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The Plague Dogs

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  5,563 Ratings  ·  424 Reviews
Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down, creates a lyrical and engrossing tale, a remarkable journey into the hearts and minds of two canine heroes, Snitter and Rowf.

After being horribly mistreated at a government animal research facility, Snitter and Rowf escape into the isolation--and terror--of the wilderness. Aided only by a fox they call ''the Tod,'' the two dogs
Nook, 390 pages
Published November 3rd 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published September 22nd 1977)
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Becky Wilcock It is decidedly NOT child friendly.
And it's not really very friendly for tender-hearted animal lovers either.
It's a grim picture of the life of…more
It is decidedly NOT child friendly.
And it's not really very friendly for tender-hearted animal lovers either.
It's a grim picture of the life of animals when their fate is left to cruel research and then escape with no safe haven to go to.

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside)
I hated this book. I will never read it again, ever, as long as I live. And it absolutely deserves five stars.

The Plague Dogs is one of the most visceral, wrenching, emotional reads you'll ever find. It follows the fortunes of two dogs, Snitter and Rowf, who escape from a medical testing lab. In an attempt to cover up the unnecessary nature of the research done there, the humans running the lab start a media scare about the dogs, claiming that they carry a serious virus which may kill humans. In
Jan 31, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf, fantasy
I really enjoy Richard Adams. Part of it is his writing - he has an excellent style and a definite gift for description. When he talks about a place, it is immediately obvious that he's actually been there. He uses multiple senses to tell you what a place looks, sounds and smells like, the feeling of the damp earth and the rolling mists, the tastes that seep through the air.... Not surprising when one is writing a book where a pair of dogs are the primary characters.

And that's another reason I l
Jan 16, 2011 Bookeater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to disagree with the reviewer who says this is not realistic. I worked in a government lab in California only 2 years ago. Things have *not* changed. There are simply more organizations and welfare groups that have no actual say in day to day operations of labs. It's up to researchers and workers to follow the rules daily, and they always know when the inspections will happen.

Also, animal labs do use and buy animals from shelters for experiments. Back in 2006 for sure, Ingham County Anima
Feb 23, 2010 Clair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favourite books ever. My beat-up old copy is one of my prized possessions. I'm planning on rereading it soon, and I swear, more people need to read this book.

It's the tale of two dogs who escape from a laboratory that is very happy to use animals in its experiments. Whilst escaping, Rowf and Snitter pass through a room that is being used for research into the bubonic plague, and break a petri dish, thus convincing the scientists that these dogs have bubonic plague and are a pub
I rarely re-visit books that I start and don't complete in one try. I am so glad that I received this in a book exchange and returned to the adventures of Snitter and Rowf.

These two dogs find themselves in a facility that performs various experiments on all manner of animals. I won't go into details here, but if you are sensitive to this issue, I would recommend skimming certain portions of the book.

Snitter had an owner in his life before the facility and longs to return to this loving environm
Aug 14, 2011 Myles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, literary, c20th
I had an argument with a co-worker this afternoon. This is something I try to avoid at all costs, because usually arguments are tiresome and boring, because neither side is willing to give any ground and mostly just want an excuse to air their own ideas, to hell with listening or hearing what the opposition have to say. I can be guilty of that, absolutely, but usually I'm willing to hear out an opening line before I realize the other person is an idiot.

But, what can I say, I am a terribly earnes
Jul 22, 2008 Nicole rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Emotionally over wrought and not very well anchored in the reality of research. This type of book has lead to people believing all labs just use any animal of any type for prurient vivisection. I work in labs and there are no animals not bred for lab use by specialists. To compare results the animals must be very limited in their genetic diversity they are not common pet store animals. Of course most were mice but there were rats and rabbits in some labs. My own work with mice was to create knoc ...more
May 10, 2007 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book at least ten times before I could read past the first chapter. This book will destroy the heart of any animal lover. It is the story of two animals that escape from an animal testing lab from the point of view of the animals. While the writing can be hard to absorb as Adams tries to show the mental condition of the characters, the tale is well worth the read. It seems to me to be a good way to step out of what we know and see the world from a different set of eyes.
2015 Reading Challenge--week 7: Nonhuman characters.

Well, that was quite an adventure! Not as well done as Adams' more popular classic, Watership Down, perhaps but still well worth reading.

Two badly-treated dogs, Rowlf and Snitter, escape from Animal Research, Scientific and Experimental lab (A.R.S.E.--gotta love it!), in the beautiful English Lake District. The dogs have no idea how to survive in the wild but fortunately make friends with a wise fox (tod) who gives them advice and warnings. Th
It's not that this isn't a well written, thought provoking book. It is both of those things. It just isn't the kind of book that I like to read, because it's just too...sad. Too painful. Too much for me, with my delicate sensibilities.

It is, in fact, quite a good book. If you like Richard Adams, or if you do not like animal testing and are looking to get emotionally charged up about it, this would be a good book to read. If you are extremely sensitive about unreasonable abuse/violence to animal
Oct 14, 2007 C.L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inteligent Readers
Bit of a spoiler following as I am discussing the book, itself, not just the jacket. Also, much of the book resembles the animated film, but the ending is entirely different--the film stops while the novel keeps going.

This novel chronicles medical experimentation in horrific detail. It is depressing, as many have said, but what makes it depressing is that it forces the reader to face profoundly shameful things that happen, or have happened, quite frequently, things that we allow or have allowed
Oct 22, 2007 Bess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoyed Watership Down
Shelves: animals
One of the saddest books I have ever read. As an animal lover, especially somone who loves dogs it was very hard to finish-but the ending was appropriate and Adams's gift for storytelling helps soften the blow at the end of the journey.
It did make me hate scientists for awhile, though.
Wanda Hartzenberg
The Plague Dogs

I honestly do not know if I should recommend this book or warn people off of it.
It is a good book but any violence towards dogs, pets in general rubs me the wrong way and this degree of neglect, torture in the name of science etc is extreme.

Note, the true message is awesome. The writing is superb, I have seldom disliked so many characters so violently!
The plot line is intricate and flawless.
But....the poor puppies. Even the rats got to me and trust me, rats, spiders, mice etc s
Nov 09, 2014 Yasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars for the whole story (because it might be 2 times shorter) and 5 stars for the ending
Sumit Singla
This is probably the bleakest book I've read all year. It tells the tale of two dogs, Rowf and Snitter, who manage to escape from an animal research facility. The experiments that are being carried out at the facility are barbaric and make for tough reading.

The damaged past that Rowf and Snitter have faced impacts their current lives too, and Rowf has a deep-rooted mistrust of mankind. On the other hand, Snitter suffers from some kind of hallucinations or visions, and some of these seem to be st
Andrew Farr
This book was a major disappointment after loving Watership Down and Tales From Watership Down.

There were a lot of humans in this book. It clouded things quite a bit. In Watership Down we are taken into a new world because the rabbits are wild and they have their own folk-lore, language and interesting little bits of culture. In this book, however, the dogs only know man. They do not know the wild or nature. This keeps the story from truly captivating the reader by bringing him into a different
There are a lot of things not to like about this book. It seems to go against everything your average Eng Lit graduate would consider ‘good’ writing. It’s rambling, overwritten, loosely edited and willfully biased. It’s peppered with gratuitous literary references, weighed down by lengthy passages of leaden political satire, and the whole thing has the slightly ponderous air of the kind of book a retired civil servant would write. (Which is perhaps appropriate because that’s exactly what Adams w ...more
John Gillespie
Apr 21, 2013 John Gillespie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after finishing Watership Down, Adams' most famous novel. Plague Dogs is darker, angrier, and more polemical than Watership Down, but Adams is such a gifted writer that his characters transcend his political purpose. While I would recommend Watership Down to everyone, I suspect Plague Dogs would be an ideal book for later adolescents with a tendency to rail against society. I enjoyed it at forty-three, but it would have consumed me at sixteen. If, like me, you felt instant affinity w ...more
Jennifer Skutelsky
This novel shares the same depth of compassion and hope that rendered 'Watership Down' unforgettable. Two laboratory dogs embark on a daring escape from the facility that imprisoned them: Rowf, angry and bitter, is fiercely protective of small Snitter, whose brain has been compromised but whose heroic streak remains intact. Despite everything they've endured, they both retain the dog's trademark capacity for love and loyalty. I approach animal stories with caution because they touch my soul in a ...more
Apr 13, 2016 Juanita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review: The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams.

For readers who are sensitive to what happens to animals that are used for experiments in a laboratory to find cures for terminal illnesses should not read this book. I love animals but I’m also one for finding cures for cancer, etc.

Richard Adams does a wonderful job when it comes to describing the environmental world around us. Sometimes a little too much but his descriptive writing impressed me. The book could have been shorter but I still went with the
Wolf (Alpha)
Mar 01, 2017 Wolf (Alpha) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after reading Watership Down. I really enjoyed this book. I think that Richard Adams is a great writer. I'm glad that the dogs make friends with Tod the fox. I really feel bad for the dogs when they begin living in the forest, since they have no idea how to live out there. Definitely a 5 star book.
Lis Carey
Jan 11, 2015 Lis Carey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs, fiction, audiobooks
Rowf, a big, shaggy, black mongrel dog, and Snitter, a black and white fox terrier, are experimental animals at the Animal Research Station--Scientific & Experimental (A.R.S.E.) Rowf was born there, but Snitter once had a loving master and a happy home, until his master was struck by a lorry in an accident that Snitter blames himself for. The two dogs, living in adjoining pens, have become friends, and share their experiences: Rowf is daily nearly drowned in a tank of water, while Snitter ha ...more
I listened to the audio, which lost a point cuz I couldn't understand the fox (see below). This fantastical yet grimly realistic novel was originally published in 1977, in part to counteract the horrible animal experiments done in the name of progress at an infamous laboratory in England. The lab in the book is based on a real lab, Lawsen Park -- a converted farm, also known by the acronym ARSE (Animal Research, Scientific Aand Experimental), aka "Buttocks" (hehe). I guess this book probably hel ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
In my experience, telling a partisan story with some subtleness is powerful. Telling the same story with gratuitous and repetitive side stories to re-illustrate your point but that really add nothing to the narrative, well, that’s when a reader feels he’s being preached to. This book turned preachy early on, and stayed that way throughout with constant reminders of the ill treatment of animals being tested in the name of science. Animal testing is the raison d'etre of this book. And the author i ...more
My thinking on choosing to read this: "Watership Down, about DOGS?!?" Could life be more perfect?

Ooof, was I ever off-base.

Granted, there's no mistaking. These are both unquestionably by the same author. Pastoral scenes are vivid, the animals' modes of thinking are vivid, the scale is epic... and yes, Watership Down has head-scratchy moments where the animal's perspective makes something familiar to humans alien, scenes of terror that get practically drug-trippy, parts that wring your heart beca
Stefan Yates
If 1/2 stars were available I'd give this book a 2 1/2 instead of 3 star rating. It's not that it was all that terribly bad, I just felt that it was incredible average and quite honestly blah in parts. From what I have heard, and read myself, I feel that this is definitely the low point in Richard Adams' writing.

I think that my two main problems with this book are first the amount of space that Adams uses to push his political agenda down the reader's throat. While I totally agree that the inhum
Todd Myers
Dec 21, 2014 Todd Myers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After seeing the animated movie, based on this book, many years ago, I wanted to read the book. Two dogs, Rowf and Snitter, escape an animal experiment lab and set out to live in the wild. Rowf has never had a master and is very untrusting of all men, due to his treatment by the whitecoats, the men in charge of the animal experiment facility, and Snitter knows there are masters, he had one, who he thinks is dead, by an unfortunate accident, which led to his arrival at the facility. They meet up ...more
Feb 25, 2008 bj rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a catastrophe compared to Watership Down. It was clearly written after the success of WD and at that point Adams was like, "Yeah, I'm the shit, I'm gonna mention Watership in this book so that people don't forget I'm the shit. And then these guys on a boat are gonna talk about me as if I wasn't writing the very conversation they were having. GENIUS."

Just no, Richard Adams. Pure no.

Aside from that it was also just a generally bad book. It was sort of an interesting tale interspersed
Sep 30, 2011 Granny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, but after finishing it, I'm emotionally spent. It is a heart-wrenching, gripping tale that will send you on an emotional roller coaster as you follow the two hapless dogs, Snitter and Rowf, who escaped from an animal research facility into the countryside in England. Their wanderings in search of food, shelter, and a kindly human voice or touch, is harrowing, fraught with danger, near disasters, and amazing luck, as they are hunted by farmers, angry over losing sheep to the do ...more
Daniel Sloyan
Aug 12, 2014 Daniel Sloyan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the animated film version, it, like secret of NIMH, is one of my all time favorite animated films. And while the book is a bit different, they compliment each other well. The book has much more detail and characters, and goes on much longer. It serves as a satire of obsessed reporters, the inefficient bureaucracy of the government, small town Scottish folk, and the procedures of an animal lab. The movie just focuses on the story of the 2 dogs, and is a straight adventure/survival story. S ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams 8 61 Mar 01, 2015 09:55AM  
watership down or plague dogs. 5 41 Feb 26, 2014 06:15PM  
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Adams was born in Newbury, Berkshire. From 1933 until 1938 he was educated at Bradfield College. In 1938 he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read Modern History. On 3 September 1939 Neville Chamberlain announced that the United Kingdom was at war with Germany. In 1940 Adams joined the British Army, in which he served until 1946. He received a class B discharge enabling him to return to Worc ...more
More about Richard Adams...

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“Dangerous thing, a name. Someone might catch hold of you by it, mightn't they?” 18 likes
“When the man was disgraced and told to go away, he was allowed to ask all the animals whether any of them would come with him and share his fortunes and his life. There were only two who agreed to come entirely of their own accord, and they were the dog and the cat. And ever since then, those two have been jealous of each other, and each is for ever trying to make man choose which one he likes best. Every man prefers one or the other.” 13 likes
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