6 Popular Dog Myths, Debunked

iStock.com/Groomee
iStock.com/Groomee

You know that your dog is the cutest, funniest, most lovable pooch on the planet, but there's probably a lot you don't know about man's best friend. Over the years, a surprising amount of misinformation has been repeated enough about these furry little creatures to make it seem like fact. Petful took some time to debunk several popular myths about dogs that are just that—myths.

1. Dogs are completely color blind.

While many movies have tried to convince us that dogs are completely color blind, that actually isn't true. Dogs are partially color blind, but have the ability to see yellow, green, and blue or combinations of those colors. As motion and brightness are more important for dogs, their partial color blindness does not affect them much.

2. A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth.

While most germs in a dog's mouth are dog-specific and harmless to a human being, that doesn't mean that a dog's mouth is actually cleaner than a human's. They're both filled with a fairly equal amount of bacteria—not all of which can be transmitted between species. But a dog licks many things that most people would not want on or near their face (especially those puppers who like to go digging through the trash), so it's always a good idea to keep any smooching sessions with your dog to a minimum—especially because a dog can transfer bacteria to a human that could result in an infection.

3. One human year equals seven dog years.

A dog celebrates its 1st birthday
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Many dog owners automatically give two ages when asked how old their dog is: human years and "dog years" (the latter of which they calculate as human years times seven). According to Jesse Grady, clinical instructor of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University, the best way to describe a dog's age is to sort it into a category.

The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Life Stages Guidelines [PDF] is what many veterinarians use to treat their patients. This list divides a dog's lifespan into six stages: puppy, junior, adult, mature, senior, and geriatric. And rate of maturation looks a lot different in dogs than it does in people. It takes a less than a year for a dog to reach the adult stage, and after that it takes nearly six years for it to move on to the mature stage of its life. In other words: "Dog years" depend on the dog itself.

4. A dry or warm nose means a dog is sick.

Dryness or discoloration of a dog's nose doesn't necessarily mean a dog is sick. A dog's nose actually naturally dries out in its sleep, but is right back to normal about 10 minutes after it wakes up. Dryness can also be due to allergies, sunburn, or dehydration, and some dogs' noses tend to get dryer as they age.

5. Indoor dogs don't get heartworm.

Just because a dog stays indoors most of the time doesn't mean it can't come into contact with a mosquito. And it takes just one mosquito bite for a dog to contract heartworm, which can be fatal. At the very least, the treatment process will be expensive to the pet owner. Heartworm prevention is important for both indoor and outdoor dogs.

6. Only male dogs hump.

Mounting, or humping, is a sign of both dominance and insecurity and can be performed by either a male or female dog. Some dogs hump when they become excited or stressed by a situation. A female dog may even hump to get attention.

12-Year-Old Is Making Bow Ties for Shelter Dogs In Order To Help Them Find Their Forever Homes

GlobalP/iStock via Getty Images
GlobalP/iStock via Getty Images

At 2 years old, New Jersey native Darius Brown was diagnosed with delays in comprehension, speech, and fine motor skills. At 12, he’s already founded a company, spoken to a national news corporation, and sewn hundreds of bow ties.

Brown's company, Beaux and Paws, donates the bow ties he creates to shelters to help animals get adopted, Today reports. The hope is that since dogs and cats sporting bow ties are so unbelievably adorable, people won’t be able to resist taking them home. It combines two of Darius’s passions, fashion and animals, and the idea was years in the making.


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When Brown's sister, Dazhai Brown-Shearz, was creating girls’ hair ribbons in cosmetology school, she and their mother Joy Brown decided to involve then-8-year-old Darius in the process, thinking it might help him exercise his fine motor skills and also have a positive impact on other tasks he struggled with, like tying his shoes.

It worked, and it also ignited an enthusiasm for style and design that extended beyond hair ribbons: Brown began sewing festive, vibrant bow ties for himself, which he told Today he wears “literally everywhere.” People started stopping Brown on the street, asking where they could purchase them. Then, when the pre-teen learned about how shelters couldn’t accommodate all the animals displaced by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, he had an idea for how to increase adoptions. Brown sent batches of bow ties to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and has since expanded his shipments to shelters all over the country.


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With more than 47,000 Instagram followers and a personal letter of commendation from former President Barack Obama, Beaux and Paws has grown exponentially since its inception, and Darius no longer needs to pay for supplies out of pocket; his GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $11,000. Brown is planning to put some of that money toward a summer trip that will take him to five different states, so that he can deliver his bow ties to shelters and assist with adoption events personally.

“We’re definitely very proud of Darius,” his mom told Today. “He’s overcome a lot and he’s still on his journey of overcoming a lot of things. He just keeps going for what he believes in.”

[h/t Today]

10 Quick Facts About Roadrunners

MikeLane45/iStock via Getty Images
MikeLane45/iStock via Getty Images

Anyone who was raised on Looney Tunes cartoons might be surprised to find out that roadrunners aren’t long-necked or purple-crested—but roadrunners and coyotes do occasionally engage in chases. Here are a few fast facts about these unusual desert birds.

1. Roadrunners are members of the cuckoo family.

Found in deserts, grasslands, and forests, the greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) cruises through the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. Its slightly smaller relative, the lesser roadrunner (Geococcyx velox), is generally found further south. Both birds belong to the cuckoo family, Cuculidae, which also includes anis and malkohas. All the members of the family have zygodactyl feet, with two forward-facing and two backward-facing toes. The arrangement gives roadrunners X-shaped footprints.

2. Roadrunners are fast—but coyotes are faster.

Greater roadrunner in a desert habitat
RONSAN4D/iStock via Getty Images

According to The Real Roadrunner by Martha Anne Maxon, scientists have clocked the speedy birds running at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Coyotes can run twice as fast as even the fastest roadrunners, but luckily for the birds, coyotes would just as well dine on small rodents, plants, and lizards instead of birds.

3. Flying isn’t the roadrunner’s forte.

Most of the time, roadrunners get around on foot, but taking flight is an option too. Roadrunners will sometimes glide down to Earth from tree branches or canyon rims, but they’re limited to short-distance powered flights because their wings are weak and their muscular legs weigh them down. To get airborne, they usually need a running start.

4. Lizards, seeds, and hummingbirds are on the roadrunner’s menu.

Opportunistic and omnivorous, roadrunners will eat seeds, cactus fruit, snails, snakes, lizards, insects, arachnids, and rodents. Smaller birds are fair game, too. Roadrunners will sometimes lurk around birdfeeders and, with a great leap, snatch songbirds in midair. Wildlife photographer Roy Dunn recently filmed a roadrunner capturing a hummingbird at his backyard feeder.

5. Roadrunners can out-maneuver striking rattlesnakes.

Roadrunners have no fear of venomous rattlesnakes—in fact, they find them delicious. But hunting one takes patience. When the two beasts face off, the roadrunner will fan its wings, which makes the bird look bigger and more threatening. As the snake strikes, the roadrunner nimbly leaps out of the way. This happens over and over until the bird, having learned the snake’s routine, grabs it by the back of the head in mid-strike. Then the roadrunner bashes the snake against the ground until it’s subdued or dead. Since they don’t have talons and their beaks aren’t equipped to rip through flesh, roadrunners swallow snakes whole.

6. Puebloan peoples believe roadrunners ward off dangerous spirits.

Roadrunners are viewed as protective entities among Puebloan peoples in the southwest U.S. Members of these tribes scratched X-shaped symbols designed to look like the birds’ tracks into the earth around dead bodies. The Xs were believed to secure them from evil spirits: malevolent beings would get confused because they couldn’t tell which way the roadrunner who left the “footprints” had been headed. Likewise, roadrunner feathers were placed over cradles to protect the babies inside.

7. Roadrunners do not say “beep! beep!”

Male roadrunners emit cooing noises while courting females and defending territories. Both sexes also use barks and growls to communicate—and for unknown reasons, roadrunners like to produce a long series of clicks by snapping their beaks. The clicks might be a message about one’s territory or a signal to broadcast one’s location to others.

8. Greater roadrunners team up to defend their territories.

Greater roadrunner running across a road
ca2hill/iStock via Getty Images

Considered monogamous, greater roadrunners sometimes pair for life. To help maintain the relationship, males periodically dance for their partners. They’ll also offer food and materials that can be used during nest construction. Both parents take turns incubating their eggs, which are laid in clutches of two to six, and they share chick-raising duties later on. Defending the home turf is another task they perform together. A single pair of roadrunners may occupy a huge territory encompassing up to 250 acres.

9. Roadrunners can conserve energy by lowering their body temperatures.

Roadrunners don’t migrate. On cold nights, the birds reduce their own body temperatures by as much as 15°F, which allows them to burn less energy. To help warm themselves back up, the birds like to sunbathe in the early morning [PDF]. They even raise their feathers to expose their skin directly to the sun’s warming rays.

10. The roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.

The greater roadrunner was formally chosen to be the Land of Enchantment’s state bird on March 16, 1949. Since then, the anti-littering organization Keep New Mexico Beautiful, Inc. has adopted an anthropomorphic roadrunner named Dusty as its mascot.

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