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Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  296 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Biologists, breeders and trainers, and champion sled dog racers, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger have more than four decades of experience with literally thousands of dogs. Offering a scientifically informed perspective on canines and their relations with humans, the Coppingers take a close look at eight different types of dogs—household, village, livestock guarding, herding, ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 2001)
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Anne
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This must be the most interesting and most important dog book I've ever read. I can't recommend this book enough to anyone who owns a dog. It's written by Raymond Coppinger, a professor in biology, something that makes this book even better.

Too much of dog literature are written by people with no education in biology, zoology or dog behaviour. So this is one of the few dog books that is actualy rooted in science, and it effectivly strips away a lot of old myths about dogs relations to wolves, th
...more
Caroline
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Contained some useful information, but was written with an extremely biased, snobby attitude towards pet owners.
Diane
Sep 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardened scientists
"A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution."

Marking the first time that dogs have been explained in such detail by eminent researchers, "Dogs" is a work of wide appeal, as absorbing as it is enlightening.
Lorna and Raymond Coppinger explore the fascinating process by which dog breeds have evolved into their unique shapes and behaviors. Concentrating on five types of dogs - modern household dogs, village dogs, livestock-guarding dogs, sled dogs, and herding dogs - th
...more
Abby
Interesting to me, because I always like reading hard science about dogs, but the Coppingers are SO intense about them, often in unreasonable ways. For example, although I agree with them that dogs are best bred if they still preserve a working line, I disagree that dogs are just worthless "parasites" (their words) if kept as household companions. They seem to believe that dogs are only worth having if you can use them for a working purpose. This conclusion is obviously NOT the conclusion that m ...more
Debbie
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of great science based information for anyone interested in dogs. Recommended, but I do feel some of the information may already need to be updated. My book was copyrighted 2001, but the information seemed dated.
Bianca
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers interested in the evolution of the domestic dog.
I read this book for a class I was teaching on the evolution of the human-domestic dog relationship. I was worried it might be too specialized for me, but it was really accessible. And informative.
Heather
Jan 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book asked more questions then providing answers. I did not like this book and would not recommend it.
Todd Kale
The section on dog evolution was very, very interesting. Other parts were (as others noted) very dry and a tough, textbook-like read. I feel like it could have been the basis of two better books — one a shorter and more concise version (in some places it gets drawn out and redundant) and one a longer and more in depth textbook (in other places the assertions seem to deserve more evidence).
Karen
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog, animalzzz
This is easily one of the most enjoyable books I've read about dogs. Very thorough, fascinating, and often hilarious. It was really interesting to look at humans' relationship with dogs through a biological lens.
Dpdwyer
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-ficton
Excellent summary of current scientific understanding of dogs and their origins. The Coppingers believe dogs evolved from wolves as scavengers around early human settlements. The ideal dog for a companionship that works both ways, in their opinion, is the village, feral, or street dog, a kind of dog that has long fascinated me. They admire the true working dogs and have little respect for dog shows, which they believe are both disrespectful and harmful to the a dog’s true nature. I loved the cha ...more
Pam Coon
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more of a technical book about the origin of dogs. I kind of slogged my way through it; definitely not a fast read. The authors have a depth of love, appreciation, and knowledge of dogs that is eagerly shared. Although not a fast read (so much information to digest), it is full of fascinating theories. The authors have traveled extensively and have viewed village dogs up close (which they believe were the first dogs). The book delves into the origin of dogs (not tamed wolves), but more l ...more
Laura
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raymond & Lorna Coppinger are not only biologists, but they are also former sled dog racers and have worked extensively with herd guarding dogs and village dogs along with herding dogs. Their book looks at 5 types of dogs-herding, guarding, sled, village and pets.
It has some controversial statements like assistance dogs are slaves, dogs are not directly evolved from wolves or trained by early humans but evolved to take advantage of village, and breeding for show (looks alone) is criticized
...more
Shaya
I'm not exactly sure what to say about this.

I really I enjoyed how well-researched the ideas about dogs are and found them very interesting. But it does turn how we think about dogs on its head.

Coppinger discusses the dog's biology as village dogs rather than early humans domesticating dogs. He talks about how different breeds became what they are and tries to get across the point that behavior and shape are related. We damage dogs by trying to breed them so they have the same shape of a workin
...more
Uvindex
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is not meant for answering questions. It's more about raising new ones.
It proposes a new hypothesis about the origin of dogs, a more humble one that the one we're used to know: dogs come from dumps, from human ones. At the same time these canids were attracted to human waste, they became domesticated and used to human contact, by a matter of natural selection and adaptation to a new niche.
Another of the highlights of this book is how the authors explain the different relationships tha
...more
Cwalsen
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, animals
The Coppingers present here a theory about the evolution of dogs from a canid ancestor, but also include their strong opinions about the current use of pet dogs in the Western world. This is a good book to read if you are interested in dog behavior and morphology. However, the Coppingers become offensive (to most of us) when they talk about assistance dogs as slaves. Their discourse on the cost to the environment and the national economy of maintaining a large population of pets is well-reasoned ...more
Sheena
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kopeklerle ilgili okudugum en ilginc ve onemli kitaplardan biriydi. Kopek sahibi olup da kopegin evrimini, davranislarini merak eden herkesin okumasi gerektigini dusunuyorum.
Katildigim noktalar kadar katilmadigim noktalarin da oldugu, kopeklerimin asalak olarak nitelendirilmesinin hosuma gitmedigi, kopekler olmasa biz oluruz ama onlari kendimize oyle muhtac duruma soktuk ki biz olmasak onlar da olamaz sav'ini ciddi ciddi dusundurdugu, working line'larin korunmasina sonuna kadar katildigim bir k
...more
Shawndra
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dog lovers, behaviorists, trainers
Recommended to Shawndra by: Bark magazine
Somewhat rambling and repetitious in spots, but the message is fascinating - a biologist's summation of how dogs evolved differently from wolves and the impact this fact has on how to interact with dogs. Goodbye pack mentality and tired old "alpha" business. By turns refreshing and alarming - I definitely had my buttons pushed by the biological assessment of the family pet as parasite. Overall quite readable at least for a dog geek like myself.
Heywu
"To be descended from a wolf is not to be a wolf"

This is a must read for all dog lovers and trainers. The title is perfect. I gained a new understanding of origin, evolution and behavior.

Trish King gave a great lecture in our Marin Humane Society Canine Behavior Academy class illustrating many theories from this book.
Lize
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, dogs
I'd been hauling this one around forever. It's about dogs from an evolutionary biologist's perspective. Occasionally fascinating, it's also very dry and academic, and yes, often preachy. I'd rather read Temple Grandin's books five more times than slog through this again.
Dev Scott Flores
Sometimes sophomoric, but more often informative - excellent jumping off point for those who haven't been exposed to canine ethology (good revisit for those who have)
Christina
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eminently readable history of dogs by a biologist. Proposes the most plausible explanation yet for how dogs and humans co-evolved.
Katie
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
A tad on the dry side, but super-informative on the science and biology of dogs.
Robin
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly the most important dog book ever. Since it isn't on very many reading lists it gets overlooked.
April
Sep 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. Would have prefered to hear more stories about the six animals he adopted. Very dry and textbook-ie.
Jocelyn
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. Made me look at dogs in a whole new way!
Fulden
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
a must read for anyone interested in canine science.
Tracey
Jan 14, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
636.7 Coppinger 2001 -- Ginnie gave 4 stars
Saraberry
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog-training
I don't think he understands hounds and hunting, but good for the rest.
Jenn
rated it it was amazing
Jul 09, 2013
Deb
rated it liked it
Feb 15, 2011
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