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Why Dogs Look and Act the Way They Do

by Ann Squire

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: May 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-02-786590-8
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

 How dogs were domesticated, and how--through selective breeding since the Stone Age--various behavioral patterns and other characteristics of the ancestral wolf have been sorted out to create breeds for particular purposes. After contrasting wolves with their canine descendants, Squire (Curator of Education at New York's Central Park Zoo; her doctorate is in animal behavior) mostly explains the fascinating origins of the different types of breeds and the original uses of the behaviors they exhibit: e.g., sporting breeds enjoy a close relationship with a master; herders may nip but don't ordinarily bite; guard dogs are prepared to sit around, but hounds need to run; dachshunds, however, bred to accompany a hunter on foot, have legs too short to outrun their masters. Squire closes with some characteristics that are not in the dogs' best interests (a too-short nose is an inadequate cooling system), a sensible point of view on pit bulls (they're not all bred to be ferocious), and the comment that a mixed-breed pet is often a more versatile and interesting companion than the more focused result of ``pure'' lineage. An excellent survey, especially for anyone hoping to choose a breed compatible with a particular family. The book's organization leads to some repetition, but this may actually enhance its use as a reference. An appendix groups breeds by type and gives original uses; index. (Nonfiction. 9+)