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How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends
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How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends

3.12  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  55 reviews
How the Dog Became the Dog posits that dog was an evolutionary inevitability in the nature of the wolf and its human soul mate.

The natural temperament and social structure of humans and wolves are so similar that as soon as they met on the trail they recognized themselves in each other. Both are highly social, accomplished generalists, and creatures of habit capable of ada
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 27th 2011 by Harry N. Abrams (first published March 3rd 2011)
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Average rating 3.12  · 
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Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: animals, evolution
This is a dog. He is the most popular dog in the world. Why? Because if you google Dog he is the first one that comes up in the image search.

This book is about him and his ancestors.

I thought this book would be kind of interesting. Instead it kind of sucks.

A slogging and tedious read filled with a mixture of facts, wild conjecture, strange teleological extrapolations, wild hippie mystical bullshit and enough liberal guilt to make me wonder how the author can get out of bed in the morning with
Ira Therebel
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Oh boy, where should I start. This is a very hard book to rate.

I find the topic interesting and can see that the author knows a lot about it. But at the same time the book is very hard to read. And not even because of the hard topi but because it is so incredibly disorganized. It jumps all over the place in history, repeats a lot and sometimes i am not even sure what the author is trying to tell me and where is it going. I hate to give a book with so much information only a ** rating, but someti
ashley c
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, dnf, science
DNF because I had to return it. It is very informative and Derr clearly knows his stuff really well. But the book needs to go through an editor. There are lots of rambling, awkward sentences with too many points stuffed in them, and a lot of information is repeated within a few paragraphs or chapters.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
We owe much to our faithful companions. Unfortunately, as is often the case with humans, we do not pay back friendship well. We get much more from the dog than they get from us. This marvelous book chronicles the self domestication of they dog through the fossil and genetic records and describes how we wound up with the pure breeds of today. If you are a dog lover like I am, this book is a must read. If you aren't a dog lover, then you are irredeemable. I loved this book, and it made me vary sad ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
The author writes about how the dog socialized with humans instead of being domesticated. A history of canine-human interaction is documented in this unique view.
Bastard Travel
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends by Mark Derr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Selective breeding.

Now that we got that out of the way: the chief message Derr was trying to send is that we shouldn't think of primitive dogs like those shitty hyenas from the Lion King. They get a bad rap from the prevailing paleoanthropological perspective, painting them as skeevy little lurkers at the threshold, gnawing on the mammoth bones and indigestible gristle discarded by early sapiens.

Derr a
Gilda Felt
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This is really the story of both dog and man, as the author intertwines the history of the two species. Much is conjecture, as it would have to be, but sometimes I felt that the author went a bit too far. To say something is true, often without a footnote, makes it hard to differentiate between what is verifiably true and what is not. This was especially true when he wrote about the relationship between wolves and/or dogs and Neanderthals. Did they begin the journey between canine and hominid? O ...more
Rick Lamplugh
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
How the Dog Became the Dog
A Book Review by Rick Lamplugh

After a winter of living, working, and wolf watching in Yellowstone’s wild Lamar Valley, My wife Mary and I returned to our small hometown. I was walking downtown one day when I saw a stylishly dressed couple coming toward me and carrying a hairless Chihuahua. I stopped them and asked about their dog. They gushed about the dog’s loving personality and said it had come from an excellent breeder, one of the best in the northwest. When I pette
Debra Daniels-zeller
Dec 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: dog, nonfiction, audio
Well-researched and filled with fascinating facts and I really liked learning about the possibilities of how the wolf became the dog. It's an intriguing story that is still unfolding, and is intertwined with human existance. One thing I really liked about this book was how the author debunked previous theories about wolves hanging around the campfie and adapting and simply transforming into dog. The acual physical record is hard to trace but the author also bring dingos into the picture and it w ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This one gets a mixed reaction. There is a ton of information here, and I like the way Mark Derr takes apart and examines the different theories addressing the domestication of dogs. But --- I've had Mark as a grad school instructor and know that he's very disorganized so this was NOT a surprise -- the book cries out for editing and organization. The same stories are repeated in different chapters. Topics are addressed thoroughly, then reappear several chapters later. Some details beg for citati ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
Are our current canine pets wolf-like dogs or dog-like wolves? Mark Derr doesn't know either. But he doesn't mind wasting your time with his circular arguments, frequent unnecessary personal asides and general petulant, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude toward actual research scientists. He does have a few interesting ideas, but stylistically this book is really annoying and disorganized. He could have used a good editor

Maybe if you like dogs more than I do, or have a few theories of your own, you'l
Feb 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The author would have been better off simply making this an epoch-spanning novel. Instead, he blithely makes up his own fantasies of what the past was like, ignores any facts that disagree with his fantasies, and generally acts as though the truth, since it is currently scientifically unproven, can be bent to be whatever we wish it to be. If you like his arbitrary classifications (dogwolves, wolfdogs, socialized wolves, uhh, probably a few more I forgot), have fun with it. I'm not going to waste ...more
Nathan Albright
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2020
In some ways this book is a bit of a cop-out.  While the author does discuss the insights of genetic genealogy in determining the origins of dog domestication and discusses some very fierce opinions about the hostility towards wolves and the tendency of infanticizing dogs and then ahistorically viewing this as being the norm from the beginning in the domestication or socialization of the dog, sometimes this book feels more like a personal essay writ large or even a somewhat fictional account of ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2017
This book was a little repetitive and I couldn't really narrow down a main take-home point. I was hoping for some historical and scientific information on the transition from wolf-->dog. While this book WAS full of interesting historical information regarding Neolithic peoples & wolves, it was hard to figure out exactly what the author was trying to argue. Altogether, it could be that there is still so much we don't know, so perhaps that is why it was hard to pull together into a text.

The book
Jul 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
There was a lot of new information scattered throughout this book, but the lack of editing and the unorganized nature of the text made it nearly unreadable. I almost finished this book, but I was so annoyed about said shortcomings, that I couldn't. Also, more maps or illustrations would have been useful, especially when the author laid out his theories about how dogs and humans wandered the Earth.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
this is more scholarly and slightly boring than i would have expected. I summarize whole history of man: we treat dogs horrible getting better today but historically man is horrible to mans best friend.
Seema Rao
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Popular scientific non-fiction about the history of the dog, but wasn't as well-written as I had hoped. The author's snarkiness really bugged me.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book, but I wish he more clearly delineated his own subjective hypotheses from where we actually have strong evidence in a theory. Was somewhat rambling as well and bogged down at points.
Lesha Symons Ervin
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot of science, but also a good story. Well done.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting and informative, though the last sixty pages may have been the best.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, science
I think this book turned me into a dog person. 😽
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting history about how dogs became dogs. Derr took from genetic science, archaeology, anthropology, and paleoanthropology to write this book. The theory he spoke about was not the common self domestication from the garbage pile that is the common idea of dog domestication but instead a more co-working domestication. I thought Derr did a good good defending why he did not write from the garbage pile theory. There is discussion of Belyaev's fox experiments and Derr raised questions ...more
Orville Jenkins
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Humans and Wolves and Their Mutual Domestication

This book is part of a longterm and ongoing personal study into the genetic sciences and historical reconstructions of the prehistory of humans and other species.

This rich title was an excellent history of genetics, tracing the development of the domestication of the wolf into the dogs of today. It was more than that, however, correlating extensive DNA comparison of a wide range of canids and lupine varieties with human DNA historical reconstructio
Janine Prince
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
The evolution (co-evolution?) of humans and dogs is of interest to me so I jumped onto this book when I finally ran across it. I don't read a lot in this field, but I thought I would be able to keep up with a pop-science title.
Overall I did get a lot out of this book, there were just a number of ways in which it felt like there was another conversation going on that I was not privy to, that the author was having a philosophical stoush with someone and I was only hearing one side of the heated co
How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends by Mark Derr. The focus was more on the pre-historic development of the "dogwolf" and "wolfdog" (Derr made a distinction that I'm still not sure I get) than the "best friend" aspect. I also wasn't fond of the "furless biped" phrase he used to encompass the various hominids that may or may not have partnered up with the wolfdogs/dogwolves.

There's a good bit of repetition, where Derr says the same thing in different ways, which made the
Oct 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Enjoyed the discussion but my background in the topic was lacking so I found that I was looking up a number of words I did not know. Where did the dog come from and when? This book discusses various theories and why they could be valid. I lean toward the wolf dog theory because it seems most plausible to me. And, it appears that dogs may have first been found in Southeastern China by the Yellow River. As man changed, so did dog whose existence and livlihood was linked to man. From hunter/gathere ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book made me think about dogs, their relationship with man, and their evolution on a new light, i.e. that it may be possible and/or likely that dogs started to become dogs (no longer wolves) more like 40,000 years ago instead of the 12,000-15,000 years ago that I have tended to believe (courtesy of the Coppinger book I read a couple of months ago). However, I didn't find this book to be a good read, per se, only a good source of some ideas contrary to my own. It did make me rethink, for whi ...more
Jason Linden
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a highly detailed account of the transition from wolf to dog. Derr takes the most credible approach of make certain to discuss all the competing view points of this confusing issue. Though he quite obviously, has his favorites, he is very clear about the inconclusiveness of the available data. Beyond that, he provides excellent, thought provoking commentary about what the difference between what we expect from our dogs and what we should expect from them. I've been a dog owner my entire ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
There were so many interesting bits of information provided and a lot of ground was covered. A worthwhile read for dog lovers. I see a lot of people dislike the organizational style of the book and have to agree that it bounced around a lot. I am amused by some reviews complaining that this was overly scientific while others felt it pseudoscience. There is a lot of jargon used, so buy a dictionary and up your vocabulary game people... Or stay out of the non-fiction section of the library. Aside ...more
Disappointing. Lots of good stuff in this book including much review of current past theories related to evolution and genetics and dogs and domestication and migration and so forth. But written so redundantly and in the end boringly. Could not recommend this book to anyone who was not absolutely super focused on the topic.
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I would love to read a book on this subject but... 1 3 Feb 06, 2013 04:18AM  

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