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A team of canine experts reveal the innermost secrets of man's best friend. This episode includes the origin of the poodle haircut, the greyhound's speed and dog breeds themselves.

From huge dogs to tiny dogs, working dogs to lap dogs, hairy dogs to hairless dogs - the team investigates why this single species comes in so many shapes and sizes. Set in a typical English village, the team uses DNA science to reveal the sometimes surprising family trees of some of the village dogs. The team also find out how the extraordinary genetics of modern dogs underlies the extreme differences we see between breeds.

Historian Ruth Goodman uncovers the surprising origins of the poodle's famous haircut; finds out what makes greyhounds the fastest dogs on the planet; and travels to the Guisachan Estate in the Scottish Highlands to meet hundreds of golden retrievers at the ancestral home of this popular breed.

Steve meets the hairiest dog breed of all and reveals how its dreadlocked coat once acted as lightweight armour. Kate investigates the remarkable story of dogs - from their ancient ancestor the grey wolf, through thousands of years as our working companions, to the Victorian creation of the dog breeds we know today.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 8 Jun 2015 19:00

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Sufjan Stevens

    Come on! Feel the Illinoise

  • Daniel Pemberton

    The Wonder of Dogs

  • David Benoit

    Linus and Lucy

  • Derrick Morgan

    Wigger Wee Shuffle

  • José González

    Hand on Your Heart

  • Marilyn Monroe

    I Wanna Be Loved By You

  • Floyd Cramer

    On the Rebound

  • alt‐J


  • Iggy Pop

    Lust for Life

  • Isaac Hayes

    Run Fay Run

  • alt‐J

    Something Good

  • Robbie Williams

    Beyond the Sea

  • Quincy Jones

    Soul Bossa Nova

  • Joey Dee & The Starliters

    Peppermint Twist

  • alt‐J


  • Vaya Con Dios

    Vaya con dios

  • Louis Armstrong

    We Have All The Time In The World

  • Belle and Sebastian

    The Boy with the Arab Strap

  • Irving Anderson

    Let's Misbehave

  • The Divine Comedy

    Assure the Perpendicular Instrumental

  • Lita Roza

    How Much is that Doggy in the Window

  • The Kolettes

    Who's That Guy

  • Arthur Fiedler

    Grande Valse Brillante

  • Belle and Sebastian

    Sleep Around the Clock

  • Lita Roza

    Rinse Me Down

  • Nouvelle Vague

    Just Can't Get Enough

  • Ella Fitzgerald

    Too Darn Hot


Role Contributor
Presenter Kate Humble
Presenter Steve Leonard
Executive Producer Leesa Rumley
Series Producer Jamie Lochead
Director Jamie Lochead
Presenter Ruth Goodman


  • Thu 19 Sep 2013 20:00
  • Sat 21 Sep 2013 17:00
  • Sat 21 Sep 2013 17:30
  • Wed 6 Nov 2013 09:00
  • Mon 8 Jun 2015 19:00

Visit The Wonder of Dogs on OU's OpenLearn website

Visit The Wonder of Dogs on OU's OpenLearn website

Discover more about genetics and the changing roles of dogs in our everyday lives