Author: Janet Vorwald Cohner
Short summary of the story: There are many dog breeds in the world and, within the whole group of dogs, are those of different 'farm' avocations - guardians, herders, terriers and 'working dogs'. The author has broken down the book into eight sections: Introduction, A Short History of Man and Dog Together, Understanding the Working Farm Dog, Choosing the Right Dog, Livestock Guardian Dogs, Herding Dogs, Terriers and Earthdogs and Traditional Multipurpose Farm Dogs. I particularly like the no-nonsense way of looking at the different breeds. She is not attempting to prove a point but matter-of-factly writes the basic facts of each type and then of each breed.
The individual breeds are introduced with the usual -- place of origin, size, coat, colour and temperament. She is very blunt when talking of the breeds -- pointing out (for many of the dogs) that they are a working dog. Their purpose is not to be a companion dog or a field trial dog or any of that. They are there to protect the herds or flocks they guard. With those traits come the accompanying ease (or difficulty) of having them for a house dog (or 'pet'). She emphasizes many times that the dogs need lots of activity and lots of mental challenges and will not accept abuse in any way. There are some breeds where she mentions that, even though the dog is known to be the way it is, people take them home and expect them to be a 'house dog' and 'pet' -- and those dogs end up in shelters or rescue groups.
The photographs of the various dogs are not glossy 'beauty photos' but are of the dogs in working situations or at ease but not anywhere what a person would called highly groomed for the camera. They show real dogs in real situations -- and are more beautiful, of true, because of that.
Good points / bad points: This is an excellent breed by breed guide to the dogs who guard, herd or work in different fields in partnership with men and women. If you don't like dogs, or want something frilly, don't read this! It's matter of fact and to the point, with many excellent photographs! The author has a clear love and liking for dogs, and great respect for them -- and that shows in her writing. There are so many breeds of dogs, so it's obvious she didn't cover them all, but it contains a very good breakout of the varieties of farm work dogs.
I particularly wanted to look up a breed which developed in the United States, the Leopard Dog, and read that section several times. Somehow the extremely well written prose drew me into reading more and more, until I realized 'oh, this is liken unto a history book!' (I love history ...) -- the history of the different breeds followed the history of mankind. How very interesting ...
Goodreads has this to say about the book
Gain a deeper understanding of your canine friends through these in-depth breed profiles that showcase how working dogs think. From familiar breeds like the Border Collie, Corgi, and Dachshund to the lesser-known Akbash, Puli, and Hovawart, Janet Vorwald Dohner describes 93 breeds of livestock guardian dogs, herding dogs, terriers, and traditional multipurpose farm dogs, highlighting the tasks each dog is best suited for and describing its physical characteristics and temperament. She also offers an accessible history of how humans bred dogs to become our partners in work and beyond, providing a thorough introduction to these highly intelligent, independent, and energetic breeds.