19 Dog Myths That Are Totally Untrue

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Myths and misconceptions about dogs are prevalent, often leading to misunderstandings and miscommunication between humans and their furry companions. We need to separate fact from fiction to ensure we provide our dogs with the best care and understanding. So, let’s discuss common dog myths that are totally untrue and shed light on the truth behind these misconceptions.

Dogs age seven years for every human year

Short-coated Tan Dog
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Contrary to popular belief, dog aging is more complex than a 1:7 ratio—different breeds age at different rates. For example, smaller breeds tend to have longer lifespans, often living longer than larger breeds. So, it’s important to understand that individual factors such as genetics, size, and health can greatly influence the aging process in dogs.

Dogs only wag their tails when they are happy

Faceless man with fluffy dog on meadow
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While a wagging tail is often associated with joy and happiness, dogs actually wag their tails for various reasons. It can indicate excitement, anxiety, or even aggression. Understanding the context and other body language cues is essential to interpreting a dog’s emotions.

All dogs love to be hugged

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While many dogs enjoy physical affection, not all of them appreciate hugs. Some dogs can feel anxious or threatened when hugged tightly. So, you should always pay attention to a dog’s body language and respect their boundaries when it comes to physical contact.

A dry nose means a dog is sick

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Contrary to the belief that a warm and dry nose in a dog signifies illness, it is not always an accurate indicator of their health. Many factors, such as environmental conditions and recent activity, can affect the moisture level of a dog’s nose. You should look for other symptoms and consult a veterinarian to determine if a dog is sick.

Dogs can’t feel guilt

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While dogs may not feel guilt like humans do, they can exhibit behaviors that indicate they understand they did something wrong. For example, if a dog knows it is not supposed to chew on furniture but does it anyway, it may display submissive behavior like avoiding eye contact or cowering in an attempt to appease its owner.

Dogs eat grass when they are sick

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It is a common misconception that dogs eat grass only when feeling ill. However, dogs may eat grass for many reasons. Sometimes, they indulge in it simply because they enjoy the taste or texture, while in other cases, it may help with digestion. However, if your dog is excessively eating grass or showing signs of illness, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.

Old dogs can’t learn new tricks

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The belief that senior dogs cannot learn new tricks is far from the truth. Dogs of any age can learn, adapt, and respond to training. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, even senior dogs can acquire new behaviors or tricks, providing mental stimulation and strengthening the bond with their owners.

Dogs have a dominant pack mentality

Black and Brown Miniature Schnauzer Lying on Green Grass Field
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Modern research has debunked the concept of dogs having a strict dominance hierarchy based on alpha and beta roles. Dogs are social animals that enjoy being in cooperative and loving environments. So, instead of trying to assert dominance, it is better to focus on positive training methods.

Female dogs should have a litter before being spayed

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This myth is entirely unfounded. There is no medical or biological reason for female dogs to have a litter before being spayed. In fact, spaying a dog before her first heat can reduce the risk of certain reproductive cancers and infections.

Dogs need a bath every week

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Bathing a dog too often can strip their skin and coat of natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. The frequency of baths depends on various factors, including breed, coat type, and lifestyle. Most dogs only need a bath every few months or in specific cases, such as when they roll in something particularly smelly.

Dog mouths are cleaner than human mouths

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Contrary to the popular belief that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, dogs’ mouths harbor many different types of bacteria that can be harmful to us. This bacteria can lead to infections in humans, from minor skin infections to more severe conditions such as sepsis.

Dogs age gracefully

Black Tan and White Short Coated Dog
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While some pups age well, others may experience health issues and disabilities as they age. Some common health problems in older dogs include arthritis, dental issues, and vision or hearing loss. As a result, it’s important to provide appropriate care and medication and adjust their lifestyle to accommodate their physical limitations.

Pit bulls have locking jaws

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This is another baseless myth that has no scientific backing. Pit bulls, like other dog breeds, do not have the ability to lock their jaws or possess any unique bite strength that other dogs don’t possess. Also, the stereotype of pit bulls being more aggressive or dangerous than other dog breeds is not based on scientific evidence.

Dogs do not feel pain

Dog Sitting On Brown Leather Sofa
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Of course, dogs, like any mammals, can feel pain, and they also react to it. The degree to which a dog feels pain may differ from that of a human, but it is not safe to assume that dogs are impervious to pain or injury.

Dogs should feed on a raw food diet

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While some dogs like a raw food diet, it’s essential to ensure that their nutritional requirements are met. A balanced commercial dog food will meet all the recommended nutrient needs. A diet formulated by a vet can help make a homemade diet more nutritionally complete to ensure all nutrient needs are met.

Dogs need a large space to run around

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While exercise is vital for your dog’s health and happiness, the space they need varies. Some dogs can thrive happily in small apartments, provided they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation. Other dog breeds, such as those who enjoy engaging in activities like chasing balls or running agility courses, require more space to run.

You should feed a dog whenever it is hungry

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Establishing a feeding schedule provides structure and routine for a dog’s life, which can be essential for its happiness. The frequency and amount of food depend on various factors, such as the dog’s size, breed, age, and activity level. Ensuring that your dog receives the appropriate diet at the right time is key to its continued good health.

Dogs are naturally aggressive

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This myth perpetuates the belief that certain dog breeds are inherently aggressive. However, aggression in dogs is not solely determined by breed. Aggression can stem from various factors, such as improper socialization, fear, or past experiences. It’s important to remember that aggression is a behavior that can be modified through proper training, socialization, and understanding of the individual needs of each dog.

Dogs don’t need physical activity when they get older

Little dog
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There is a common misconception that dogs no longer need physical activity as they age and can become sedentary. However, regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for dogs of all ages, including older dogs. While the intensity or duration of exercise may need to be adjusted to accommodate their aging bodies and any health issues they may have, regular gentle exercise can help keep them physically fit, mentally sharp, and help manage weight and joint problems.