- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 27, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 022612794X
- ISBN-13: 978-0226127941
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What Is a Dog? Hardcover – April 27, 2016
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
From a Mexico City dump to African villages to American living rooms, the Coppingers show example after example of how distinguishing reproductive traits, behavioral traits (e.g., the ability to eat in front of humans), and physical shape have led to the outstanding success of dogs among the canids. It also works to dismantle the hubristic notion that humans somehow seized dogs out of nature and made them into dogs. The book makes the case that for most of the world's dogs, their brand of symbiosis with humans is commensalism, not mutualism. The authors also argue powerfully that the typical dog is not the reproductively controlled, physically confined dog, that "strays" and "feral dogs" are really the overwhelming norm throughout most of the world. I feel like I understand dogs much better after having read this book.
This is really an incredible book, well worth the reader's time and money.
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.