19 Dog Myths You Should Stop Believing

There are more dog myths floating around than there are dog facts.

How do you know what to believe when someone tells you something about your pet?

The following list of the 19 biggest myths about our furry friends.

How often have you heard, for instance, that dogs can’t see colors or that you must be the alpha or pack leader to successfully train your dog?

Or even that it’s terrible for you to sleep with your dog?

This article will debunk 19 common dog myths to distinguish fact from fiction.

Every Biting Dog Needs To Be Put To Sleep

little white dog looking angry into the camera

When a dog bites someone, many people think it will happen again.

They should be put to sleep because the dog can’t be trusted again.

After a bite incident, no one wants to put their pet to sleep, and in all honesty, no one should.

Although understandably, a dog bite can be frightening and stressful, it’s important to remember that dog aggression is a problem that can be resolved.

Since every dog and every situation are unique, talk to your veterinarian or a canine behaviorist to find out what provoked the dog to bite in the first place and how it can be avoided in the future.

When they feel threatened or mistreated, dogs will frequently bite to protect themselves. Wounds can heal with dog saliva.

That is a significant myth. Injuries are not cured by dog saliva.

The results are worse.

Some intentionally allow their dogs to lick their wounds, but this is never acceptable.

A Dog’s Mouth Is More Hygienic Than A Person’s

dog mouth open with tongue hanging out

This myth is most likely the result of observations that wounds appear to heal more quickly when dogs lick them.

The fact that dogs have clean mouths does not explain why they recover more quickly; licking removes damaged tissue and stimulates blood flow, both of which hasten the healing process.

Given that dogs do not brush their teeth twice a day and that 80 to 90 percent of dogs older than three have some form of periodontal disease, it is unlikely that your dog’s mouth is cleaner than yours.

If your dog is anything like mine, his preferred snack food is made of litter box treats.

A Rescue Dog Isn’t A Good Dog

little brown dog behind a fence

There are many misconceptions about rescue dogs.

Some people believe that shelter dogs are there for a reason and that rescue dogs are wrong because you don’t know their history or where they came from.

These myths may be damaging and even turn away prospective foster parents.

You shouldn’t assume something about a dog just because they are in a shelter.

Don’t assume that all animals were sent to shelters because they did something wrong.

Due to unavoidable circumstances, there are a lot of animals in shelters. Some people even give up on their pets when they have a new baby.

And remember that if a rescue is aggressive, it is probably mistreated, improperly socialized, or lacking in training.

The Dog Must Regard You As The Pack Leader

a pack of dogs

Trainers of dogs have long spread this myth.

Owners are frequently advised that to dominate their pets and train them to behave, they must act as the alpha dog or pack leader.

However, studies on dog training have repeatedly shown that well-behaved dogs do not require dominance.

Dogs whose owners use praise and reward-based training are more balanced and content overall.

Dogs Only See In Black And White

black and white image of a forest

Although they have a smaller visual spectrum than you do, dogs can still perceive color.

Grey, blue, and yellow shades are all visible to dogs.

They can more easily hunt at dawn and dusk because this way of seeing the world helps to reduce visual noise.

And keep in mind that dogs are excellent at detecting motion.

Dogs Can Catch A Cold From Human

brown dog looking sad laying under a blanket


Most people think their dog will also become ill if they get a cold.

However, dogs do not contract colds from people.

That is because viruses that cause cold-like symptoms in humans and dogs rarely cross-species.

Consequently, you can feel comfortable giving your dog a case of sniffles.

But remember that if your dog is sick, other dogs in the area could be at risk of catching the virus causing their cold.

So until your dog feels better, keep him away from other dogs.

Dogs Ought To Eat Like Wolves

white brown dog laying in grass eating something

Wolves, the nearest relatives of dogs, consume meat in the wild.

Because of this, many dog owners think that raw meat is the best food for their domesticated dogs.

Dogs have changed over thousands of years from being strict carnivores to be more omnivorous, so consuming only meat can be detrimental to their health.

Your dog might be deficient in many vitamins and additional nutrients if it only eats meat.

Being a carnivore, your dog needs meat and fat, fruit, and vegetables.

Dog’s Age Is 7x More Than Humans

older black dog in front of the camera

Breed differences in dog aging are possible, but there is no proof that a dogs age is that one year corresponds to seven human years.

In actuality, this estimate is an excellent illustration of oversimplification.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs age and dog’s life is as follows:

  •  The first year = 15 human years

  • 2nd year = about nine years in human life

After that, a dog would live for about five years for every human year.

On A Hot Day, Leaving Your Dog In A Car With The Windows Down Is Acceptable

dog in black car window open

Even with the windows down, leaving your dog unattended in a warm vehicle is never acceptable.

In warm weather, cars heat up quickly, and pets suffering from heatstroke can pass away in minutes.

Dogs can’t sweat like humans, making it much harder to control their body temperature and stay calm.

Don’t take the chance; dogs pass away in hot cars yearly.

Only When They Are Tired, Do Dogs Yawn

little dog yawns


The yawn is a common coping mechanism for stress and anxiety in dog language.

Additionally, they use it to convey that they’ve had enough and that time is running out.

Your dog might yawn while playing or getting petted by others—situations that aren’t intended to make them tired.

Sleeping With Your Dog Is Not Suitable For You

dog laying under a white blanket

Dog owners have long been advised not to sleep with their pets by animal experts because doing so will encourage bad behavior in the animal and may cause serious illness in humans.

But since this myth has been disproved, many veterans now think that worries about these problems are exaggerated or simply unfounded.

According to recent research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, sharing a bedroom with your dog may improve your sleep.

You can cuddle up with your dog every night as long as you both are in good health and the dog isn’t hiding under the covers.

Ensure your dog is healthy, free of parasites, diseases, and fleas, and that his vaccinations are current.

Dogs Can’t Eat Human Foods

dog eating a burger from a human hand

You should never give your dog obvious treats like chocolate or onions.

Because there are a lot of food that dogs can not eat, which are even toxic for your furry friend.

However, some foods, like apples, bananas, or dairy products, are acceptable for dogs to eat as a snack.

It’s crucial to remember that these human foods should be given sparingly and shouldn’t take the place of your dog’s regular, balanced meal.

When A Female Dog Doesn’t Have A Litter, She Feels “Empty”

dog laying on white bed

That and the legend that female dogs must have one litter before getting spayed are urban legends.

Dogs cannot feel broody, and letting them have one litter before being neutered has no known benefits for their health or behavior.

It may also increase the number of unwanted dogs in shelters.

Your female dog risk of developing breast cancer is significantly decreased if neutered before her first breeding season.

In addition, neutering protects against womb infections (also known as pyometra) and false pregnancies, which can result in behavioral issues.

Mail Carriers Anger Canines

angry dog with a tough bubble

Okay, so while we can’t say if your dog has a personal grudge against your mailman, their peculiar behavior frequently results from a desire to warn and defend you as the pack leader.

Therefore, when they see this stranger approaching your home, they take the necessary precautions to keep you safe.

Introduce your dog to your mail carrier a few times so that they come to view this person as a friend rather than a threat as a way to help control some of this behavior.

Dogs Express Guilt

white dog looking guilty

Have you ever returned home to discover that your pet had destroyed a pair of your shoes or left a mess on the couch?

If so, their expression wasn’t one of guilt.

People often think their dog knows he has done something wrong, but what you’re seeing is appeasement behavior.

Dogs are capable of experiencing fear, sadness, and joy.

Dogs lack the emotional maturity necessary to experience secondary emotions like guilt and shame.

Dogs that look guilty simply respond to an owner’s anger or disappointment, and it is a dog’s way of diffusing the tension in response to feeling threatened.

Tail Wagging = Happy Dog

tail of a white brown dog

The misconception that a wagging tail means that the dog is friendly and happy, is possibly the most prevalent when it comes to misinterpreting dog behavior.

Yes, dogs wag their tails when they are happy, but they can also do so out of fear, apprehension, or aggression.

As you see, dogs’ body language is complex.

Always look at the looseness or tightness of the dog’s overall body language to determine if your dog’s wagging tail is out of happiness or nervousness.

If you want to know more about dog happiness, read “Signs Of A Happy Dog“.

You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

old dog locking into the camera

It’s a popular misconception that there’s no chance to learn an old dog new tricks.

But that’s not true!

Regardless of how old, a dog can learn new tricks and be trained.

That means, even older dogs can learn the things you want them to.

An older dog just may need a little more time to learn new things, so you just need to be a little more patient. 

But with that patience, it’s not a problem to teach an old dog or senior dog at all.

Dogs Eat Grass When They Are Sick

dog laying in grass eating grass

Similar to numerous other animal behaviors that people find odd.

There are countless urban legends and rumors surrounding why a dog eats grass.

You may have heard that eating grass causes a dog’s stomach to upset and makes them want to vomit or indicates a nutritional deficiency.

Research suggests that both are myths, which may or may not be accurate.

Dogs with balanced diets and good health frequently eat grass; many of these dogs have been seen doing so without throwing up.

Researchers think eating grass is a natural and accepted behavior.

So don’t worry if you see your dog eating grass, it’s absolutely normal and doesn’t mean he is sick.

A Dog’s Warm, Dry Nose Indicates Illness

dog nose with white hair from near

A dog’s nose temperature or moisture content is not always a reliable indicator of anything.

While a sick dog may still have a cold, wet nose, a healthy dog’s nose can be warm or dry.

Symptoms, like not eating, hiding, or acting differently from usual, are better measures of a dog’s health.

Oddly, using a thermometer is the only reliable way to determine your pet’s temperature about fever.

Be cautious of illnesses if your dog has a warm or dry nose.

However, hold off on worrying just yet.

Before You Go…

Now you know the dog myths you should stop believing.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.