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  • Black Dog Syndrome

    Posted by Janine Allen at Monday, October 19th, 2009.

    Black Dog Syndrome

    Though it sounds like a dreaded disease, it is simply a reference to shelter dogs of an apparently doomed color that make them difficult to adopt.

    Conjectures abound on why they linger in the shelters longer than other dogs: hard to see in dark kennels, photos don’t show up well on websites, appear more scary or aggressive. Possibly people have a hard time reading their facial expressions though it seems pretty clear that this girl is not too keen on the amorous advances of the boy.

    I hike daily with three black dogs and have not found them to heat up any faster than other dogs on the trail. I’m always receiving compliments on their shiny coats – the black being a better contrast to reflective light. My furnishings and clothing are dark – which would be my choice anyway since any dog of any color at my house somehow will get dirt somewhere. And, while my friend’s white poodles return to the trail head covered in tan, brown, or gray, my black dogs always stay…well… BLACK!



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    Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog's professional dog trainer. Janine's passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2018 Rescue Me Dog; www.rescuemedog.org

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    26 Responses to “Black Dog Syndrome”

    1. Jen Says:

      3 years ago when looking at a litter of lab mixes for adoption, I chose the black puppy simply because she was black. Knowing that Big Black Dog syndrome is so much of an issue, I knew that she would be less adoptable as a puppy because she is black and definitely less likely to find a home if she ended up homeless as an adult. I also thought that as a single woman walking a dog alone, maybe the “big black dog” might scare someone with less than good intentions. It was the best decision I ever made!!! I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect addition to our family. As far as being a guard dog, she would probably bring any intruder a ball to play fetch and then lick them half to death. Sage is our pride and joy and I also receive so many compliments on her beautiful coat and wonderful demeanor. I hope others give big black dogs a try.

    2. Brian Grove Says:

      I had to laugh at your comments about black dogs staying black. I now run a refuge in Argentina started by my late wife, but back when my wife was alive, our first dog was white and she LOVED mud.
      Even now I’ve a white “dogo” who rolls in any dirt she can find.

    3. Zed Says:

      I really had no idea that black dogs would be less likely to be adopted.
      I guess because we have always been around so many different colors & types of dogs we notice their personality more than their color.

    4. Ddraig Says:

      I’m a “Red” Greyhound, like my Dad !
      I hope you realize that Red is THE color to be…
      even though my Mom’s Great Dane was Black and everyone thought he was soooo neat!
      I don’t get dirty either… but the Jack Russells that live here…ugh! (pigs)

    5. Nancy Says:

      Hey!! I have 3 black dogs..although 2 now have a bit of gray around their muzzles, as they are getting older. I love, love, love them!!! Sui, Lucy and Otis are the best muttly black dogs ever!!!

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    9. MJ Says:

      I had no idea there was such as thing as Black Dog Syndrome. I actually prefer black dogs, no matter the breed. As it turns out, I adopted a gorgeous black and tan Dobie a year ago. She is an absolute doll – a loving companion and faithful protector. And I love seeing her coat glisten in the sunlight – a truly beautiful and elegant sight!

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    21. Leonor Tevebaugh Says:

      I would have to say, well stated.

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    23. Labradoodle Puppies Says:

      I like small white dogs. I think its very difficult to do proper care of dogs. Also fully satisfied with Janis statement that post is really wonderful to read. I also had no idea or information about black dogs. But i think post is good for those especially for black dog owners. Keep Writing for us.

    24. Canandaigua Lake Property Says:

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