My objection is not based on history but on the detailed DNA analysis of dog breeds performed in this century. National Geographic published the best popular article on the subject about two years ago, but URLs to more scholarly reports have been posted on SciForums. Reconstructing the transition of wolf to dog, determining whether it happened in one place or many and at one time or many, and tracing the lineage of the different breeds since the transition were the primary purposes of the project. The dogs' DNA was carefully sifted for the genetic markers of the various wolf populations, and the markers of one and only one population were found throughout the entire species: the central Chinese wolf pack. Of course dogs have occasionally interbred with wolves (actually both members of the same species as I described previously) -- as well as coyotes and jackals (different species of the same genus) -- throughout their history. But there is no evidence in the DNA of any breed of consistent contamination with the genetic markers of other wolf populations. The findings do not support the theory that this was ever more than accidental "mis-mating," to use the breeders' term, much less deliberate hybridization to reintroduce the very traits that humans have spent more than ten thousand years carefully culling from the gene pool. There are many breeds with "wolflike" appearance and behavior to match the shepherds, particularly the Arctic working breeds. We must keep in mind the revelations of the last few years that stood centuries of wisdom on its head: there is really very little difference between wolves and dogs, and the dog breeds we have created differ more from each other than the dog does from the wolf. Almost every lupine trait that you might want to select for in a dog can be gotten from the domestic gene pool by patient selection. There are three significant differences between the dog and the wolf, all of which bear directly on the dog's fitness for human companionship. 1. Dogs have smaller brains. This is consistent with the diet of a scavenger rather than a hunter. A larger brain requires too much protein. For thousands of years humans needed dogs that could subsist on a diet much like ours, which the dogs could get by keeping the campgrounds clear of garbage. 2. Dogs don't have the blade-shaped teeth between the molars and the canines (sorry I don't know remember what dentists call them) that wolves have. Their molars are shaped for grinding food presented in manageable pieces, not for quickly ripping the flesh off of a fresh kill before the hyenas and vultures arrive. Again, dogs are poorly equipped to subsist as hunters, but well equipped to eat our food. 3. Dogs are instinctively inclined to accept humans as pack leaders. Wolves are not. Wolf pups raised in captivity are not as trustworthy, statistically, as dogs, even though many captive wolves have indeed made fine pets. These are the characteristics that could be brought back into the domestic gene pool by irresponsibly cross-breeding the descendants of the wolves who chose to live among humans with their distant cousins who decided to remain in the wild. There is no sensible reason for wanting these traits in a domestic animal, no matter how macho, nefarious, or anti-social the duties he is expected to perform. As a dog breeder I'm quite familiar with all of our guild's dirty little secrets. We don't share them with outsiders. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! There is no IEEE, AMA, or Bar Association to maintain standards for dog books. The AKC and its counterparts in other countries are better than nothing but that's about all I can say on their behalf. Yes they will. And virtually all pharaoh hound enthusiasts will tell you that their dogs are descended from the identical dogs depicted in the art of ancient Egypt. The DNA tests prove otherwise. The breed had apparently been extinct for ages. Sometime in the last two or three hundred years a group of breeders managed to crossbreed the many remaining breeds of sighthounds and succeeded in recreating the image -- but not the DNA. The genome of the pharaoh hound is as new as that of the Labrador retriever, which is to say: as new as the geographic name "Labrador." Pharaoh breeders are not lying, they believe what they are saying, and I do not for a moment doubt the honesty of shepherd breeders either. All good legends seem so obviously truthful that no one thinks to question them. Yes, you've got me on that one. I was being facetious in the middle of a dissertation in which I meant to be taken seriously. Sorry for that. All dogs are equally distant from the wolf. The fact that some breeds were developed earlier than others does not mean that their descendants eight thousand years later are somehow more closely related to their ancestors. We breeders of small dogs have to use dirty tricks to hold our own against the big guys. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! You're right again. This time I was merely using the imprecise language that is in vogue colloquially. We all talk about the "alpha gene" as though it were a single gene. Obviously if that were true each dog would be either an alpha or one who unquestioningly follows the alpha. Whereas each individual falls somewhere on a spectrum that could more appropriately be labelled alpha-to-omega. Lhasa Apsos tend to fall more toward the alpha end; even our females are likely to walk into a park and go try to hump the biggest spike-collared stud dog they can find. We don't take them to leash-free parks. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! Maltese -- the lap dogs of the Roman empresses -- are quite the opposite and will run at the rear of any pack if there are no humans handy to hang out with. Yes, and that does not include having a brain larger than its diet can support, having teeth also unsuited to that diet, and, worst of all, not naturally regarding humans as its leaders. Those are the traits that would have been acquired by hybridizing with wolves, and none of those would be remotely suitable for military duty. I'd venture that 95 percent of the German shepherds in this country are pets, not guard dogs. They have to be unfailingly gentle with children and other pets, a behavior that is nearly always found in herding dogs who have to be gentle but protective of their charges. Dogs have a huge number of chromosomes compared to humans, and it's pretty easy to bring out traits that have been suppressed for a hundred years. The original herding instinct of the German shepherd is still there after all this time and modern breeders select for it. Those who think they're still in the Kaiser's army are easy to spot as puppies and are happily snapped up by the people who want guard dogs, but they and their owners are today a minority. Nonetheless your remarks about the AKC not being in touch with reality are quite accurate. We don't show our Lhasa Apsos because we're trying to tame that uncivilized behavior that's a throwback to their unsupervised guard dog ancestors. (Notwithstanding the tales with which I've regaled you of some of their hard-headed antics and a few brawls worthy of an Irish wedding.) We think that selecting for that is more important than, for example, not having beautiful blue eyes or one speck of pink nose leather, which disqualifies them from the ring. The fact that the AKC even recognizes the shar-pei, a decrepit inbred population with a frightening taste for small humans, is deplorable. Yes they are. I did not say that they are docile and patient. I said that they were docile and patient two thousand years ago when the Romans first developed them (or perhaps discovered them among the neighboring Alpine Germanic tribes). The fact that such a sweet dog, who would be a perfect pet for people with older children, has been turned into a monster dog is a damn shame. People who have a legitimate need for man-eating guard animals should just get wolves. Cougars and hyenas have also been tamed well enough for this job, although one might run into a problem with the licensing authorities in this effort. People who want dogs for fighting and killing other animals should be rounded up and thrown into a pit full of wolves, cougars, or hyenas. Or perhaps a hundred rambunctious Lhasa Apsos who think they're still guarding the Dalai Lama's priceless treasures.