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The Dog Who Wouldn't Be

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  3,045 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
Farley Mowat's best loved book tells the splendidly entertaining story of his boyhood on the Canadian prairies. Mutt's pedigree was uncertain, but his madness was indisputable. He climbed trees and ladders, rode passenger in an open car wearing goggles and displaying hunting skills that bordered on sheer genius. He was a marvelous dog, worthy of an unusual boy growing up i ...more
Paperback, 175 pages
Published June 28th 1980 by Jove Books (first published 1957)
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Community Reviews

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Debbie Zapata
Jul 23, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturday
Every time I read this book I wish I could have known Mutt in 'person'. He was an incredible dog, and this story of Mowat's years with his companion is wonderful.

Here is a physical description of The Dog Who Wouldn't Be: In size he was not far from a setter....His hindquarters were elevated several inches higher than his forequarters; and at the same time he was distinctly canted from left to right. The result was that, when he was approaching, he appeared to be drifting off about three points t
Aug 07, 2010 Caren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
If you haven't made the acquaintance of the Canadian author Farley Mowat, you are now in for a treat. Perhaps best known for his book "Never Cry Wolf", he is at his best when describing wildlife in the Canadian prairies where he grew up in the 1920s-1930s. At the height of the dust bowl/depression years, Farley's father, a librarian, moved the family from Ontario to the remote prairie town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At the very edge of town, the untamed natural life of the prairie beckoned. As ...more
May 16, 2017 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Did the man change his outlook when he grew up? There's an awful lot of hunting, meat-eating, and caging of wild animals in this book. I might have loved it when I was a kid and into memoirs of the old days with pets, but now I just couldn't. I also had a lot of trouble with Dad's antics - how did Mom put up with him plus Farley plus Mutt?! And though the bookcover says 'illustrated by Paul Galdone there are *no* pictures inside, and the dog on the cover does not look like the dog described. (No ...more
May 10, 2016 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mutt is quite a character.
Lovely descriptions of the countryside.
Made me laugh!
Jul 12, 2012 Owen rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, autobiography
This is a light-hearted book by Farley Mowat, a writer with whom we normally associate more serious texts. Yet Mowat is just as fun-loving as the next person and it comes out in this collection of stories about his youth in Ontario and Manitoba. Mutt, the dog of the book's title, is a dog who very reasonably refuses to act like one. So he won't hunt ducks properly or do much else that is reckoned too dog-like, at least while anyone's watching. Mutt was Mowat's constant companion throughout many ...more
East Bay J
I’ve heard The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be described as perhaps Mowat’s best work. I’m not sure if that’s true but it’s a great read.

Mowat had an amazing childhood full of experiences with wildlife in the great outdoors. Mutt the dog was Mowat’s companion as a kid, among a great menagerie that included owls, snakes, gophers and more. Mutt argued with the family, wore goggles in the car and couldn’t seem to leave a skunk alone. He was certainly a dog worth writing a book about. Mowat’s bemused language a
Cheri Micheletti
Oct 09, 2011 Cheri Micheletti rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This multiple reread laugh out loud tale of a Mutt is my all time favorite animal story. The quick read kids' book "Owls in the Family" is a fun companion book.

Owls in the Family
I own this exact book. It has been sitting on my shelves for a very, very long time and I've read it at least twice. It makes me howl with laughter every time. Yes.
This was a fun, light book with some undertone calling attention to the undesirable traits of human nature. I thought the last chapter was so eloquent and beautiful, I was there seeing everything. Spoiler Alert*** I was not surprised at the ending but disappointed (for the dog and his boy) at the manner in which it happened. However, I feel that it emphasized the underlying theme of human ugliness throughout the book. Ironically, Mutt (and other animals in the book) was portrayed very anthropomo ...more
Jan 30, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing
Oh my, do I love this book. Funny as to the dog's antics and the dad building the boat...a little heartbreaking about the owls. Mowat is one of my favorite writers to settle down with for a long, steady read; his style is comforting and challenging at the, oh, the same time. It was the dad and his travails with the boat trying to sail it from the dry prairie to the ocean that just made me howl out loud. Mowat and his changing collection of animals makes for a lively, warm, honest accounting of l ...more
Susan Prudhomme
Jan 07, 2015 Susan Prudhomme rated it really liked it
This is a classic true-life children's story about a boy and his uniquely talented dog. The Mowat family is warm and loving, and the author knows how to turn a phrase for maximum humor. Even as an adult, I enjoyed it, although I thought some of the stories were "stretched" a little - but it all made for fun reading.
Jan 10, 2009 Raelene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
I remember thinking this was such a very fun book. I was totally enthralled at the idea of the back seat opening out of the back of the car - outside and subject to all the wind and dust of the road - this, of course, is where the boy and his dog sat. Somehow, this description remains the most vivid in my imagination of all the other great ones in the book.
Sep 05, 2008 Jorgina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youth, own-it
Same author wrote "Never Cry Wolf".
This review is by my Son and Father. They both read the book and highly praised its content and life's lessons. Both said they smiled all the while, laughed outloud and cried in the end. That's a lot coming from my dad who never reads fiction. My son recommends it for everyone.
Mar 21, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is about a dog and a family in Canada. The dog does not want to be a dog but more human. I read this book with my daughter, the second time I read it. I actually have read it three times.
Oct 04, 2008 Margo rated it it was amazing
This book was a family favorite, and as an adult I find each re-read is enjoyable as the first. This is my ultimate book for when I need to boost my spirits (although I find now I tend to avoid the ending.) Farley Mowat consistently delivered in his stories - how I wish there were more!
Feb 16, 2015 Adrian rated it really liked it
I've read it quite a while ago, in grade school and at home for enjoyment, but I think it was heartwarming and a nice slice of rural life in Canada.
This book is one of the most heart warming, funny, wonderfully written books I have ever read, and I have read a LOT of books.
A must read for anybody who reads.

Mowat is an amazing writer.
C Bolt
Feb 07, 2017 C Bolt rated it it was amazing
I laughed more while reading this book than any other book I've read in my recent memory. The way Mowat describes his dog, Mutt, brings him to life and Mowat quickly transports the reader to life in Saskatchewan with his eccentric father and dog.

I'm a little sensitive to animal welfare, and some of the stories about his "study" of wild animals (finding baby animals and keeping them in "cages" until they figure out how to escape or died) broke my heart a couple times. My husband comforted me wit
May 13, 2017 Lezley rated it liked it
Shelves: other-books, bookclub
My bookclub selection was A Dog's Purpose. I really didn't enjoy the book and thought it might be because two years ago, our dog died. I stopped reading this book at page 132. I tested myself by reading another dog book, The Dog Who Wouldn't be. What a wonderfful read! I had read this book when I was much younger (50 years ago) and was once again entranced by Mowat's great story telling. This is a book about family, adventure and pets, especially about a dog called Mutt. For a really great and c ...more
May 20, 2017 BLRBrazil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read, especially for someone who grew up with a dog, but that is not a necessary background for appreciating this book, which has all the adventures, hilarity, highs and lows that make a great book about a 'pet' (Tarka, Born Free, Ring of Bright Water ... )
Feb 21, 2017 Karin rated it it was amazing
Lovely tale of a dog and his boy. It could also be used as a vocabulary curriculum, but all around a delight Sigh. Sad we are done.
Feb 25, 2017 Cheryl rated it liked it
Another gem from Farley Mowat, about his amazing dog. For all dog lovers.
Wayne S.
Dec 03, 2015 Wayne S. rated it really liked it
It is 1929, and eight year old Farley Mowat moves with his father and mother from the verdant depths of southern Ontario to the arid and dust-shrouded prairies of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada, so that Mr. Mowat can take a new job as Saskatoon’s chief librarian. Shortly after arriving, Mrs. Mowat purchases, for four cents from a boy trying to sell ducks for a dime, a nondescript, bedraggled pup. Farley called him “Mutt” and wrote, “I suspect that at some early moment of his existence he conc ...more
Michael Loder
Jul 28, 2013 Michael Loder rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of biography
I believe I first read this story back in the 1950s at the time that it was Mowat's first book. I found the series of stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies to be whimsical, funny, rich in the use of language with a bit of nostalgia. Mowat had a light touch with just the right turn of phrase or word choice to exactly fit a character or incident in a reader's mind.
Each chapter is a separate story. Some are stronger than others. In the best, Mutt, the dog, is the central character. Oth
Jul 13, 2014 Charity rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
This is another book I can't believe I missed until adulthood; I'm so glad my kids got to hear it at their young ages. My nine-year-old daughter loved it as much as I did. Yet another argument for avoiding labeling books as "for girls" or "for boys." (Not that I pay any attention to those labels anyway.)

I loved The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. The relationship between Mutt and his family---and especially Mutt and the author---was so pure and sweet, and there were so many hilarious parts, subtly written
Jan 02, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Farley Mowat, according to some sources, doesn't let the truth get in the way of a good story. Readers of his book, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, have probably figured that out. But who cares? The story of Mutt is worth reading despite the fact that some of it involved a little truth stretching. Mutt came into Mowat's life as a puppy at the same time his parents moved from Ontario to Saskatoon during the depression. Mowat was a kid and was happy to have a dog. His father, who had been searching for a ...more
Aug 24, 2015 Maura rated it liked it
Published in 1957, the books starts out being a tale of a boy and his dog, but is also a sort of comic memoir of his family life during that time. That it's a different world is evident not just in his description of the geography - salty lakes far from any ocean, "bluffs" which are really just groves of trees, but also in general attitudes that are so different from today's. Cats and dogs roamed freely around town, and it was accepted that cats would naturally be preyed upon by dogs. Taking you ...more
Aug 08, 2009 Laryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this to my ten year old daughter who loves dogs and animals. There are some hilarious scenes, it is very much like what Garrison Keillor would write. One of the best is when the family is camping near a lake and two old lady bird watchers are commenting on the dog, how disgusting and smelly and the owner should be fined, etc. The family are all in a tent and can only hear the conversation. Finally the dad gets so mad he shouts out that that dog is his and he'll fight anyone who tries to ...more
May 10, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
I love Farley Mowat! His Owls in the Family is one of my favorite books of all time. The stories in The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be are also from Mowat’s childhood and feature Mutt, a dog his mother bought from a little boy selling ducks door-to-door. Mutt cost her four cents, and thwarted her husband’s dubious and expensive attempts to acquire a hunting dog. Mutt eventually proved to be a hunting dog – if an eccentric one! – and much more besides. Whether he was learning to climb trees, accompanying fa ...more
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My favorite story 4 16 Jan 27, 2014 06:33PM  
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Farley McGill Mowat was a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.
Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.
Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto. During a field trip to the Arctic, Mowat became outrag
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“The third time out he concluded that we were hunting cows.
That was a day that will live long in memory. Mutt threw himself into cow chasing with a frenzy that was almost fanatical. He became, in a matter of hours, a dedicated dog. It was a ghastly day, yet it had its compensations for Father. When we returned home that night, very tired, very dusty–and sans birds—he was able to report to Mother that her "hunting dog" had attempted to retrieve forty-three heifers, two bulls, seventy-two steers, and an aged ox belonging to a Dukhobor family.”
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