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“What is a Dog?”  New Book Explores the World of Street Dogs

“What is a Dog?” New Book Explores the World of Street Dogs


Did you know that there are an estimated one billion dogs living on the planet?  That seems like a big number, but what’s even more surprising is the total number of dogs who are not an individual person’s or family’s pet, but rather so-called street dogs (or village dogs) who are free-roaming.  750 million of all the world’s billion dogs are nobody’s pet.  A recent book sheds light on their lives.



What is a Dog? by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger takes an in-depth look at street dogs all over the world, and shows how these dogs are actually more fundamentally “dog-like” than any purebred show dog or pampered pet.



Like the first wolves who began to hang around human settlements, and the earliest versions of the domestic dog, today’s street dogs share many of the same key characteristics of ancient canines.  Recognizing that being near humans can provide them with a good food source, village dogs are intelligent, independent, and opportunistic scavengers.



Many dog experts have noted over the years that free-breeding street dogs in all corners of the world tend to look and behave in very similar ways.  Their uniform look, in particular, seems to be more a product of environment than genetics.  DNA studies have shown that the genetic makeup of street dogs varies from population to population.



Studies have shown that village dogs in Mongolia have the most ancient lineage.  Street dogs on some islands of the Pacific have mostly European DNA, while others on different islands have none.  Today’s street dogs of Europe trace their origins to East Asia, most likely arriving as companions of human migrants thousands of years ago.



Want to learn more about the interesting history and hidden lives of street dogs?  Check out this fascinating article profiling the book and the authors.  And you can read an excerpt from the book about why all street dogs look so much alike HERE.


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Andrea - March 17, 2017

What that brief article fails to mention about the street dogs is that their lives are far less than “fascinating”. I’ve witnessed firsthand in the Dominican Republic the way these dogs are mistreated. Villagers throw rocks at them and are taught that these dogs are “ugly” and “stupid”. The dogs often have open wounds on them. The female dogs have visibly swollen “parts” from constant mating and having puppies. It’s a very sad life and I’m shocked the article doesn’t discuss this and even goes one step further to talk negatively against rescue groups. I can’t imagine how many puppies suffer on a daily basis. It was truly heartbreaking and I cried a lot when I saw them while in the Dominican Republic. Less garbage isn’t the solution either, because the people are poor and don’t care, garbage is literally everywhere. A better solution would be to solicit donations and start spaying and neutering and then releasing the dogs back if they can’t be placed in homes. This would be incredibly costly, but much more effective.

Houa - February 11, 2017

I love those all dogs, and love to wear kind of clothes that i want to support for animals,
be their freedom, safe, love and need home.

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