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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...
Culture: Science & History
The Wolf Who Stayed
A domestication that went both ways
That the dog is descended from the wolf—or more precisely, the wolf who stayed—is by now an accepted fact of evolution and history. But that fact is about all that is agreed to among the people who attempt to answer fundamental questions about the origins of the dog—specifically, the who, where, when, how and why of domestication. Dates range from the dog’s earliest appearance in the...
Culture: Science & History
The Wolf in Your Dog
Evolutionary pathways
"Though in their deep heart’s core, there is a commonality of origin, spirit, emotional intelligence and empathetic sensibility, the wild wolf looks through us, while the dog looks to us. " Of all the myriad members of the animal kingdom, the domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is closest to us. With individual exceptions in other species, this canine species is the most understanding, if...
Culture: Science & History
Can DNA Decipher the Mix?
Unraveling the genetic tapestry provides clues to breeds and their mixes
A mongrel dog is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get. And therein lies the appeal. What’s more fun than serendipitous unpredictability all bundled up in puppy fur? But when that puppy grows up, we inevitably make assumptions about her ancestry based on how she looks and behaves. Our logic goes like this: “If my pooch is long and low to the ground, and she never barks...