Black Dog Syndrome

Black Dog Syndrome is defined as "the propensity of dark-coated animals to be passed over for adoption [at animal shelters] in favor of their lighter counterparts."

Reasons why the syndrome may exist: the age-old association of light with good and dark with evil; "Black dogs often don't photograph well. Facial features disappear, and animals can appear less expressive"; "black dogs sometimes fade away into the kennel shadows".

And apparently black cats face the same problem as black dogs.

However, there's debate over whether this syndrome is real. Many shelter and rescue leaders insist it's real, but skeptics note that the statistics don't seem to back up this perception. The general manager of the LA Animal Services Department notes: "In the last 12 months... 27% of the 30,046 dogs taken in by his department were predominantly or all black. Of those that were adopted, 28% were predominantly or all black." Link: LA Times.


Posted on Sun Dec 07, 2008


That isn't a hoax, it's an urban legend.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  05:57 AM
Animal racism, hmm?
Maybe we need affirmative action for black and brown dogs.

My family doesn't seem to have this prejudice. My brother has two dark-grey cats, my other brother has two black dogs, and right now I have three dark-colored cats and one light-colored cat. Oh, yeah, and my sister-in-law has a black-and-brown dog and a grey-striped cat.

This reminds me though, of a funny opinion piece that was on NPR a while back. The speaker was talking about her frustrating struggle to find animals of color in storybooks to read to her young (African-American) child. Everywhere she looked, there were white cats (Hello Kitty!), white bunnies, white mice, and so on. About the only black storybook animal she came up with was "Walter, the Farting Dog."
Posted by Big Gary  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  09:18 AM
I caught an acute case of Black Dog Syndrome from Robert Plant once. Made me take off my shirt and sing/yell unintelligibly while humping the air rhythmically well into my middle age.
Posted by fuzzfoot  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  10:32 AM
I don't know if this is true but when I went to get a cat at an SPCA, I got a black and white one. My brother had a black and white dog from a different SPCA. I guess we were taught that black and white can get along.
Posted by RainOubliette  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  11:27 AM
The only animal my mom has ever gotten from a shelter was black. Nearly all black...the dog had some greyish/white mottled looking spots on his feet and the ends of his ears.
Posted by Maegan  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  04:09 PM
S'true that black animals are hard to photograph indoors. Never see them on commercials or ads either because of same, I suspect.
Posted by Sharon  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  07:19 PM
I know it's true in some places, but it's probably a regional thing. One place I lived was a very rural, long-settled, stuck-in-a-rut sort of place, and in the local animal shelter they had a real hard time getting black cats adopted (though not so much a problem with black dogs). I expect that in more diverse places that have actually embraced the 20th Century (much less the 21st), things might be different.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  07:34 PM
I've adopted two animals from shelters over the years, one dog and one cat... both were completely black.

What does this say about me?

Posted by Mark-N-Isa  on  Mon Dec 08, 2008  at  08:29 PM
About 70% of the dogs in the dog park I go to are predominantly black in colour. many were brought home from shelters. Anomaly? Who knows.
Posted by janus  on  Wed Dec 10, 2008  at  07:20 PM
I know that my mom has an irrational fear of black dogs and black cats. It has nothing to do with superstition, she doesn't know why she's afraid of them either.
Posted by J  on  Wed Dec 31, 2008  at  12:52 AM
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