Young dogs have puppy protection and mixed breeds are healthier than purebreds – some misconceptions remain in people’s minds. Debunking five common myths about dogs
1. “Young dogs like to protect puppies from other dogs”
It is widely believed among dog owners that young dogs tend to enjoy the protection of puppies – that adult dogs instinctively recognize that their fellow is a harmless young dog and treat them with special care or even protection.
However, this is a mistake. The term “puppy protection” is the term used by science to describe a family’s tolerance for a puppy during the first six to seven weeks of a wolf’s life. Young animals are not attacked so as not to endanger the existence of the pack.
After about a seven-week closed period, young animals are preparing for the serious side of life, the offspring no longer enjoy all freedom. However, this protection exists only within one’s own flock; foreign relatives do not have it. This can also be seen in dogs.
Therefore, often adult dogs do not show much indulgence towards unfamiliar puppies, who happily squeeze in and playfully pinch their fur with their sharp milk teeth. Instead, some dogs, especially older and debilitated ones, react with little enthusiasm and sometimes aggressiveness.
Therefore, anyone walking a puppy should always leave it on a leash and ask the owner of the other dog in advance if contact can be made before the little whirlwind breaks free.
2. “Mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs”
Unlike purebred dogs, which often get sick, mestizos are much less prone to disease and therefore, according to the popular belief of many dog breeders, go to the veterinarian less often. In fact, there is no statistical evidence for this.
On the contrary: a few years ago a British-Australian research team concluded that mixed breeds needed veterinary check-ups as often as their purebred counterparts, and that they could carry diseases in their genes, just like purebred dogs. The results of the study were published in the international journal PLOS ONE.
However, some breeds are known to show a significant predisposition to certain diseases, and as a result, some pedigreed dogs develop clinical presentations more frequently than other breeds or mixed dogs. However, reputable breeders and breed clubs tend to avoid such known hereditary diseases.
Thus, purebred dogs are no healthier or more susceptible to disease than mixed breed dogs. The principal difference is that responsible breeding can minimize the risk of known hereditary diseases typical of the breed. On the other hand, in the case of mixed breeds, it is impossible to predict how high a dog’s risk of developing a particular disease is.
3. “Wagging the rod is always a sign of joy”
From time to time, misunderstandings arise in communication between a person and a dog. A typical case is tail wagging. Contrary to what many people think, a dog doesn’t always want to express its happiness by wagging its tail.
In essence, the dog shows his excitement by moving his tail – this can have both positive and negative connotations. By wagging its tail, a four-legged friend signals its attention and shows that it is ready to act in this situation.
What emotion is decisive when a dog wags its tail can be understood from the body language of the animal. The tilt of the head, the height of the tail, and the position of the ears allow one to judge whether the dog is happy, tense, insecure, or even aggressive.
The direction in which a dog’s tail wags can also provide information about the animal’s mood: researchers in Italy reported several 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 relatives. However, by wagging its tail to the right, the dog expresses positive emotions, for example, at the sight of his master or mistress.
4. “Fighting dogs are aggressive”
Dogs are generally considered to be man’s best friends. However, some breeds known as “fighting dogs” are considered extremely dangerous. Therefore, many people prefer to avoid breeds such as pit bull terriers and bull terriers. Once these dog breeds end up in an animal shelter, they are hard to find again.
In fact, however, research shows that so-called listed 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 the dissertation from the Free University of Berlin also shows: according to statistics, there is no dog breed that bites more than other dog breeds. So the Staffordshire Terrier is no more dangerous than, for example, a Labrador.
The reason for the term “fighting dog” goes back many hundreds of years, the story begins with violent animal fights. These bulldogs were crossbred with terriers and the muscular animals became a status symbol. Their owners trained them and taught the animals not to let go after being bitten. So dogs could be used as weapons. Such breeds of dogs are still considered dangerous today, so Germany has strict rules for keeping them.
However, any dog can be trained to maim or even kill other dogs. Purposeful training, lack of education, poor socialization and attitude towards the dog are usually the real cause of high aggression. And this is where the real problem comes in: if the so-called “list dog” is not properly maintained, this animal ends up being much more dangerous because of its physical strength than if the dachshund or chihuahua were not well trained or poorly socialized.
5. “The nose is the dog’s most important sense organ.”
The sense of smell of dogs is undoubtedly the most developed of all their senses. The animal perceives the environment largely through this sense, but in many everyday situations, the nose is initially not so important for the dog.
It is much more important to see at a meeting, i.e. carefully observe how the other person behaves at a distance. Because, just like with us humans, the first impression of dogs also decides how the next encounter goes, or whether they choose to avoid each other entirely. Only then do smell and hearing come into play, and finally, under certain circumstances, also touch, that is, real approximation.
Careful observation also goes a long way in dog-human communication. Dogs have an ability that even monkeys 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 learning more and more about the unique ability of dogs 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 known so far.