200+ Movie Dog Names and the Dogs Who Portrayed Them!

Are you a movie buff with a new barking buddy? Why not name the dog who has landed a starring role in your life after a dog seen on the silver screen? From classics to today’s Hollywood hits,…



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DogTipper

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Which Dog Tricks Are Most Popular?

Have the many months of limited activity had you looking at dog tricks with a new eye? I’ve been training Barli several tricks lately (we started with Shake and High Five then progressed to…



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DogTipper

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Chicken study complicates brain size and domestication assumptions

One of the issues I’m most careful with in looking at domestication literature is claims about brain size reduction. Brain size reduction from wolf to dog is a way more complex topic than some popularizers of science would have you believe.

We should also not assume that smaller brains in domestic animals means that the domestic animal are automatically less intelligent than the wild form. In dogs, there is an argument to be made that domestication has enhanced some parts of their intelligence.  I believe part of this problem comes from the romantic delusions that existed in the early study of animal behavior, some of which were openly fascistic in their understanding of wild versus domestic.

A more nuanced way of looking at domestic animals is that their evolution changes to fit an environment that is fully dominated by human society.  In this world, humans are not a major predator, though humans certain do eat many of the animals.  However, the animals live out their lives with humans as benefactors and protectors, and the evolutionary pressures that work on domestic animals change how their brains operate.

A recent study on red junglefowl found that selection for a lack of fear does change their and brain anatomy. The researchers bred a high fear line and a low fear line of red junglefowl. The low fear line birds had smaller overall brains.  However, they much reduced brainstems and tended to have larger cerebra than the high fear line ones. They had a harder time with remembering fearful situations that the high fear line birds easily remembered, but both strains were of equal ability in terms of general associative learning.

This means that the domestication process does not just dull the intelligence of a species and make its brain smaller. Instead, the process makes it easier for the species to live in concert with our societies.

Our popular understanding is that dog domestication made them significantly less intelligent than wolves, and the best proof we have is the proportionality of brain size, as well as some low n experiments that looked at problem-solving ability between captive wolves and very well-trained domestic dogs.

We need to be very careful about what these studies say, for domestication is a process of evolution as much as anything that goes on in the wild. To live with humans in the way that domestic dogs do, their brains have experienced rather dramatic changes from the wild form, and we must be careful about making simplistic explanations that posit “domesticated” as a synonym for “dumber.”

It’s a much more complex conversation, and this study on red junglefowl clearly demonstrates how difficult the reality of brain changes and domestication clearly is.

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Natural History

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No Puppies Under The Tree

As Christmas creeps ever closer, it’s time for my annual reminder that puppies make lousy gifts. Like bunnies after Easter, puppies end up being abandoned in droves soon after the holiday excitement fades. Although everybody loves a cute, cuddly puppy, many people aren’t prepared to have their carpets peed upon, and their shoes chewed up. … Continue reading No Puppies Under The Tree


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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AKC Statement on Service Dog Air Travel Ruling

From The Dog Lady’s mailbag: The American Kennel Club™ (AKC), the largest purebred registry in the world and leading advocate for dogs, lauds the U.S. Department of Transportation [DOT] on the release of a final rule on travel by air with service dogs. “We are very pleased by the DOT’s strong statement that recognizes the … Continue reading AKC Statement on Service Dog Air Travel Ruling


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Saturday Survey: Dog Tweets

I’m really enjoying following some of the twitter accounts focused on dogs. I follow the ones curated by @DogFather (@Dog_Rates and @Dog_Feelings). Do you know of some more good ones for me to follow? Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Happy 4th of July!

July 4th, or American Independence Day, marks a time of joyous celebration across the country every year. This year celebrations will be different, and we expect many people will be hosting celebrations at home. While this is great fun for our 2-legged friends, some of our 4-legged ones can find it very stressful.

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Halo Pets Blog

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The Feel Good Page

I’m kind of new to Twitter, having turned there for my social media after my Facebook account was irretrievably hacked, so I apologize if I’m telling you something you already know. If you use Twitter, you need to check out The Feel Good Page (@akkitwts). Every day, there are videos of animals (and sometimes people) … Continue reading The Feel Good Page


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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We’ve Updated the Pet Holiday Calendar!

OK, is it just me…or is it really hard to believe that 2021 is right around the corner? I have to admit that 2020 has been a looooong year but, at the same time, many of the “mile…



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DogTipper

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Shelter Sunday: Chuck / One Hound At A Time / Colorado Springs, CO

Meet Chuck! This handsome fella is house-trained, good with other dogs, and up to date on shots. Here’s what he has to say for himself: Hi! I’m Chuck, a 4-year old male lab or hound or dane mix. I was found on the streets with a horrible fungal infection more commonly found in Shar Pei … Continue reading Shelter Sunday: Chuck / One Hound At A Time / Colorado Springs, CO


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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