Written by Ella White
Dogs have been our loyal companions for centuries, and with that companionship comes a wealth of myths, legends, and misconceptions. In this intriguing article, we'll explore 15 ‘well-known’ dog facts and answer the burning question: Are they real or fake? From canine aging myths to their supposed sixth sense, we'll dig deep into each claim, providing you with the knowledge to better understand and care for your furry family members.
1. Fact or fiction? Dogs age seven years for every human year.
Fiction: While dogs do age faster than humans, the 7-year rule is a simplified myth. The rate of aging varies by breed and size. The rate at which dogs actually age depends on their breed and stage of life. It’s believed that the 7:1 rule came from the idea that the average human lifespan was 70 while the average dog lived to 10. Here’s how to calculate your dog’s ‘human age’.
2. Fact or fiction? Dogs only see in black and white.
Fiction: Dogs do see color, but their range is limited compared to humans. They primarily see shades of blue and yellow. You can find out more about dogs’ eyesight and the color combinations they can see here.
3. Fact or fiction? Dogs have a good sense of time.
Fact: Dogs often exhibit routines and can sense time through their internal body clocks. They might anticipate meal times or walks. For this reason, it’s a great tactic to use these times in their training.
4. Fact or fiction? A wagging tail means a happy dog.
Fiction: A wagging tail can signify excitement, but it can also indicate fear, anxiety, or aggression. Context matters and understanding your dog’s body language is the key to a stronger and more fruitful mutual relationship.
5. Fact or fiction? Dogs can only sweat through their tongues.
Fiction: Dogs primarily regulate their body temperature through panting, which often means their tongue hangs out their mouth – which is probably how the myth came about. Dogs also sweat through tiny glands in their paws. They have sweat glands, but they are minimal and not effective for cooling. Find out more about how dogs regulate their temperature in hot weather.
6. Fact or fiction? Dogs can smell human emotions.
Fact: Dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell and can detect changes in human scent that correspond to emotions like fear, stress, or happiness. There has also been evidence to suggest that some dogs are able to smell certain diseases in humans, too.
7. Fact or fiction? A warm, dry nose means your dog is sick.
Fiction: A dog's nose temperature varies throughout the day and is influenced by their activity level. It's not a reliable indicator of health. Learn more about whether your dog’s nose should be wet or dry, and what it means.
8. Fact or fiction? Dogs eat grass when they're sick to induce vomiting.
Fiction: While some dogs do eat grass when they're not feeling well, it's not necessarily to induce vomiting. The exact reason is still debated among experts, but you can learn more about their theories here.
9. Fact or fiction? Dogs can detect impending natural disasters.
Fact: Dogs have been known to exhibit unusual behavior before natural disasters like earthquakes or storms, possibly due to their heightened senses. Find out more about how dogs use each of their senses here.
10. Fact or fiction? Dogs' mouths are cleaner than humans'.
Fiction: Dogs' mouths contain bacteria specific to their species, and their oral hygiene varies widely. They can still harbor harmful germs, so while a face lick might seem cute and friendly, it’s probably not as clean as you think!
11. Fact or fiction? All dogs love to be hugged and cuddled.
Fiction: While many dogs enjoy physical affection, not all dogs appreciate hugs and cuddles – and some breeds like them more than others. It’s important to respect their individual preferences, but there could also be underlying reasons why your dog is hesitant to cuddle.
12. Fact or fiction? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Fiction: Despite what the old adage suggests, you actually can teach an old dog new tricks! While it's true that puppies and younger dogs often learn faster due to their higher energy levels and curiosity, older dogs are still capable of learning new behaviors and tricks. In fact, older dogs often have the advantage of being more focused and having better self-control than younger ones.