20 Dog Myths You Thought Were True—But Aren’t

Written By Jill Taylor

We believe many sensational things about our canine friends. Most of these myths exist in good faith, but they may also put your pets in danger. So that you may give your dog the best life, understand it better by carting away these 20 myths today.

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

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We’ll start with the classic myth about old dogs and new tricks. Older dogs grasp new tricks a little slower than younger pups, but their innate ability to learn never leaves them. It only takes a little more patience—something a lot of people don’t especially have in abundance.

Dogs Wag Their Tails Only When Happy

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While there’s a spec of truth to this, your dog wagging its tail goes deeper than just being excited to see you. Tail wagging is body language for a range of emotions, which, alongside happiness, also include nervousness, submission, and feeling threatened. If you see an unfamiliar dog wagging its tail while standing tall and still, then it may even have aggressive tendencies toward you.

Dogs Are Color Blind

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Dogs may not see on the same spectrum as the human eye, but they aren’t stuck with black-and-white visuals either. Instead, they have dichromatic vision that allows them to see yellow, blue, and combinations of these colors. This makes blue and yellow toys the best type for them.

Larger Dogs Live Longer

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It’s a general biological rule that larger mammals live longer than their smaller counterparts. For dogs, the opposite is the case. Smaller dogs live up to two times longer than larger dogs, according to Mark Edgar, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Melbourne. He shares that their size puts more physiological strain on them, making them weaker and age more quickly.

One Dog Year is Seven Human Years

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One common perception about dogs is that every year they live is equivalent to seven years for a human. In actuality, dogs age faster (and progressively slower). The first year of a dog is equal to 15 human years; the second is equal to nine years; and the rest are equal to five years on average. The dog’s breed also matters in this estimation.

A Dry Nose Signals Illness

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That your dog’s nose is wet doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and that it’s dry doesn’t mean your dog is sick. Yes, a dry nose may be a symptom of fever, dehydration, or dry eye. But you should watch out for other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and a change in appetite to confirm your suspicions. In any other case, your dog may just be as healthy as it is with a wet nose.

Dogs Can’t Eat Grains

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Not only can dogs handle grains like corn, wheat, soy, rice, and barley, but it’s actually important to feed your dog these for a balanced diet. As the AKC shares, grains do not cause allergies in dogs, and wheat (alongside popular foods like beef, chicken, and dairy) could only be vectors of allergens.

Bones Are Totally Safe For Dogs

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Dogs do enjoy chewing on bones and also get nutrients and minerals that stimulate their saliva to keep their gums healthy. Nonetheless, not all bones are safe for your dog. Rib bones contain too much saturated fat, which puts your dog at risk of pancreatitis, while cooked bones pose hazards to your dog’s mouth, throat, intestines, and bowel movement.

Dogs’ Mouths Are Cleaner Than Humans’

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You are more likely to get an illness from your romantic partner’s kiss than from licks from your dog. But this doesn’t mean its mouth is cleaner. On average, dogs have over 600 bacteria in their mouths, which is similar to humans’ count of 615 bacteria. What’s more, you’re at risk of a nasty salmonella infection from dogs that have a raw diet.

A Dog’s Yawn Always Means It’s Tired

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There’s also a bit of truth to this one. However, just like with wagging tails, a yawn could go deeper than just needing to lay on its bed. Dogs also yawn excessively when they feel anxious or stressed by a person or situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. When they yawn at another dog being aggressive to them, the AKC says this is a sign of indifference in engaging in conflict.

Human food Is Safe for Dogs

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Maybe you’ve given your dog some leftovers, and it chugged it all up without any difficulty or complications. So, now you think all food is safe for your dog. You’ll be wrong. Your favorite chocolate treats, avocados, garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, and cherries are actually toxic to them. You should also be careful when feeding dogs peanut butter, as it may contain xylitol.

Shaving a Dog’s Fur Makes It Cooler

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Dogs don’t react the same way humans do when faced with uncomfortable heat waves. You may feel better taking off your clothes to let in some fresh air, but dogs feel worse when you shave their fur for this. Their fur serves as insulation and shade against heat, especially for breeds like golden retrievers and Siberian huskies. You put them at greater risk of sunburn and even cancer.

Dogs Are Natural Swimmers

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It’s best not to just dump your best friend into the water with the idea that it’s supposed to know how to swim. Some breeds, like the Portuguese water dog and standard poodle, may be adept swimmers, but others, like bulldogs, shih tzus, and pugs, are basically built to suffer in water due to their short legs and weight.

Dogs Love Hugs

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Hugs are a sign of human affection, and the tighter they are, the more love you feel from them. This isn’t the case with dogs, though. Dogs feel stressed out by hugs because they restrict them. Instead of interpreting it as love, they interpret hugs as signs of aggression, particularly because it’s a body language they use to force submission while fighting. Give your dog a belly rub instead.

Dogs and Cats Are the Worst Enemies

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No, your dog doesn’t hate the cat next door and wouldn’t be actively looking for ways to get rid of your feline buddy at home. Instead, it’s typically the cats running away from dogs and the dogs’ instincts kicking in to chase and play with them. Some dogs don’t even bother engaging the cats at all. The key to safe cohabitation between cats and dogs is socialization from an early age, as the AKC shares.

Dogs Feel Guilty When They Do Something Wrong

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Your dog may have a rather calm and sheepish demeanor when you’re telling it off for chewing on the couch—lowering its ears and tucking its tail between its legs. This isn’t because it feels guilty, though. It actually feels threatened by your angry or aggressive gestures.

You Need to Be Dominant to Train Dogs

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Many people think dogs need to be treated and trained like they’re in a wolf pack, where the beta members submit to the dominant will of the alpha. In actuality, aggressive training techniques are less effective than positive reinforcement techniques. If you really want to show who’s the boss, give your dog treats anytime it obeys the commands you want it to learn.

Female Dogs Feel Sad Without Puppies

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It’s understandable that we all try to use human emotions to interpret what our dogs like and don’t like. But if you’re worried that your female dog will feel bad or empty without a litter of pups running around, then you’re very much mistaken. On the contrary, your dog will feel happier health-wise when you spay it. ROSSU says castration lowers the risks of ovarian diseases, breast tumors, and pregnancy-related complications.

Dog Parks Are The Best Place for Dogs to Be

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Yes, your dogs will have a lot of fun running around with other dogs in the park. But what this does is expose it to certain unhealthy interactions. Sharing water, fighting, and coming into contact with infected fecal matter puts your dog at risk of kennel cough, canine influenza, and parasite infections. You always want to keep an eye on yours to ensure it’s safe.

Dogs Pee Indoors When Mad

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Peeing on the couch or rugs isn’t to spite you for something you’ve done to them. Rather, it could be a sign of anxiety or stress from being yelled at or a way to mark territory if you haven’t trained your dog properly. Sometimes, this could even be a symptom of more worrying issues like urinary tract infections, diabetes, and kidney diseases.

Up Next: 19 American Foods that Are Not Allowed in Other Countries

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We can debate all day about who has the safest food supply in the world. Though, I’d bet you would be surprised at how many everyday American foods are banned in other countries. Most are due to chemical additives and pesticides, which, in places like the EU, cannot be approved for use unless proven safe. Let’s take a look at 19 of them.

19 American Foods that Are Not Allowed in Other Countries

19 Things That Will Happen When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

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Whether you identify as an alcoholic or a casual drinker, alcohol can have a significant negative impact on your health. This is why more and more people are choosing to go cold turkey for the sake of their well-being. If you’re considering going sober but need a little more convincing, we’ve got you covered. Here are 19 things that will happen when you stop drinking alcohol.

19 Things That Will Happen When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

17 Things Guests Actually Notice Right Away About Your House

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Inviting people into your home is a big deal. You may be very house-proud or house-conscious, and if you are either, you’ll likely get anxious about hosting. If this sounds like you, stop worrying and focus on the following 17 things that guests actually notice right away about your house.