Canine Companion: Look Beyond Fur Color When Adopting Dog

Hey, guys. This week we are going to talk about a topic we’ve already discussed. It’s been a while, but that doesn’t make it any less important. As I am looking at the adoptable dogs at the shelters I work with, I see many of the dogs who have been there the longest are the pure black dogs.

Researchers at animal shelters have uncovered an upsetting truth.

When a dog lover is searching for a furry companion, dogs who are black or dark in color are passed by without the slightest consideration for adoption.

The adoption rates of black dogs is so low, the problem has now been coined ‘black dog syndrome.’

The phenomenon is also known as ‘dog racism.’ And, has inspired ‘black dog’ campaigns showing photographs of black dogs in shelters throughout the United States. The photographs are designed to show the beautiful features black dogs have and capture their personality in the portrait as well.

You may not have even thought about this. Or, you may be thinking “why would someone pass up a dog simply because she’s black in color?”

Features Are Hidden

The color black absorbs light. Since black absorbs light, a pure black dog’s features may not be as obvious as a dog who is lighter in color. This makes our adorable family friend more difficult to take adorable pictures of because everything seems to just blend in.

Black is Evil?

Another reason, although it may sound ridiculous, is there are surprisingly many people who associate black dogs with evil. Dogs in horror movies are often black in color. And, even without realizing it, their subconscious mind may pass by that black dog due to unrealized misconceptions.

They’re Plain?

There are some dog lovers who think black dogs are simply too plain. There is nothing ‘special’ about them. They don’t have that adorable speckled fur or a plethora of colors.

Dark-colored dogs are thought to be bland and ordinary by the general population.

Black Dogs Aren’t


This leads us to black dogs are less appealing than those of other colors.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted a study where members had no idea what was going on. The scientists went so far as to not inform participants what the study was even for.

The main researcher, Stanley Coren, selected 60 colleagues and students and showed each of them photographs of black, brown, and yellow Labrador Retrievers.

The results were just as expected. Black labs had lower ratings regarding attractiveness, adoptability, and friendliness. Wow.

Are Black Dogs Mean?

Are black dogs mean? Yes, this is a common question. Dogs temperaments don’t change solely based on the color of their fur.

Another study separate from the one previously discussed, conducted by three psychologists from Penn State, supported Coren’s findings that ‘black dog syndrome’ may truly exist.

Sixty-five participants were chosen for this study at Penn State. After the participants were recruited, they were to look at pictures of dogs and cats from various breeds and colors. The participants were asked for their impression of each animal as a pet.

Not only was ‘black dog syndrome’ confirmed in this study, but ‘black cat syndrome’ was as well.

Black animals, dog or cat, ranked at the bottom of the score chart for perceived adoptability and friendliness.

Black dogs were also perceived to be more aggressive than dogs of other colors. How could this be? Why does this make sense?

It doesn’t. But you can make a difference here.

You Can Help

Even if you already have dogs in your household and aren’t interested in adopting another, there are other ways you can help spread ‘black dog’ awareness.

If you know of anyone searching for a puppy or adult dog, share a bit of information about how the black dog is least likely to be adopted.

I don’t know about you, but when I go into the shelter, I am most tempted to adopt the one who has been there the longest and give him or her the best life possible. Sharing that black dogs are least likely to be adopted may encourage more adoptions.

Let’s spread the word!

And, of course, if you are searching for another furry family member, remember this article and go back to the low chance of adoption. I’m not saying you absolutely need to adopt a black dog, but rather I am asking you to provide them the same consideration you would to lighter-color dogs.

That’s all for now.

Until next time.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.60/week.

Subscribe Today