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33 Myths & Misconceptions About Dogs

Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Sunday 7 February 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023

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myths and misconceptions about dogs
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If we were to organize all the myths about dogs, we would have a fantasy world rivaling Harry Potter. Alright, I might have exaggerated a bit but the point remains: Dog myths are plenty.

And for the discerning dog owners, misconceptions about dogs is bad news. Because while there are harmless myths about dogs, there are also myths that pose a threat. So, the need of the hour is for someone to debunk these myths. And this is where we come in. Read on as we bust 33 of the most prevalent dog myths and misconceptions.

Dogs Are Colorblind

‘Dogs are colorblind’ is a myth everyone throws around without a second thought. And if you are one of the people who have partaken in this practice, I hate to break it to you, but it’s a myth.

Dogs aren’t colorblind in the truest sense of the word. While it is true that dogs see fewer colors than us, they can differentiate between two of the three primary colors. Their retinas have two of the three photo-receptors necessary to see different colors. This means they can see color albeit a little differently than us.

A Dog’s Wet Nose Means He Is Healthy

Nope, your dog isn’t any healthier than your neighbor’s just because he has a wet nose. This is a misconception, and you would be better off not believing it.

Dogs have wet noses for two reasons:

  • A wet nose helps a dog’s smelling ability. Particles that transmit scent stick to wet surfaces much better
  • A wet nose keeps a dog cool. Dogs exhaust heat through their noses

Wet dog noses have no other purpose. So, it is better to rely on your dog’s diet, his demeanor, and regular visits to the vet to determine your pup’s health.

A Dog’s Mouth Is Cleaner Than a Human’s

Have you ever seen a dog brush? Have you ever seen a dog obsessing about the cleanliness of the food that he is munching? Of course, you haven’t. This is proof enough that a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s.

Now, the reason people think dogs have a better approval rating from the dentists is that they think their wounds heal faster when they lick it. The reason why the wounds heal faster is that licking encourages blood flow. The more fresh blood flows to the wound, the faster the wound heals.

A Dog’s Wagging Tail Means He Is Friendly

You didn’t see that coming, did you? Tail wagging, one of the universal indicators of dog friendliness, is not an indicator of friendliness, to begin with. Tail wagging is but an indicator of interaction.

When you see a dog wag its tail, think of it as the dog saying,’ I am considering interacting with you’. Now, this interaction may end up as playful face licking or ferocious leg biting. Everything depends on the dog’s mood and his perception of you.

The next time you are tempted to pet a tail-wagging dog, stop for a second and evaluate the dog’s body language. And then decide whether to risk a bite.

myths about dogs
Tail wagging is an indicator of interaction.

Female Dogs Need to Go Through a Heat Cycle Before Being Spayed

Females dogs are better off without going into the heat cycle, to begin with. Here is why:

When a female dog goes into a heat cycle, her chances of getting mammary cancer increase. Spaying her before her first heat cycle essentially eliminates this risk.

When a female dog goes into heat, she attracts dogs like there is no tomorrow. And due to this, you might, unknowingly, end up with an army of pups.

You Cannot Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

While senior dogs won’t be able to catch frisbees at lightning speeds, they can learn new tricks that are within their physical constraints. Senior dogs have limited mobility, reduced vision, and/or compromised hearing. All of these things make teaching them new tricks difficult.

That said, with patience, a little consideration, and some effort, you can certainly do it.

Dogs Get Bored of Eating the Same Food Everyday

First things first:

Dogs don’t get bored if you serve them the same dish each day.

Dogs have a fraction of taste receptors that humans have i.e. 1700 compared to 9000. They can’t deduce flavors as effectively as we can. You can say that dogs aren’t foodies, and you can serve them the same food every day.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate something new. Be sure to include some treats in their food every once in a while.

It Is Completely Natural and Okay for Dogs to Have Bad Breath

Before we debunk this myth, answer this: Is it okay for a human to have bad breath? Of course, it isn’t, as bad breath is not only a sign of poor dental hygiene but also of potential underlying problems. The same is true for dogs.

When a dog’s breath starts smelling bad, it is a sign that something’s not right. The bad breath may be due to gum or teeth problems such as tartar. Or it may be due to gastrointestinal issues like an intestinal infection.

When you notice that your dog has foul-smelling breath, pay a visit to the vet.

Dogs Eat Grass When They Are Sick

Here’s the thing: The grass is not a medicine for dogs. There is no reason why they might need it when they are sick. Here you go, that’s one more dog myth busted.

On the other hand, we can’t deny that dogs need fibers to keep their digestive system in order. This can explain why dogs end up chewing your lawn. Though the fact remains, no clear evidence has been found that proves this.

In short, ensure that your dog’s diet provides every nutrient that he needs, and he receives proper attention.

Dogs Always Need Supplements in Their Diet

This is one of those dog misconceptions that only got popular in recent decades. As more and more people started using supplements for themselves, the myth also propagated. But it is not true.

If a dog gets all the nutrients that he needs from his food, there is no need for supplements. Most commercial diets include all the nutrients that dogs need. Adding supplements on top of all the nutrients that your dog is already getting can do more harm than good.

In short, choose good dog food and you won’t need anything else.

dogs dont need supplements
Dogs do not need supplements.

Dogs Destroy Things to Get Even With You

If dogs destroyed things to get even with you, it would solve a lot of problems. But sadly, that is not the case. Decoding dog behavior is more complex than simply attributing our qualities to them.

Dogs destroy things for several reasons. Some of them are:

  • Young pups chew on things during teething
  • Dogs destroy things as a form of physical exercise
  • Dogs also destroy things when they are bored and require attention

In short, make sure your dog gets plenty of physical exercise and belly rubs if you don’t want your furniture ruined.

It Is Okay for Dogs to Be Healthier/Plump

It is never okay for dogs to be obese. Obesity is as deadly in dogs as it is in humans, if not more. Not only does obesity cause issues like arthritis, but it also reduces life expectancy.

To make sure your dog doesn’t get any plumper, give him plenty of exercise. Take him to long walks, play fetch with him, etc.

Plus, never overfeed your dog. Carefully regulate his calorie intake and ensure that he doesn’t get more than he needs. For instance, occasional treats are fine but treats every day are not.

Obedience Training Is Only for Problematic Dogs

The myth that good dogs are naturally obedient can put you in a tough spot. The reality is that every dog no matter his nature or behavior needs obedience training.

Dogs’ behaviors are complex and deciding what they mean can sometimes be troublesome. Dogs can get cranky for the slightest of reasons. Even a ‘good dog’ may end up biting you, given the reason.

Obedience training not only prevents the dog from harming others, it also keeps him from displaying self-detrimental behavior. Long story short, a properly-trained dog is better for both you and the dog.

Dogs Age in Human Years

The rate at which dogs age is not in direct relation to our rate of growth. As a result, when you hear someone say ‘dog’s age in human years’ know that they are spreading a myth.

According to vets, the rate of growth of dogs corresponds to different rates of growth of humans. For instance, the first year of a dog’s life is equal to 15 years of human life. Similarly, the second year is equal to nine human years. For the remaining years, each dials in at four or five years.

Dogs Should Feed Like Wolves

While it is true that dogs have evolved from wolves, they are a completely different species. Over the millennia, dogs have grown more accustomed to eating what we eat. That means, dogs can eat grains and cooked meat, unlike wolves.

Moreover, dogs and wolves have evolved in different ways ever since their common ancestors went extinct. While for wolves that meant more and more reliance on wild animals, dogs, on the other hand, got comfortable in eating our leftovers.

Don’t feed your dog a wolf’s diet, or else your dog is going to have serious health issues.

Crack the Window and Your Dog Will Be Safe Inside a Car

You should never leave your dog inside a car without air conditioning. A parked car can quickly heat up. For instance, when you park a car in 70 degrees weather, it only takes 20 minutes for the car to heat up to 100 degrees. And cracking windows doesn’t help a lot.

The next time you are tempted to leave your dog in the car without air conditioning, think again. Oh, and cracking windows is just a waste of windows, nothing more.

Cats and Dogs Are Sworn Enemies

Tom and Jerry saw Spike beating the heck out of Tom just because Tom was a cat. Unfortunately, real life is not as fun. Cats and dogs are not enemies. They never were, to begin with.

The reason why dogs chase cats is quite simple. Dogs have evolved chasing small, furry creatures. Running cats are nothing but furry creatures. And when a dog sees this fur moving away from him, he can’t help but chase it.

That said, cats and dogs who are raised in the same household get along quite well. They identify each other and, therefore, don’t act like mortal enemies.

cats and dogs
Cats and dogs are not enemies!

Rubbing Your Dog’s Nose in an Accident Will Prevent Them in the Future

Unless your dog has been prophesized about in Greek Mythology, rubbing his nose isn’t going to prevent any accidents. What is, however, is the training you give him.

Dogs, new to households, don’t know the limits. To them, everything that is not a sleeping area is a playing and pooping area. And they will live by this mantra until you train them and let them know their limits, draw boundaries, etc.

Stop rubbing his nose and start training him. You’ll get results and his nose will get some much-needed rest.

A Female Dog Feels Empty if They Don’t Have a Litter

The thought that ‘dogs need to have at least one litter to feel fulfilled’ is the kind of hocus-pocus that makes breeders a lot of money. Dogs aren’t human and you shouldn’t treat them as such.

Contrary to the popular belief, having a litter can be fatal to dogs. From the number and the size of pups to the complications arising from childbirth, having a litter can kill your dog depending on their breed, size, and genetics. It’s best to spay your dog and let her enjoy her life unless you have acquired a female appropriate for breeding and have the knowledge to do so well.

Giving Paracetamol to a Dog Will Treat His Headache

Unless your vet prescribes paracetamol don’t give it to your dog. Paracetamol along with other human painkillers can be toxic to your dog.

There is no evidence that paracetamol formulated for humans has any effects on dogs. This means that whenever you give paracetamol to your dog, not only are you risking his health but you don’t get any benefits from it either.

All in all, refrain from using human painkillers and get a prescription from your vet.

Giving Raw Meat Is the Best Meal Option for a Dog

There is no denying that dogs can digest raw meat. But that doesn’t mean you should feed it to them. Raw meat, unlike processed dog food, can contain bacteria, and other pathogens. These bacteria can cause diseases like intestinal tract infections.

Furthermore, raw meat alone can’t satisfy all the nutritional needs of your dog. Dogs need other nutrients, like fibers, in addition to meat. Commercial dog diets are formulated to provide all these nutrients in an easy to serve form.

In short, raw meat has its pros and cons like every dog diet.

Dogs Urinate in Places Where They Are Not Supposed to Because They Seek Revenge

Alright, this myth is perhaps the most outrageous claim anyone can make.

Listen, dogs don’t hold grudges. Dogs don’t remember the one time you added one less scoop of his favorite food because you ran out of it. Dogs are better than we think they are.

Now, the reason your dog pees in places where he is not supposed to is that he doesn’t know any better. If you had trained your dog to pee in a specific place, there will be little chance that he would pee on your bed (or any other place that he shouldn’t have). They know what to do. The only thing you need to do is to teach them what not to do.

Table Scraps Are Healthy for Dogs

Table scraps are better left off from your dog’s plate. While some human foods like Brussels and Turkey are fine for dogs, most of what we eat nowadays is not. For instance, who doesn’t like French fries with a hint of garlic seasoning? Your dog’s belly. Similarly, avocados and peaches are toxic to dogs.

Long story short, your dog will enjoy some leftover turkey post-Halloween and regret pizza.

When Dogs Lick Their Wounds, It Accelerates Their Healing

We hate to break it to you, but licking wounds does more harm than good. While licking helps keep the wound clean, it can irritate. And dogs will try to bite wounds that irritate them causing more harm.

Additionally, licking can reopen a wound. Closing a reopened wound is trickier than closing a fresh wound. The case becomes especially worse after surgery.

Stop your dog from licking his wounds by applying first aid solutions and using an Elizabethan collar.

Dogs of Mixed Breed Are Healthier Than Purebred Dogs

The answer is it depends, and the reason is quite simple: When you cross two different breeds of dogs, the offspring can have the genetic disorders of both parents or neither.

When it comes to purebreds, the breeders create these breeds after years of selective breeding to achieve healthy offspring with desirable qualities. On the other hand, some breeds with troublesome characteristics may be crossed to create a healthier dog.

So are mutts healthier than purebred dogs? Not necessarily, but they certainly can be.

dogs of mixed breed
Not all mixed breed dogs are healthy.

Fluffy Dogs Should Be Shaved in the Summers to Keep Them Warm

Anyone who doesn’t know that you shouldn’t shave fluffy dogs thinks it’s a no-brainer. After all, fluffy dogs have thick coats and they surely like winter. Well, yes, their coats are suitable for lower temps but that doesn’t mean getting rid of them will make your dog cool.

Here’s the deal: Fluffy dogs will shed their undercoat in the summer. The undercoat is the layer of hair that keeps your dog warm. The outer layer just keeps the elements out. And when you shave both of these layers, the undercoat grows rapidly while the outer layer takes some time.

No outer layer to block the sun, and an undercoat to trap the heat; put both of these together, and you’ll figure out why shaving your dog in summer is a bad idea.

Dogs That Are Not in Contact With Other Dogs Should Not Get Vaccinated

Even though your dog hasn’t been in contact with other dogs, you must vaccinate him. ‘Dogs should not get vaccinated if not in contact with any other dog’ is a potentially fatal myth both for you and your dog.

If you can’t afford all the vaccines, make sure he gets a vaccine for rabies. If your dog catches rabies, the authorities will kill him.

Garlic Is a Good Remedy for Ticks and Fleas

Unless you have a mythological dog that is immune to all worldly poisons, feeding your dog garlic is a terrible idea. Not only is garlic not helpful when in the case of ticks, but it is also toxic to dogs.

Garlic, like onion, is part of the Allium family. These are the materials that contain Thiosulfate. And Thiosulfate is toxic to dogs.

Therefore, keep your dog as far away from garlic as possible.

All Dogs Are Hypoallergenic

Read the title one more time. Now, read this: No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic.

Thus, if you are allergic to dogs, you will remain allergic to dogs even if you get a dog that’s “hypoallergenic”.

That said, dogs cause an allergic reaction when they shed hair and dander. Getting a smaller dog that has little to no hair can go a long way in reducing this reaction. But it can never eliminate it.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Is Not a Good Idea

Can you imagine someone telling you that ‘brushing your teeth is not a good idea’? Of course, you can’t. Brushing is the most important oral hygiene routine. And this holds true for dogs as well.

Now, let’s see what happens when you don’t brush your dog’s teeth regularly.

First up, your dog’s breath will smell bad due to bacteria build-up and decaying food particles. Next up, the bacteria will contribute to an infection that can spread into the bloodstream causing problems such as intestinal infections. Finally, in extreme cases, your dog will lose his teeth. If you are okay with all these issues, then go ahead and believe this myth.

There’s No Need to Neuter or Spay Your Dog

Do you want an unexpected litter of pups? Do you want your dog to urinate all over your house? Are you okay with them having an increased rate of risk of diseases?

If your answer is “No”, then you need to neuter/spay your dog. Neutering/spaying takes away the ability of your dog to have offspring. This has several benefits including:

  • Your dog won’t go into heat and thus, won’t attract male dogs from the entire neighborhood.
  • Your male dog won’t run away to chase some females in the streets

Plus, your dog will live a happier and more fulfilling life.

All Human Food Is Toxic for Dogs

Nope, this a myth as well.

Dogs can eat some human food. For instance, dogs can enjoy pasta without garlic in it. Similarly, dogs also love peas and baked potatoes.

That said, you shouldn’t keep feeding human food to your dog. Aside from being potentially toxic, the human diet doesn’t provide dogs with all the nutrients they need. Commercial diets are what you should stick to with an occasional human food treat.

dogs can eat human food
Some human food are safe for dogs.

Chocolate Is Good for Dogs

The thought of seeing our dogs down a mug of hot chocolate ending in a frothy mustache is too lucrative. And such thoughts are exactly the reason why this myth has propagated so rapidly.

Listen, dear dog lovers, chocolate is only for us. Not for dogs. Dogs can’t digest it properly and end up vomiting. Furthermore, if your dog eats a rather large amount of chocolate, he can get muscle seizures that can lead to a heart attack.

In short, stay away from giving your dog chocolate for his sake. He will appreciate it.

Dogs are precious. They add to our happiness and share our sadness. It is this love that compels us to talk about them at length, and we end up gobbling myths and misconceptions about dogs from sources we shouldn’t trust in the first place. Make sure to always get your information about dogs from reliable sources. Misinformation is not only harmful but can also lead to fatal outcomes. From which foods to give to your dog to whether you should shave him or not, every myth comes with a risk.

So, minimize the risks of believing myths about dogs by only listening to people who know what they are talking about. Your vet and a credible pet blog are all the sources you will ever need.

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