The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People

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James Serpell, Priscilla Barrett
Cambridge University Press, Sep 21, 1995 - Nature - 268 pages
This unique book provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art account of the domestic dog's natural history and behaviour based on scientific and scholarly evidence rather than hearsay. Anyone with a serious interest in Canis familiaris, its evolution, behaviour, and its place in our society will find The Domestic Dog an indispensable and fascinating resource.

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This book was brought to my attention due to its relation to studies of human genetic variation, specifically what is mentioned on page 33. I had to pick up this book to give more respect to the author(s), and after finishing it, I truly am glad that I did.
This book lays out in a very comprehensive manner what I could summarize as "the ultimate guide to understanding domesticated dogs beyond the subjective differences we commonly observe as their companions." The author and the contributing authors/researchers give a detailed explanation of the evolution of modern domesticated dog breeds, dog behavior, the underlying genetic complexity that we fail to recognize in the common light, and the implications that these have on the politics surrounding the dog -- either as the beloved family member or "man's best friend," or as the demonized tyrants that plague society with aggression and/or disease. Of course, the latter example, after reading through this book, can easily be found to be detestable. More importantly, this book gives us a deep insight into the minds of our canine friends and shows the effects we can have in being such.
My only contention -- which isn't even a contention, but a question -- is over the author's inclusion of his policy beliefs. The question is raised from this, however, of whether or not scientists or researchers belong in the field of policy debate. This is something that has come to public attention in recent years, and this book is a sterling example of what benefit such a symbiotic relationship between science and politics can offer.
For dog lovers who are interested in the deep underlying mechanisms that make their beloved family members and furry friends tick, I would highly recommend this book, although it is a bit of an extensive read. For people interested in evolutionary biology, I would also deeply recommend this as being a sharp contrast to the typical mechanisms we learn under Darwinian models. Those which operate on the dog are much different, and truly are interesting.

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The dog is very cute.


Origins of the dog domestication and early history
Evolution of working dogs
Genetic aspects of dog behaviour with particular reference to working ability
Analysing breed and gender differences in behaviour
Early experience and the development of behaviour
Feeding behaviour of domestic dogs and the role of experience
Social and communication behaviour of companion dogs
Effects of owner personality and attitudes on dog behaviour
Dogs as human companions a review of the relationship
The welfare of dogs in human care
Variation in dog society between resource dispersion and social flux
Population biology and ecology of feral dogs in central Italy
From paragon to pariah some reflections on human attitudes to dogs
The hair of the dog

The ethology and epidemiology of canine aggression
Canine behavioural therapy

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About the author (1995)

James Serpell is the Marie A. Moore Professor of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, where he also directs the Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society. He received his bachelor degree in Zoology from University College London (UK) in 1974, and his PhD in Animal Behavior from the University of Liverpool (UK) in 1980. He moved to his current position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. Dr. Serpell is the current President of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ). He serves on the editorial boards of most of the major journals on animal welfare, applied animal behavior, and human-animal interactions. His research focuses on the behavior and welfare of companion animals, the development of human attitudes to animals, and the history of human-animal relationships. In addition to publishing more than 70 journal articles and book chapters on these and related topics, he is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books including Animals & Human Society: Changing Perspectives (1994), The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behavior & Interactions with People (1995), In the Company of Animals (1996), and Companion Animals & Us (2000).

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