Adopt a Seriously Adoptable Pet: Black Dog Syndrome

When Brody needed a friend, I went to the rescue site where I was so fortunate to find Emmett, hoping to get so lucky yet again. I wanted an older, female Golden retriever to balance out Brody’s nutso-ness.

The retriever rescue was low on Goldens at that particular time, but they had several older labradors in need of homes. All of them were black. One in particular, a white-muzzled girl with a Rubenesque frame and two quizzical brown eyes just a stitch too close together, seemed to leap out of the screen and say, “c’mon….Take a chance.”

What makes a pet fall under the category of “less adoptable”? Sometimes it’s age, people bypassing the loving seniors in favor of their younger counterparts. Other times it’s a medical issue. One factor which has confounded shelter workers for years is color: black dogs and cats seem to be harder to adopt than their differently pigmented pals.

Dubbed “Black Dog Syndrome“, shelters across the country scramble to help focus attention on these dogs (and cats!) who are so often overlooked for reasons no one quite seems to understand. Is it psychological? Do they not photograph as well? Are they harder to spot in the shadows of the kennels?

No matter the reason, anyone who’s adopted a black dog or cat (or, as in my case, one of each- the little black dog has been happy with me now since February) will tell you that these guys are as wonderful, sweet, and as loving a pet as anyone could ask for. Plus they match any outfit. What’s not to love? Read on to see just a handful of the wonderful black dogs out there awaiting their forever homes.

Precious is a 8 year old Aussie mix. She has lived at the shelter most of her life and really wants to find a loving family to come and adopt her. She is not a fan of young children because they scare her. She is also shy around certain men. She walks on a leash well and can sit. She is very sweet and loves to give kisses. She has been spayed, up to date on shots and on heartworm prevention. She is housetrained.

Annie is a sweet older gal who was seized from a household because there were too many dogs. One day Annie was sleeping in her little doggie bed and the next thing she knows, she was being taken by animal control officers to the shelter. Annie is a dignified lady. She likes country living in a place that is relatively calm and quiet, although she will admit to enjoying some play time with other dogs her size even if they’re puppies.

Tiny little SADIE was found as a stray along a side road. Luckily for her, a corrections officer, coming home from an evening shift, found her one morning. That officer did the right thing. Now this puppy is safe in a foster home but it’s not a permanent solution. SADIE needs her forever home where she can give all of her love to her forever family; and this cutie has a lot to give!

Filed: Be The Change Tagged: , ,
  • Cathey

    We must be the odd men out at our house – we have had 5 black dogs in our thirty-plus years of owning dogs – they have been some of the “best of the bunch.” I suppose they are hard to photograph, I don’t really have a good picture of Jake (black lab), but he and Duffy (a black cocker) followed out two-year old to the river, and then brought him safely back home one chilly fill afternoon. Without those two, I don’t know if we would have been lucky enough to get him back! And really, Jake never cared if I had a good photo of him, he only wanted to keep my feet warm in the evenings! Just remember people, they’re not cars, they’re friends you haven’t met yet!!

  • Holly Green

    I didn’t know this about black dogs and cats! I grew up with three black cats (a mom and two of her kittens) not to mention a plethora of others. I’m sure that one day when my Bailey isn’t with me anymore I’ll adopt again and I will definitely keep in mind the inordinate number of dark fuzz buddies in the shelters!

  • It’s practically been a family tradition to have black dogs, from the Doberman/lab mix my Grandmother had when my Mom was quite young, to the black cocker, to all the black mixed breeds and now to my Border collie/retriever mix (solid black except for a couple of tufts of white hair here and there). I think black dogs are amazingly gorgeous. You can see my girl at my blog (link posted). They always say they’re not photogenic, but I find black dogs even more photogenic than any other dogs!

  • Lisa W

    Wish I could take Precious. What a face!

  • I can never understand Black Dog Syndrome… we had black dogs growing up, and it would have never crossed my mind that they were less adoptable. It’s so odd to me that people wouldn’t want to adopt them… sweet is sweet, no matter what color the coat! Great post… hope these overlooked pups find loving homes!

  • Michelle

    My Mom had an issue with “black dog syndrome” as well when my husband and I adopted our second greyhound. She couldn’t believe we were getting a black dog and said she had a funny look about her when we showed her pictures. Then she met her. . . and it was love at first sight!

    This is Mimsy, my sweet, goofy girl.

    Feel free to use the photo 🙂

  • My Percy is a black cat, and I’ve never really considered colour when adopting. (Well, one could say that he adopted me, given that he came down from his perch and was all lovey.) At the shelter I got him from (, they said that they had trouble placing the black cats. They also had trouble with long haired cats (esp. black ones), and males. Percy isn’t long haired, but he’s black and male, so he had two strikes. There were other black fellows there that had been there for quite some time, even though they were pretty friendly.

  • K

    black animals with just a little (or more) of grey/white remind me of oreo cookies. Who doesn’t think happy thoughts when they think of oreos? C’mon. The dog I recently sponsored financially was a black six year old hound, and he now has his forever family who love him VERY much.

    • yummmm….oreos….

  • Tonya

    Both my dog and my cat are (rescued) black. We adopted our cat, Alley, from a shelter when she was 5 years old and given up by her former family. I have no idea why either because she is the most affectionate and most beautiful cat ever! I could not imagine ever, ever giving her up. Clyde (the black Lab) has issues (is not a fan of children or other dogs), but my husband says he’s like a used car – beautiful on the outside but needs a little work under the hood. Ha! My heart dog was a black Lab, and the cat we had before adopting Alley was black too. I intentionally look for the black ones because they are just so special! I wish everyone would see that.

    • Tonya

      Forgot to say that Koa is one gorgeous girl in her campaign photo! 🙂

      • Thank you! Her body language is so great in it!

  • I’ve heard of many reasons that make a pet seem less Adoptable and wouldn’t have believed this was one of them. What can seem more magical than a black cat or more loyal than a black lab? I’ve had the honor of loving a little black cat with golden eyes who we found under a bike when she was a baby. And will never forget Rex who was a black bull mastiff you’ll never find a dog more loyal than him. All these animals are just waiting to love us they don’t love us any less for our appearance lets return the favor.

  • Agustina

    I’m always wearing black, so black dog hair would blend in just fine!

    Do you mind if I share your “poster” on Facebook?

    • Of course not! Share away!

  • Tiffany

    I have heard of this, but also don’t get it… We do have a yellow Lab, but also a black Pug, and I definitely want another black dog next time around!

  • Laura

    We have two labs. Our little black girl has the prettiest , shiniest fur I’ve ever seen. She’s our little athlete. She’s always got a tennis ball with her. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

  • Liz

    Oh Annie is so cute! At the SPCA shelter i volunteer at here in NZ they do a big drive every year on Brindle dogs because they are harder to adopt out.

  • Liz

    p.s. – Looking good Koa!

  • What a great poster! It gets the message across. All those dogs you pictured here are absolutely adorable.

  • I know Humans are finicky about what color dog they want…even with us Chessies. We only come in brown, but some Humans are even picky about what shade of brown! They should pay more attention to our personalities! And everyone calls us dogs dumb! Shame on ’em!
    Y’all come by now!
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  • Jeanne

    must be something wrong with me. i’ve always has a thing for dark or balck critters – horses, dogs, cats…i blame walter farley. damn him and those black stallion books!