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!