Black dogs don’t get as much love as their light-coated counterparts, and many people would rather not adopt them. This is called black dog syndrome (BDS).

What Is Black Dog Syndrome?

Black dog syndrome is the unfortunate phenomenon where light-colored dogs are favored over dark-colored ones at adoption. This is due to certain misconceptions about black dogs.

Beliefs and superstitions often say that black dogs–especially big ones–are dangerous and hostile. Some movies, books, and popular culture also haven’t helped. Of course, this isn’t true in the slightest. The appearance of a dog has nothing to do with its temperament.

Still, a lot of adopters base their choice on color. According to a 2012 research by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 27% of dog adopters claimed that the dog’s appearance greatly impacted their decision.

Despite this study, there’s no scientific evidence about the validity of black dog syndrome. Shelter workers worldwide testify to this claim. And it’s mainly because larger, dark-colored dog breeds spend more time in shelters than smaller, light-colored ones. In some cases, shelters even find it necessary to euthanize black dogs when they don’t get adopted. 

Why Do People Overlook Black Dogs? 

While there is no scientific proof that people overlook black dogs because of their color, there are various reasons why black dog syndrome affects adoption rates.

  • Fear of being stigmatized for owning a black pet
  • Superstitious beliefs about the black color
  • Black dogs don’t look as good as light-colored dogs in photographs and videos
  • Some children tend to be terrified of black dogs, especially the big black ones
  • Myths surrounding black animals and pets
  • Black dogs are perceived to be more dangerous and aggressive than light-colored dogs
  • Some movies and books have portrayed black dogs to be scary

What Can You Do to Make a Difference? 

Black dogs are the same as their light-colored relatives. They can behave the same and show affection too. To help reduce the effects of the black dog syndrome, some of the things you can do include: 

1. Adopt a Black Dog

The best way to assist black dogs in finding permanent homes is to adopt one yourself. You can look up several shelters to select a black dog for adoption.

It is important to note that black dogs hardly look their best in photos. So, to get a good look at these amazing animals, go to the shelter to see for yourself.

You might also look at rescue groups that frequently accept black dogs or those that only take black dogs. 

2. Make Donations and Give Gifts

Another way to help reduce black dog syndrome, especially if you aren’t a dog person, is to make donations to shelters to help them care for these dogs.

Black dogs have a higher chance of being euthanized than any other dogs. So, your donation can help fund the food and care of black dogs to delay such measures.

Also, giving treats and buying gifts for these dogs will help them feel more loved and less lonely.

3. Advocate for Black Dogs 

Even if adoption or donation isn’t an option for you right now, advocating on behalf of black dogs can make a big difference.

Tell your friends and family how black dog syndrome affects adoption rates. And how great and loving black dogs can be. Perhaps this will motivate them to adopt a dark-colored dog in the future.

4. Volunteer at Shelters 

Lastly, you can volunteer at shelter homes to show these dogs some love. Every October 1st is dedicated to celebrating black dogs. You can visit dog shelters with friends and colleagues to join other dog lovers in celebrating these dogs.

Your act of kindness can influence the decision of others to adopt black dogs as pets or Life Buddies.


Black Dogs Make Wonderful Service Dogs

Just like light-colored dogs, black dogs make wonderful service dogs and Life Buddies. They can provide companionship and help you with everyday tasks like every other service dog.

At Sierra Delta, we provide US Military Veterans with the support they need to get a service dog or Life Buddy. If you already have a dog you want to train, we can help you with that too.

Join us today to learn more about our Life Buddy Program and how we can support you and your dog.   

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