7 Myths About Dogs

Here are the top myths about dogs.

#1 Dogs express emotions on their Face

Charles Darwin (yes, that one) tried to prove that animals including dogs had emotion and that we can see them on their faces. However, the evidence didn’t support this idea. We might see photos of dogs smiling or looking happy. Those dogs might be happy, and do look like they are smiling, however, the smiling is not the same for a dog. Dogs do not communicate with other dogs with facial expressions, instead, they mostly use sound, touch, and smell to communicate with other dogs.

#2 Dogs have visual Self-recognition

Further proof dogs don’t understand or use facial expressions is the mirror self-recognition test. You put an animal in front of a mirror and see how they react. Some animals such as Chimpanzees, Dolphins, and the Eurasian magpie can look into the mirror and understand it is themselves looking back. Dogs fail this test. One key to point out is the mirror test is visual and does not reflect any other sense. Dogs do not see very well and it is not their strongest sense, smell is. It could be that dogs are self-aware, however only through the sense of smell.

A dog nose that is smelling

#3 Dogs can’t use smell to understand humans

According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), dogs can smell about 1,000 times better than humans. They can use this sense of smell to know your emotions, health, and age. Companion dogs are being used for diabetics to smell ketones that person produces. The dog can warn the human if their blood sugar is too low or too high. Magic? Nope, it’s the dog’s powerful sense of smell.

#4 Dogs are color blind

Where this comes from is when you use a red ball vs. a green ball. Dogs can’t be trained to tell them apart. It is true that dogs can’t tell some colors apart such as reds, oranges, and greens, however they can still see colors. Their vision is more geared towards seeing in the dark. The colors dogs do see are yellows, blues, and purples.

A bulldog with a yellow ball. Dogs can see some colors such as yellows, blues, and purples.

#5 Dogs don’t understand when we talk to them

Dogs have been shown to understand 200-250 words. The number of words depends on the breed of dog. This might be why if you say “Let’s go for a walk” your dog gets very excited.

#6 Dogs only wag their tails when they are happy

It is true that dogs wag their tail when happy and excited. They also wag their tail when afraid or aggressive. If you don’t know the dog and its tail is wagging it may not be safe to approach.

#7 You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Most dogs and humans have the mental ability to learn new things when we are older. Where this myth might come from is the fact that older dogs slowly lose their ability to see and hear. Training for “tricks” might be hard if your dog can’t hear or see you very well.

A puppy in a tea cup.

If you liked this article check out a story of Canadians Coast Guard saving a golden retriever.

Top myths about dogs:

  1. Dogs express emotions on their Face

  2. Dogs have visual Self-recognition

  3. Dogs can’t use smell to understand humans

  4. Dogs are color blind

  5. Dogs don’t understand when we talk to them

  6. Dogs only wag their tails when they are happy 

  7. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks


Written by Will Vincent


  1. It’s crazy that I actually did not know most of these and not only do we have a pet dog now, but I have grown up having a dog all my life. Thanks for sharing these!

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