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I normally do holistic blog posts for the website I write for and I usually post in the holistic section. However, this fits better I believe into the rescue section. Enjoy!

Can the adoption rate really be so low for black dogs and cats that it has a name? Unfortunately the answer is yes. It's called Big Black Dog Syndrome, although it can also apply to black cats to a lesser extent.


Shelter workers have long said that large black dogs have a much harder time getting adopted than their lighter colored counterparts. Depending upon the type of shelter, you can expect the majority to either be humanely euthanized or to languish in a non-kill shelter for months, even years. By writing this post we hope to explain and hopefully enlighten you to the plight of temperamentally and physically healthy black cats and dogs in shelters.


Why are black dogs less likely to be adopted?


There seems to be many factors involved.


Some of it is human nature. A 2013 study by Penn State University psychologists revealed that people find pictures of black dogs scarier than photos of brown or yellow dogs. The respondents rated the dark colored dogs less friendly, more intimidating, and less adoptable.


Another factor may be the quality of the pictures themselves. With the internet society we now live in, shelters promote their dogs on sites such as petfinder.com to try to get them adopted. Social media plays a big part too with people sharing photos of dogs in need of adoption. In most cases the pictures are low quality since shelters rarely have the money to hire a professional photographer. They have to continually fund raise just to keep going so it's not high on the priority list. With time, money and under staffing problems, pictures are taken with less than optimal cameras and even cell phones. These pictures, especially those taken in the shelter kennels, tend to look like black blobs with tongues. People can't see their features or expressions well and will scroll on to the next dog. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”,certainly applies to BBDs.


In western culture we have long associated colors with various feelings, genders etc. Pink for girls, blue for boys, green for jealousy, and of course black for evil. Books, movies and the media also add to the association of the color black with evil. Big black dogs unleashing evil and destruction can be seen in such movies as The Hounds Of Baskerville, The Omen, and Harry Potter. The color black in dogs is often considered “boring” which also makes these dogs harder to adopt. People tend to be drawn to unique, distinctly colored dogs. It's not unusual for a uniquely colored dog, whose personality and temperament is not as “good” as a black dog, to be adopted solely because of their distinct color.


Size plays a big role as well. Not every home can accommodate a large dog, nor can every household afford to care for a large dog. There is also the challenge of handling a larger dog. Some people aren't capable of dealing with their size and power. Time and time again shelter workers will tell you that smaller dogs are easier to adopt. Smaller dogs, even those with temperament or behavioral issues, receive far more applications and are adopted more quickly than larger dogs with no temperament or behavioral issues.


So how can you help?


There is no easy solution to Big Black Dog Syndrome, but there are ways you can help.

  • If you like taking photographs, have a love for animals and have a decent camera, volunteer to take photos at your local shelter. A good photo can make all the difference in the world to a dog waiting for adoption.
  • If you want a more hands on approach, volunteer at your local shelter to work with the big black dogs teaching them social skills, basic commands, and simple tricks to make them more desirable for adoption.
  • Browse through sites like petfinder.com. Find pets at your local shelter and share them on social media sites with your friends. Social media is an amazingly powerful tool when it comes to pet adoptions.
  • Please spay and neuter your pets and encourage others to as well. Bob Barker knew what he was talking about. The less unwanted big black dogs in shelters the better!
 

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So true. And the same goes for black cats.
Interestingly, while working in the vet clinic there was a couple from China who were surprised by this perception in the US because in China black (especially cats) were a good luck animal to have around.
 

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Wow that is interesting. When I looked at a black (dark brindle) boxer I fell in love and wasn't intimidated at all , they are beautiful. And that about the cat is funny since we all here in america most of us think black cats are bad luck lol.
 
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