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The dog may not be what most think it is. The common origin of the dog story says the dog was a gray wolf that "somehow" turned into the dog after it associated with humans. Dawn of the Dog reveals this idea is merely an assumption based on nothing except that wolves and dogs are similar. Author Janice Koler-Matznick, a biologist specializing in behaviour, proposes that the dog is a natural species that attached itself to man. She builds the case that the dog is a unique relative of the gray wolf, and that because of false assumptions we have misinterpreted our Best Friend's behavior.
Part I of Dawn of the Dog exposes the assumptions of the dog as a gray wolf myth, explaining why that wolf is an unlikely candidate for prehistoric domestication. Instead, based on the behavior and structure of the dingoes and aboriginal village dogs, and on the traits of wild canids that have adapted to living near people, Koler-Matznick argues that the original natural dog was probably a generalist scavenger and small game predator.
The most important aspect of this Natural Species Hypothesis is that, contrary to popular belief, the dog was not a pack hunter like the wolf. This means our understanding of dog behavior has been based on a wrong assumption. Part II of Dawn of the Dog is a showcase for the most natural dogs, the dingoes and aboriginal village dogs. The dingoes are naturalized wild subspecies of Canis familiaris and the aboriginal dogs are free-ranging ancient landraces that still live the village scavenger life style of the original dogs.
Part I. Investigating Questions about the Origin of the Dog
Chapter 1. Once Upon a Time: Dog Origin Myths Debunked
Chapter 2. Dogma Revisited: Is the dog Canis lupus?
Chapter 3. Dog vs. Wolf: Natural Dogs and Grey Wolves
Chapter 4. The DNA Story: Interpreting Genetic Dating
Chapter 5. Natural Dog Behavior? Free-ranging Dogs and Dingoes
Chapter 6. The Natural Species Hypothesis: Genesis of Canis familiaris
Chapter 7. Conclusion
Part II. Examples of Primitive and Aboriginal Dogs
New Guinea Dingo
The Aboriginal Landraces Africanis Canaan
Central African Forest Dog / Basenji Formosan Mountain Dog
Indian Native Dog
Album of Aboriginal Dogs
"Dawn of the Dog is a beautifully written, thoroughly researched book that thoughtfully and provocatively challenges ideas about the origin of dogs and our relationship with them. It demonstrates the central place aboriginal dogs have in teaching us about dogs, evolution, and ourselves."
– Brian Hare, PhD, author of The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think
"Dawn of the Dog is a well-researched and clearly written book about the origin of the dog and natural dog behavior. This book goes beyond merely echoing traditional views of how dogs came to be and who they are. While some might not agree with the author, all readers will come away knowing more than they did before reading this book, and perhaps asking questions that they had not previously considered."
– Marc Bekoff, PhD, author of Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence
"If you are curious about the origin of our closest animal companion, the dog, Canis familiaris, this scholarly book is the best resource on this subject [...] From Janice Koler-Matznick's analysis of scientific reports, this award-worthy and beautifully illustrated treatise supports the theory that the dog existed as a unique, naturally evolved species distinct from today's wolves long before any association with humans."
– Dr. Michael W. Fox, author of The Behavior of Wolves, Dogs and Related Canids
"The message in Dawn of the Dog that is so crucial to pulling aside the curtain of the wolf ancestor myth is that we must investigate the data of canine behavior without these preconceptions."
– Mary Lee Nitschke, PhD