No doubt, you have all heard these common sayings about dogs – and most of us do believe them to be true. But what are the facts?
Here are some of the most popularly believed myths about our canine friends – and the truth, once and for all…
• A Dog’s Mouth is Clean
We all know that human mouths are full of nasty germs, and a cat’s mouth is appallingly toxic, but so many people subscribe to the idea that a dog’s mouth is clean and his saliva is even antibacterial in nature. The truth is that, sadly, your dog’s mouth is no cleaner than yours (or the cat’s). There is a reason he has doggie breath – and a clean mouth isn’t it! It’s not a reason to panic about Fido’s enthusiastic licking of your face, but don’t let him eat from your bowl, or lick your wounds. The good news is that most of the germs in his mouth are canine-specific – and if he is healthy, it should be fine.
• Dogs See in Black and White
I remember hearing as a child that all animals see in black and white, dogs included. This isn’t actually true. In times past, scientists didn’t fully understand the eye and assumed that the difference between a dog eye and a human eye meant that dogs were limited to black and white vision. Now we understand so much more about the retina and the role that retinal cones play. Current science suggests that dogs do in fact see in colour, but more those colours on the blue side of the colour spectrum. Scientists believe they may be red-green colour blind, and probably see in variations of primarily blue, greenish-yellow, yellow, and grey.
• A Dog is Healthy if its Nose is Wet
A cold, wet nose signifies a healthy dog? Not necessarily. This myth likely originated with the once prevalent canine distemper virus, which causes hardening and drying of the nose and footpads. A cold, wet nose was a sign that the dog was distemper-free. A dog may be well if his nose is not cold and wet; for example, a dog that has just woken up will often be warm or dry. Alternatively, a dog with a weeping, running, or very cold nose may be unwell. The nose doesn’t necessarily know!
• One Human Year = Seven Dog Years
This misconception has its roots in people taking the average dog lifespan and drawing comparisons against a human lifespan, and making a correlation. It isn’t entirely accurate, however. Dogs do age at a faster rate than do humans, but this is very dependent on breed – small breeds commonly live for twice as long as large or giant dog breeds (fifteen to twenty years as opposed to just seven to ten years). A one year old dog resembles a human teenager, and an eight year old medium sized dog is like a middle aged human. It all depends on the breed. A Malamute at age ten will be a much older dog than a Pomeranian at age ten. It’s interesting also to note that giant dog breeds take longer to reach adulthood than do small dog breeds – puppyhood is extended despite their large size.
Come back next week for Part Two of busting the myths about doggies…