By DAN BELKIN, Ph.D.
Bayt Shahin Impulse, CC, CM
I WANT YOU TO LEAVE HERE with this idea: things you cannot see are more important than things you can. There are many things about Salukis that a judge can’t see and can’t feel, and functionally, those things are more important than the visible and palpable ones.
I’ll give you an example. The standard says ‘eyes, dark to hazel and bright, large and oval, but not prominent.’ It doesn’t say anything about whether or not the Saluki can see. Laura and I went to England for an entire coursing season and attended all the coursing meetings. While we were there, it was our great pleasure to lead several famous Salukis in the field — Salukis we had seen in books. I noticed that one of them was seeing every hare that entered the field. Hares would come up 300 or 400 yards away and this bitch would turn and look at them. I looked around at the other Salukis that were close to me and none of them were seeing those hares. I could barely see them. Those of you who know dog anatomy know that a dog’s eyes, even a sighthound’s, are not, in general, as good as ours. This Saluki bitch’s eyes were. (She was a Mideast import, by the way; she had not been bred in the UK).
Continue reading The functional Saluki – lessons from the coursing field
I am only …, a tracking novice, … My background is in Zoology with extensive personal and academic studies in canine evolution and behavior. Lately, I have been researching the differences between wolves and the domestic dog, including comparative anatomy and Ethology.
The first basic comment I want to address is the physical differences between dogs and wolves. They are not identical. DNA is only part of the way attributes are displayed within individuals. There are many factors in which genes are ” used” or activated. Dogs have 100% similar DNA yet they display an endless variety of different behavior and physical differences. Wolves are more similar to each other due to their environmental niche being specialized. In the natural environment “different ” is a disadvantage. Wolf DNA is more stable, shows little variety. Dog’s ecological “pressure” is man, which leads to versatility and variety. Humans value the unique, therefore dog DNA has been influenced to be less stable and more varied in phenotype. Continue reading Wolf / Dog similarities, differences & diet
April 29, 2010 •
Kangal History by Andrew Johnston
About Kangal dogs,
“The most valid question I’ve heard the Anatolian people pose is: ‘why would a shepherd care what color his dog was if it did it’s job?’ And I have to admit I’ve no answer for that. I’ve always found those in dogs that were particularly concerned with a dab of white here or black there, be it Kangal, Boerboel, or a Dogo were not the people truly interested in function.”
In a perhaps telling twist, the most ancient of breeds I work with may have the least to choose from by way of written history. A breed that’s purported to have been around for thousands of years, sitting as Turkey does at the geographical cross roads of the world, that history might be quite busy and all but impossible to document anyway. Or perhaps, as a true land race breed, there is really very little that can be said with certainty; except the breed has been around almost as long as animal husbandry. Continue reading Kangal dogs : an Andrew Johnston essay
by Andrew Johnston, Olympic dogs.
April 29, 2010 • Text Post
Defending the Cross
The crossing of breeds is such a controversial issue it seems appropriate I spend some time addressing my perspective, in print, for the record. To the degree that creates some redundancy with sections like ” An overview, ” I hope you will endure. Given the assumption few will read the whole site, it’s more important that each post stand alone. At the very least I can cut and paste this bit on crosses as needed in my online travels, where the crossing of breeds creates endless hoo-hah.
But anyone in animal husbandry, and most genuine dog men, have known forever that there is a payoff to outside blood. Of late the fickle finger of dog fashion has stumbled on the practice. The extent and degree to which this crossing of breeds may be fad driven, there for short-lived, remains to be seen.
Personally I see it as a logical reaction to the pathetic state of purebreds. The problem then, and the only real limitation of the idea, remains the same. As all the dogs crossed, by definition, must be pulled from that same dubious pool. But while most anything would be better than more of the same purebred disaster, and while crossing does address many of the issues associated with inbreeding, it does not begin to address the greater void of a meaningful selection pressure. Continue reading Purebreed Crosses : an Andrew Johnston essay
The Rare Breed Story : A Canine Fable
by Andrew Johnston
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a breed of dog created to serve a purpose. This breed was forged of necessity in a harshly competitive environment, to help the people that used them survive. Most were culled, only the best were allowed to live, because more were born then were needed. The men and women of this culture did not confuse their dogs with their children; they had many children, and grandchildren, to worry about. They valued and cared for the dogs but they were not considered pets, so much as tools. The dogs were worth something in this culture, but there was no significant money to be made in mass producing them. Continue reading The Rare Breed Story : an Andrew Johnston essay