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, sled-pulling, pointing, retrieving, and hound. They argue that dogs did not evolve directly from wolves, nor were they trained by early humans; instead they domesticated themselves to exploit a new ecological niche: Mesolithic village dumps. Tracing the evolution of today's breeds from these village dogs, the Coppingers show how characteristic shapes and behaviors—from pointing and baying to the sleek shapes of running dogs—arise from both genetic heritage and the environments in which pups are raised.
For both dogs and humans to get the most out of each other, we need to understand and adapt to the biological needs and dispositions of our canine companions, just as they have to ours.
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Raymond Coppinger is a professor of biology at Hampshire College. He is the author of Fishing Dogs and coauthor of Wheelchair Assistance Dogs.
Lorna Coppinger is the award-winning author of The World of Sled Dogs. Together they founded Hampshire's Livestock Dog Project.
Dr. Richard W. Wrangham professor of anthropology, Harvard University Forget being the alphawolf. "Dogs" teaches old dog lovers new tricks. For thousands of years after dogs stopped being wolves, and before they became pets, they were something else -- a self-domesticated species with a mind of their own. The Coppingers' convincing new theory of dog evolution will be as interesting for archaeologists as for breeders and pet owners.
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