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Black Dogs Need Love Too!

shutterstock_170725856Look at any local shelter, how many black dogs are there? Does there seem to be more black dogs than other colors? How long have the black dogs been available for adoption? Some shelter workers call this “Black Dog Syndrome” (BDS). BDS is a theory that black dogs get passed over time and again for adoption.

Shelters run in spurts. Some weeks there may be more Beagles on the floor than any other breed. Other weeks there may be a run on Cock-a-Poos. There may be more black dogs on the adoption floor than any other color dog on any given week.

Does Black Dog Syndrome truly exist? Or is it a marketing ploy dreamed up by the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA to get more people to adopt?


There are many ideas on why black dogs seem to languish in animal shelters. Black dogs have the stigma of being portrayed as evil or aggressive in movies and on TV. The color black is subconsciously associated with bad luck and evil. A few potential owners have even admitted that a black dog is boring; they are seeking a more unique looking dog. Whatever the reason, black dogs seem to become invisible when adopters are looking for an amiable companion.


Some critics argue that the black lab is the most popular family dog in the United States, how could BDS occur? Others argue that there are simply more black dogs than any other color.

Yes, the black lab is the most popular choice for families across the United States. The Labrador Retriever has remained number one on the AKC favored breed list for over twenty years. There are hundreds of breeders out there with black labs. But there are also hundreds of families who choose the black lab because it is the preferred family dog and don’t bother to understand the breed.   These are the dogs that end up in shelters, misunderstood and confused as to where their family went.


Fred Levy, a professional photographer from Massachusetts, heard whispers of Black Dog Syndrome and took it upon himself to find some new photographic subjects. The inspirational photos he took feature pure black dogs against a black backdrop with stunning results. Not only has this photographer brought light to a speculated typecast, he also shows how extraordinary these “ordinary” dogs really are.

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Written by Renee Moen
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