Black Dog Syndrome

Black Dog Syndrome is the name shelter workers have given to the tendency of dark-furred pups to languish in kennels while their lighter-furred brethren get adopted. “The effect is very real,” says Mirah Horowitz, executive director and founder of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “We recently had a litter of five very cute, very fluffy puppies, two yellow and three black. And the yellow ones all went immediately, but for the black ones it took weeks.”

I have read that Black dogs get euthanized at higher rates. They linger at pounds and adoption agencies for longer than light-colored dogs, and they are less likely to find a home.

I have a black dog and she is feared by people walking past her in our fenced yard. My next door neighbor has admitted to me that she has a fear of my dog. She loves people and is always trying to get the attention of passersby.

Can this be a form of racism?

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Published in Senior Chatters


  1. bridget

    This is so incredibly sad. I’ve always had a soft spot for black dogs (and cats) and would take one over a lighter dog any day. I’ve got five rescues, only one is black. Now that I read this, I have noticed, that of all the dogs I’ve been asked to take in over the last ten years, only two have been black. People are just weird. The world is weird. During the second world war people in the United Kingdom stopped breeding Dachshunds. Each to their own, I suppose.

  2. bud Post author

    It is truly sad Bridget. This dog of mine wants so badly to meet and get petted by passersby, but the neighborhood has decided she is dangerous. She has never bitten or even snapped at anyone but she gets too excited try to get attention.

  3. rose1943

    Move to my neighborhood in Chicago and you’ll see just as many black dogs as other colored dogs. Never knew black dogs were being treated differently. Now I do.
    I had a Calico cat that had 4 adorable black kitties. Loved them all! The night she got out she must’ve been attracted to a handsome black cat!!

    1. bud Post author

      I had never heard of this until I got this dog. Then my next door neighbor told me that she was afraid of my dog and she said it is not uncommon. My one granddaughter said it is commonly known and upon searching for “fear black dog” there were some articles. I’ve had more doberman dogs that any other kind and knew there was a reluctance to approach them by people, but always figure it was the breed not the black color.

  4. 5mintbreak

    I have never heard of this bud, I have owned or my girls owned black cat as well as other coloured one, no favourite, black dogs yes we had black sheepdog with little bit of white strands on head and chest, very good if not our best border collie, black was our wish for a show pony, but we never were lucky enough to get one, as so many others wanted a gleaming black pony. It is an interesting point you have raised, as I often remark with animals who cares what the colour but in our human race that is entirely another matter.

  5. foreveryoung2

    This is truly racism in the dog world – how disgusting can some people be. I had a black poodle and she was the most loving dog. I don’t know if poodles are included in the black phobia. I really can’t put my head around this discrimination.

  6. bud Post author

    I’m not so sure that it is wide spread, but do think there are some who are afraid of certain dogs because they are black. My dog has caused some of the fear because she tries so hard to get the attention of people, some with dogs, which pass by the fence without coming to see and pet her. One neighbor says she is too “needy”.

  7. Rockflower

    Well this is as ridiculous as any other kind of racism……. I have heard that it is true that black dogs spend longer in rescue places and black cats have long been associated with black magic and witches. I think black horses escape this discrimination, if anything they are deemed especially handsome. I have had numerous black dogs and all have been lovely characters. In fact I have very recently lost my dear Lottie and my eyes still fill up when I think of my loss. One curious thing Lottie came with her sister Megs, Megs is blond. I also have an older dachshund Toby, he himself is a chocolate colour but he always showed a marked preference to Megs and ignored Lottie who was black. I just put it down to , gentlemen prefer blonds.
    One thing I do note is that more people seem to have no notion about dog’s body language. Too many people see dogs as a fashion accessory and equally disposable. Many people take a pet to add to an image of themselves they want to project, they have no idea of the responsibility or the needs of this living animal and giving this animal a full happy life. Sadly I think owning pets will decrease especially for those who need them most. The housing restrictions, cost of keeping a pet, with any visit to a vet’ costing hundreds and any surgery thousands of dollars.

    1. bud Post author

      How wide spread this feeling about black dogs is in the entire population I suspect is rather limited. I’m personally currently involved with it in my neighborhood and thought it would be interesting to hear what others here felt about it. My neighbor who is afraid of my dog is a very influential and widely social person so I suspect she has talked about it widely. I’m a recluse so I seldom get a chance therefore to defend my pooch.

  8. roseinbloom

    Bud, maybe you need to take your dog out more for a walk or to a dog park and you may need to keep your dog inside with you. I was involved with a Grandson’s dog and when he was left alone he got weird. The dog was mostly white but dogs are pack animals and need company and you are the one that needs to take your dog out and introduce the dog to the neighborhood and if it is a pitcher bull, it not because the dog is black; it is because many dogs of this breed are dangerous.
    People like black poodles and other little long haired black dogs. We never had any large black dogs but I know my brother rehomed his pit bulls when he had a baby. I did study some things about animal behavior and your doggy is lonesome.