Have you heard of black dog syndrome?

Did you know that black dogs are less likely to get adopted versus their lighter counterparts?
Black Dog
Black Dog / Steve Christo - Corbis/GettyImages

When we think of dogs in the shelter that struggle to get adopted, what comes to mind? You might be thinking of specific breeds, such as Pit Bulls (which is an umbrella term for at least four different breeds), Rottweilers, and even German Shepherds. Or maybe you are thinking of senior dogs and even dogs with disabilities. But did you know that black dogs struggle to get adopted as well?

Have you ever heard of the black dog syndrome? I know it was relatively new to us, even though we did know that animals with black fur struggle to find new homes. According to The Wildest, Black Dog Syndrome is explained as, "a pattern animal rescue and shelter workers have observed over time that black dogs are more frequently passed over for adoption than their counterparts with lighter coats."

While we have heard about black cats struggling to be adopted, we didn't realize that this was also such a big problem when it came to dogs (we knew it was a thing, but not necessarily that it was widespread enough to have its own term). That being said, it makes sense in terms of the fact that often when we go to a shelter or rescue, there are usually more animals with darker fur waiting for their forever home.

What we know about Black Dog Syndrome

Although this is said to be a more "anecdotal" syndrome, there is no denying that black dogs struggle to get adopted. And at this point, rescues, shelters, and fosters, are all teaching dogs tricks and doing everything they can to spotlight these pups in an effort to find them their new home. Even adoption profiles are embellished and written in unique ways in order to give these dogs their best chance at being adopted.

When staff pup Ladybug was adopted, we intentionally chose the pup with the dark fur because we knew that she would struggle to find a home, even as we got her from a rescue as a puppy. And she has been a true joy in our lives. (You can see pictures of Ladybug celebrating her 8th birthday below.)

In some places the fur color has no bearing on adoption, while other locations are more prone to seeing the black dogs overlooked. However, while this phenomenon may not happen everywhere, there has been at least one study that backed up the idea of Black Dog Syndrome. "A 2002 study of shelter cats and dogs in California found that black fur negatively influenced adoption rates for both dogs and cats. The syndrome may be more present in some areas of the country (and the world) than others."

Honestly, we hate the idea of a dog not getting adopted because of the color of its fur. However, it doesn't come as much of a surprise anymore. Our real hope is that people will be more aware of this bias against the black dogs and consider giving them an equal chance to their lighter counterparts.

We love our black dog and we think if given half a chance more people would love their black dogs too.

Had you ever heard of Black Dog Syndrome? Did you know that there was a bias against black dogs?

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