Skip to main content

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


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

With DOGS: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin,
Behavior, and Evolution, the ways in which dogs became domesticated
and developed into specific breeds has been rewritten. After years
of canine research, the husband and wife team of Raymond and Lorna
Coppinger (both previously published --- FISHING DOGS by Raymond
Coppinger and THE WORLD OF SLED DOGS by Lorna Coppinger) has
developed a totally new theory on the evolution of the relationship
between man and dog and dogs among themselves.

If dogs (wolves) didn't first appear around the fires of our
ancestors then just how did this relationship evolve? The basic
premise of the Coppingers' theory is that the dogs we know as
domesticated today evolved from animals that lived off the waste of
human development; they tended to lie in wait for humans to discard
the refuse of early communal habitations. Those dogs that did flee
human interaction remained as wolves and jackals in the wild.

As far as how dog behavior developed, the Coppingers surmise that
it was man who created the various behaviors in dogs as we know
them today. Through extensive comparisons of breeds and the ways
they are raised, the authors explain how one breed can have the
instinct to herd while another protects --- it is all dependent on
the "way a dog's brain is wired during the crucial developmental
stage" when the dog is a pup. For example, the difference in a
herding dog versus a guard dog for livestock is their respective
years of breed development.

If a dog lives with another species such as sheep or goats, they
will bond with them, see them as nothing unusual, simply friends.
If you expect a dog such as a retriever to herd sheep or goats,
while it may happen on rare occasion, the odds are slim. Just as if
you take a herding dog and expect it to retrieve, it may have the
ability if worked with long enough, but it is not natural. There
can be exceptions to the rule, but it's not something you will see
very often.

This book surely will cause a great deal of controversy, much as
Darwin's writing about evolution did when his theory first appeared
--- and continues to do to this day. There will be in all
likelihood a great deal of debate as to the validity of the
conclusions drawn by the Coppingers; new developments such as this
always tend to draw criticism. However, this may also be the
beginning of new knowledge of our best friends.

Reviewed by Dave Taylor on January 21, 2011

Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution
by Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger

  • Publication Date: May 27, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 0684855305
  • ISBN-13: 9780684855301