19 Dog Myths That Are Totally Untrue

Photo of author

By Jonathan Trent

With over 65 million US households owning dogs, it’s safe to say that dogs are the nation’s most popular pets. Despite this, there are plenty of myths about man’s best friend that are widely believed to be true. Here are 19 common misconceptions about dogs. 

If a Dog Wags its Tail, it is Happy

Photo Credit: Hanna Borysenko/Shutterstock

While a dog wagging its tail can be a sign of happiness, the gesture can also be a sign of other emotions. Slow wags of the tail tend to represent feelings of insecurity or fear, whereas fast wags of the tail can represent anger and aggression. It’s not so simple!

Dogs See in Black and White

Photo Credit: Mariya Kuzema/Shutterstock

Dogs only seeing in black and white was a widely accepted myth for many years until studies found otherwise. Dogs can’t see the same color spectrum as humans, but as the American Kennel Club writes, they can see some colors. Their vision is limited to shades of gray, yellow, brown, and blue.

One Human Year is Equal to Seven Dog Years

Photo Credit: Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Dogs age considerably quicker than humans, but the commonly understood seven-to-one ratio isn’t necessarily accurate. The ratio depends on the dog’s size and genetics, with different dog breeds having different life expectancies and energy levels as they mature. You should speak to your vet for specific aging information about your dog’s breed.

A Dog’s Nose Should Always Be Cold and Wet

Photo Credit: Agnieszka Agis/Shutterstock

Dog owners shouldn’t be panicking if their beloved pet’s nose isn’t always cold and wet, as it isn’t necessarily a symptom of poor health. If a dog’s nose is constantly dry and cracking or constantly running, then you should visit a vet. However, the occasional dry nose is nothing to worry about.

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Photo Credit: LNbjors/Shutterstock

The phrase, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ has become so widely used in a general sense people have accepted it as truth. While it may be more difficult to train an older dog than a puppy, mature canines are very much still capable of learning new tricks–give it a go!

Rescue Dogs Have Behavioral Issues

Photo Credit: Barat Roland/Shutterstock

While some dogs from rescue centers may be known to have deep-lying behavioral issues resulting from a tough earlier life, not all rescue dogs are the same. Many are handed over due to life changes or financial issues and have lived a life well-loved until they were handed in. 

Garlic is a Flea Remedy

Photo Credit: Julija Kumpinovica/Shutterstock

Garlic has long been understood by many to be a natural remedy for fleas and ticks in dogs, but this is not the case at all. In fact, as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals notes, garlic is part of a group known as alliums, which are toxic to both dogs and cats.

Dogs Need Harsh Discipline

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Dogs thrive when you mix discipline with rewards and positive attention, and many breeds do not take well to ‘learning the hard way.’ They need to know the consequences of their behavior on both sides of the spectrum to fully learn, so it’s important to find a balance!

Dogs Need Endless Love

Photo Credit: T.Den_Team/Shutterstock

While dogs do crave their fair share of attention and love, giving a dog too much attention can break down boundaries between the human and the dog, resulting in a complete lack of discipline. This can result in behavioral issues such as aggression and separation anxiety, which will be uncomfortable for you both! 

When a Dog Yawns, it is Tired

Photo Credit: Artush/Shutterstock

Common logic would lead you to believe that, like humans, when a dog yawns, it is in need of a good nap. While this is true to an extent, dogs yawn for a variety of other reasons. They may be feeling bored or even anxious and stressed.

You Should Let a Dog Sniff Your Hand

Photo Credit: dimid_86/Shutterstock

Holding out your hand to allow a dog to sniff it may look like a method of introduction, but it could instead leave you with a rather painful injury. Holding out a hand toward a dog could be misinterpreted as a sign of aggression, potentially leading to a violent reaction from the dog. Yikes.

Bad Breath is Normal

Photo Credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

When you analyze what a dog eats, their bad breath may seem justified. However, if a dog is being given adequate oral care by its owner, their breath shouldn’t be that bad. The Central Broward Animal Hospital even warns dog owners that bad breath could be a symptom of kidney or liver disease.

Dogs Eat Grass When They Feel Sick

Photo Credit: Aksana Lebedz/Shutterstock

Dogs aren’t exactly the fussiest of eaters, chowing down on any number of things they find in front of them. Dogs will often eat grass because they either like the taste or are still hungry; there isn’t a strong correlation between a dog eating grass and feeling sick.

They Have Cleaner Mouths Than Humans

Photo Credit: Nuva Frames/Shutterstock

People have long associated the higher alkaline pH in dogs’ saliva with antibacterial properties. While it will stop certain bacteria from reproducing, it doesn’t deter all bacteria. A dog’s lack of hygiene knowledge is the main factor preventing it from having a truly clean mouth, so practice oral hygiene grooming!

Dogs Should Eat Like Their Ancestors

Photo Credit: zkolra/Shutterstock

Dogs may have evolved from wolves, but the change happened a long time ago, 11,000 years to be precise. House dogs shouldn’t be subject to a wolf-like diet in modern times, as they have evolved to become two completely different creatures.

You Only Need to Groom Long-Haired Dogs

Photo Credit: Standret/Shutterstock

Dog grooming consists of more than just giving your dog a haircut, meaning that short-haired breeds also need consistent grooming sessions. Teeth cleaning, nail clipping, and ear cleaning are all aspects of a groomer’s work that short-haired dogs will benefit from.

Aggression Levels are Related to Breed

Photo Credit: alexei_tm/Shutterstock

Many dogs are deemed to be naturally more aggressive than others despite aggression levels being linked to a variety of factors. Nature suggests that factors such as gender, smaller stature, a lack of company, and fearfulness all lead to aggression in dogs; it’s not just the owner or the breed!

Breeding is Simple

Photo Credit: otsphoto/Shutterstock

Becoming a dog breeder isn’t as simple as putting a male and female dog together and waiting for results. Numerous medical checks need to be done, suitable living spaces for the puppies need to be arranged, licenses need to be acquired, and so much more. Don’t forget it will cost thousands of dollars before you make a penny!

Some Dogs Are Hypoallergenic

Photo Credit: Bobex-73/Shutterstock

Finally, the notion that some dog breeds are worse for people with canine allergies than others is simply not true. Most allergens that dogs emit originate from specific proteins that they produce. Not everyone with a dog allergy will be allergic to all of these proteins, which is why they may react worse to certain breeds!