________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 13 . . . . February 22, 2008


Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Hounds: A History of Dog Breeds.

Jeff Crosby & Shelley Ann Jackson.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2008.
72 pp., hardcover, $22.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-815-6.

Subject Headings:
Dog breeds-Juvenile literature.
Dogs-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4


During the 1800s, cattle ranchers in Australia began having trouble with the cows they had brought with them from Europe. The cattle had become wild, living in the harsh outback. The European herding dogs could no longer handle the unruly cows. So the ranchers set out to develop a new breed of cattle dog. It had to be able to work in the extreme Australian heat and think on its own when the ranchers weren't around. It also needed to work in a way that didn't frighten the cattle – without barking or rough biting. So the ranchers bred their dogs with the wild Australian Dingo, a quiet and hardy native dog. After many years, the ranchers perfected the Australian Cattle Dog….

Dog or Dingo? The Australian Dingo is a breed of dog that migrated to Australia with the Aborigines thousands of years ago. Today's Dingoes are feral, living wild in the outback. They look like tame dogs, but behave more like wolves.


If you're curious about that unusual looking dog you saw, if you are thinking about getting a dog for the family, or it you are simply interested in the animal that so often shares our lives, this book will satisfy you.

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     Not a complete guide to every breed, it instead presents four general groups of dogs – hunting, herding, working and companion – to show how today's dogs evolved from their common ancestor, the wolf. Dogs have worked with humans as hunters, using their keen senses of sight and smell along with speed and toughness. Certain breeds are expert herders. Others excel at pulling loads, guarding or rescue. The last group of smaller dogs make prized companions.

     Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Dogs devotes one page to each of over 40 breeds, detailing the origins (small maps included) and reasons for development of particular traits. By describing behaviors, the book assists readers in deciding if a breed would be well suited to their lifestyle or needs. For example, the Japanese Akita is a thick-coated, strong dog bred for hunting bear and wild boar in rugged mountains. It is a large, outdoor dog and does best as the only pet in the family. An insert adds interesting facts: an Akita named Hachi-Ko loyally waited each evening for nine years at the train station for his dead master to return.

     This book, a first collaboration for the husband/wife team of professional illustrators, is richly illustrated with vibrant paintings that show the dogs in action in their historical setting or activity. The authors give mixed breeds a quick mention and offers to donate some proceeds from the book to animal welfare and rescue organizations.

     An engaging read for all dog lovers.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson, a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian, lives in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.