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News: Guest Posts
The Difference Between Guide Dog Breeds
In honor of national guide dog month, I'm reprinting excerpts of an interview I did several years ago with seven experienced blind people who've used guide dogs most of their lives.  Here they compare problem solving strategies between 36 dogs representing six breeds.  Compared to my usual posts, it's a lengthy conversation, but if you've lived with a Lab, Golden, German Shepherd, Aussie, Border...
Culture: Science & History
Body Language
Breeders, judges and historians talk about breed standards—why they work and when they don’t
Saint Bernard current and past
In the world of mammals, the domestic dog— Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the gray wolf— reigns as the most morphologically diverse. Consider, for example, the extremes represented by the 155- pound South Russian Ovcharka and the seven-pound Silky Terrier. This incredible variety can be attributed in part to the dog’s basic template, which can be customized by the manipulation of a very...
News: Guest Posts
Saving Street Dogs in Havana
One dog at a time
For Havana's dogs, it's not the best of times, but it's not the worst either. Some improvement is due to the efforts of the non-governmental Cuban Association for the Protection of Animals and Plants (ANIPLANT), an organization focused on improving the lives of dogs and other animals in Havana. Founded in 1988 by Cuban entertainer Maria Alveres Riso, and Cuba's first prima ballerina, Alisia...
Culture: Science & History
Scientists Searching for Clues to The First Dog
Village dogs’ genetic code may hold clues to canine evolution and health
Like classic twin studies that investigate the interplay of nature and nurture, comparing the genome of village dogs to modern dogs may help disentangle the long-term evolutionary effects of genetic and environmental influences. Mastiff to Min-Pin, Corgi to street cur: all dogs share the same set of roughly 20,000 genes. What makes one dog different from another—or, in the case of purebreds,...
News: Guest Posts
Behavioral Differences Between Dogs and Wolves
Dogs and wolves share a similar genetic profile. So why are their behaviors so different? The reasons aren’t clearly understood. In a recent paper in the journal Ethology , evolutionary biologist Kathryn Lord's doctoral research (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) suggests differences in later behaviors might be related to the pups' earliest sensory experiences during the critical period of...
News: Guest Posts
Latest Genetic Research about Dogs' Diet
“Where goeth the food, so goeth the dog.”  (old proverb) The earliest archeological evidence dates dogs to about 14,000 years ago. Remains of small dogs in Israel go back 12,000 years. When people settled down in agricultural communities, they began to tinker with the natural environment, bringing about modification, intentionally or accidentally, in plants and animals. Of course dogs joined the...
Good Dog: Studies & Research
Do DNA Tests Reveal Genetic Secrets?
The Beauty of Diversity
For those of us who love dogs, using DNA tests to deconstruct our mongrel pooch’s mysterious heritage is appealing because we want to be able to answer the question, “What kind of dog is that?” Companies say that DNA-based diagnostic tests, which sell for about $60, can answer the question by comparing your dog’s DNA to over 100 of the most popular breeds. But are the tests accurate? I decided to...
Culture: Reviews
Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus
Book Review
Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
Rabies is a relentless killing machine that exploits the very thing we love most about dogs, their sociability with humans. The virus kills 55 thousand people a year; unless bite victims are treated before the onset of symptoms, the pathogen’s mortality rate is nearly 100 percent. According to the World Health Organization, dogs continue to be the source of human death in 99 percent of the cases...
News: Guest Posts
Downton Abbey Dog: Right Breed, Wrong Color
And more flubs in period films
In period movies, dog breeds, just like fabric on the furniture, should be accurate to the period. Only a few contemporary breeds look exactly as they did 100 years ago. Downton Abbey, the early 20th century story of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, with its authentic Yorkshire country house and period decor, is accurate down to thread in the costumes. But oops. No one thought...
News: Guest Posts
A Cautionary Tale About Breed Standards
Jane Brackman, PhD
In the beginning was the word and the word was dog and the people made more dogs and used more words to differentiate those dogs until they had more than 400 different kind of dogs and more than enough words to explain the differences.  —Doctor Barkman Breed standards are one of the tools breeders use to suspend change in purebred dogs. But breeds evolve anyway, even when standards remain...

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