Five common misconceptions about dogs – and what’s behind them

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Five common misconceptions about dogs - and what's behind them
Five common misconceptions about dogs - and what's behind them
Five common misconceptions about dogs – and what’s behind them

Young dogs have puppy protection and mixed breeds are healthier than pedigree dogs – some misconceptions persist in people’s minds. We dispel five common myths about dogs

1. “Young dogs enjoy puppy protection from other dogs”

A widespread assumption among dog owners is that young dogs generally enjoy puppy protection – that adult dogs instinctively recognize that a fellow dog is a harmless young dog and treat them with particular care or even protect them.

However, this is a mistake. With the term “puppy protection”, science describes the tolerance of the own family to a puppy in the first six to seven weeks of life in wolves. Young animals are not attacked in order not to endanger the existence of the pack.

After the approximately seven-week closed period, the young animals are prepared for the serious side of life, the offspring no longer enjoy all the freedom. However, this protection only exists within one’s own pack, it does not exist with foreign conspecifics. This can also be observed in dogs.

It is therefore not uncommon for adult dogs not to be particularly forgiving of strange puppies who happily push their way in and playfully pinch their fur with their pointed milk teeth. Instead, some dogs, particularly older and frail dogs, react with little enthusiasm and sometimes aggressively.

Anyone who is out and about with a puppy should therefore always leave it on a leash and ask the owner of the other dog beforehand whether it is okay to make contact before the little whirlwind is let loose.

2. “Mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs”

In contrast to pedigree dogs, which are often ill, mixed-breed dogs are far less susceptible to illnesses and therefore have to go to the veterinary practice less often, according to the widespread opinion of many dog ​​owners. In fact, there is no statistical evidence for this.

On the contrary: A few years ago, a British-Australian research team came to the conclusion that mixed breeds need to be seen by the vet just as often as their purebred counterparts and that they can carry diseases in their genes just like pedigree dogs. The scientists published the results of the study in the international journal

However, it is known that some breeds show a significant susceptibility to certain diseases and, as a result, some pedigree dogs develop clinical pictures more frequently than other breeds or mixed-breed dogs. However, reputable breeders and breed clubs strive to avoid such well-known hereditary diseases.

Purebred dogs are therefore neither healthier nor more susceptible to illness than mixed-breed dogs. The fundamental difference is that responsible breeding can minimize the risk of known hereditary diseases typical of the breed. In the case of mixed breeds, on the other hand, it is not possible to predict how high the risk is for the dog to develop a certain disease.

3. “The wagging of the rod is always a sign of joy”

From time to time misunderstandings lurk in human-dog communication. A typical case is tail wagging. Contrary to the opinion of many people, a dog does not always want to express its happiness by wagging its tail.

Basically, a dog shows its excitement by moving its tail – this can have both positive and negative connotations. By wagging its tail, the four-legged friend signals its attention and shows that it is ready to act in this situation.

Which emotion is decisive when the dog’s tail wags can be read from the rest of the animal’s body language. The inclination of the head, the height of the tail, and the position of the ears allow conclusions to be drawn as to whether the dog is happy, tense, insecure, or even aggressive.

The direction in which a dog’s tail is wagging can also provide information about the animal’s mood: researchers from Italy reported a few years ago in the journal “Current Biology” that a dog’s tail wagging to the left signals negative feelings, for example as a warning to hostile conspecifics. By wagging its tail to the right, however, a dog expresses positive emotions, for example at the sight of its master or mistress.

4. “Fighting and list dogs are aggressive”

Dogs are generally considered to be man’s best friend. However, some breeds, known as “fighting dogs,” are considered extremely dangerous. Many people, therefore, prefer to avoid breeds such as pit bull terriers and bull terriers. If these dog breeds end up in an animal shelter, it is difficult to find them again.

In fact, however, studies show that so-called list dogs – i.e. dog breeds that are considered dangerous or potentially dangerous by law – do not react more aggressively than other dog breeds. The result of a dissertation from the Freie Universität Berlin also shows that: Statistically speaking, there is no dog breed that bites more than other dog breeds. So a Staffordshire terrier is no more dangerous than a Labrador, for example.

The reason for the term “fighting dog” goes back many hundreds of years, the story begins with cruel animal fights. These bulldogs were crossed with terriers and the muscular animals then became a status symbol. Their owners trained them and trained the animals not to let go after biting. So the dogs could be used as a weapon. Such dog breeds are still considered dangerous today, which is why there are strict rules for keeping them in Germany.

However, any dog ​​can be trained to injure or even kill other dogs. Targeted training, lack of education, poor socialization, and attitude are therefore usually the real reason for high aggression. And this is where the real problem comes in: If a so-called “list dog” is kept incorrectly, this animal is ultimately significantly more dangerous because of its physical strength than if a dachshund or Chihuahua is not well trained or badly socialized.

5. “The nose is a dog’s most important sensory organ”

Dogs’ sense of smell is undoubtedly the most developed of all their senses. The animal perceives its environment largely through this sense, but in many everyday situations, the nose is initially not that important for the dog.

Much more important when they meet is seeing, i.e. carefully observing how the other person behaves at a distance. Because just like us humans, the first impression of dogs also decides how the further encounter goes or whether you prefer to avoid each other completely. Only then do smelling and hearing come into play and finally, under certain circumstances, also feeling, i.e. the actual approach.

Close observation is also of great importance in the communication between dogs and humans. Dogs have an ability that even apes largely lack: to interpret human facial expressions and gestures, such as an outstretched finger, a raised hand, or a happy smile.

Many researchers are now finding out more about dogs’ unique ability to observe and analyze people. And the research is far from over. On the contrary: many dogs probably already know a lot more about us humans than we have understood so far.

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