Debunking Common Beliefs About Dogs

By Faith McCloy
December 15, 2023

How often have you heard “One dog year equals seven human years”? What would you think if I told you that isn’t true? Many dog myths have floated in and out the ears of pet owners for decades. We are here to show you the truth behind misconceptions that plague the understanding of our furry friends.

“Dogs See In Black and White”

Many people believe that dogs are colorblind, and while they’re technically correct, dogs can see more than black and white. Eyes have a component called cones that allow us to see color. Humans have 4 cones that allow us to see the whole rainbow while dogs only have 2 cones. These cones allow dogs to see the world in blues, muted yellow, and grey; our pups see similarly to someone with red-green colorblindness. 

“Shaving Your Dog’s Fur In The Summer Will Keep Them Cool”

A haircut for us in the summer is a quick way to cool down but it could have disastrous consequences for your dog. Dogs rely on their coat to warm them in the winter and cool them down in the summer. Their hair stands up in warmer months to provide airflow directly to their skin and it lays flat in cooler months to trap heat. 

You should never shave a double-coated dog. The breeds that have double coats are Huskies, Retrievers, Shepherds, Pomeranians, and more. You should be proactive and research your dog’s breed before making any drastic grooming decisions. If you shave a double-coated dog, you risk the chance of ruining their coat for life. 

“A Little ‘_____’ Won't Kill Them”

Any and all food that is toxic to dogs is never safe, even in small quantities. It might seem like a little bit of garlic or avocado is okay for your dog to have occasionally, but the chances they could get sick are great. If you have any concerns or questions about specific foods you should speak with your vet to ensure it isn’t something toxic to your dog.

You can view our blog on toxic human foods here.

I Need To Show My Dog Who Is Boss

Dogs are hierarchical animals which misleads many pet owners to believe that they need to prove their dominance to their dog. Some say that it helps dogs respect them and therefore makes them more obedient. This belief is a result of Cesar Millan’s dog training show, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.

In fact, dogs respond better when their parents provide them with positive reinforcement, praise, and a stable environment. The dogs that are exposed to this kind of parenting tend to be happier and more balanced. Never use the alpha roll on your dog–it’s downright cruel. 

Two Puppies Are Better Than One

Have you ever heard the term “Littermate Syndrome”? It is well known among cat parents that getting two kittens helps them adjust better as they’re very social and learn from one another. This is not the same for dogs. 

Littermate syndrome occurs when puppies are adopted (or at least within the puppy stage for both animals) and subsequently raised together. Oftentimes, these dogs develop negative behaviors such as difficulty bonding with other animals or humans, separation anxiety, and aggression. 

Dogs Yawn When They’re Tired

Humans might yawn when they're tired, but a dog’s yawn can mean much more than that. A yawn is one of the more prominent body language signs that your dog can show you. They might yawn because they’re bored, stressed, anxious, or trying to de-escalate a situation. Look into what might be causing them to yawn and help your pup!

If interested, you can read more about understanding your dog’s body language here!

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

While the mouths of dogs and humans aren’t fully comparable bacteria-wise, scientists and vets say that a dog’s mouth is not any cleaner than a human’s. The bacteria in dogs’ mouths are different from a human’s and cannot necessarily thrive in a human. We do share some similar bacteria that cause periodontal diseases (dogs need dental work too!).

Many people also believe that a dog’s saliva can heal their wounds, but this isn’t fully true. The act of licking a wound (something all mammals, including humans, do) debrides and removes dirt from a wound. Research has also shown that a protein called histatin helps ward off infection. However, there is still negative bacteria within their saliva. 

Stay Informed

While most of these myths are innocuous, others can lead to harmful beliefs about dogs. It is important to stay informed and do your research before taking advice on the internet. Your vet’s office is another good resource for busting myths and misinformation about your dog. 

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