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
iStock.com/DaniloAndjus

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.

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


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Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

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