Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Black dog syndrome

Have you heard of Black Dog Syndrome? It means that black cats and dogs wait longer in shelters before they're adopted, and more black pets are euthanized every year than pets with other colors. made a survey and found that most pets are listed for 12.5 weeks on the website, but black pets spend four times as long in the listings.

A big part of the prejudice against black pets is unconscious and come from sayings that black cats bring bad luck, and that black dogs would be scarier or more vicious than dogs of other colors. This is naturally rubbish, but the image is enforced by everything from Harry Potter books to silhouettes on "Beware of Dog" signs.

Besides prejudice, black dogs and cats have a harder time being seen than their lighter friends. Most shelter photos are taken by volunteers, and even if the person is a good photographer it's hard to catch expressions on a black pet's face. Add stress and time-constraints, and the images tend to show a black figure with a huge tongue. This doesn't exactly help when people are "window-shopping" websites before visiting the shelter.

And, once potential adopters make it to the shelter, black cats and dogs disappear in the shadows in crates and kennels.

Owners of black pets can help. Show your love and demonstrate how great your pet is. Also, tell people about black dog syndrome. Once someone is aware of the unconscious bias, they're generally able to move past it and see black dogs and cats as the wonderful individuals they are.

~ Maria Sadowski ~


  1. It's such a sad phenomenon! I personally think that black fur looks beautiful! It's glossy and black is always in fashion ;)

    Also a lot of people wear black clothes and there has to be a bonus for hair not showing up on your work pants! But joke aside, the comment about photographing black shelter pets is a reality. It seems that more and more pet photographers are donating their time to take photos of shelters pets and they use their editing skills to really bring out their features that you would see in real life if you visited them.

    1. It is sad - black animals are so beautiful! And I agree with you - what's so fun about having white fur over everything? lol

      I too have seen the trends of professional photographers donating their time to shelters, and that is so awesome!

  2. Mom has had black dogs and cats from shelters and they were all wonderful!

    1. It's such a strange prejudice, isn't it? I don't know how anyone could think they'd be less wonderful than pets of another color. Thank you for coming over, Emma. =)