Black Dog Syndrome

The first of this month was National Black Dog Day. The annual celebration was established in 2012 by Colleen Paige, author of The Good Behavior Book For Dogs, to spotlight pups who may have faced prejudice due to their darker coats. 

Rescues and shelters nation-wide have reported that black dogs are adopted less often than their lighter counterparts. This unfortunate phenomenon has been deemed Black Dog Syndrome. Now there hasn’t been scientific research that proves BDS exists for certain, but the site Petfinder has found “that most pets are listed for 12.5 weeks on Petfinder, whereas, less-adoptable pets (such as black, senior, and special needs pets) spend almost four times as long on” the website. 

According to Caesar’s Way, there was also research conducted in 2002 by the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science that noted “black coat colors negatively influenced adoption rates for both dogs and cats” and “said adoption rates were much lower in pure-black animals.” 

Unfortunately, there is not a definite answer as to why adoptees may have potential biases against black dogs. One possible theory is black dogs have long been considered to be bad omens. The media’s 

negative representation of breeds that are typically black, such as Rottweilers, may have also contributed to this supposed phenomenon. 

In addition, photographs really don’t do these adorable guys and gals justice due to their dark coats, meaning that they can be easily ignored on sites like Petfinder. 

So how can you help black dogs find their forever homes? 

Well, you could consider fostering or adopting a black dog. If that’s not a feasible option, you may want to start small and be an advocate for dogs with black fur in your daily life and on social media. 

You also could contact your local rescues to encourage them to collect data to see if there is a significant pattern for dark-haired pups to be passed over. Based on that data, the rescue may want to consider taking time to raise awareness for said dogs.

featured image, adopted dog Shabba courtesy of @sophiegamand @mrbonesandco


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