Cover image for The truth about dogs : an inquiry into the ancestry, social conventions, mental habits, and moral fiber of Canis familiaris
The truth about dogs : an inquiry into the ancestry, social conventions, mental habits, and moral fiber of Canis familiaris
Budiansky, Stephen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [2000]

Physical Description:
263 pages, 1 unnumbered leaf of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SF433 .B84 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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We think we know how a dog sees the world, how he feels about the world, what he wants and why he wants it. Behavioral science, archaeology, genetics, and neuroscience are showing us how wrong we often are.

"The Truth About Dogs" will use cutting-edge scientific research (including evidence from the Dog Genome Project) to teach readers to think, if not like a dog, then at least like a biologist. The truth of dog behavior is far more complex -- and interesting -- than we suppose, grounded in evolutionary strategies for survival. This book will give answers that come straight from the dog's mouth, unfiltered by human preconceptions and wishes, and better information than most clueless and hapless dog owners have had over the past 100,000 years. Readers of "The Truth About Dogs" will never look at their dogs the same way again.

Author Notes

Stephen Budiansky, scientist & journalist, is a correspondent for "The Atlantic Monthly." His five highly acclaimed books include "If a Lion Could Talk: Animal Intelligence & the Evolution of Consciousness" & "The Nature of Horses." He lives in Leesburg, Virginia.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this humorous but fact-based book, Budiansky, a scientist, author, and dog-lover, uses scientific and genetic research to explain why dogs do what they do and are the way they are. In a conversational and entertaining way, the author shows how dog behavior is much more complex and interesting than we have previously thought, and how that behavior is firmly grounded in the breed's successful evolution. He reveals how the entire species is, in fact, a brilliant evolutionary success, which is owed entirely to its uncanny ability to worm its way into our homes and to our peculiar humanness that allows this to occur. A correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, Budiansky is also the author of several other highly acclaimed books, including If a Lion Could Talk: Animal Intelligence and the Evolution of Consciousness (1998) and The Nature of Horses (1997). --Kathleen Hughes

Library Journal Review

Budiansky, a scientist, former editor of Nature, correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, and author of six books on animal behavior, including If a Lion Could Talk, debunks many commonly held beliefs about the dog: "most if not all of the conventional explanations of where dogs come from, how they ended up in our homes, and why they do what they do just have to be wrong." No B.F. Skinner behaviorist, he is a firm believer in the influence of genes. Citing scholarly sources and using a sense of humor that allows him to transform some difficult concepts into lay reader's language, Budiansky explains natural selection and the genetic basis of appearance, behavior, social interactions, sensory abilities (i.e., sight, smell, and hearing), aggression, and communication. He questions whether dogs are capable of love and loyalty or whether their behavior is strictly expedient. His answers will satisfy passionate dog lovers and serious scientists alike. Recommended for undergraduate collections serving students of animal behavior and public libraries with intellectually sophisticated patrons. [Budiansky is also the author of The Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II, reviewed on p. 92.DEd.]DFlorence Scarinci, formerly with Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Irredeemable Weirdness of the Dog: An Introductionp. 1
Chapter 2 Proto-Dogp. 16
Chapter 3 Social Etiquette, Doggie Stylep. 50
Chapter 4 Canine Kabukip. 79
Chapter 5 Two Colors, a Million Smellsp. 105
Chapter 6 If They're So Smart, How Come They Aren't Rich?p. 124
Chapter 7 Odd, but (Mostly) Normal Behaviorp. 159
Chapter 8 Troubled Dogs, Troubled Peoplep. 181
Chapter 9 Brave New Dogsp. 211
Acknowledgmentsp. 239
Sourcesp. 241
Indexp. 257