While dogs aren’t exactly mired in mythology like more exotic pets, those who don’t have the fortune of cohabiting with a canine companion have some serious misconceptions about them. If you’re looking for some common myths about dogs that people believe then read on and we’ll help dispel some of them for you.
1. Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks
While a common saying, the idea that elderly canines can’t learn anything new is a huge myth that many people find themselves repeating.
The truth is that dogs can learn throughout their lifespan, but older dogs can be more stubborn and set in their ways than those who are young. You can see the same thing in our species.
Likewise, elderly dogs may develop problems with hearing and vision, as well as lower energy levels, which means that it’s simply harder to teach them new things. Still, a healthy dog can learn throughout its lifespan, you just may need to take a slightly different approach than when you’re teaching a puppy.
2. Dogs Are Colorblind
An oft-repeated myth: dogs only see in shades of grey.
While it’s true that dogs lack one of the three cones which are associated with color vision they still have a good sense of color. It’s merely different and doesn’t have the same range as human eyesight.
What they actually lack is the ability to perceive red, which is one of the three primary colors that humans use when viewing objects. So, they’re still able to see shades of blue, yellow, and grey. It’s just a different scale than humans… not a completely grey world.
3. Trimming Their Nails Requires a Vet
Many people refuse to cut their dog’s nails at home after hearing horror stories about what can happen if the nails are cut wrong.
What’s missing for many of these people is a basic understanding of the differences in a dog’s nails from a human’s. While our nails grow far away from blood vessels it’s much easier to cut the blood supply in a dog’s nails. It’s especially easy when they’re super overgrown since the quick, or blood supply, grows with the nail.
While you should be careful it can definitely be done at home. If you’re working with a dog that’s rather skittish and you’re not completely confident in using cutters then you can also invest in a dog nail grinder which makes the whole affair a lot easier.
4. The Dog Year Myth
Dog years are often measured by people intent on humanizing their dog’s age. The general guideline is that a single year for humans equals seven years for dogs.
The truth is that breeds vary greatly in their lifespans and how quickly they age. While the seven years per year mark may hold true early in a large dog’s lifespan, most smaller dogs will “age” much more quickly than that. Many can be full-grown in less than eighteen months.
On the other hand, small dogs can often live from 14-18 years while most large breeds are essentially geriatric by the time they’re eight years old.
It can be a useful guideline but it’s not a hard rule.
5. Dogs Hate Cats
It’s a common trope in cartoons and even movies that dogs and cats don’t get along.
Most people who’ve owned both at the same time can tell you a different story, however. Dogs and cats can become perfectly sociable as long as they’re introduced properly.
There can be some problems: sighthounds like greyhounds and Afghans are often much harder to socialize with felines due to their extremely high prey drive for instance. Other dogs, or even the cats, will just dislike them.
It’s pretty rare that a dog will ceaselessly try to chase down cats, especially if they’re raised in the same home. In the end, it’s funny to watch in cartoons but reality simply doesn’t match up. Both animals are predators and respect is common between them, even if they don’t particularly like each other.
6. Garlic is a Good Remedy For Ticks & Fleas
You’ll see this myth on holistic websites on occasion, usually from well-meaning people trying to help others save on vet bills.
This is horrible advice. Garlic is actually rather toxic for dogs and can cause them to develop an anemic reaction. In addition to that, it does nothing against the parasitic arthropods we fear our dogs catching.
It’s never a good idea to simply trust rumors when it comes to our dogs’ care but this one is far from being useless and harmless. Instead, it can result in extremely expensive veterinary bills for a condition requiring blood transfusions and other specialized care.
Don’t feed your dog garlic, it’s useless and can result in serious medical complications.
7. Dogs Eat Grass Because They’re Sick
Dogs are smart animals. They can take care of some pretty impressive things on their own. Eating grass to cause vomiting when they’re sick seems like a good idea, right?
Nope. The fact of the matter is that dogs can eat grass for a huge variety of reasons. They range from boredom to anxiety. That’s right, Fido may be munching on that crabgrass because it’s his idea of a good time.
If your dog is eating grass it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re sick. It’s really only a problem if they’re eating enough of it that they’re puking on a regular basis, so just keep an eye on them if they’re regularly playing the part of a cow around the yard.
Dispelling Canine Myths
Our dogs are pretty amazing creatures but even experienced owners occasionally fall for these myths and misconceptions. Indeed, many of them would be called common knowledge by people who’ve had dogs for their entire lives.
The truth is always a bit stranger than fiction so make sure that you learn as much about your dog’s physiology and behavior as you can. It’s not just a good idea, it can also help strengthen your bond with your pet.
Want to learn more? Check out some of our other helpful articles about dogs.