the word “Dwarf Dogs” is interesting, as it is the literal name for the Corgi. In Welsh, “Corrach” is the word for Dwarf, while “Gi” is the mutated spelling of “Ci”, meaning dog. Combining “Corrach” and “Gi” makes “Corgi”, literally meaning “Dwarf Dog” (although in Welsh, the literal translation would be “Dog Dwarf”).
With such a contemporary source being the earliest known mention of Fairies riding Corgis, it is safe to say that this aspect of the narrative was not something passed down orally throughout generations of Welsh speakers. Instead, it was likely created to drum up interest in the animal, by somebody whose job was literally to sell puppies to people.
It may not be one of the oldest or most interesting legends of Welsh mythology, but it was certainly a fantastic marketing trick. Given that we have Arthurian legends featuring various monsters and creatures dating from texts written in 12th Century AD, from stories told a millennium earlier by normal Welsh people, this near-80 year tale seems rather paltry in comparison.
Many websites have claimed that the Tylwyth Teg riding Corgis into battle is part of Welsh legend, completely missing out on the fact that is a very recent addition to the canon. You won’t find any mention of the dog in The Mabinogion or The Historia Regum Britanniae.