The Breeds of Dogs

By Richard Hodges

© 14 Aug 2012


Gurdjieff said that we have “dogs in our centers”. But what dogs? Has anyone ever pondered this koan? Among the many different kinds of dogs found in our centers we may, perhaps, recognize ourselves. The breeding of dogs is one of the highest occupations of man. It is similar to what Nietzsche spoke about, the necessary “breeding” of man in order for him to become Higher Man. The history of man and his dogs reveals this. Since paleolithic times dogs have been the companions of man and, if I am right, his mirror. It is well said, but only in English does it make a punnish palindrome: “Man is God’s Dog.”

Here are the main breeds:


Top Dog: never at rest until it exerts its authority over others. Bred of fear, and breeds fear in others, if it can. But can be defeated by almost any other of the breeds if they fulfill their dog-being-duty.

Wolves: a kind of ur-dog. Ruled by primeval lusts. Capable of savagery that is astonishing only to those who do not know the Law of Nature. Sly, and careful not to put itself in danger, unless really hungry or otherwise necessary. Can bond with individuals and groups including those of other species, in which case it can exhibit nobility of spirit.

Big Dog: a lazy kind of dog, passive-aggressive some say, but powerful and not to be trifled with. Stands up to Top Dogs, and to Wolves. Capable of responsibility for sheep; and if you keep sheep, you would be well-advised to have a Big Dog to guard them. But has little interest in masters, only in sheep.

Hunting Dog: always active. Needs to be carefully trained by a master, for whom it will find and indicate presence of prey. Will resolutely go after prey when asked. Can exhibit amazing bravery, but a good master must not ask for this without due consideration, because it can lead to death of dog.

Bad Dog: on hair trigger to be angry. Bred of loneliness and hurt. Bark is usually worse than bite, but can bite, so be careful. Attacks are often sham, miss target, perhaps intentionally. Will avoid stick, so just hold stick in front of dog if it attacks. More dangerous in packs because you would need a lot of sticks. Can be useful—good for guarding unattended properties.

Good Dog: the worst breed. Always fawns for approval and affection. Loyalty can quickly transfer to anyone who feeds and caresses it. Many if not most dogs these days belong to this breed, because modern life breeds it.

Mad Dog: unpredictable and dangerous. Avoid or kill if possible. Bite may infect with madness—the origin of the “werewolf” myth.

Police Dog: trained to attack on command. Usually gentle with children, but poor practices often breed animal that is unpredictable and dangerous.

Conscious Dog: more aware of surroundings than most people are. Impossible to defeat in a dog-fight because it doesn't fight; if challenged it plays at fighting, and plays very well. Often bonds with cats. Like them, it is not very sensitive to feelings of humans or other dogs or other species, whom it considers itself superior to.





We have in us both god and dog. Our aim is to make the relationship between the two correspond to what it should be. This is the fundamental basis of work, and of “ethics,” in the highest sense. Our work is from dog's side. What kind of dog are we? What kind of dog does our god want? God (or actually god's surrogate who acts at our level, sometimes called “the devil”) keeps dog on a short leash because dog is not good enough, not trustworthy, not open, not able to hear god, not free enough to do what dog is meant to do. What dog can do is very great, but dog makes itself small by constant tension, identification, fear, resentment, laziness, greed, whining, etc.—all the sins.