17 Common Dog Myths That Just Aren’t True

Over the thousands of years of domestication, many facts about dogs have been passed around. While many are true, a few inaccurate myths can have dangerous consequences when unchecked. Here are 17 myths about dogs you shouldn’t believe wholeheartedly.

Dogs Yawning Always Means They’re Tired

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While dogs yawn when they are tired, they do it for a lot of other reasons. They’ll yawn when they are bored or inactive, as well as when they feel nervous or stressed out. If your dog yawns at the vet, for instance, it likely feels more anxious or threatened than tired.

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

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One of the most popular (and untrue) dog myths you’ve probably heard hundreds of times is that you can’t train old dogs. Well, although puppies are the easiest to train, dogs generally have the innate ability to learn, and it doesn’t change as they grow older. Old dogs with mobility issues may have difficulty with some physically demanding tricks, however.

Dogs See in Black and White

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They may come with a bit of red-green color blindness, but this doesn’t mean that dogs see the world in only black and white. Instead, as the AKC says, “Dogs can make out yellow and blue and combinations of those colors. This renders a lot of the world grayish-brown. That lush green lawn? It probably looks like a field of dead hay.”

Wagging Tails Signal Happiness

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While dogs will wag their tails when they are happy, this isn’t the only time they do this. A wagging tail is used to show emotional arousal, and this can be from happiness, anxiety, fear, or even aggression. So, if yours is wagging its tail, make sure you use context while interpreting its body language.

Shaving Dogs’ Coats Cools Them Down

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Many people believe that just like humans feel cooler with fewer layers of clothes, dogs feel cooler with fewer layers of fur. In reality, it is the opposite. A dog’s fur serves as an insulating shade that keeps it cool from hot temperatures, and shaving it off makes the dog more susceptible to heat. You also put it at the mercy of insects and skin diseases.

Dogs Are Natural Swimmers

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Time and time again, we’ve seen dogs fare well in the pool without any sign of struggle. This doesn’t mean that swimming is an innate ability for them, though. While the Irish water spaniel and Portuguese water dog may immediately find their way in the water, others like corgis, bulldogs, and boxers will struggle.

Dogs Feel Guilty When They Do Something Wrong

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Dogs feel emotions, and you may interpret them tucking their tails between their legs when they do something wrong as a sign of remorse. The truth is that it is only reacting to your anger and is actually afraid. If you don’t scream at it, best believe it’ll remain the most lively dog on the planet if it can.

We Should Be Dominant Towards Dogs

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There are myths that humans have to be alphas over dogs, like wolves in a pack, to keep the dog’s behavior in check. In reality, imposing fear on your canine friend is one of the least effective ways of training. On the contrary, positive reinforcement through praise and treats is one of the best, the Small Door Vet says.

Dogs and Cats Are Nemesis

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Many people believe dogs and cats hate each other, and depictions of this in movies fuel the stereotype even further. What they don’t know is that dogs need proper training and socialization to avoid playfully chasing after smaller animals (like cats), and when dogs live with cats from an early age, this socialization isn’t even necessary.

Dogs Eat Grass When Sick

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You may also associate dogs munching on grass with an upset stomach or even pica, an eating disorder. In truth, a lot of them just eat it because they like the taste of grass or because they’re hungry, and nothing more. Certain types of grass induce vomiting in dogs, which understandably makes you think they’re sick.

Dogs Love Warm Hugs

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You may think you’re showing your dog the best of affection by hugging it. In reality, you may be making it feel very uncomfortable, restrained, and stressed. It may be tolerant and may have never tried to get you off, but it’s better to rub its chest instead. Sometimes, hugging your dog and putting your face close to it may be interpreted as aggressive behavior from you.

Dry Noses Are a Sign of Sickness

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Another misconception about dog sickness is that dry, warm noses mean a dog isn’t in great health. This is in contrast to the cold and wet noses we’ve deemed normal. You should know that dogs can have warm and dry noses and feel perfectly fine. In fact, if the dog’s nose is too wet (runny), you should take it to the vet.

Dogs Have Cleaner Mouths Than Humans

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Many people also believe that the mouth of a dog is so clean that it has antibacterial tendencies. Actually, dog saliva has a greater PH than human saliva, which makes it harbor germs that are different (and even stronger) than those in human mouths. Broad Street Vet says dogs have 600 species of germs in their mouths, while humans have 615—not so much of a difference.

Dogs Age in Seven Human Years

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It’s a common belief that one year of a dog’s life is seven years of a human’s life, but this simply isn’t true. The AKC says dogs age at a progressively slower rate—their first year is 15 years for humans, their second is nine years for humans, and their subsequent years are like five years for humans.

Dogs Eat Like Wolves

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Dogs may descend from wolves, but the separation of their species occurred thousands of years ago, and evolution has made them develop very distinct diets. Wolves are solely carnivorous, while dogs are omnivorous and will need plant-based foods to have a completely balanced diet, as PetMD shares.

Adopting Two Puppies Is Better

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Many people also believe that a puppy should have a playmate. However, following this myth will only give you a lot of headaches. Raising two puppies together makes them harder to train and even codependent on each other. Creating your own bond with them becomes a difficult feat to achieve.

Well-Trained Dogs Never Bite

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You may have spent years with your canine friend without any signs of aggression, but don’t believe it will never bite you. When threatened or scared enough, your dog will become aggressive and defend itself. This can be because of an injury, illness, or frustration. As the AKC reports, even a hug can cause your dog to bite you.

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