DOGS: Working Origins and Traditional Tasks


Dogs: Working Origins and Traditional TasksWith his signature hands-on style, Mike Loades experiences what it is like to handle various dogs engaged in their traditional tasks; from sheep-penning with collies to working with duck-hunting Poodles. These adventures take him to the Jordanian desert, where he shares the saddle of his camel with a Saluki and to the green hills of Wales, where he works cattle with a Corgi. He mushes Huskies in Alaska, drives carriages with Dalmatians, flies falcons with Spaniels and nets partridge with Setters.

Each encounter not only highlights the bond between humans and dogs, it also frames that connection in its historical context.  Different types of dogs appear the way they do because, at some stage in their development, they were bred selectively for a specialist job.

The author takes key types on a walk through history. Along the way he explores the methods and practices of their original occupations. He delves into when, where and why they were first bred as the types we recognize today. The fascinating and engaging text is supported by over 250 stunning colour photographs of dogs in action. It results in an illuminating journey through many cultures and time periods. This book is a personal and heartfelt tribute to the enduring partnership between humans and dogs.

There are issues with some of our contemporary breeds – in-breeding, careless breeding or breeding to follow fashionable form rather than, as it should, form following function. This is not an overtly campaigning book but these issues are inherent in a book that looks at the development of types according to function. For those who care about the future of our dogs, it is not a bad idea to have a broader understanding of their past. Mostly though, this is an adventure book – a historical tour in the company of dogs.


Introduction (incl. synopsis of canine evolution / history) : Herding and Droving : Livestock Guardians : Sled Dogs : Cart Dogs : Carriage Dogs : Water Dogs : Game Finders : Sighthounds : Scenthounds : Mastiffs : Terriers : Companions : Epilogue


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Note on the hunting breeds

The intention of this book is to make the story of how our dog breeds developed accessible to as wide a readership as possible.  Since many breeds developed as hunting companions, there is a great deal of hunting history and detail in the book. However, with regard to the hands-on adventures with hunting breeds, the author opted to either simulate or substitute the activity, in order to avoid veering off into distracting tangents relating to polarizing present-day attitudes.  This is the dog’s story and that is where the focus lies. It is hopefully of interest to all.