Overcoming the Black Dog Syndrome

The first dog I ever loved was a black and white spaniel mix named “Snubby”. I was six. Years later a beautiful brindle Border Collie, Bailey, and tan Lhasa Apso, Darby, came into my life and rekindled that amazing love.

It just happened that every dog we had after that was a light colored dog. When we sent our cream colored Lhasa, Muffin, off to the breeders for her second set of puppies, this time with a chocolate miniature poodle, Mr. Fudge, we were anticipating the cream, black and parti colored mix of puppies the breeder assured us we would get.

One night in February the puppies arrived. To our great shock, including the breeder’s, all of the pups were black. Some had a few white markings but that was it. It didn’t take long for those little black seal-like puppies to squirm their way into our hearts. That night was over 7 years ago now.

Listening to the radio the other day I heard about something called “Black Dog Syndrome”.

In one way it was hard to believe something like this actually exists, but at the same time it brought back my own memories of never initially choosing a black dog myself. I was completely oblivious that this is a major issue facing shelters across America.

I didn’t know that more black dogs fill pounds and shelters than any other color of dog. Or that the lighter colored dogs always get picked first, with larger black dogs picked last, if picked at all.

Neither did I know that more black dogs get euthanized each year than any other color of dog.

Why is there such a dramatic difference?

Some say because black dogs aren’t photogenic. Shelters that put more effort into making sure that their black dogs are well lit for their portraits have a better chance of getting noticed.

A lot of kennels don’t have adequate lighting to show off their beautiful black coats and need to find other creative ways to make them stand out in the crowd.

Some say it’s because of superstition, or superstition by association. A black cat is bad luck, so a black dog is too. Often movies will have a black dog portray the evil dog (Mufasa in “The Lion King”), the security dog or the vicious dog, where as a lighter dog is portrayed as loving and friendly, and more often than not our hero – Lassie, Benji, Toto to name a few.

Some say black dogs are more aggressive. Habitually Black Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and Pit Bulls, breeds and mixes that generally have black coats, are time and again judged by their breed as a whole instead of individually for their own personality and temperament.

Some reject black dogs because they don’t want to see their hair on their carpet or furniture. Although typically many larger black-coated breeds do not shed nearly as much as their lighter coated counterparts, though their dark fur can show up more noticeably on lighter rugs and couches.

I had no rational reasoning for my objection and now I wonder how I could ever live without my wonderful black dog. She’s the best dog I’ve ever had and the love, laughter, and companionship she’s brought to my life is priceless.

Words can’t express how thankful I am that I changed my mind!

Connie Janzen is a bonafide dog lover, a foster parent for the Humane Society, and the proud owner of Barkley Paws Pet Boutique. Your everything for your dog place to shop online – from dog collars to pet strollers – for dogs of every size and color.

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