Black Dog Syndrome: Can People Be Color Blind When It Comes To Dogs?

Kevin Roberts
by Kevin Roberts

Don’t be hard on yourself if you’ve never heard of Black Dog Syndrome – not many people talk about it. And it’s not a dog problem… it has to do with how people look at dogs; black dogs in particular. Kevin Roberts goes into more detail about why Black Dog Syndrome exists and what we can do about it.

Last week I told you the story of Belle, my black dog, whom I had passed over and over again while looking for a new dog. I guess, in my head, I was looking for a something that was flashy, for a dog that really caught my eye! Belle, she just wasn’t it.

There are many theories why black dogs are passed over in shelters. All the theories point to people simply subconsciously passing over black dogs. Without even really being aware of it, potential adopters are passing by black dogs, in favor of dogs of other colors. Experts believe that these are a few reasons that perpetuate the Black Dog Syndrome.

Black animals are scary. It may be part of the “good is white, and black is evil” sort of Hollywood stereotype that sustains this belief in people’s mind. While few potential adopters will admit that black dogs can be scary looking, I can certainly attest that when I walk two (or more) black dogs down the sidewalk, people cross the street to avoid us. If I walk a brown dog and a black dog, people will often stop to pet the dogs, and the brown dog gets petted first 9 times out of 10!

Black animals are harder to photograph. Many people, when they begin to search for a new dog or cat, begin by looking online, through social media, or websites of rescues. First impressions count! Black animals can be very difficult to photograph. That was part of the initial problem with Belle. I kept passing her over, simply based on her photograph. I know it sounds awful, but with so many dogs to choose from, people have to start somewhere in their search, and that means if the dog doesn’t stand out, it gets passed over.

Black dogs go gray sooner. White or grey around the muzzle of a black dog is more noticeable than on a lighter colored dog. People may see a young black dog, with some white highlights, and think the dog is past its prime, moving onto the next candidate.

Whatever the reasons that cause Black Dog Syndrome, we can end it! Get the conversation started. Let’s be aware that there are more black dogs in shelters, and they take longer to get adopted. Keep this in mind when we go to a shelter to look for a pet, let your friends know about the plight of black dogs.

If you have adopted a black dog, please share the love! Post a photo on our Facebook wall, and let’s show the world how much we love our black dogs!

If this is a subconscious problem, by addressing it, we can end Black Dog Syndrome. Now get out there and adopt a dog… maybe even a black one!

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

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