There are few activities more utterly appealing and delightful to the avid dog fan than ogling a glossy, picture-filled dog encyclopedia. Perhaps you're a dog owner wannabe, reading up on your options in case your parents or landlord or spouse were to suddenly give the go-ahead. Or maybe you already have a dog and want to revel in every word devoted to her breed. Or you're the kind of dogophile that takes pleasure in everything dog-related, and a coffee-table book devoted to dogs is just the ticket to soothe your nerves after a hard day.
More than 400 breeds are profiled here, including far more international varieties than many a dog-breed book. Alongside the oft-seen German Shepherds and Great Danes, you'll find profiles of Pudelpointers and Groenendaels, Portuguese Watchdogs and Karabashes, Tibetan Mastiffs and Danish Chicken Dogs. And while the profiles are short--generally a half to a full page of pictures and text--each is accompanied by a series of icons that indicate important traits, such as whether or not the breed tends to be good with children, suitable for urban living, or good watchdogs, and whether it requires a lot of exercise or grooming, gets on well with other dogs, and is easy to obedience train.
"Domestic Dog Breeds," however, is but one chapter among six. The encyclopedia tracks the evolution of the dog, and does a beautiful job of explaining and illustrating the dog's body and systems, from skeleton and musculature to organs and coat variations. There's a worthwhile chapter on canine society and psychology that covers courtship and mating as well as integral concepts such as the dog pack, aggression, and affection. The encyclopedia also traces people's interest in dogs, from early domestication through folklore, film, art, and advertising to dogs in sports, in work, and as companions. And finally, there's a chapter on how to care for a dog, with advice on choosing a dog, nutrition, grooming, and behavioral problems.
In short, Fogle's encyclopedia is a fine book for dog owners to rely on and a beautiful book for soon-to-be dog owners to dream on. --Stephanie Gold