Book Review – Book Of The Bitch by J.M. Evans and Kay White

First published, 1988
The edition I read was from 2015

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Technically, for me, this falls somewhere between three and four stars, so I’ve rounded my rating up.

Now, I should qualify this right from the get-go. I live with a canine behaviourist, therefore, I have something of an advantage when it comes to all things dog because I can just call through any questions I have and, bish-bash-bosh, a good hour of explanations and a new to-be-read list.

In Book Of The Bitch, we dog owners can learn all there is to know about the health and hormonal issues which specifically affect the female of the canine species. From puberty to pregnancy and whelping, to diseases of the older dog, there is much to learn. And if that’s the stuff you’re looking for, then this is the classic.

That said, there is some wildly outdated information. Dominance theory, which is spoken of in some detail on pages 38-42 (Chapter Three, Educating Your Bitch, Leadership, etc.) has been debunked; for those who didn’t know, sorry to burst your bubble but you don’t make progress with a dog by bullying it into submission. Not only is this psychologically harmful to the dog, but it also makes for a pretty uncomfortable relationship between dog and owner – for the rest of their lives.

No one really wants their dog to be scared of them. But with positive reinforcement (not mentioned once in this guide), you can create a happy relationship with a well-mannered dog who’s delighted to be with you. I know there are people who think dominance still holds because it works, and quickly, too. Little bit of backstory for you, it was based on observations of wolves held in captivity in the 1940s and 50s. Modern dogs are not the same as wolves, even wolves from seventy to eighty years ago. I’d argue that if you scare the living daylights out of a person, they’ll probably do as you say, but they’ll despise you for it. You might counter that dogs aren’t as intelligent as people. You may be right. But they are as smart as dolphins. That might sound far-fetched but clicker training, which I think everyone has heard of, was first created for dolphins. Boom. Excellent piece of trivia for anyone gearing up for a pub quiz right there.

Other small details that could do with updating include the use of bean bags for the comfort of older bitches. There’s nothing specifically wrong with bean bags (bar the fact that if there was one within sniffing distance of my Jack Russell boy, it would be torn to pieces with beans all over the floor in moments) but, now that we live in a time of memory foam, there seems little point to bean bags for dogs.

One passage in particular caught my eye, with regard to rules in the family household. If you’re planning on getting a dog (in this passage, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a dog or a bitch), you’ll want every member of the household to agree to pre-approved rules for the dog’s behaviour. But this…

“Even before the pup comes home, establish some guidelines for her behaviour – is she allowed to sit on furniture, to go upstairs, etc.? Once the rules are made, stick by them and severely punish any member of the family who makes a variation of the rules in order to win favour with the bitch.”
P 39, House Rules, Chapter Three, Educating Your Bitch, Book of the Bitch by J. M. Evans and Kay White

Severely punish? Severely though?


So, when it comes to the hormonal stuff and how to cope with pregnancy and whelping (the birthing of the pups), this is the guide. However, for my money, ignore everything about behavioural traits in this book. The world has changed.