- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 27, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 022612794X
- ISBN-13: 978-0226127941
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What Is a Dog? Hardcover – April 27, 2016
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They did an excellent job of highlighting the differences of the different animals in the genus "Canis". I found it amazing that the wolves and jackals stay with their offspring until they are fully mature vs the dog who abandons them after 70 days and are left to fend for themselves forcing them to adopt as a survival strategy. It left me with the question about the consequences of interbreeding among the different subspecies; the Etheopean wolf for example. If conservationists are not successful in stoping dog genetics from creeping into the wolf genes, will that ultimately impact the pup raising behaviors of the Ethiopean Wolf and make them more dog like? That would not be good for that subspecies I gather from reading this book.
This book leaves me wit more questions unanswered and wanting to learn more. The Coppingers are definitely world class experts and have contributed much to our understanding of the our beloved dogs.
This is not an emotional feel good book about dogs. It is based on years of research, observation, and practical experience with canines. If you want to learn the science this is worth the time and investment. If you are looking for a happily ever after Lassie Come Home story, you might want to pass. This book is based on careful fact gathering nothing more, nothing less.
A million thanks to the Coppingers for sharing their expertise with a wider audience. It has sparked many conversations at home. And I really do understand wolves differently now and can look at that issue with new eyes.
However, after reading this book I had no way of knowing whether this point of view is widely accepted, or whether it is supported by other evidence from fields such as molecular biology and archaeology. For example, collagen from paleolithic canids has been analyzed and used as evidence that they ate different foods than their human contemporaries. This is the sort of evidence that the Coppingers simply fail to discuss.
I believe that the authors really did intend to write a book about their (actually quite interesting) field research on wild dogs and what it reveals about the nature and history of the dog, but they lacked the discipline (or a sufficiently brutal editor) to cut the self-indulgent lard out of it. Prepare to slog through long, tiresome, mind-numbing sections about things that have only a tenuous connection to the subject matter. For instance, Chapter 2 is one unconscionably long discussion of how many dogs there are on earth, written in the most roundabout way possible, including pointless digressions about hypothetical implausibly precise estimates. The entire chapter appears to be nothing more than an excuse to get some more self-citations to the authors' population studies.
The whole chapter could be summed up as: "It's hard to know how many dogs there are, but it's probably about one billion. This means that dogs currently outnumber all jackals, wolves, coyotes, and dingoes combined by 20 to 1. In addition, the vast majority of dogs (probably 85 percent or more) are not domesticated or otherwise under human reproductive control."
But it's a good example of how poorly written the whole book is: the authors appear to be simply incapable of saying anything in a painless and straightforward fashion, and then, where it is necessary to advance the overall argument, explore and explain the complexities. If you're going to read it to pick the meat off its monster-y bones, I recommend aggressive skimming.
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