Myths About Dogs

Find out which 4 dog myths you should never believe.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #063

A couple of weeks ago I asked my Facebook fans to list their favorite dog myths. Boy, did people have a lot to say! You can’t teach hounds to come when called. A female dog needs to have a litter before she’s spayed. The taste of blood will make your dog aggressive. Golden Retrievers are always great with kids. Doggy folklore is everywhere.  A lot of it is fairly harmless, but some does real damage to dogs and people alike. This week, I’ll unpack some juicy examples, harmless and otherwise..

Myth 1: Dogs Are Colorblind

You’ll often hear it said that dogs are colorblind. It’s not so surprising that this idea’s still around, because apparently dogs weren’t conclusively shown to have any color vision till 1989. (1) The researchers in that study tested only three dogs but got the right answer, which is that dogs have so-called dichromatic vision. They can distinguish blue from yellow but not red from green. Incidentally, they also perceive objects in motion much more clearly than they do objects at rest. That explains why that red rubber ball blatantly lying there on the Chem Lawn-green grass, absolutely shrieking “Notice me!,”  is more or less invisible to your dog. Give him a minute, and he’ll find it with his nose.

Myth 2: Bitches Need to Have a Litter Before They’re Spayed

A lot of doggy folklore is fairly harmless—but some misinformation is damaging.

Another fine item of health-related folk wisdom (cough) is that bitches need to have a litter before they’re spayed. I couldn’t even imagine what the rationale for this might be, so I asked around.

Apparently the commonest idea is that having a litter settles the female down and matures her. Then she becomes a responsible dog. Well, a female’s first heat usually comes when she’s between 6 and 16 months old. Suppose she’s bred a bit later than that, she will probably be maturing socially right around the time she has a litter. But just because two things happen close in time doesn’t mean that one causes the other. I promise, your girl dog will become a woman dog whether she has puppies or not. And I look forward to the day when I meet a responsible dog of either sex or any age.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).

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