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Working Dogs


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What is it about?

Originally published in 1934, this is the first scientific study to attempt to understand how to breed dogs, primarily German Shepherds, of superior intelligence, disposition, and physique for use in a wide variety of working dog capacities. This effort began the process, still evolving today, of better understanding how to breed for both the physical and temperament characteristics desired. Today’s dog fancier will gain insight into early selective breeding research

More about Elliot and Lucien- Elliot and Lucien were an integral part of the research at Fortunate Fields

When was it published? Originally published 1934- reprinted 2005

Who published it? Dogwise Publishing

Illustrations- Black and white photography


Students of dog genetics have long recognized the significance of Working Dogs, which was first published in 1934- well before other books that are considered forerunners. Dogwise has finally made this long-out-of-print classic available again. Working Dogs chronicles the pioneering adventure of one of dogdom’s most ambitious breeding programs, known as the Fortunate Fields project, began in 1924 in Switzerland, attempted to apply scientific principles to create superior working German Shepherd Dogs for a variety of services, including work as police dogs, herding dogs, guide dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs, without sacrificing their role as family dogs. Individual finding regarding the inheritance of specific traits were recorded in scientific journals of the time, forming the foundation of canine behavioral genetics. Quoting from the book’s foreword; “Every step in the breeding, rearing, and training of these working dogs is as carefully planned, measured, and recorded as is the making of a fine piece of machinery designed to do a particular piece of work.”

Few, if any, sources document the process and progress of generations of breeding toward a specific goal as does Working Dogs. Although of special interest to German Shepherd owners, Working Dogs’ relevance to breeders, behaviorists, trainers, and history buffs transcends breed interest. The writing is compelling, drawing the reader into the project. The text is liberally peppered with black–and-white photographs of Shepherds of the time. Chapter topics include descriptions of dogs as workers, how breeders are selected, psychological traits, the inheritance of specific traits, the association of traits, and which traits are most vital to the dog’s success as a worker, among others. If you have ever wondered how much of your dog’s behavior is inherited, or how much progress you could make if you had every resource at your disposal, Working Dogs will go far to answer your questions. D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.


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