Any dog fancier looking for in depth knowledge on various aspects of canine matters should read this book. Chapter 2 deals with ‘village dogs’ and describes the life of these free roaming dogs on the isle of Pemba off the East African coast. The authors relate these dogs to the ‘generic’ dogs of the Mesolithic era.
SCRIBNER, 1230 Ave of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 ISBN 0-684-85530-5

Now available in a Kindle edition published by Kynos Verlag in Germany and available from: or Also available from:


Chapter One: The AfriCanis as a Land Race
Chapter Two: The AfriCanis Personality Profile
Chapter Three: Origins of the AfriCanis
Chapter Four: The Domestic Dog conquers Africa
Chapter Five: Ancient Pedigrees and Exotic Visitors
Chapter Six: Thoroughbreds with African Roots
Chapter Seven: Conserving the AfriCanis
Appendix One: Aptitude Testing and Dog Mentality Assessment
Appendix Two: The AfriCanis Society of Southern Africa, Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Breeders

Available from

Kindle ebook version

ISBN 1-86914-024-9

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 behavior, 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. 128 color photographs.


How well do we really know dogs?  People may enjoy thinking about them as “man’s best friend,” but what actually drives the things they do? What is going on in their fur-covered heads as they look at us with their big, expressive eyes?  Raymond Coppinger and Mark Feinstein know something about these questions, and with How Dogs Work, they’re ready to share; this is their guide to understanding your dog and its behavior.
Approaching dogs as a biological species rather than just as pets, Coppinger and Feinstein accessibly synthesize decades of research and field experiments to explain the evolutionary foundations underlying dog behaviors. They examine the central importance of the shape of dogs:  how their physical body (including the genes and the brain) affects behavior, how shape interacts with the environment as animals grow, and how all of this has developed over time. Shape, they tell us, is what makes a champion sled dog or a Border collie that can successfully herd sheep. Other chapters in How Dogs Work explore such mysteries as why dogs play; whether dogs have minds, and if so what kinds of things they might know; why dogs bark; how dogs feed and forage; and the influence of the early relationship between mother and pup. Going far beyond the cozy lap dog, Coppinger and Feinstein are equally fascinated by what we can learn from the adaptations of dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and even pumas in the wild, as well as the behavior of working animals like guarding and herding dogs.
We cherish dogs as family members and deeply value our lengthy companionship with them. But, isn’t it time we knew more about who Fido and Trixie really are? How Dogs Work will provide some keys to unlocking the origins of many of our dogs’ most common, most puzzling, and most endearing behaviors.


Of the world’s dogs, less than two hundred million are pets, living with humans who provide food, shelter, squeaky toys, and fashionable sweaters. But roaming the planet are four times as many dogs who are their own masters—neighborhood dogs, dump dogs, mountain dogs. They are dogs, not companions, and these dogs, like pigeons or squirrels, are highly adapted scavengers who have evolved to fit particular niches in the vicinity of humans. In What Is a Dog? experts on dog behavior Raymond and Lorna Coppinger present an eye-opening analysis of the evolution and adaptations of these unleashed dogs and what they can reveal about the species as a whole.

Exploring the natural history of these animals, the Coppingers explain how the village dogs of Vietnam, India, Africa, and Mexico are strikingly similar. These feral dogs, argue the Coppingers, are in fact the truly archetypal dogs, nearly uniform in size and shape and incredibly self-sufficient. Drawing on nearly five decades of research, they show how dogs actually domesticated themselves in order to become such efficient scavengers of human refuse. The Coppingers also examine the behavioral characteristics that enable dogs to live successfully and to reproduce, unconstrained by humans, in environments that we ordinarily do not think of as dog friendly.

Providing a fascinating exploration of what it actually means—genetically and behaviorally—to be a dog, What Is a Dog? will undoubtedly change the way any beagle or bulldog owner will reflect on their four-legged friend.


This suite of essays is a first for historical writing about southern Africa: they recover an animal’s ubiquitous, yet hidden presence in human history.

The authors have used the dog as a way “to think about human society.” The dog is the connecting thread binding these essays, which each reveals a different part of the complex social history of southern Africa. The essays range widely from concerns over disease, bestiality, and social degradation through greyhound gambling, to anxieties over social status reflected through breed classifications, to social rebellion through resistance to the dog tax imposed by colonial authorities.

With its focus on dogs in human history, this project is part of what has been termed the ‘animal turn’ in the social sciences, which investigates the spaces which animals inhabit in human society and the way in which animal and human lives interconnect.

This is an edited collection of 12 essays by various authors. It depicts the dog’s presence in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial societies in Southern Africa. It is a most revealing read.

BRILL, Leiden (The Netherlands), Boston (USA). ISBN 1573-4226 / 978 9004 15419 3

Grobler, JP,. Ehlers, K., and Kotze, A., (2012)‘Genetic diversity and structure in indigenous AfriCanis dogs from southern Africa’. Department of Genetics, University of the Free State

“A preliminary report on patterns of genetic diversity in indigenous AfriCanis dogs from two regions of southern Africa.”

Click here for the full report.

Greyling, L. and Grobler, P., Van der Bank, H., Kotze A., (2004)‘Genetic characterisation of a domestic dog Canis familiaris breed endemic to South African rural areas’. ActaTheriologica 49 (3): 369 – 382

Comparative blood typing from samples collected from Desert Bred Saluqis and AfriCanis from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

“An assignment test, fixation index values, gene flow and genetic distance values indicated a closer genetic association between the AfriCanis and the Saluki breeds than with dogs of Western origin. This finding supports archaeological evidence that the endemic AfriCanis breed was introduced from the Middle East into Africa thousands of years ago, and not through later western influences”

Plug, I. (2000)‘Overview of Iron Age Fauna from the Limpopo Valley’. South African Archaeological Society. Goodwin Series No.8: 117-126.

Refers to the Early Iron Age site on the farm Diamant with the earliest record for the presence of the domestic dog in South Africa(570 CE).

Chappel, C.A. (1968-69)‘A Strandloper Skeleton Found at Cape St. Francis’. Diastema 2(3): 37-39.

Situates and dates at 800 CE the domestic dog in a Khoisan site at Cape St. Francis.

Klein, R.G. & Cruz-Uribe, K. (1989) ‘Faunal Evidence for Prehistoric Herder-Forager Activities at Kasteelberg, Western Cape Province, South Africa’. South African Archaeological Bulletin 44: 82-97.

The presence of the domestic dog in this Khoisan site can be established with certainty as from 800 CE onward.

Van Schalkwyk, L. (1994)‘Mamba confluence: a preliminary report on an Early Iron Age industrial centre in the lower Thukela Basin, Natal’. Natal Mus. J. Humanities, Pietermaritzburg. Vol.6: 119-152.
Van Schalkwyk, L, (1994)‘Wosi: an Early Iron Age village in the Lower Thukela Basin, Natal’. Natal Mus. J. Humanities, Pietermaritzburg. Vol.6: 65-114.
Voigt, E.A. & Peters, J.H. (1994)‘The faunal assemblages from Wosi in the Thukela Valley’. Appendix to: Van Schalkwyk, L, (1994) Wosi: an Early Iron Age village in the Lower Thukela Basin, Natal. Natal Mus. J. Humanities, Pietermaritzburg. Vol.6: 105-117.