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Black Dog Syndrome: A Fatal Label For Dogs

Updated on August 31, 2012

Black labrador retrievers. Rottweilers. Doberman Pinschers. Pitbull mixes. They're black and they're feared. That isn't all; they're also more likely to be euthanized at the pound than the lighter-colored dogs. Is this so surprising to you? Probably not. People overlook them all the time! When someone walks into an animal shelter wanting to adopt a dog, their eyes almost always flick to the lighter-colored dogs, and through that color, they sort through which one looks the healthiest, acts the friendliest, and so on...Admit it: no matter how much of an animal lover you are, when you close your eyes and picture the ideal dog that you want to adopt, a pitch-black dog seldom comes to mind. Try asking yourself why that is, and see what answers you come up with. Black Dog Syndrome is the name for the negative outcome of humans foolishly assuming that black dogs are dangerous, a bad omen, or plain and ordinary.

Superstition

According to European folklore, the sight of a black dog meant death. Even Sir Walter Scott believed this, as he mentioned it in a poem. There are many English and Irish tales that are more than 200 years old of a black dog being present right before someone died. I'm an open-minded person when it comes to the paranormal and certain superstitions, but these possibilities are not set in stone, and just as redheads were wrongly accused of being witches and put to death in the 18th century, should a black dog miss an opportunity of a loving home because of a silly superstition?

Some people are afraid of adopting a black dog because they don't want to risk death on their loved ones or themselves --- they associate the "blackness" of the dog with evil. Just think, a sweet dog who has probably never bitten any breathing entity in its life is being unfairly branded a spawn of the devil, only because of its dark fur. It's sad and ridiculous.

Judging

It's an unfortunate coincidence that many "aggressive" breeds happen to have dark fur. Once again, people make the mistake of associating behavior with color. Because so many unreasonably judge black dogs, animal shelters conclude that they will have a more difficult time finding a home, due to that invalid fear. So basically, walking a black dog into the pound is equivalent to walking the dog to its deathbed. So yes, it's highly likely that a beautiful silky-coated black puppy filled with life and friendliness, is sentenced to die because people choose to judge instead of discover.

Color cannot possibly determine the behavior of a dog. What determines a dog's behavior is its upbringing...how it was treated, taught, and disciplined. Health and hormones play a big role in dog behavior, as well. The ugly reality of the situation is, animals are dumped at the pound every day, the facility becomes crowded with animals, and the 'unwanted' animals have to be weeded out and destroyed. Black dogs are at the bottom of that 'unwanted' list, and it's unfair, so at least give them that second glance that they deserve.

Try this the next time you go to a shelter to adopt a dog: find a black dog, and approach it. Imagine that all the dogs are colorless and just focus on the dog in front of you. Try to hear what the dog's demeanor is telling you. Gentle? Friendly? Scared? Menacing? And congratulations, you've just properly judged a black dog! Now the trick is getting others to do the same. There are sweet black dogs, energetic black dogs, lovable black dogs, shy black dogs, sick black dogs, healthy black dogs, and of course there are aggressive black dogs...just like any other-colored dog on the planet. Color does not play a role in determining that.

Benefits of Black Dogs:

  • They Have a Shiny Coat.


After bathing a darker-colored dog, you are awarded with not only a clean dog, but a glowing dog! Its glossy dark fur will stand out like no other color. Black is beautiful, silky, and dramatic.

  • They're Fun to Dress Up.


Brainstorming fun ways to entertain the trick-or-treaters on Halloween? Leave that to your midnight-colored companion! Dress your dog in an orange pumpkin cape, and he'll be sporting his natural festive Halloween colors. Or dress it in another type of costume. It will really stand out against black fur. Just make sure the dog can comfortably move while wearing it. In family photos, the dog can stand out with a costume to show the world how awesome they are! How about a Superman cape or a pink frilly dress for your furry princess?

  • They Will Be Forever Grateful For Your Love And Companionship.


This is true, considering how long they have been waiting in that shelter for a family. You will probably be the best thing that ever happened to the dog. They will be more than obliged to cover your days together with doggy kisses and cuddles.



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    • jennzie profile image

      jennzie 4 years ago from Lower Bucks County, PA

      This is a sad fact, and it is the same with black cats as well. Voted this up and shared.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      my profile's sister bella is black and she is as sweet as can be. She loves people and dogs, hates rain and hates getting a bath, but she sure does look pretty after that bath. I wouldn't want her any other color.

    • nataliejs profile image
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      Natalie Schaeffer 4 years ago from Farmersville, CA

      Thank you for the vote, and I especially thank you for reading this hub because I want to draw attention to the fact that it's so easy for many people to subconsciously overlook darker-colored dogs (and yes, cat's too) when choosing a pet. I own a cat who is almost all black, and she is one of the most affectionate pets i've ever owned! Color definitely shouldn't be an issue when loving an animal.

    • nataliejs profile image
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      Natalie Schaeffer 4 years ago from Farmersville, CA

      @wetnosedogs I'm glad there are some of us out there who can see the same amazing qualities in darker-colored pets as in lighter-colored pets :) I truly believe that every cat and dog has their own unique little personality, and that's why we love them! :)

    • nataliejs profile image
      Author

      Natalie Schaeffer 4 years ago from Farmersville, CA

      Thank you for the vote, and I especially thank you for reading this hub because I want to draw attention to the fact that it's so easy for many people to subconsciously overlook darker-colored dogs (and yes, cat's too) when choosing a pet. I own a cat who is almost all black, and she is one of the most affectionate pets i've ever owned! Color definitely shouldn't be an issue when loving an animal.

    • nataliejs profile image
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      Natalie Schaeffer 4 years ago from Farmersville, CA

      Oops, I didn't mean to post that comment twice. Sorry! LOL

    • profile image

      dogfond 4 years ago

      This is sad but true. My friend has a black labrador and he's very sweet and I couldn't just understand people why people associate a dog's color with their behavior. It's just heartbreaking.

    • nataliejs profile image
      Author

      Natalie Schaeffer 4 years ago from Farmersville, CA

      @dogfond I agree. People who have to have "pretty" pets are usually those who are incapable of loving a pet. I heard a sad story about a woman who surrendered her cat to the pound just because its fur didn't match her new furniture! Unbelievable!

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