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8 False Facts About Dogs You Always Thought Were True

Dogs, as they say, are man's best friend. They've been at our sides for thousands of years, so we think we've gotten to know them pretty well. There are, however, quite a couple of misconceptions that we've created around our amazingly devoted companions. Here are some false facts about dogs you usually thought were true.

1-Fighting like cats and dogs

Contrary to what one of New York City's leading parapsychologists believes, dogs and cats can actually live together without launching the world into the end times.

Any multi-pet household can have its challenges, and a bit like human families have their fights, our animal companions will have outbursts, too. But life doesn't play by Tom & Jerry rules. It's actually a lot more Ren & Stimpy.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University studied the canine-feline relationship by observing over 200 pairs of cats and dogs in average households.

It was only in about 10 percent of those homes that there was the least bit of conflict between the two, since animals naturally use body language and social cues to basically speak the same language.

The younger the kittens and puppies were when they were introduced, the more likely they were to form a bond. Plus, it's just freakin' adorable.

2-Built to kill

Pitbulls have a somewhat undeserved reputation for being relentless killing machines straight out of hell, and that perception is only aided by the belief that they have jaws that lock, and a bite pressure that can basically vaporize flesh and bone. Well, they don't, and they can't.

According to researchers at the University of Georgia, the jaws of pitbull-type dogs are no different than any other type of dog. They simply don't lock. They might be tenacious, but there's nothing in there but pure doggy willpower.

In 2012, National Geographic began to live not only the bite pressure of dogs, but of other animals. The pit bull registered 235 pounds per square inch on the bite meter, coming in under the German shepherd, with 238 PSI. Now that's not to say that they can't do some damage.

Humans typically measure between 150 and 200 PSI, but we also don't have to clamp down on our food's throat before we eat it. As far as bite strength goes, pitbulls aren't even that impressive.

Hyenas clocked in at 1,000 PSI, but the official head of the Animalia was the saltwater crocodile with a 3,700 PSI bite. So unless you run into a pitbull-croc hybrid, you don't have too much to worry about.

3-Alpha dog

For years, dog owners have been taught that the only way to get their dog to listen to them is to establish dominance over them. Setting humans up as the alphas will ensure an obedient and submissive pup, right?

Except no one works that way, and no dog is happy with this setup. The 'alpha dog' myth started because we assumed that dogs work in the same way that captive wolves function.

The problem is that wolves, taken out of nature, develop artificial ways to coexist. In the wild, there's no alpha wolf, and there's usually no aggressive behavior between adult pack members. These are the same pack members that work together to hunt and survive, after all, and that's partnership, not dominance.

The idea of treating our pets this way was popularized in the 1940s by an Austrian animal behaviorist named Konrad Lorenz, who based his training methods on those used on German military dogs, which included using a hard-handled leash that could also be used for beating a dog into submission.

Recent observations of wild dog packs found that their social structure was more akin to human families, so we should think of our domestic dogs more in terms of building a parent-child partnership. Minus the whole letting them borrow the car thing.

4-You can't teach an old dog

When most people want to get a dog, they shoot for getting a puppy. Not only are puppies adorably dumb, but you might have heard that older dogs won't form a close bond with new owners.

Which is absolutely wrong. And dogs are adorably dumb at all ages, so don't sweat it. No matter their age, dogs are social animals. They want to have friends.

Building a bond isn't just about getting them to sit and stay, it's about making sure you're the most important thing to them, and that doesn't have an age limit. Immediately getting into a routine with any new dog will go a long way in setting the tone for a relationship, and it'll help them prove how adaptable they can be.

Besides, puppies are untrained, un-housebroken poop machines. Older dogs usually have the "going outside" part figured out.

5-Dog years

For all of their energy and resilience, dogs don't live as long as we do, so the informal rule stands that for every one year we age as humans, a dog ages seven. Except that's wrong, and it's ridiculously more complicated than that. A dog's life has distinct phases.

In a pup's first year, they do as much living and learning as a 13-year-old human. Relative age features a lot to try to to with the dimensions of the dog. Some giant breeds are considered seniors after five years. It might take a lap dog 9 or 10 years to reach that state, and just like humans, diet and
exercise can impact that, too.

At the end of the day, there's no tried-and-true method for figuring out just how old your dog is in human years, so watch out for breed-specific issues and then measure in boring, human years.

6-Don't fix what isn't broken

There are a lot of good reasons to get your dog spayed or neutered, and those reasons
are actually sitting in shelters waiting for to be adopted.

Some people believe that the operation will change their dog's personality for the worse, but it won't, and it might even save a life or two.

One study that looked at 382 females and 209 males found that the only behaviors that changed were problem behaviors. Males and females became less aggressive, while playfulness and watchfulness were unchanged.

7-Origin of the species

We all know that man domesticated dogs a long, long time ago, probably about the time we realized we had opposable thumbs and could start fires and argue about politics.

You've probably also heard that dogs were domesticated somewhere best described as "somewhere
over there."

A research team at the University of Oxford analyzed the DNA of an ancient dog and discovered a huge split right down the middle of the dog family tree, with Eastern dogs like the shar-pei on one side and European dogs like Labrador retrievers on the opposite .

The two dog families separated sometime between 6,400 and 14,000 years ago. They were from two different wild populations, and, just like noodles, some were from the East and some were from the West. Since then, dogs have been cross-bred a ridiculous number of times and they've even travelled
the world over, making the science muddier. There's nothing clear about our precious pups' family tree.

8-In the weeds

Nutritionally, there's no obvious reason for a dog to eat grass, so when they do, they're obviously using it like nature's Tums, right?
What's wrong with chowing down on the lawn to settle your stomach?

One 2008 study looked at over 1,500 dogs, and found that about 68 percent of them just liked to eat grass. Just because. They also found that if a dog wasn't feeling well before grass was consumed, the grass didn't do much to help.

There's no nutritional value to grass, and it's not digestible, so what gives?
In the wild, grass acts as a sort of natural wormer. Fibers that pass through the intestines and keep going out the other end snag worms along the way, helping to flush out their systems.

So in that respect, it may genuinely be helpful to a doggy's upset system. But your dog might just be bored, too. There's no way to tell, and dogs can't talk, so you may as well just let dogs be dogs.

And that thing about dogs with wet noses being healthier than dogs with dry noses?
That was completely made up by wet nose lobbyists. Dogs just have different noses for different reasons, so don't believe any of the naso-normative propaganda you might hear.