Dog curiosities: what is the Black Dog Syndrome?

A black dog has lower chances of getting adopted at a shelter due to its coat color. This phenomenon is known as black dog syndrome.

Dog curiosities: what is the Black Dog Syndrome?

There seems to be a stigma towards black dogs and to dog lovers like ourselves just find it unbelievable!  But that is the actual situation that dogs with black fur face. A black dog has lower chances of getting a forever home as people seem to prefer their lighter-coated siblings.

Why the stigma?

According to statistics, a black dog at a shelter is less likely to be adopted due to the color of his coat.  Typically, a black dog at a shelter has to wait years for him to be adopted.  This seemed to be an isolated event at certain shelters but it turned out that it happens everywhere.

A black Labrador, for instance, is labeled as a BBD, which is an acronym for “big black dog”.  These are passed on by adopters because these dogs are thought to be poorly behaved and violent.

Some theories

The black dog syndrome phenomenon has brought specialists to dive into the debate.  They believe that some factors that cause this stigma are:

  • Geographic location.  Studies were conducted in different locations and even though the bias was present, it seems to depend on the location of the shelter.
  • Size.  Black dog syndrome is usually associated with those dogs that are also big.
  • Stigmatic fear against certain dog breeds that also happen to be black.
  • Negative portrayal of black dogs in television and other media. Usually, a black dog is portrayed as an evil creature that can tear apart anyone.  Black cats, for instance, are portrayed as entities of evil and company of witches.

What you can do

It is rather interesting that most of the time when a potential adopter arrives at a shelter, they go for the looks of the dog.  This seems to suggest that some people are more interested in having a trophy-like pet at their home than actually caring for a life.   Other factors that influence adopters to pass by a dog is special needs and seniors.

But you can make a difference by understanding that the character of a dog is not determined by the color of their coat.  There is no study that suggests such connection to justify this black dog syndrome.  A black dog is just as worthy as any other pet and is in need of love just like the rest.  Make a difference and next time you go to a shelter and see black dogs, consider that they have probably been there for a long time and will spend more time in there.

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