What is Big Black Dog Syndrome?

Have you ever heard of big black dog syndrome? Until just recently I never thought twice about the color of my dogs fur then I heard about big black dog syndrome. I was amazed when I heard that big black dogs were euthanized at a much higher rate then other dogs.

What Is Big Black Dog Syndrome?

As mentioned earlier Big Black Dog Syndrome is basically the fact that big black dogs get euthanized at a much higher rate then other dogs.

There are many ideas and theories as to why black dogs don’t get adopted as easily:

  1. They don’t show in kennels as well – features on a black dog can often times not be seen very well when shown in a kennel.
  2. Grey hairs show more easily on their coat making them appear older then they actually are
  3. Superstitions and bad press – stories, poems, movies have often portrayed black dogs as fearsome and evil.
  4. Teeth on a black dog can look whiter and more menacing
  5. Black dogs aren’t photogenic – we even mentioned this one in a post about Stetson: 4 Steps To Avoid In A Puppy Group Photo

Which Labrador Retriever would you choose?

Stetson and his siblings – from left to right Stetson, Stuart, Salem, and Sukie.

Linus the Big Black Dog

Linus is more of a medium sized dog at 55 pounds, but he’s tall and lean and therefore looks a little bigger then he really is.

I wasn’t sure what kind of dog I was going to get when I picked up Linus from the shelter, but the color of his fur was just one minor detail amongst the different criteria I planned on using to choose my next pet. Before choosing Linus I visited several breeders and had my eye on one particular chunky little yellow Labrador Retriever we visited out in Riverside, CA.

However, a few days after putting a deposit down on the little yellow lab I saw pictures of a couple puppies at animal shelter in Carson, CA. The puppies were mixed Australian Shepherds and in the picture one had a the tri-color look (black, tan, and white) and the other was solid black with a small white spot on his chest.

When we saw the two puppies I remember commenting on how beautiful the tri-color puppy was and was instantly taken by her beautiful coat. However, I still was intent on testing personality over looks (isn’t that what we always do when starting a relationship). After putting both puppies through several personality tests I thought both dogs passed with flying colors, but I was leaning towards the solid black puppy versus the tri-color. In the end I ended up taking home the solid black puppy and named him Linus. While I was much more attracted to the tri-color coat I ultimately (and now happily) went with the dog I thought matched my personality best.

I guess Linus wasn’t a big puppy, but I knew he was going to be a medium to large dog. If you plan on getting a dog take a good look at the black dogs as well as the other colored dogs. A black dog can be just as good a pet as a golden, white, tri-color, blue merle, and any other color you can think of.

Have you heard of black dog syndrome? Do you have a black dog and why did you choose him or her?

Comments

  1. says

    You have a very interesting site! 8 years ago I adopted my first dog (Maggie 2000-2008), who we all affectionately referred to as the BBD (the Big Black Dog). When asked her breed, I would say Black Dog (she was probably some sort of shepherd/lab/greyhound mix and was about 75 pounds). I am ashamed to admit that I initially didn’t want to adopt a black dog, and I can’t actually explain why I chose her that day. I think it was more that she chose me. But I am now head over heals for black dogs! I had actually just started looking around for another rescue black dog when 2 of my guide pups asked to come home. My whole family loves black dogs now too… such that the first words out of my sister’s mouth when she heard about Angel was “Oh no! She’s yellow!”

    Incidentally I have heard of big black dog syndrome, but not until after I had adopted Maggie. It made me so sad and even more grateful for the beautiful dog I got to spend 8 years with! I will probably always look specifically for black dogs whenever I get to adopt again.

  2. says

    @Emily and the Labradors, I was the same as you and wasn’t looking for a black dog either when I rescued Linus. When I initially saw the pictures of Linus and his sister I really liked the tri-color look. Linus was a cute puppy, but the white, black, and tan colors on his sister were absolutely adorable.

    I’m glad I chose Linus and I’m now a huge fan of black dogs. I agree with you and will probably keep my eye out for another black dog when it’s time to adopt again.

  3. Carol says

    This is so wild… I was just having a conversation with my hair dresser about black dogs being scarry and less adoptable earlier this evening. And here on your site is a blog about the very topic. I have never heard of Big Black Dog Syndrome. I’m blown away.

    If you ask me, black labradors are much more regal. I love their faces. I don’t find them scarry or unfriendly.

    We put our black down in November, 2006. We still have a yellow, and I love him so much. But, I’m drawn to the black labs. We’re adding a “Black and Tan” to the family near the end of March. He may not have that regal look, but he’s absolutely gorgeous. BTW – The blog on Black and Tan’s is great.

  4. says

    @Carol, I had not heard of Big Black Dog Syndrome until recently either. I’ll probably lean towards black dogs when I adopt since I now know that they have a more difficult time getting adopted.

  5. Melissa says

    I had been looking at rescues for a puppy for a few months, when I saw IT on the way to work. A sign that said “FREE PUPPIES”. It wasn’t there the previous evening. Surely this MUST be a sign! Would there be any left? What KIND were they? My friends were getting frustrated with my extensive puppy search, as I was all over the place with breeds and colors. They just could NOT understand why I didn’t have something in mind. I DID have something in mind. A GOOD PUP.

    I called the number on the “FREE PUPPIES” sign at 8:02 am. Surely that couldn’t have been too early, as they had put the sign up that morning. I asked when I could come see them, trying to remain calm and not sound like a psychopath. He said they were Shepard/Lab mixes, and he had nine. I asked how many females, as my daughter was SET on getting a girl dog. They were ALL female. Great! I told the man I’d be there at 4:45. I arrived on time, and he only had two left. One was traditional shepard coloring (I’m not sure what you call it), and the other was the shiniest black I had ever seen. The multi-colored dog didn’t seem too interested in us, but the black one jumped up on us, and as we went to pet her, immediately laid down on her back and commanded belly wubbs… SHE was the one. She acted as though she had been waiting for us for 8 weeks! We’ve had her almost 3 months now, and just as having a child, I can barely remember life without her! Well, I CAN and DO remember sleeping soundly for 8 hours, but we love her and her small bladder anyway!

    • says

      I’m glad you found a great puppy for you and your family. Linus is all black too with a tiny white spot on his chest. I love him and I too can’t remember what it was like without him. Lucky for me he’s old enough that he sleeps in if I decide to sleep in. Your’s will get there too.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. says

    I once had a tri-color (black, white, tan, but more black than anything else) Collie that, in his heyday, was between 70-80 lbs. It never occurred to me for a second that folks would be afraid of my happy go lucky goofball until I started getting unfriendly comments. I solved the problem by way of teaching my dog to lie down at the sight of small children so he wouldn’t look quite so big, and also by putting a bow or bandana on him when we went out & about in public. Problem solved. It’s kind of difficult to be afraid of a dog with holiday decorations on him, that’s either lying down, wagging his tail for all he’s worth, or both..regardless of color.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>