Owning a dog can be one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of your life. Dog owners treat their pups like family and want the absolute best for them, yet so much misinformation floating around can leave people feeling overwhelmed and a bit confused.
Today, we’re addressing 17 of the most common dog myths. We will cover everything from doggy behavior to eating habits to training tips. Let’s get started!
Myth 1) One Dog-Year Equals Seven Human Years
We’ve all heard this one. While numerically this can sometimes work out, the science behind the calculation has been proven false.
Different dog breeds age at different paces, and young puppies mature more quickly than humans. A 9-month-old dog can produce puppies, and recent studies now equate a 1-year-old pup to be more similar to a 30-year-old human!
Myth 2) Dogs Have Cleaner Mouths Than Humans
Nope. Dogs have a similar number of bacteria strains in their mouth as humans—almost 600 different types! However, the overlap between bacteria types in humans and our canine friends is very minimal.
This myth may have been started because most of the bacteria in dogs’ mouths aren’t able to infect humans, so you probably won’t get any diseases from doggy kisses.
That being said, you’re still at risk for salmonella if your pup eats raw meat, and you may want to be wary of furry pals who have a particular affinity for animal droppings—yikes!
Myth 3) Dogs and Cats Can’t Be Friends
Dogs actually have no natural dislike for cats, and many dogs and cats who live together have become best friends.
However, behavioral instincts perpetuate this myth. Dogs have a powerful instinct to chase smaller animals that flee, and cats have a powerful instinct to run away from dogs.
Early socialization and training can decrease suspicion between cats and dogs and help promote a harmonious relationship. Good news for pet owners!
Myth 4) If a Dog Wags Its Tail, it Means They’re Happy
When most people see a dog wagging its tail, they assume the dog is friendly and wants to be pet. While this may be true, it’s not always the case. Dogs use tail wagging as a communication method to express a variety of emotions or desires.
Slight variations in a dog’s tail wagging can also tell us a lot about how they are feeling. Scientists have found that a dog will wag their tail slightly towards the right when they’re happy, but tend to wag their tail slightly to the left if they sense aggression—cool!
Myth 5) There Are Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
Many of us suffer from dog-related allergies, no matter how much we love our canine friends. Unfortunately, I have some bad news for those of us hoping to skip the allergies this year with a hypoallergenic pup—they don’t exist!
While some dogs may cause fewer allergy symptoms than others, allergies are typically caused by dander released into the air from dog saliva, skin cells, and urine.
If you want to minimize your allergies this year, focus on frequent vacuuming, dog baths, and creating a pets-off-limits space in your home.
Myth 6) Healthy Dogs Have Cold, Wet Noses
A dog’s nose is actually not a good indicator of overall health. While many dogs have moist noses because of secretion glands and the tendency to lick their nose frequently, a warm, dry nose is nothing to be alarmed about.
It’s much more important to watch for any change in color or texture of the nose, which can indicate an underlying problem.
Myth 7) Dogs Let Their Owners Know When They Are in Pain
Dogs feel pain in the same way as humans, but may show it much differently. As natural hunters, dogs have developed an instinct to hide their pain so others don’t know they are injured.
Dog owners need to be aware of this and not rely on vocal cues from their pup. Pay attention to any movement or behavioral changes—specifically limping, wobbling, shaking, or uneven balance. It’s important to look out for your pup!
Myth 8) Dogs Can’t See Color
While they can’t see the full spectrum of colors, dogs actually have two color receptors in their eyes and can make out blue and yellow hues.
Many other colors, such as red and orange, appear brown or have a brownish hue. This means that if you want your dog to have the brightest toy to play with, it might be time to shop for some blue or yellow goodies!
Myth 9) Raw Food Diets Are the Best Diet For Your Dog
Many dog owners think feeding their pet raw meat is the healthiest choice because that’s what their dog would eat in the wild.
However, as pets are domesticated and not exposed to as many bacteria strains, their stomach may not tolerate all raw meats.
Bones in uncooked meat can also splinter and cause chipped teeth or esophageal tears. Bring this up with your vet before switching your pup to a raw-food-only diet!
Myth 10) Rubbing Your Dog’s Nose in Their Mistake Will Teach Them Not to Repeat it
While many owners believe this to be an excellent training method, it may actually work against them.
Dogs understand behavioral cues best at the time the behavior occurs. When an owner finds an accident long after it happened, the dog is not likely to understand why it is being punished.
Further, this type of action can actually teach dogs to fear their owners and de-rail training efforts.
Myth 11) Shaving My Dog Will Keep Them Cool in Hot Weather
Not only is this a myth, but it is potentially harmful!
Dogs’ coats provide insulation, both from the heat and the cold. By shaving your dog, you’re removing their protective layer and leaving them more prone to sunburns, heatstroke, and skin irritation.
If you take your dog to a groomer this summer, skip the full-shave!
Myth 12) Dogs Licks Can Heal Your Wounds
Not quite! Yes, dog saliva has been found to contain antimicrobial enzymes, which can fight against infections.
However, dog saliva has also been found to carry a significant number of bacteria and viruses, some of which can be harmful to humans and cause diseases such as salmonella, norovirus, and rabies.
Safe to say, it’s probably better to opt for some antibiotic cream for those pesky scrapes and maybe leave the pup out of this one.
Myth 13) You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Dogs are innate learners and enjoy new experiences and stimulation—old dogs are no exception!
Older dogs are very capable of learning new commands. Owners should think of training their pup as a lifelong experience. Plus, it can be fun for the both of you to show off your new tricks at your next party or family gathering!
Myth 14) Fur Keeps All Dogs Warm During Winter
As a general rule of thumb, if your pup has a thick, long coat, they are probably do fine with colder temperatures.
Dogs with less dense coats or shorter hair, such as Chihuahuas, will benefit from wrapping up warm for walks and playtime in the cold.
Myth 15) Dogs Can’t Digest Grains
Over recent years, there has been much speculation over what types of foods are safe for dogs. But never fear, carb-lovers! Grains are not only good for dogs, but carbohydrates and fiber are healthy energy sources for your furry friend.
Dogs have robust digestive systems. Still—make sure you are reading product labels and not unknowingly feeding your pet harmful chemicals!
Myth 16) Female Dogs Should Have One Litter Before Being Spayed
There is an idea in the dog-owner community that a female dog who has had one litter will be calmer than those spayed before having puppies.
There has been no scientific proof to back this claim, and the best indicators of a calm pup are consistent training and maturity.
There is an overwhelming amount of puppies who are unable to be cared for in animal shelters and on the streets, so make sure you are up for the responsibility of caring for puppies if you choose to not spay your female dog.
Myth 17) If a Dog Bites, They Are Bad
All dog’s bite! The individual circumstances that dictate whether a dog will bite, however, are different.
Dogs who are frightened, threatened, or protecting resources are more inclined to bite. It is essential to train your dog to use self-control and exhibit patience when aggravated, especially by vulnerable targets such as small children.
As you can see, many of these myths are rooted in misconceptions starting many years ago. It’s understandable how this misinformation spreads, but now you can be confident in your facts and help other dog parents feel the same! Let’s set the record straight and help our pups live their best possible lives.