BBC Two is to air a new 3×60-minute series exploring and celebrating the diversity of man’s best friend.
In The Wonder Of Dogs, presenters Kate Humble and Steve Leonard will be joined by the UK’s top canine experts to examine how varied dogs can be, how their extreme differences came about, whether this variety is just skin deep or extends to senses, abilities and instincts, and whether, having designed their bodies we have also shaped their minds.
Using the dog population in a typical English village as a snapshot, the team will look at the huge range of breeds in one single place.
They’ll examine them closely to reveal why there’s so much variety within this single species and, by putting them through a range of challenges, will attempt to establish just how intelligent different types of dogs are, whether some could even be trained to read and, whilst we are potty about our pets, whether different kinds of dogs can really empathise with us.
Additionally, historian and presenter Ruth Goodman will be reporting from across the country, from Devon to the Scottish Highlands, to unearth the extraordinary stories behind some of the world’s most iconic breeds.
She’ll discover how reflections of our own human history lie in the DNA of this treasured animal that has been a part of British life through the ages and how, for instance, breeds from the Pug to the Welsh Corgi have gone from the working servants of mankind, to the people’s pampered friends.
Kim Shillinglaw, Commissioner for Science and Natural History, said: “There’s so much variety between dogs – size, intelligence, abilities, instincts, hair length, whether they like or loath water – it’s extraordinary. I want us to show viewers just how different they can be, and how and why. Science is really allowing us to dig into these questions, rather than lumping all dogs together, and this feels like a great way to do the subject for BBC Two.”
David Dugan, Executive Producer for Windfall Films, added: “From ancient predator to household pet, the evolution of dogs is arguably the greatest success story in the animal kingdom. Dogs have adapted to live alongside humans and you can see that close bond in action in the village of Brightwell.
“The villagers worked with incredible enthusiasm alongside our production team to celebrate the extraordinary journey of the domestic dog from one common ancestor to the 210 breeds we see in Britain today.”
The Wonder Of Dogs will air this autumn on BBC Two and BBC Two HD.