Black Dog Syndrome is a phenomenon that is well known to shelter workers and rescue organizations across the nation. Black dogs are much more difficult to find homes for. They are the last dogs to find homes and often among the first to be euthanized.
Many people that are not involved in dog rescue have a hard time believing that black dogs are so much harder to place than dogs of other colors. Some people think that Black Dog Syndrome doesn't exist at all. Others think that the only reason there are more black dogs in shelters than dogs of other colors is because black is the genetically dominant color for many breeds and Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog in the U.S. at the moment.
There is some validity to the claim that there are more black dogs in shelters because there are more black dogs in the world. However, this does not explain why it is much harder to find homes for the black dogs than for dogs of other coat colors. Shelters workers and rescue volunteers can quickly and easily tell countless stories of wonderful dogs who were impossible to find homes for because of no reason other than the color of their coat.
There are no hard facts to help explain Black Dog Syndrome, but their are many theories on why black dogs are the last ones to be adopted.
With technology at our fingertips, many people are using the internet to search for their next best friend. They scan through pictures looking for a face to fall in love with. The features of black dogs do not show as well in photographs and it is much more difficult to get a good photo of a black dog than a dog of lighter color.
In Hollywood white has always depicted the hero in the story and black denotes the villian. Black dogs that do appear in movies or on television are used to portray the aggressive and dangerous characters. Because they are more difficult to photograph, they are not used in commercials and advertising campaigns. These factors all combine to leave the public with a false sterotype that black dogs are more intimidating than dogs of other colors.
There is a reason why women love diamonds and jewelry. The eye is drawn to sparkle and we love to stand out in the crowd. When you place a black dog next to a lighter color dog, your eye is immediately focused on the lighter colored dog first. When people are looking for a dog to adopt, it is often a very emotional decision and they are looking for a face to fall in love with. Many times people fall in love with the lighter colored dog or the dog with unusual markings without ever noticing the black dog next to it.
Many shelters are industrial warehouse buildings with very poor artificial lighting. The kennels are dark with lots of shadows. If a black dog is standing in the back of a kennel, potential adopters may not even realize he is there.
Language and popular slang definately affects our view of the world. The Black Dog is a popular term used in the mental health industry to describe depression. Walking the Black Dog is a website on depression. Living with a Black Dog is a book about depression. There are support groups for depression that refer to themselves as the Black Dog. There are news articles and medical papers that commonly refer to depression as the Black Dog.
The common superstition about black cats has a huge impact on the ability of a black cat to get adopted. We are not certain how much of this superstition impacts the black dogs.
A dogs coat color has no affect on the dogs temperament and personality. Black dogs are just as playful and loving and fun as dogs of other colors. When adopting your next best friend, please be aware that Black Dog Syndrome is real and you may have a tendancy to overlook the black dogs. Take a second look and make an effort to see ALL of the dogs available. Don't walk out of the shelter thinking that there is no dog for you because you overlooked the black dogs. Make your decision based soley on the dog that will be the best fit for your family regardless of the color of his coat.