Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Review: "A Matter of Breeding: A Biting History of Pedigree Dogs and How the Quest for Status Has Harmed Man's Best Friend" by Michael Brandow

I very much like dogs, and very much enjoy watching dog shows on tv. Saying things like "oh look at his little face!", "Is that a mop or a dog?" and "AAWWWWWWWWW". My dad and I always joke that we should start a drinking game every time one of the (notoriously bad) announcers explains that "the dogs aren't being judged against each other, they're being judged against their breed's standard". The thing is, after reading this book, it becomes AMAZINGLY clear that being as close as possible to the breed standard could be a very bad thing indeed.

Our author talks about a variety of dogs and topics like: breed origins, why dogs that we think are really old look nothing like their ancestors, and why being recognized by the AKC is not always a good thing. Some of the dogs that are talked about at length are: borzois (who I think are so gorgeous but are really just a hodge podge of all kind of dogs that you wouldn't believe, even though they just kind of look like more elgant greyhounds), Labrador retrievers (including why we call them "chocolate" and not "liver" colored), German Shepherds (you ever notice how their back legs make them almost look like they are crouch/crawling when they walk? Not good.) and English Bulldogs (the breed that is the most expensive when it comes to medical bills, but that doesn't keep lots of people from buying them.)

Author also talks about how certain dogs' existence were threatened due to human conflicts: pets that were seen as bourgeousie were rounded up and killed by the thousands during events like the Inquisition and the French Revolution. Sharpeis almost went extinct during Mao's reign in China.

If you're a big dog person, have an interest in genetics or why humans have a tendency to make almost everything worse that they come into contact with, this book might be for you! I gave it 4 out of 5 stars because I'm a big ol' dog nerd!


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