If you walk into a shelter or browse Petfinder looking to adopt a dog, you may notice an overwhelming amount of black dogs. Why? 

It’s called Black Dog Syndrome. 

What is black dog syndrome?
Our foster dog, Prada

According to a Petfinder.com survey, black dogs take 4X longer to find their forever home than lighter colored dogs. Black dogs are less adoptable for the following reasons:

  • Black dogs are difficult to photograph, especially in dark kennels
  • Hard to see facial features on dark or black dogs  
  • Many black dogs are large
  • The negative representation of black pets in movies, such as The Omen, Cujo, and the Harry Potter series. Even black cats are usually related with witches, superstition, and bad luck.

We have had several black lab mixes over the years. Our smartest, the most well-behaved dog was a black lab/retriever mix, Symba. Then we had Nala and JJ, all great dogs!

We’ve had many foster dogs of all colors, and I did not notice any significant difference of adoption time with the black dogs.

Does color matter when adopting a rescue dog?

The color of a dogs coat has no bearing on their personality. So what should you consider when adopting a new rescue dog? Number one quality you should be looking at is his energy level… it needs to match yours!

If you adopt a dog with high-energy and you prefer to sit and watch your favorite TV show then take a long walk, then you are both going to be very unhappy.

So next time you are searching for your perfect dog to adopt, don’t pass by those beautiful black dogs looking for their special forever home. It could just be the perfect dog for you and your family.

National black dog day

National Black Dog Day is October 1 each year. It’s a time to celebrate your black dog and raise awareness of the black dog syndrome.

Some ideas on how to celebrate would be to post on social media photos of your dog using one of these hashtags: #nationalblackdogday, #BlackDogDay,  #WorldBlackDogDay. Let everyone know how awesome your dog is and that his color is only one part of what makes her beautiful!

If you are searching for a rescue dog to adopt, I urge you to not pass up that beautiful dog just because of his color.

Common black dog breeds

Here are some of the most popular black dog breeds to consider adopting:

  • Black Labrador retriever
  • German Shepherd 
  • Rottweiler
  • Border Collie
  • Great Dane
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Newfoundland
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Gordon Setter
  • Flat-coated Retriever
  • Coonhound

Find the perfect name for your black coated dog in our huge library of dog names.

What is black dog syndrome?
Dog sitting for a friends black dog, Jax.

Photographing black dogs

Whether you are a shelter that has a black dog up for adoption or a rescue dog parent of a black dog, photographing your dog can be challenging. 

Learning how to take advantage of the light when taking photos of your black or dark-colored dog is pretty easy. 

Have you ever noticed in the sunlight how you can see more depth in your dog’s fur? I remember with our late dog, JJ, looking at his coat in the sun and he had beautiful shades of brown throughout his body.

Use the natural sunlight but avoid the shadows created by the sun. It sounds contradictory, but the direction of the sun makes a difference. If it is creating shadows around your dog’s face, you will lose all definition of those beautiful eyes of his. 

The sun or light should be shining on his face, not over it. So sunrise or sunset, even overcast days are perfect times to have a photoshoot with your pup. 

Choose a bright colored backdrop when taking photos of your black dog. If the background is dark he is going to blend in. Choosing to photograph from his level, showing more sky will help him stand out even better. Or photograph from above so the bright green grass will bring out his color. 

Don’t be afraid to use your camera’s flash feature. It can help fill in the shadows created by his black fur. 

What’s Next?

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. I personally feel that black dogs are very attractive and cute! I don’t know how they’re overlooked so much!

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