19 False Dog Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Written By Jill Taylor

While some false beliefs about dogs can be laughed off as a joke, others can be straight-up harmful. In this light, we have compiled 19 myths about dogs you should stop believing today as they are untrue and could cause dogs harm or unnecessarily damage your relationship with them.

Dogs are Colorblind

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Dogs have only two receptors in their eyes, compared to humans’ three, but this doesn’t mean they’re entirely color blind. They just see fewer colors than humans, specifically in shades of blue and yellow. They actually have better night vision and the ability to spot movements.

A Wagging Tail Always Means a Happy Dog

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Dogs wag their tails when they’re overstimulated with emotions. While happiness can be one of these emotions, your dog will wag its tail when it’s also afraid, feeling anxious, or showing submission. It’s the speed and direction of the tail-wagging, as well as other body language, that you can use to decipher exactly why it’s doing this movement.

One Dog Year Equals Seven Human Years

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Claiming that dogs mature seven times faster than humans is an overly simplistic way of looking at their aging. What’s more accurate is that dogs age at different rates based on their size (with larger dogs aging faster than smaller dogs), and Business Insider reveals that they also age progressively slower after their first two years.

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

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The younger a dog is, the better it is at learning new tricks and commands. However, this doesn’t mean that senior dogs aren’t capable of this. You’ll just need to be more patient and spend more time consistently training older dogs through positive reinforcement techniques.

Dogs Eat Grass When They’re Sick

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Contrary to what you may believe, dogs are actually omnivores and not carnivores, and grass-eating is a perfectly normal behavior. They eat grass as an extra source of fiber or simply because they like the taste of it. The only time you should be worried is if you notice additional signs of distress or excessive vomiting.

Dogs’ Mouths Are Cleaner Than Humans’ Mouths

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Dogs have an estimated 600 bacteria in their mouths, which is only 15 less than the average number found in humans (615). Different types of bacteria in dogs’ mouths can be harmful to humans, so we can’t say their mouths are any cleaner.

Dogs Hate Cats

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It’s hugely inaccurate to believe that dogs have a natural aversion to cats. In fact, how your dog behaves towards them and even other dogs depends on its exposure, curiosity, experiences, and natural temperament. Proper socialization from an early age will help your dog coexist with cats peacefully.

You Should Let Dogs Have Puppies Before Spaying

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There are definitely no physical health benefits to letting a dog give birth before spaying it. If you feel you’re helping its mental health—thinking that female dogs long for children—you’ll be wrong! What’s more beneficial is spaying even before the first heat to reduce the risks of cancers and control pet populations.

Dogs Heal Their Wounds by Licking Them

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A dog licking its wound will actually cause more harm than good. Yes, saliva may help to clean up wounds, but when licking is excessive, your dog can introduce harmful bacteria and worsen infections through them. The AKC says that surgery sites are especially dangerous to lick, as dogs may break down sutures or reopen healing wounds.

Dogs Can’t Feel Jealousy

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Although it may not be from the same thought process as humans, dogs do show signs of envy when you show affection towards other dogs. Psychologists say that behaviors that lean towards this typically stem from the need to protect you and will be shown towards any other social creature as well.

A Dry Nose Means a Sick Dog

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Dogs develop dry noses at various times of the day and for different reasons. For instance, they may have dry noses when they sleep or due to dehydration from excessively demanding physical activities. To know if yours is truly sick, look for other signs like laziness and a loss of appetite.

Dogs with Black Mouths Are More Intelligent

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The color of a dog’s mouth doesn’t have any link whatsoever to its cognitive abilities. Intelligence is entirely influenced by genetics, and the only way to know how smart your dog is is by its response to training. One other myth about dark mouths is that they’re found in only pure-bred dogs, which is also untrue.

Dogs Don’t Need Dental Care

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Your dog needs as much dental care as you do because dogs develop hygiene-related dental issues, too. Bad breath from your dog can be a sign of plaque buildup, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. The AVMA informs us that the best preventative treatment against these is regularly brushing its teeth.

All Dogs are Natural Swimmers

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While dogs like the Portuguese water dog, poodle, and Chesapeake Bay retriever love water and are wonderful swimmers, French bulldogs, dachshunds, and greyhounds do not have such skills. Factors like a dog’s weight, fur coat, and even body structure determine how well it swims, and you should always supervise your dog around water bodies.

Dogs’ Hair Should Be Shaved in Summer to Keep Them Cool

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When you shave your dog’s coat for the hotter seasons, rather than protecting it from the heat, you’re actually exposing it to more health risks. Without fur, your dog loses its ability to regulate its internal temperatures and could fall victim to sunburn and skin diseases.

Dogs Are Natural Guard Animals

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Not all dogs have a natural disposition to protect their owners against threats—many will actually flee faster than you when afraid. To have a guard dog around you, you have to be sure that protectiveness and loyalty are its breed’s common personality traits or that it can be trained to have these.

Dogs Only Eat Poop Because They’re Hungry

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As the PDSA explains, “most dogs eat poo (also known as ‘coprophagia’) out of habit, hunger, stress, or boredom.” Sometimes, even though this is in a tiny minority of cases, eating poo can be a sign of nutrient deficiencies or inherent health issues. It’s important to curb the habit from an early age.

Dogs Understand When They’ve Done Something Wrong

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Dogs don’t feel any sort of guilt when they do something wrong—they don’t even know they did something wrong in the first place. Their ‘sorry’ demeanor is only a freighted response to their owners shouting at them. Without appropriate, positively reinforced training, your dog will repeat a behavior over and over again.

Dogs Will Eat Anything

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This is a dangerous one to believe. No, dogs shouldn’t be given just anything to eat. They have their own nutritional needs, and some foods, like caffeine, alcohol, and even milk, can be toxic to them. For instance, foods like grapes and raisins that humans love can cause kidney failure in dogs.

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