Beacon Press: A Matter of Breeding
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A Matter of Breeding

A Biting History of Pedigree Dogs and How the Quest for Status Has Harmed Man's Best Friend

Author: Michael Brandow

 A provocative look at the “cult of pedigree” and an entertaining social history of purebred dogs
In this illuminating and entertaining social history, social critic Michael Brandow probes the “cult of pedigree” and traces the commercial rise of the purebred dog. Combining consumer studies with sharp commentary, A Matter of Breeding reveals the sordid history of the dog industry and shows how our brand-name pets—from Labs to French bulldogs and everything in between—pay the price with devastatingly poor health. 

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“If you’re considering welcoming a dog (or two) into your family, read Michael Brandow’s fascinating and eye-opening book before visiting a pet store or breeder. Brandow not only unearths the status-driven history of so-called ‘purebreds’ but exhorts us to love all dogs regardless of breed. A dog is a living, loving creature, not an accessory item, and Brandow makes his case persuasively and with wit.”
—Betsy Banks Saul, founder of
“A Matter of Breeding addresses a critical but often ignored ethical issue: dog pedigrees. . . . This book is not only incredibly important but is a delightful read with fascinating insights into the history and psychology of the purebred-dog world.”
Alan M. Beck, ScD, professor and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond, Purdue University
“Brandow’s A Matter of Breeding is at once a keenly observed memoir of his days as a New York City dog walker, a thoroughly researched history of purebred dogs, and an often biting social critique of people, their dogs, and the world they have made for each other.”
Mark Derr, author of How the Dog Became the Dog


Review: Kirkus Reviews - November 15, 2014
“A no-holds-barred defense of dogs that are the hapless victims of their clueless owners.”
Review: Booklist, starred review - November 1, 2014
“A must-read for all dog lovers.”


Foreword by Dr. Marc Bekoff ix

Introduction 1

CHAPTER ONE The English Vice 10

CHAPTER TWO Perfectionists Gone Wild 31

CHAPTER THREE Royal Precedents and Ruff Drafts 53

CHAPTER FOUR Eugenics, You, and Fido Too 74

CHAPTER FIVE A Frickin’ Menagerie 103

CHAPTER SIX The Midas Touch 125

CHAPTER SEVEN Aristocracy for Sale 151

CHAPTER EIGHT Some Hunting Dogs 173

CHAPTER NINE Coming Home 200

CONCLUSION Frankenstein’s Lab 214

Acknowledgments 236

Notes 237

Index 262

A Matter of Breeding was reviewed in the Summer 2015 issue of Friends of Animals

Brandow interviewed by New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" segment on 2/3/15

The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC did a live, in-studio interview with Brandow on 2/13/15

An excerpt of A Matter of Breeding was posted to on 2/18/15

Animal Radio interviewed Brandow on 2/21/15


A Matter of Breeding

ISBN: 978-080703343-2
Publication Date: 2/3/2015
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $18.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.