Why Are Black Dogs Adopted Less?

If you follow me on Facebook, chances are you have heard me wax on about the sweet lab mix that we are fostering. Jenna had a rough start. A local no-kill shelter rescued her from a hoarder, where she had spent her first 6 months living in a crate with no freedom at all, so she needs lots of extra love and care.

It’s a good thing that a no-kill shelter rescued her, because, as it turns out, black dogs have it rough out there. Black dogs are often the last adopted and the first in line for euthanization. Shelter and rescue workers call the problem “Black Dog Syndrome,” and experts have a few theories about why black dogs are harder to adopt out than other dogs.

Some think it’s because black dogs look more threatening than other dogs.

Black dogs are also tougher to photograph well. This may seem like a silly reason behind Black Dog Syndrome, but it’s actually a big deal. Many potential owners search shelter websites before coming in to meet the dogs, and a bad photograph can sometimes make or break a dog’s chances of getting adopted.

While skeptics say that Black Dog Syndrome is a myth, rescue and shelter organizations insist that it is all too real. Yes, there are more black dogs out there than lighter-colored dogs, but workers who deal with dog adoptions day in and day out say that they see perfectly adoptable dogs get rejected by potential owners simply because of the color of their coat. USA Today spoke to Inge Fricke, director of the Humane Society in Washington D.C., who said:

…it is not a hoax. There is definitely anecdotal evidence. There haven’t been any definitive studies to absolutely prove that the phenomenon exists but it is something commonly accepted by shelter workers as truth.

Dogs aren’t the only black animals that have a tough time of it. Black cats are harder to adopt out, as well. Like black dogs, black cats are difficult to photograph. There’s also that old superstition that black cats are unlucky. This video from Petopia goes into Black Dog Syndrome a little bit further:

Of course, adopting any animal is a serious commitment, and you shouldn’t go out and adopt a dog if you’re not ready for the extra responsibility. If you’re thinking about adding a new fur kid to your family, though, I hope you’ll consider adopting a black dog! The color of a dog’s coat doesn’t say anything about her personality, and a black dog can be as good a friend as a dog of any other color. Let’s kick Black Dog Syndrome to the curb!

Related:
Find Adoptable Pets!
The Wisdom of Black Cats
Why You Should Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet

Have you seen the new Adoptable Pets page on Care2? Check it out here! Please also share with your friends – we’d love your help in finding homes for these adorable animals!

318 comments

Jo S.
Jo S.about a month ago

Yes.

Jo S.
Jo S.about a month ago

Thank you.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers1 months ago

Have had several black dogs in my life and they were all beautiful!! Thank you for sharing.

Valentina R.
Valentina R.about a year ago

Black dogs and cats are awesome. Adopt one today!

1 of my cats is almost totally black - he's the most intelligent, talkative, and mature of the bunch.
1 of my dogs is mostly black, too, and he's a great - and incredibly handsome - boy.

Christine Voorhees
Christine Voorheesabout a year ago

I have a sleek beautiful black lab pit mix. We love him to death, he's about 8 months old. He was on death row, euthanization list, at the shelter, when we rescued him, just one day before. He is the sweetest, intelligent, loving, baby we could have asked for. He is friendly with our other 4 other dogs. What a shame, that others like him, are destroyed every day. Also, he was on the list with 3 other, you guessed it, black dogs. The other 3 were also adopted at the last minute. It is so sad that these black dogs and pit bulls are destroyed every day because of their color and breed.

Christine Voorhees
Christine Voorheesabout a year ago

I have a sleek beautiful black lab pit mix. We love him to death, he's about 8 months old. He was on death row, euthanization list, at the shelter, when we rescued him, just one day before. He is the sweetest, intelligent, loving, baby we could have asked for. He is friendly with our other 4 other dogs. What a shame, that others like him, are destroyed every day. Also, he was on the list with 3 other, you guessed it, black dogs. The other 3 were also adopted at the last minute. It is so sad that these black dogs and pit bulls are destroyed every day because of their color and breed.

Dan Dowling
Dan Dowling2 years ago

Best dog I've ever owned was a senior black Lab-Newfoundland cross who was NINE when I adopted her. For a full six and one-half years she helped me through some of the most difficult and most joyous time of my life. I (because of her loving and understanding nature) was able to survive the death of my partner of over 30 years---when all I could manage was staying inside and shunning contact, she understood; and when it was "let's go for a very long walk and then play ball to burn off the blahs", she was right there for whatever and whenever. When my current wife came on scene a year and some later, there was a strong and loving bond developed both between dog and the new lady, as well as with the children who arrived with her (ages twelve and up.) When she finally could go no longer, there were tears shed by all to accompany her on her journey over the Rainbow Bridge.

Catrin K.

For the same reason Humans do not want black cats , they have some weird idea that they bring bad luck. I bottle feed kittens for a Rescue Group and they am always able the adopt the kittens out except for the solid black ones. I kept the solid black one from the last litter i bottle fed and she is the best cat ever !

Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Never judge only by one's appearance

Rachel Ward
Rachel Ward2 years ago

When I adopted my dog the rescue was very happy because she's a large brindle, and they said that they have as much trouble homing dogs like her as they do black dogs. Many people think that brindle=pitbull, and there are many municipalities in our metro area that have banned them or require very stringent insurance proofs. She's actually not bully at all, nor does she look like one really, but even on walks I get the question all of the time.