Dog facts and myth busters

Interesting AND scientific dog facts
By Laure-Anne Visele, started August 2012

Buried in books…

I am always knee-deep in in dog behaviour research, so I’ve collected a few gems about dogs. This is where I’ll be sharing the goodies.


No, not another pseudo-scientific page. When I promise a fact, you get a fact: not a an old wives’ tale or an oversimplification.


Dog fact: A dog can smell if a sugar cube was added to a swimming pool the size of 2 olympic pools. We can’t in 1 cup of coffee! (Horowitz, 2009)


Body language and communication

Dog fact: A wagging tail does not mean the dog is happy. It just means he’s acknowledging you. Check a guarddog next time you walk past. (Aloff, 2005; Collins, 2007)


Dog fact: Human yawns are also contagious to dogs, particularly if from a familiar human. (Silva, Bessa et de Suza, 2002) But then again, this research shows different results. Aaaah, science… (O’Hara and Reeve, 2011)



Dog fact: Dogs are not true carnivores. They are opportunistic feeders. (Coppinger, 2001; Horowitz, 2009; Case 2011)


Dog fact: Milk teeth erupt in puppies between 2 and 3 weeks old. This is when pup will start chewing and biting on everything.


Dog fact: Smaller breeds have less teeth than larger breeds.



Dog-human interaction

Dog fact: Just talking to a friendly dog decreases blood pressure (Katcher et al, 1983)


Dog fact: Dogs don’t like hugs. Most barely tolerate it. Hugs are a primate thing.

Don’t let your kids hug your dog. It increases the chance of a bite.

Dog fact: Top reason for abandonning pet (12%) = behaviour problem (National Council on Pet Study & Policy.) Don’t give up your pet, consult a specialist.



Dog fact: Of ALL animal species, dogs show the most variation in size/weight. Chihuahua/St Bernard = 100x difference


Dog fact: The particular sound beagles make when ‘barking’ is called baying.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Life cycle

Dog fact: Social maturity in dog = 2 and 3 years. This is why many behaviour problems arise around that age (Overall, 1997).


Dog fact: 1 human year = 7 dog years = another grossly oversimplified myth. For a more intelligent calculation, read my article on dog age.


Dog fact: Dogs have about 320 bones in their bodies. Humans have 206. (courtesy of pet365 infographic: Dog vs. Human Anatomy Facts)



Dog fact: Dog behaviour problem: 32% owners ask their vet for advice, 26% ask animal behaviourist (Blackwell, 2008)

Evolutionary history

Dog fact: Dogs do not come from the modern grey wolves. They share a common ancestor. (Case, 2005; Coppinger, 2001; Horowitz, 2009)



Dog fact: Dogs don’t do it ‘doggie style’. Fertilisation can only occur if they are back-to-back. (Abrantes, 2005)


For complete references and full book reviews, check my literature survey page. If the reference is not reviewed in my page, research it on Google Scholar for the full-text paper.

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