How the Dog Became the Dog

From Wolves to Our Best Friends

By Mark Derr
(Overlook Books, Hardcover, 9781590207000, 288pp.)

Publication Date: October 27, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD, Paperback

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That the dog evolved from the wolf is an accepted fact of evolution and history, but the question of how wolf became dog has remained a mystery, obscured by myth and legend. How the Dog Became the Dog posits that dog was an evolutionary inevitability in the nature of the wolf and its human soul mate.

The natural temperament and social structure of humans and wolves are so similar that as soon as they met on the trail they recognized themselves in each other. Both are highly social, accomplished generalists, and creatures of habit capable of adapting? homebodies who like to wander.

How the Dog Became the Dog presents domestication of the dog as a biological and cultural process that began in mutual cooperation and has taken a number of radical turns. At the end of the last Ice Age the first dogs emerged with their humans from refuges against the cold. In the eighteenth century, humans began the drive to exercise full control of dog reproduction, life, and death to complete the domestication of the wolf begun so long ago.

About the Author

Mark Derr is the author of Dog's Best Friend and A Dog's History of America. As an expert on the subject of dogs, he has appeared regularly on The Charlie Rose Show, and in documentaries for A&E and The Discovery Channel. He writes regularly for Atlantic Monthly, Natural History, Smithsonian and The New York Times. He lives in Miami Beach, Florida.

Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011

Naturalist Mark Derr says our friendship with dogs and wolves goes back thousands of years more than previously believed. His new book explores how the relationship between humans and wolves developed. More at

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Praise For How the Dog Became the Dog

"In his latest book, renowned author and dog expert, Mark Derr, shows that one can be scientifically rigorous and still write a highly engaging and accessible account of how the dog became the dog. Derr shows how shared sociability and curiosity drew wolves and humans together resulting in a close and enduring relationship of mutual utility. If you have to decide which dog book to read among the many that are available, this clearly is the one to choose because of its scientific accuracy and easy-to-read style." — Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals

"Mark Derr has produced a remarkable narrative on the origin of the domestic dog. Using the latest findings from such varied fields as genomic research, archaeology, comparative anatomy, and paleontology, Derr is able to piece together what is the most likely narrative for the story of how the dog became the first domesticated animal. His findings clearly show that widely held assumptions about the supposed integral role of neoteny in the domestication process are likely erroneous. Such findings are likely to be controversial, but Derr has compiled so much evidence that one will think twice before repeating the line that dogs are nothing more than juvenilized wolves. Because of this book looks at domestic dog origins from so many different perspectives, it may be the most important book written on the subject since Konrad Lorenz wrote Man Meets Dog in 1949. This book will fascinate anyone who has ever loved a dog." — Scottie Westfall, author of the Retrieverman blog

"Derr's research spans the globe and considers mythology and literature alongside more scientific evidence as he explores the stories of Romulus and Remus and of Odysseus and his dog, Argus." — Sacramento News and Reviews

"Derr's richly detailed, well-sourced research, however, offers a full plate of choices and razor-sharp analysis to help you connect the dots while not undermining the authenticity of the big picture." — Seattle Kennel Club

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