Home
Browsing articles in history
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs in the Castle
Delightful Discovery in Doylestown
Sometimes, it’s all about perspective. The first time I visited Fonthill—once a private home and now a museum—it left me cold. Quite literally. The six-story concrete castle, which was constructed between 1908 and 1912, is not particularly inviting, and I was certain its creator and first resident, Henry Chapman Mercer, must have been a hardhearted man. On my next visit, after learning more about...
Culture: Science & History
DNA & The Well-Mixed Mutt
Dogs are more than the sum of their parts
After years of flattering inquiries about our canines (“Oh, what a beautiful… what is he?”) and faltering replies (“Maybe…a Cocker/couch-potato mix?”), I decided to explore the new mixed-breed DNA testing. Not that I couldn’t hazard some serious guesses about their ancestry. Upon rescue, Ticker appeared to be tan, but once rinsed of an entire puppyhood’s worth of dirt and neglect, his coat was...
Good Dog: Studies & Research
Controversy Over BBC's Purebred Dog Breeding Documentary
BBC’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed strikes a chord
In August 2008, a powerful BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed (PDE), rocked the dog world when it claimed to reveal the “greatest animal welfare scandal of our time.” Following its premiere, a review in a national newspaper said the show had “gone off like a bomb in quite a few British living rooms.” Four million British people watched, and the BBC received its biggest-ever viewer response to...
Culture: Science & History
Darwin’s Dogs
Celebrating the bicentennial of the father of evolution
Early in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin uncorks a passage to illustrate the capacity of dogs to love that is guaranteed to break the heart of all but the most unfeeling cad, and one that should hang over the door of every laboratory engaged in experiments with animals. “In the agony of death a dog has been known to caress his master,” he says, “and everyone...
Culture: Science & History
Decoding the Dog Genome
A female Boxer provides the DNA for the first complete sequence of the dog genome—what will it mean to the health of man and dog?
“The dog is everywhere what society makes him,” wrote Charles Dudley Warner in the January 1896 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Elaine Ostrander and Heidi Parker update that message in the November 2005 issue of the online journal, Public Library of Science—Genetics: “The domestication of the dog from its wolf ancestors is perhaps the most complex genetic experiment in history, and...
Culture: Science & History
Deconstructing the Gene Pool
Dr. Mark Neff and his team uncover the surprising origin of a potentially deadly mutation
Until the mid-19th century, any hodge-podge of similar-looking dogs performing similar tasks was awarded the right to be called a breed. However, as inventions (such as guns) mechanized jobs that dogs normally performed, many breeds—like the tumbler, who “tumbled and turned” to mesmerize prey—simply sank back into the ancestral soup, taking their unique traits with them. One of these ancient...
Culture: Science & History
Fala, the Presidential Dog
How a special little dog made America’s house his home
Arguably the most important dog in World War II never saw combat; in fact, he was one of the breeds deemed unfit for duty by virtue of his stubby legs and long coat. But he was also of a breed that had been considered suitable for a gentleman to keep in town since the mid-19th century, and in President Roosevelt he met the perfect human companion. Roosevelt’s cousin, Margaret “Daisy” Suckley,...
Culture: Science & History
DNA Testing
Which DNA test should you choose to settle the “what’s in the mix” question?
For years, you’ve argued with your spouse that the 60-pound, black-and-tan tennis ball–chaser who takes you for walks and sweeps the coffee table clean with his tail is a German Shepherd mix, and that there is absolutely no Doberman Pinscher in there. Finally, in order to end the breed debate once and for all and restore peace to your household, you’ve decided to settle the question with a mixed-...
Culture: Science & History
The Future of Dogs
Breeding for looks, not function, threatens dogs’ well-being
Like many people, my wife Diana and I had long been in the habit of buying purebred dogs without bothering to learn much about their breeding beforehand. And so it was in 1977, when we made an impulse purchase of a Jack Russell Terrier named Phineas. Despite the many other wonderful dogs who’d blessed our lives, we’d never known another like Phineas. Though short-legged and weighing barely 15...
Culture: Science & History
Dogs: Wolf, Myth, Hero & Friend
Sniffing out the facts and exploring the relationship between our two species
No observer can help but remark upon the incredible variety of sizes, shapes, temperaments and behaviors of the dog—from the one-pound Chihuahua to the 200-pound Mastiff; the stubby-legged, placid Basset Hound to the long-legged, fleet Greyhound. Nowhere else in the animal kingdom does so much morphological diversity exist within a single species. In large measure, the 400 or so breeds of dog...

Pages