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Have you ever heard about the term “Black Dog Syndrome”? Although it might sound like a mythical disease, it is not, neither is it contagious. It is a phenomenon in the shelter and rescue community that is quite alarming: black-colored dogs often get left behind when it comes to adopting dogs from shelters. Sad, isn’t it?
Many professionals, as well as ordinary dog-lovers, are pretty much aware that black dogs nowadays don’t always attract attention because of their color and reputation. They end up usually being euthanized first, but adopted the last. Even people who come for dog adoption prefer light-colored ones such as white, brown, or similar colors. To clarify, here are some reasons why black dogs are subconsciously treated as outcasts by some people:
Black Dog Syndrome
- Their black color doesn’t do well with the public in general. Some prefer lighter coats because they are more eye-catching.
- Most owners find it hard to read a black dog’s expression and what it wants.
- Because they are black, they may be difficult to see at night or when they are in darker places. This can be a hassle if they get lost or suddenly ran off in the middle of the night. It can also be dangerous to them and to other people because not many people will notice them. They might suddenly attack people or get hit by speeding vehicles during those hours.
- In popular media and culture, black dogs are stuck with the bad negative image of being the villain and being aggressive.
- Similar to the reason above, black has always been the color most commonly used to represent negativity, evil and misfortune. For this reason, some people tend to believe that black dogs are unlucky.
- Many black dogs are known as dangerous dogs and are prone to aggression. Some of which are Pit bulls, Doberman Pinchers, black Labradors, Chows and Rottweilers.
For the stated reasons, black dogs seem to be discriminated against. And it’s not just dogs; even black cats experience the same kind of sad fate. These pets are in great need and danger if they do not find love and care from human owners.
An excerpt from a Wikipedia article gives some further understanding of the phenomenon:
The phenomenon may be due to a number of factors, including fear stigma against certain breed types, and the fact that large, black dogs are often portrayed as aggressive in film and on television.
Some people believe that during the pet adoption process some potential owners associate the color black with evil or misfortune (similar to the common superstition surrounding black cats), and this bias transfers over to their choice of dog. Additionally, many shelters feature photo profiles of their dogs on the shelter website. Because black dogs do not photograph well, lighter-colored dogs have an advantage with potential adopters browsing the site.
The bottom line is that, dogs and cats need love and care, regardless of color, size, or breed. As owners and dog lovers, we should also do something to further prevent Black Dog Syndrome from lingering in the community.
Do you have any ideas to help combat this phenomenon? If so, please share your thoughts below.
[…] Unfortunately, some black dogs, like Pit bulls, Doberman Pinchers, black Labradors, Chows, and Rottweilers, are known as dangerous dogs and are prone to aggression. But there’s no evidence showing black fur makes a dog more aggressive. (Source: Black Dog Syndrome: Is It Real? – The Dogington Post) […]
I agree with having them in the first kennels. In addition, take them out and parade them around with bright scarves around their necks, showing how sweet they are.
I had a wonderful black dog who was so nice she was stolen from me. I now have another who is a rescue dog. Color doesn’t matter!
I have 3 black dogs and love them all very much.
They are kind, loving, and always make me feel better when I have a bad day.
It is so unfair to judge dogs based on color.
In my opinion, locate the black animals on front, as on the fist cages or on the first lines and not at the end. I think people are more likely to get the firsts animals than the lasts ones (personal opinion). Other thing that MIGHT help is get them some shinny and/or funny accessory; such as, pointy birthday hat. A red colored collar would do too, such as red cowboy-like-bandana-collar. Or a white/red/green/electric blue (any catchy color) clothing. Lastly, the cage where there are located, probably would be a good idea to paint in a catchy color or put a big sign with some funny words or touching story or some funny pictures of the animal. The personal can help a little by introducing the black animal. A person who goes to a shelter to adopt an animal are more likely accept any color. Try to “sell” the black animal. Hope these can help.
I have a black cat and I came from a VERY superstitious culture and family. I love this rescued-fully black-kitty and will never ever leave him. So, against my will I had to dye part of his body in gold (blond) so he is not fully black (to fool the bad luck) and got him a red collar with a big red bell on it; so I can hear where he is to avoid accidents.
I have had dogs all my life and all but 2 were black. Right now I have 2 black dogs. There is nothing more beautiful than a black dog. My first dog was a black spaniel and she was so black she looked blue. She was my first, best and the most beautiful dog ever.
“Many black dogs are known as dangerous dogs and are prone to aggression. Some of which are Pit bulls, Doberman Pinchers, black Labradors, Chows and Rottweilers.” Black Labs are on the list??? Really? I thought they had a reputation for being the best family dogs, one of the reason they’re not used for police work is their gentleness.
When I was in high school my family adopted a black lab/rottweiler mix from the shelter. She was the sweetest dog we’ve ever had. We never had an issue with aggression. We lost her last year to bone cancer at 10 years old and we all still get choked up when we talk about her. But on a lighter note, the only thing in this article I agree with is that we have tripped over her at night many, many times. It’s hard to see a black dog laying down on dark hardwood floors at night with no lights on and even worse, the black carpet in my old bedroom.
The “black Labradors” as an aggressive breed is hilarious.
The LABRADOR is the breed and can be identified as either American or English.
The COLOR of a lab is NOT a differentiating characteristic in the “breed type”.
Perhaps the author should double check his facts and do a little education on genetics before listing “black Labrador” as a breed
Additionally, Labradors are the NUMBER ONE service, canine support, and therapy dogs in the WORLD….color aside. One reason……their SOFT MOUTH…….they are capable of picking things up and working delicate switches with damaging things……. same reason why they are so desired as hunting dogs (specifically for water fowl and other birds) where they have to go get what was shot ….hence the 2nd half of their name “retriever”.
I personally think the author was stretching for reasons…….to make people seem less superficial. Ask any shelter worker or dog rescue and the truth is “black dogs are common” and people often do not spay or neuter their mixed breed dogs and many dogs get labelled as “lab” based on appearance only.
Got to say this article was quite a let down……just someone else’s OP of what we all know……people are superficial and often think of dogs as a thing or a status symbol.
I was very surprised at reading the article. Thought black dogs were prefered over other colours. They are beautiful.
Black fur is less noticeablesays:
Best decision I ever made was rescuing my black cat. I had heard of this before, so I made a point to consider the black animals at the shelter. He was so scared in his cage. He didn’t belong there at all. When I asked about him they said he had been there since he was a kitten and was now 5 years old :*(
He is the SWEETEST boy. He is so affectionate, he returns all of the cuddles I give him unlike my other more greedy cat who has a gorgeous striped coat. Adopt the black ones! Another perk is his fur is far less noticeable on my pants.
C W Buckmansays:
Not one mention of racism. The article came close but, didn’t quite get thete.
I have a black lab mix and he is the sweetest dog ever loves getting pets and all people. My sister has a little boston terrier and even though he is a big boy he is gentle as can be with the little dog.
I have a black Bully Pit toxic he is the most humble dog you will ever meet. He lives to play with children n he is great with my 11 year old daughter and is very obedient. All dogs and every other animal are Gods creation. There is no such thing as bad luck or anything of that kind with a black dog! It’s all about the love you give to them. They in return will honor you n love you right back.
They should address this On the news, animal planet and adoption centers. Bring awareness that black dogs are wonderful dogs too. Just raise them right.
We have had 4 Black Labs in our married years and wouldn’t have any other colour. I compare them to a beautiful stallion when they run and their coats shine like satin. Try taking a picture of a black dog and you will have a hard time as their coat is as shiny as their personality. And those dark brown or black eyes just mealt your heart. I say once you go black you never go back.
I have nothing against black dogs however the majority of the black dogs I have met have all been aggressive ranging from poodles to miniature pincher’s to chows. I don’t know why it’s not like they’re all owned by the same person so there’s no correlation with owners or training methods but the majority of the black dogs I have met have been aggressive towards people and other animals. It is sad because all dogs deserve a home
My last 3 dogs have been black. they are not evil or any of the negative bull crap.
I had a loving black lab mix (from the pound) for 14 1/2 great years. After losing her to cancer, I adopted another black lab (from the pound) and she is WONDERFUL . There is a great product called Nite Ize that goes on the dog collar and is a colored battery powered light. I live in rural Nevada and you can alway see your black dog in the dark with this light. You simply pinch the Nite Ize to turn it on and off. It runs on small replaceable batteries. This removes one more deterrent to adopting a beautiful black dog.
Are you serious? …Really?!? This is crazy talk! Well shoot, I guess we had better get dying them all pink. : |
Both of my dogs have been black…Chakra was a lab/border collie mix…very sweet and was a stray. We had her for 16 years. We got Maggie this year from the shelter…Australian cattle dog/beagle mix. All black except some white spots on her feet and chest. She’s needed some training and is improving. But it has nothing to do with her being BLACK…she just needs behavioral training.
I never understood the why’s behind this. I think people just need to be more aware that black animals are portrayed as evil by Hollywood, not by the dogs themselves.
I have 3 cats, 2 black and 1 tortie (mostly black)! I think they’re all gorgeous and their eyes are capable of saying so much more because they stand out better!
I have a very sweet Yorkie Poo! He’s extremely affectionate. Loves to cuddle & is protective of me.
He LOVES to eat anything that won’t eat him first. Loves to run around & play.
I can understand why some ppl might think a black dog is mean because I’ve notice most dogs in movies that are mean….are mostly black. I’ve had my (2) black dogs since the day they were born & they are anything but mean.. Quite the contrary… Loving & kind…
I Have a beautiful black lab. He had some problems in the beginning, but it wasn’t his fault. The previous owners just didn’t look after him. I spent a lot of time teaching him stuff. Now he’s the most adorable dog I’ve seen. He’s happy, lovable. A nice dog. I’ve forgotten all the times I was angry with him. It’s been worth all the effort I’ve put in to him. Our story is that he helped me overcome my problems and I’ve helped him overcome he’s problems.
Rajendra Prasad Msays:
I have a cute lookingBlack Lab. I love him like anything .. He is so precious to me . He is very naughty and always loves to play with me.. He is apart of my family and everybody loves his antics… P
Love my almost all black rescue. She’s so beautiful and sweet.she’s not my 1st either. I prefer gray and black animals. Maybe I’m weird?
I have a black shihtzu and I wouldn’t take nothing in this world for her she’s very small and I love my baby girl more than life.
You (the writer) forgot something very important… With black dogs, it’s infinitely easier to see their SMILE! I’ve been owned by Scotties most of my life, and while I now have a rescue terrier-corgi mix, I expect to be owned again by a beautiful black baby… As an aside, I’m glad to say, the week we rescued ‘Bones’ there were NO black dogs (or cats) at the pound!
My almost 6 month old rescue, Luna Skye Bleu, is a black with tiny white markings on chin and chest and a toe or two – chihuahua / mini pin mix. So she has the black, chihuahua, small dog prejudices going against her to begin with. Other side is that she is the most loving, affectionate, personable dog I have ever met and doesn’t have a yippy reputation. She loves everybody unless they cross her by ignoring her and then you may here a sharp YIP as if to say “Yo, Over here, No, down here, I’m the little cute one in a long black coat and whatever my people dressed me in today. Yeah, now you see me…. Adios ! ….”
I would love to be part of that group as well.
My Murphy boy is a black lab and boxer mix, people are often scared of him, because he has boxer in him and he is black, he almost looks like part pitt, which dosent bother me either. I raised him to be gentle and loving, he is now 4 years old and can get a little rowdy at times, but he is harmless. Two of my good friends have 2 year old sons who Murphy just adores, and is great with, but it is sad they get such a bad name!
Mariana Vasconcelos Paulino Limasays:
I really don’t get it why people are so ignorant about black dogs. I LOVE SO MUCH my BLACK LAB named Pantera that I can’t understand when someone deslike this beauties!
How sad people can be influenced by the color of an animal. You choose a dog or cat because you are atrackted to it by its character and mutual kindness for eachother. We took 2 black dogs from the chelter and they are both adorable and very kind. Their color has nothing to do with their lovely character! We love black dogs for ever !!!
Funny this. Something I have never thought about before. We are a fairly easy going family and four of our 6 adopted cats and dogs have all been dark grey or black (the other two were ginger). Each and everyone peaceful, loveable, and a joy to share life with each and every day. Currently we are loving a big, beautiful, bodacious, black, Briard, who at a very young age (3) is going grey. Perhaps more people will be less afraid of her as she turns grey?
There are two black dogs in our famiy, and they are sweeties!!!!!
I had never heard of this until a black dog was featured on the news. Our local news at noon every Thursday features pets that are up for adoption at the Southeast Missouri Humane Society. Kelly mentioned “black dog syndrome” and how hard it is to place black dogs. WOW! I would own a black dog as fast as I would a white, brown or any other colored dog. I think black dogs are beautiful just like I think black stallions are beautiful. Being black doesn’t say anything about temperament. It’s just a color.
I love my 2 big black dogs. I found both of them in the street and they are big babies and so sweet! When I found them-that is when I first learned big black dogs are the last to be adopted. I have a T shirt that says “I like my dogs big,black and rescued.” I get lots of comments when I wear it-and notice people reading it!
I have two of the most loving black dogs! One is a true shelter dog, Maxx, almost 11 years old, and Sully, almost 2 years old, who came to us by way of a friend finding him and a golden pup on the side of the road. Someone had thrown them out of their car! They were only about 7 weeks old. No hesitation in asking for the black one. Sight unseen and absolutely no regrets!!! Wish we could have more!!! =)
One of the most stupid things I have read. Sorry,anyone that discounts a dog because of a color shouldnt own a dog. I love my black dog! What a freak and rebel I am! 🙂
I am the owner of a five year old black rat terrier lab mix. He is the sweetest, smartest dog I have ever owned and we rescued him when he was only 4 weeks old from a local shelter. He was going to be put down because he was black and no one wanted him. I had never heard of this and was appalled that a shelter would put down a sweet little black bundle of wonderful joy. I had just lost a dog and was looking for a dog so my son and I rushed over to this shelter and picked up our now wonderful 5 year old family member and I have since studied about “Black dog Syndrome.” The more I read the more horrified I have become. I can tell you that I wouldn’t trade anything for our wonderful little guy and if I could I would own 1,000 more like him. He is the light of my life and I would love to belong to your group.
I adopted a all black Lab pit bull mix from our local Humane society. Could not have chosen a better dog!!! She is the best love her so very much!!!
I first heard about this when I adopted my black Lhasa apso from Lone Star Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso Rescue here in Houston. I was told most people don’t go for the black ones! I was shocked. I love black animals. (except for the part where you are looking for that one tiny flea on them and you can’t find it because the darn thing blends in!)
I have a black dog and use a light up collar to see him at night. It helps A LOT!
I have 2 shihtzu one gray and white and the other pure black. The gray and white one is very laid back but the black one is active and funny as heck. love them totally would never part with either of them.
I have a yellow lab and golen retrevier mix but he all black he is not agressive to any one the most he will do is loke you to death lol i also have a cur mix hes more agressivee then my other dog my boys are very protective of me and my girls and will not let anyone in the house that dosen need to be their I totaly agree with amy above its not the dog its the owners that train them that way its not the dogs fault
I have a black lab mixed with German Shepard and chow chow…her aggressive? No way. She is so loveable. her tail might be the most aggressive thing about her. I adopted her at 10 weeks old and the other day we saw the most beautiful black lab wondering down the street with no tags. I wish I could have taken her home myself, but I called the humane society where I know she could be cared for. She looked like she had been thrown from a car. Poor baby. I love black labs and Rotties too. We lost ours in september and neither are aggressive breeds. No dogs are aggressive. It is the owners who train them to be that way. They are not born that way. Its bad owners! Not bad dogs!
Good heavens! Are you telling me my 30′ chihuahuaX should not have been named Cujo??? I mean, I got him and his two female littermates as fosters that decided there was no reason to move. The girls are Zelda and Zoe. I was going to name him F. Scott, but didn’t because I knew I would spend years explaining it. Since he was the runt, two weeks behind his sisters giving up his bottle, inordinately fond of a pacifier I finally gave him, and the sweetest, most humble little guy I’ve ever seen, what else was I going to name him?
All I can say is, people seriously limit their sheer pleasure in life by walking away from ANY dog for any reason, and that’s the stupidest reason I’ve heard in a while!
I’m 60 yrs. old and have three small black dogs 2 of which are rescues – a 10lb.min schnauzer, and 9″ Peke/shih Tzu. They have all turned out to be Therapy Dogs making several visits a week to nursing homes. I dress them up with brightly colored handkerchiefs and I always wear bright colored tops. They are adored by the patients/residents. The # 3 dog is blk and w/ a white bib,12 lbs. I got him from a neighbor that had an accidental breeding and the other 3 pups were white. Iwanted him because white dogs have a propensity to skin allergies. I love my little blk herd.
I had a black dachshund as a child, a black lab mix as an adult, and now a reverse brindle boxer their love and devotion is no different than any other color. I love them all the same. I have never had an aggressive or mean dog.. Pooh on the people who think black dogs are aggressive or different..
My daughter had two labs as guide dogs. Pita was total white and Promise is total black. It is interesting to observe the different responses of people to two very well behaved dogs. While there were individual differences, they were and are wonderfully behaved dogs. I observe the people are somewhat more stand offish to black dogs. Figure it out.
I think it is true! The number of people that cross the road to avoid walking past my dog is amazing! She is a black Labrador, she is a tiny Lab and so loving not aggressive it all! Weird the preconceived ideas people get!
LOL! The same thing happened to me once. Three teenage boys crossed the road to avoid walking by my two 50 pound mutts!
if you can not read a black dog then are you really reading any other color dog?
i have 6 dogs 7 lbs up to 125 lbs 5 females one male 5 of them are rescues, 2 of them i aquired as puppies from friends. the myth of the black dog is just that. the reason dogs that are black in color or dark colors arent adopted as much as lighter color breeds is because they are miss understood. for me well i love black dogs and i read all 6 of my dogs very well, i talk to them and of course they talk to me. i may not always understand what they are saying but i read their physical stance, mannerisms and temperment. sometimes i can read a dog better than a human. as for me animals are unpredictable of course but there is no animal as unpredictable as the human. so leave the black dog myth as it is. learn the breed, research and them make your own decision. thank you for reading my opinion. have a pleasant day woof woof
I have 2 black labradors and they are the best and their smiles light up a room like their is no tomorrow. I think they are like a black stallion strong and friendly loveable and courageous. My boys are so playful and friendly. Thank goodness god gave them to me.
we rescued a mix pure black lab – she is the most wonderful dog we have ever had – she was 18 months old when we got her – she was very attached to my husband and I lost him in April – she is now my companion and goes everywhere with me that I can take her – she is very gentle – she played with my grandchildren at age 3 and 5 and let them do anything to her. I worry about her getting away from me in the dark but she sticks pretty close to me – does not want me out of her sight but I do go to work.
I adopted two of them. One at the shelter; one off the streets. I love my mysterious black dogs!
The Seattle Humane Society (a private organization not associated with the Humane Society of the United States) found a fun way to help combat the issue. They sell Black Dog Club and Black Cat Club t-shirts. Whenever I wear my t-shirt, I get asked a lot of questions about what it means. By the end of the conversation, someone has decided to adopt a black dog or cat! It’s been a great way to get the word out locally. I hope others will consider purchasing a t-shirt to help get the word out in their own communities, too.
As a fun note, I once found myself in a CGC class that had all black dogs so we took a picture of the dogs & their handlers with their Black Dog Club t-shirts on and sent it to the AKC. I may be able to get a copy of it for The Dogington Post if there’s interest.
I am a Rottie owner. He is a rescue at that. I love him to pieces. He is so smart and affectionate! I wish people who want to own a dog would do more research on them, maybe then they would learn black dogs are the same as any other, being a black dog doesn’t make you mean and scary, if you are someone who thinks that, I don’t think you should be owning a dog. Some people may just have a preference in colour or breed which is fine, but to not rescue a black dog due to lack of knowledge and false accusations is just silly.
Black labs listed as aggressive/dangerous??
Travis, i’m with you.
Since when are ANY Labs listed as aggressive, much less the black ones??? The black Labs happen to be my favorite!!
P.S. I own a black cat, too, that like the black Lab, is also a rescued animal…..Black animals have always been my favorite!
This information about black dog syndrome has been very useful, as I just rescued a Black Lab off the street about 3 months ago and have been trying to place him ever since. This makes me wonder if the local no-kill ASPCA wouldn’t take him because of his coloring! I currently live in San Antonio TX and the situation here with strays and unwanted animals is overwhelming – last I heard, 3K dogs are killed each month for lack of placement.
My lab mix rescue is mostly black and is the most adorable dog ever. I can’t imagine someone not picking him because of his coloring. The only thought I can come up with is that they don’t photograph as well. I, however, found Aidan on Petfinder and he was picked because I fell in love with a pic. I fell in love with a lot of black dogs. Unfortunatly, I could only adopt one as we already had 1 dog and a parrot who thinks he is a dog. Aidan is not only phycically adorable, he has a wonderful soul and beautiful spirit!
AS A ROTTWEILER OWNER I WILL SAY BLACK DOGS ARE THE BEST.
I WOULD LOVE TO JOIN THAT CLUB.
I have just had a look at this being an owner of 2 black Labradors and always had labs since 41 years the first 1 was a black one and 2 golden 1 chocolate and the rest black.
I love my Black Labradors to the stage that my beautiful was given a bait I got such a shock my pancreas seize up I went into a diabetic coma that they thought I would die,I came out of it and was told because of the shock of my BLACK LAB DIEING i am now diabetic. I rescued This young black lab who from owner who was roaming the streets: never been microchip,trained was street wise no collar or leash,no bed or dish had been abused very badly and was very scared, my family and friends just looked and said “give her way she is to unruled for me” She cowered, was scared of men What a job a bad diet in fact I did not think she was a pedigree I did not care what she was her coat was bad, in fact she was Just BAD nothing was NICE about HER!!! So here i am with this unruly lab and will be my last and everyone saying give her to the RSPCA!!! I dug my heels in I am a 62 Type1 diabetic Epileptic with heart disease!!! So This very bad black dog 2 years later now everyone wants her!!! she can now tell me if I am having a diabetic hypo! smiles all the time and…..WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BLACK LABRADOR WHO IS KEEPING MY OLDER BLACK LABRADOR NEARLY 11yrs old young and happy and my human 2 cats are beginning to accept her to. I look on my verandah with my 2 human dogs 2 human cats having my coffee and feel so sad that people by pass black dogs When they don’t know the pleasure they are missing !! But I guess you get racial in HUMANS……WHATS THE DIFFERENCE IN DOGS !!!! IF IT WASN’T SO PATHETIC THIS WOULD BE FUNNY SO WHAT I SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE GOD HELP YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!