The dog world is filled with myths. From everything about a dog’s intelligence to their tail wags.
In this blog we will go through 10 myths in the dog world with the help of the brilliant book ‘Den missförstådda hunden’ by Per Jensen (professor in Ethology at Linköping University). The book is sadly only found in Swedish, but if you are Swedish I would strongly recommend you to get this book (https://www.bokus.com/bok/9789127151871/den-missforstadda-hunden/). The book is based on scientific research in dogs and brings up the many myths found in the dog world.
Furthermore, we did a survey on our Instagram to see how many of these myths are still believed and got some very interesting results.
Let’s dive into it!
NB! If you want a deeper explanation to why some of these myths are true or false, simply click the link and you will be taken to a new blog where I dive deeper into the reasons behind.
Some breeds are more intelligent than others – FALSE
(Instagram voted YES 85% vs NO 15%)
I’m sorry to say that that myth is FALSE. We know from humans that intelligence is not only one thing. In fact there seems to be many different types of intelligence in humans so how can we be the judge of whether a dog is intelligent or not?
The lists we find on the internet is based on statements from different dog trainers but has no scientific basis and mainly says something about how obedient a dog is, not how intelligent it is.
We have yet to map and study the different types of intelligence in humans, and science are still pondering how to study intelligence in dogs and if it is even possible!
Breeds are bred for different things. A border collie might show more obedience then a mastiff but that does not make it more intelligent, cause the mastiff might follow a trail better then a border collie. Dogs are smart in different things but to say that a certain breed is more intelligent then another is wrong.
Fur colour affect a dogs behaviour – TRUE
(Instagram voted YES 29% vs NO 71%)
The myth is TRUE, the fur colour can say something about a dogs’ behaviour. Science has found that behaviour and temper in an animal is connected to the pigment in its fur.
Read how exactly fur colour can affect a dog’s behaviour here.
A dog prefer the person who feeds them – FALSE
(Instagram voted YES 63% vs NO 37%)
No, they do not!
Many believe that a dog is an opportunist who is out to manipulate its owner into always getting food, but science has shown that the relation is so much more than that. Dogs attach themselves to their humans as a child would to their parents. The relation is about trust and love, not who they can manipulate into getting them food.
Read more about the relation between human and dog here
You should comfort your scared dog – TRUE
(Instagram voted YES 88% vs NO 12%)
“Don’t pity the dog when it is in pain or scared, that will only make it worse.”
We have all heard it at one point or another. Luckily science has proven that you should do the complete opposite – comfort your dog!
Dogs are masters at picking up emotions, and it has been shown that if the owner feels stressed, the dog will feel the exact same way. So if you stay calm and comforting when your dog is scared the likelihood of your dog feeling those emotions as well is very strong so go ahead and comfort your dog when they are upset – it will only make your bond stronger.
Read more about emotions in dogs here.
A dog needs a dominant leader – FALSE
(Instagram voted YES 56% vs NO 44%)
I personally believe that this is one of the hardest myths to kill!
Alas, NO a dog does not need a dominant leader. Your dog has no evil plans of taking over and becoming the leader. All they want is to be your friend and make you happy. Science have shown that by using positive reward based methods when being with your dog makes the dog learn faster and prevents many MANY problem behaviours.
Read more here about why you should use positive reinforcement training.
Dogs are colour blind – FALSE
(Instagram voted YES 57% vs NO 43%)
No dogs are not colour blind. They do not see as many colours as us because they are missing a cone making them dichromatic instead of trichromatic as us humans. Humans see colours in the range of green, blue and red, whereas dogs only see colours in the green and blue spectrum. So they don’t see red or orange, as that is more of a grey nuance but green and blue they sure do see.
Should you look your dog in the eyes – TRUE
(Instagram voted YES 83% vs NO 17%)
The myth goes: Avoid eye contact with your dog as it can make them insecure and aggressive.
Luckily, as we can see from the Instagram vote many people do believe that you should look your dog in the eyes. And YES you should! Science have shown that by looking into your dog’s eyes you both get an Oxytocin boost which makes you happier and strengthens the bond between you, so go stare into those puppy eyes.
Read more about the effect of Oxytocin here.
A dog can plan ahead – TRUE
(Instagram voted YES 43% vs NO 57%)
Yes they can! Science has yet to figure out for how long a dog can plan ahead but different experiments have shown that a dog can plan ahead at least for a couple of hours.
A tail wag always mean a dog is happy – FALSE
(Instagram voted YES 38% vs NO 62%)
No, a tail wag does not always mean a dog is happy! The myth is false. Tail wags can mean so many different things and a tail wag is not always positive.
Read more about the many meanings of tail wags here
It was humans who domesticated the wolf – BONUS FACT!
Or was it? According to science wolves had lived side by side to humans for thousands of years before the domestication started. Both wolves and humans benefited from this arrangement and slowly evolved to become more and more compatible, a so-called mutualistic symbiosis. As humans evolved so did the wolf and it slowly became the dog we know today.
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