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The Wonder of Dogs

Featuring: Video Video

From the BBC and The Open University, a celebration of all things canine.

By: The OpenLearn team (The Open University,)

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About the series

Steve Leonard holding a Collie Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Windfall Films Steve Leonard with a collie

It’s hard to believe that a Great Dane and a Chihuahua belong to the same species, yet they do. In The wonder of dogs we will celebrate and interrogate the dog in all its spectacularly different and unlikely forms. From ancient predator to household pet, the evolution of dogs is arguably the greatest success story in the animal kingdom. We’ll chart the remarkable journey of the domestic dog from one common ancestor to over 200 breeds we see in Britain today, and discover that hidden in their DNA are reflections of our own human history.

In this three part series we will take a snapshot of the dog population of a typical English village – Brightwell in Oxfordshire, and examine the huge range of breeds in one single place. Our presenters Kate Humble and Steve Leonard, together with leading experts, will put the village dogs through a range of tests and explore why there’s so much variety within a single species. Along the way, historian Ruth Goodman will also be unearthing the extraordinary stories behind some of the world’s most iconic breeds.

Episode Three

Yorkshire terrier crossbreed isolated on a white background Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Windfall Films

About the episode

Episode three looks at the close bond that exists between humans and dogs and asks how much of our pet’s behaviour and personality is a result of their nature and how much of it is a reflection of us? We have designed their bodies, but have we shaped their minds? We look at both ends of the lead and delve deep into psychology of the human–dog relationship to discover how dogs have evolved to read us better than any other creature on the planet, outperforming even our closest living relative – the chimpanzee.

We take the UK’s top 10 breeds and investigate what makes them the most popular of pooches, before looking at the future of dogs and the emerging crossbreeds, such as the Labradoodle and Cockapoo.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Episode One What makes dog breeds so different? Read more
Episode Two How do humans harness the skills of certain breeds of dog? Read more
Episode Three What makes the human–dog relationship so special? Read more