Cinema's most celebrated German Shepherd Dog was profiled in “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend” by Susan Orlean.
Fri, 12/16/2022 - 5:22am

Question of the Week

What is your favorite canine book and why?


Lindsay Fetters 

Canton, Georgia 

“Born to Win” by Pat Trotter. My mom was able to have it signed by Mrs. Trotter and gifted it to me when I was a Junior. It sits on my coffeetable. 


Len Reppond

San Leandro, California

Without question my favorite dog book is “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend” by Susan Orlean. It’s a well-written and fascinating book about a dog who single-handedly raised the public’s awareness of the intelligence and beauty of the dog. The book takes you from his discovery as a puppy in an WWI abandoned barn in Alsace, France, to Hollywood and finally to his progeny who replaced him on screen. 


Randy Garren 

Apex, North Carolina

If I am allowed, I have two favorite books:

“Greyhounds in America” by Sue Lackey: Covered in leather and containing extraordinary pictures accompanied by wonderful text, it is truly a classic.
And “Best in Show” by Bo Bengston: I find it a great read to explore again and again. Unbelievable wealth of information.
However, the book I refer to MANY times a year is “Canine Terminology” by Harold Spira. (Annie and Jim always referred to it as the ultimate “definition” go-to book.)


Paul Lepiane

Ojai, California

I have so many “favorite” books: Raymond Oppenheimer’s classics on Bull Terriers, Bo Bengtson’s “Best in Show,” Bede Maxwell’s “The Truth About Sporting Dogs” and so on. On the flip side, very few novels about purebred dogs and dog shows have appealed to me, but one clearly stands out: Kurt Unkelbach’s hilarious “The Winning of Westminster,” published in 1966. It’s the story of how one very wealthy man tries to buy all the most likely group winners at the upcoming Westminster show to increase his chances of winning Best in Show there. A couple of people stand in his way, the most memorable of which is the formidable Countess Poodle. When asked the value of her current top-winning black Standard Poodle she replies, “A good, impossible question to answer in your terms, my dear boy. It has taken all these years to develop just one truly perfect Poodle, and while there will never be another one to equal him, his genes will be handed down from generation to generation to generation, and all future Poodles will be indebted to him, and I mean all down through the infinite future of the civilized world. Now tell me, is it possible to translate a dog like that into dollars and cents?”

Sounds like a dog person to me!

Lorraine Bisso

Metairie, Louisiana 

My sentimental favorite is “The Heart of a Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune. A gift from my mother, the book had originally belonged to her brother. The book has beautiful watercolor illustrations by Marguerite Kirmse and includes two of my favorite Terhune stories, “One Moment Longer” and the very poignant “Youth Will Be Served.” The book opened the door to the sport of purebred dogs for me. My mother took me to watch Collie judging, and I made my own ring debut soon after. The book remains a treasured link to my family and to dogs.


Charlotte Clem McGowan

Newton, Massachusetts

I have an extensive library of dog books since I started collecting as a child. A lot of favorites are some of the earliest books on various breeds. The Dandie Dinmont by Cook was a big favorite, as was Guy Mannering. But after sitting at Pagey Elliott’s knee for decades, her book “The New Dogsteps” is a special favorite. For the student of dog anatomy, Pagey’s work with cineradiography (X-rays of dogs in motion) was revelatory. Her book, her lectures and her willingness to share her knowledge were amazing. 


Francee Hamblet 

Mounds, Oklahoma

“Watchers” or “One Door Away From Heaven” by Dean Koontz. Known for horror not dog books, nonetheless Koontz’ dog characters do things we’ve all seen and experienced again and again. They think like we know our dogs think. Koontz might not know all things dog, but he truly understands the dog mind. His only real dog flop was a book about a rescuer… Zzzzzzz …


Karen Staudt-Cartabona

Houston, Texas (for the winter)

“The Dog in Action” by McDowell Lyon. A classic book, describing dog structure and movement in depth in a somewhat folksy manner, while covering many breeds and groups. Similarities and differences in function and performance from Sighthounds through Working, Terrier and even Toys.

I have always considered it an invaluable textbook for breeders and judges to help develop their "eye" and understanding, and highly recommend it.


Mary Dukes

Marshville, North Carolina

“Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men” by Donald McCaig.


Nick Waters

Sundorne Castle, near Shrewsbury, England

Can I cheat and have two, please? One would be “Dogs, by Well-Known Authorities” (1906-8), two volumes edited by Harding Cox. It is a sumptuous publication that was never completed because the money ran out. It is profusely illustrated with full-page plates finely printed in colors and photogravure from originals specially painted for this work by Maud Earl, Margaret Collyer, Francis Fairman, Thomas Blinks, John Emms and Arthur Wardle. As much of my life has been spent around dog art, I would have this for the illustrations.

The other would be “Dogs: A Dictionary of Dog Breeds” (2001) by Desmond Morris. It is subtitled “The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Breeds,” and it is just that. It is incredibly well researched, with the history of each breed detailed along with their original home and function. One cannot imagine the countless hours that went into writing this book. If the rules are strict and I can only have one, as a historian myself it would have to be Morris.


Edna J. Jonck

Long Island, New York

My favorite canine book was “Lassie Come Home.” I loved that book very much. When I was a child home sick with chicken pox, my mother would read this book to me.


Harry “Butch” Schulman

Louisville, Kentucky

My favorite canine book is without a doubt “The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic” by Gay and Laney Salisbury. It is about the famous serum run during the deadly diphtheria epidemic that swept through Nome, Alaska, in 1925. Historically, a dog named “Balto” gets all of the credit for what only amounted to 55 miles of the treacherous journey, but the serum would never have made it to Nome without the stamina, loyalty, intelligence, perseverance and heart of a dog named “Togo” who led the team more than 200 miles through white-out storms and across the perilous Norton Sound, where he saved the entire sled-dog team and driver in a courageous swim through sheets of floating ice. Leonhard Seppala said, “Togo was the best dog that ever traveled the Alaska trail.” This book should be required reading in every high school across America!


Anne Dove

Pasadena, California

My favorite dog book is actually for kids: “ABC Dogs” by Clara Tice. A children’s alphabet book originally published around 1940, the author used dog breeds for each letter and then provided a few historic or fun facts about each. The artwork is beautiful and introduces kids to a nice cross-section of dog breeds. It sparked my mom’s interest in purebred dogs as a child and then mine when she passed it along … The cover features Scotties and Sealyhams … which inspired her to want Scotties as an adult … and the love of Terriers was passed on to me!


Joy Cappucci

Staten Island, New York

One of my most favorite dog books is "Beautiful Joe: The Autobiography of a Dog," a classic written by Marshall Saunders in I believe 1893.

I so cherish my book that I bought from someone quite a while ago ... Mine is hard covered and has beautiful prints in it. I also bought some paperbacks of the book because I like to give them to people to realize how our current rescues were formed.

It would be wonderful if others read the book ... It truly touches your heart and soul.


Jacquelyn Ebersbach

West Palm Beach, Florida

“Greyfriar’s Bobby,” true story of a Skye Terrier (or Dandy Dinmont Terrier) who stayed by his deceased owner’s grave for many years. True meaning of loyalty and devotion. Shows the depth of animal hearts and souls. 


Marnie Harrison

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

My favorite dog book is “Beautiful Joe” by Marshall Saunders. It is a wonderful book based loosely on a true story. It is at times sad and then heartwarming, but truly tells of dog resilience and devotion.


Paul Laperruque 

Ramona, California

“The Third Annual Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ of Dogs Guide Book and Directory.” Volume includes breed standards and glossary; shows and specialties held in 1910; names and kennels by breed; judges directory. The AKC recognized 63 breeds in 1910. Also of interest are advertisements for professional handlers, kennels and products. Published by Bulletin Company, New York City. Available from the Google digital library. 


Norma Friel

Palm Coast, Florida

“The Golden Retriever” by Jeff Pepper (1984). When I had just gotten my first Golden Retriever, this book provided me with an incredible amount of breed knowledge, including obedience, field and conformation along with numerous breed photos. In 2012 I purchased Jeff Pepper’s second book, “The Golden Retriever: An authoritative look at the breed’s past, present and future.” The popularity of the breed had grown tremendously since Mr. Pepper’s last book, and he reflects this in his second book. His dog expertise had grown just as much since writing his first book. He is now an AKC all-breed conformation judge. Mr. Pepper has been involved with other breeds, but in my heart, I believe Goldens will always be his first love.


Jan Dykema

St. Helena, California

Hmm, so many to choose from!

Practical books: “The Whelping and Rearing of Puppies” by Muriel Lee. I give a copy to all my friends whelping their first litter, or their 100th. “The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog” by Ann Seranne. Out of print, but a real bible. She also is my go-to for how to cook the perfect prime rib.

Breed specific: Anything by or about our Bull Terrier guru, Raymond Oppenheimer.

Fiction: “When Harry Met Minnie” by Martha Teichner. All the more poignant since I knew one of the lead characters through an old email list from days gone by. Kleenex required.

Prized possession: “All The Best Dog Poems” by Edwin Burtis. Given to my father by my grandfather and signed in 1948.


Jeanette Stribling 

Travelers Rest, South Carolina

“Good-Bye, My Lady” by James Street is the best dog book ever. I loved the language and the introduction to the Basenji breed.


Sylvia Arrowwood

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

“The Call of the Wild” by Jack London. Proves my personal theory and belief that dogs are superior to people.  


Jen Reed

Carmel, California

The dog bible — “Born to Win: Breed to Succeed,” by the incomparable Patricia Craige-Trotter. She has forgotten more than most of us will ever know about pedigrees and breeding. To be given insight to some of her knowledge and thought processes in her own incredible breeding program is so very valuable to the entire dog community.


Christie Martinez

Gig Harbor, Washington

“The Call of the Wild” by Jack London is my favorite book, but calling up the child in all of us I love “The Dog Who Belonged to No One” by Amy Hest.


Sydney Good

Venice, Florida

“Lad, A Dog” by Albert Payton Terhune. I even found his grave site in New Jersey many decades ago!


Don James

Washougal, Washington

The funny thing is I don't own a Newf (I'm a Leonberger guy), but the very best book about dogs I've ever read is "In the Company of Newfs," a 2002 book by Newfoundland breeder Rhoda Lerman. She writes about a year in the life of one litter, and in the lives of the rest of the dog family in her household who help to rear and train the pups. It'll make you laugh, and it'll sure make you cry, but what it provides are the very best examples of the bond we as humans share with our dogs.


Dianne Tyree

Brookline, New Hampshire 

It’s a tie between “The Watchers” by Dean Koontz and “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein, but I credit author Susan Conant and her Dog Lover’s Mystery series with bringing me into the world of dog sports.


Wyoma Clouss

Meridian, Idaho

“Champion Dog Prince Tom” by Jean Fritz and Tom Clute. This was the true story about a very special blond Cocker Spaniel, published in 1958. I read it in fifth or sixth grade, and loved it especially because he was a Cocker, and we had several wonderful companion Cockers through the years — black, blond and particolor. I vividly remember that Tom didn’t like the harsh commands used at the time, but he blossomed once his owner started TALKING to him!


Ken Murray

Island Lake, Illinois

“Greyhounds in America” by Sue Lackey.


Francis S. Broadway

Hopkins, South Carolina

“Danger Dog” by L. Hall, 1986. Fiction. A wonderful book that I recommend for first-time dog owners, especially parents who decide to allow their child “to own” a dog. Lynn Hall, who mainly seems known for her horse-books and dog-books” is someone that everybody, young and old, needs to discover or rediscover. (See “Sticks and Stone,” 1972.)

“The Dog in Action: A Study of Anatomy and Locomotion as Applying to All Breeds” by M. Lyon, 1950. Non-fiction. Especially for those who believe that the ideal dog is still to be bred rather than show dogs need to fit a probability-based objectively empirical quantitative ideal void of (subjectivity) context such as Elliot (1973).


Robin Greenslade

Hudson, New Hampshire

“Faithful Ruslan” by Georgi Vladimov.


Meg Callea

Shelton, Washington

It has to be: “The Dog In My Life” by Kurt Unkelback (1966).

This book was my dream. To have a dog I could make into a winner and show at Westminster! I'm sure it planted the dreams in my head that have become reality.

“The Dog in My Life” is based on the true story of the prize-winning Thumper of Walden, a yellow Labrador who is part of a litter born to an amateur dog-breeding family. Their youngest daughter, 15-year-old Cary, longs for a dog of her own, and it is the rather ugly puppy called "Meathead" (due to his oversized head). His ears and tail were too long. "I think the best thing you can say for this puppy is that he'll make a great pet," her father said. But Cary had big plans for Thumper: He was going to be a champion show dog!

Basically, a kids’ book, but a fast read for an adult. I just read it again after some 40 years, and that little girl in me said, “Yes, yes, you did it!”


Bo Bengtson

Ojai, California

Since I am fascinated by history, my favorite dog book is easily the Westminster catalog from 1877. Nothing like reading about a dog show that was held almost 150 years ago …

OK, more seriously: It really was a huge privilege to write “Best in Show: The World of Show Dogs and Dog Shows” when I did, in 2008. I was very lucky, since just a few years later a 655-page book with more than 700 photos could never have been published. Forget about the fact that writing it took a couple of years, I was paid almost nothing, and PR for the book was so screwed up that almost nobody knew about it … The publisher did a great job and I’m very proud of the book.

I don’t know if that’s what you meant by “favorite dog book,” but that’s mine!


Richard Reynolds

Tenafly, New Jersey

My favorite book was a gift from a favorite friend. It is “With Hound and Terrier in the Field” by Alys F. Serrell, published in 1904 by William Blackwood & Sons. Much of the advice and instruction are as useful today as they were back then. I still refer to it often.


Shelley Hennessy 

Toledo, Ohio 

My favorite dog book is “Lad, A Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune. I have read it numerous times, along with all his other Collie books. His descriptions of the dogs’ beauty, courage and temperament always appealed to me.!  

Although I did end up starting with Afghan Hounds and Whippets, and now Chinese Crested, I did eventually get my Rough Collie, Maelen.


Iva Kimmelman

Stow, Massachusetts 

A challenging question.

It's nearly impossible to choose one from the hundreds of books I own and have read about dogs in 60 years, but “Lad, A Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune gets top spot. Sentimental but special.

Second choice would be “How Dogs Work” by Ray Coppinger. Fascinating author with 60 years of canine study around the world and knowledge to share. If a person wants to love dogs more than they already "think" they do, his books are magic and deliver.


Don Evans

Huntingtown, Maryland

I have several favorites, but among my most special is my first edition of “The Inheritance of Coat Color in Dogs” by Clarence C Little. A must read for the true dog person.


Joe Ovalle

Modesto, California

My favorite dog book is Jack London’s “The Call of The Wild.” No other novel demonstrates the bond between man and dog when the two see each other as equals.



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