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Hmm… It Really Ain’t So Black and White!

Black Dog Syndrome – the idea that a black dog is less likely to be adopted simply because he is black… It is an idea that has persisted in sheltering for years with little data to support it as fact. Recently, some research was published that gives evidence that maybe Black Dog Syndrome is a myth.

The manuscript, titled “Give a Dog a Bad Name and Hang Him: Evaluating Big, Black Dog Syndrome,” was written by Lucinda Woodward et al and published in early 2012 by Society and Animals. The researchers conducted two studies aimed at studying the impact of the features “black” and “big.” Their first study used just one type of dog – the poodle – with 4 different variants – large black, small black, large white, small white. Participants (795) were given the task of rating each picture on 8 different terms of personality (for example, friendly-submissive and hostile-dominant).

The authors hypothesized that if the black dog syndrome was correct, black poodles would be rated as less friendly than the white ones. What they found, however, was that black poodles were rated by participants as significantly more friendly than white poodles. In fact, there was a trend for the small white poodle to have the lowest positive ratings.

Concerned that the model might have been influenced by a perception of small white poodles as yippy dogs, the researchers examined the same question a bit more globally in their second study. Their second study focused on this – “If black dog syndrome is indeed a valid phenomenon, it was expected in study 2 that participants would rate the image of a large black dog breed (a black Lab) as more hostile, more dominant, less friendly, and less submissive than the dogs in other photos. However, if Black Dog Syndrome is simply an artifact of attributes associated with typically large, black dog breeds rather than size or color, we would expect to see significant variance of personality attributions across photos of different dog breeds.” In other words, could it be breed (or perceived breed) as opposed to color that is influencing adoptions?

In this second study, the researchers used the same 8 personality types to rate, but this time, the pictures presented were of 8 breeds – border collie, boxer, German shepherd, golden retriever, black Lab, pit bull, standard poodle and Rottweiler.

What they found was that participants’ perceived personality rating appeared to be influenced more by their internalized stereotypes of breed than the color or size of the dog. The black Lab was perceived as less hostile, more friendly, less dominant and more submissive than the brown pit bull, the brindled boxer, the sable German Shepherd and the black and tan Rottweiler. The black Lab only consistently rated lower on these scores when compared to the golden retriever.

The authors conclude, as some of us have hypothesized in the past, that Black Dog Syndrome may in fact be due to the base rate fallacy – there are simply more big black dogs in the population. The study highlights that dog breed is an important predictor of personality attributions made by humans. This nugget is a kicker for those in shelters as previous research has suggested we are pretty poor at identifying breeds, and our adopters yearn for this information as they want to be able to predict what a dog will be like in their home. The ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program replaces breeds with Canine-ality – helping adopters to find their match without a focus on breed. For those not able to use Meet Your Match, identifying behavior as opposed to breed may help adopters to keep an open heart and mind…

Of course, this is just one study and more data is needed to bust this black dog myth – but there sure is something exciting about getting down to the data to help us noodle through how to decrease risk for the animals in our shelter.

What do you think of this research?


Related links:

ASPCA Meet Your Match
“If It Looks Like A Duck…”

Comments

Comment

Guinn and Victoria - what you both may be seeing is more an artifact of the number of black dogs as compared to other colors than the idea that folks see something inherently 'bad' with black dogs. Victoria, some shelters in CA will tell you that small dogs do not move so fast as their intake is biased toward small dog intake - they have so many. Data around human's ability to choose will point to the Less is More concept - when folks have to choose between a lot of options (in this case maybe the choice of which black dog) they are less likely to make a choice at all. Definitely an area where more research would yield some facininating info!

Comment

I wonder if there might be a confirmation bias at play here, too. Perhaps (like wary EMT's on full moon nights,) we have strong memories of those few black dogs who sat in our shelters for many weeks or months, but the memory has faded of the dozens who flew out the doors more quickly.

It seems many of the comments here are of the anecdotal, "in my experience" type. The cool thing is that in this age of sophisticated sheltering software, the actual data may be close at hand. I would love to see those of you with access to your shelter's actual numbers see how this myth stacks up with your own actual shelter dog numbers - please let us know!

Oh, and Donna will be happy to hear that my own strong personal bias is that black and tan Dobermans are the best ones - and they barely shed at all :)

Comment

Most all black cats are killed in Miami-Dade. Very few exceptions. It is a big issue NOT a myth!!!!!!

Comment

I inadvertently ran a black-dog test of my own years ago, when I had two golden retrievers and a black lab. All three were sitting in the front yard when someone I didn't know well came to the door and commented, "That black one looks mean." I was astonished. I attributed the comment to black dogs being used as "scary" dogs in the media: Rottweilers, dobermans, etc., depicted as attack dogs.

I agree that black dogs are typically not as "photogenic" as lighter colors. Those taking their photos for adoption promotion should look into getting extra lighting for the shots of the black dogs so that their features are more easily seen. There also are books on the topic of photographing dogs; I bet they deal with this issue if only because Labs are so extremely popular (I've had three myself).

Comment

I think this study totally missed the point. I don't think it's because people think those dogs are more hostile or aggressive it's because people don't want black hair everywhere that shows more than other colored fur. It's more obvious on clothes and floors and couches.

Good try but way off the mark in my opinion.

Comment

Zia - thank you for your comment. The research dived into the idea of Black Dog Syndrome which focuses on the assumption that people view black dogs as less behaviorally and physically disirable. It hit that point quite well. As an aside, as a pet parent of three light coated dogs and an owner of dark colored furniture, light hair shows up everywhere too.

Comment

It has never rationally made sense to me that shelters have said for decades that people don't want big black dogs while the #1 most popular breed of dog the past 20 years is Black Labrador Retrievers.

I do think the pure # of black dogs in shelters can tend to make selection for adopters difficult, and that they may not show well in poorly lit shelters, but I think overall there is demand for these dogs and shelters owe it to the dogs to find them homes.

FWIW, I think the pit bull situation in shelters is very similar...

Comment

In the 2 shelters I have worked at, consistently looking at length of stay, balck dogs and brindle dogs have always stayed the longest. I have always thought (obviously with no scientific data) that it was because people usually pick out pets for the way they look first, and a lighter color that stands out, or a dog with interesting markings gets the attention over a plain looking dog. I think that large dogs are adopted last anyway only because people perceive them as needing more space, regardess of activity. I do think that just showing a picture of an animal, as was done in this research, isn't a very good indicater because it is way outside the context of a shelter that engages the senses; sight, smell, touch that would go into factoring how a person feels about an animal. Either way, it's always good to gather information. Thanks for posting.

Comment

I think in many cases, they don't photo well, especially inside the shelter (where many pics are taken to be placed on websites and social media). I agree with Guinn Friedman, in that, this research is done only in the context of one of breed. In a shelter situation, there are several animals to choose from. In that real world context, the black labs seem have longer length of stays. Addressing that would likely need a study of different shelters, including observational viewing of people going through the shelters, surveys and interviews, possibly a focus group of people discussing to try and ascertain why exactly that is. I'm sure that would be a great thesis project for some student out there. But mostly targeted to large dog adopters since small dogs don't seem to have the same problem (or maybe they do, I don't know).

Comment

I walk the street with my large black lab (she's a mix with a golden retriever but looks like a fuzzy lab) people cross the street to avoid us. Since she is a totally submissive therapy dog, she sees everyone as a playmate, but they don't come close enough to find out.
I've also heard the black animal avoidance in shelters includes black cats, but would that be superstition rather than fear?

Comment

I agree with this completely. It drives me nuts when people go on about the "Black Dog Syndrome," which honestly does not seem to exist. I will say that for our shelter, the dogs who are hardest to adopt out (strictly in terms of appearance) are dogs that do not resemble a specific breed, or who have "pit bull" traits. It seems as though people want to look at the dog and say- that looks like a lab, or that looks like a heeler. If the dog is just a regular ol' brown dog, it doesn't get much attention, regardless of size or temperament.

Comment

I do think there is a problem with black cat adoptions though, and not because of superstition. I always ask people why they don't want black cats and the most common answers are that they either already have one (and they "all look the same") or that they want a "prettier color."

Comment

I've worked in animal rescue for years, mostly with cats. Black cats & kittens are indeed harder to get adopted and have a much longer length of stay with the rescue groups I've been affiliated with (in our case, both at foster homes or in petstore cages). Black kittens adopt out more easily than adult black cats - but both are usually among the last to be selected.
I have to agree that looking at pictures of animals and evaluating their personality doesn't really translate well to a live meet & greet. It seems to me that the actual experience of people working in shelters and rescues proves the claim that black animals just don't get adopted as easily. (That just means that we have to market them harder and better and more!)

Comment

Clearly the issue is not simply color. The premise originally taken on was off the mark. In a public shelter we would adopt every single poodle regardless of size or color. The issue is mixed breed dogs over 45 pounds - that's where the black dog syndrome comes in (and here in Florida it could be brown dogs too). The study should have focused on real shelter populations of mixed breed dogs.

Comment

I think it is all about aesthetics. I have been in the shelter world for over 17 years and I can say that black animals in general are harder to adopt. They often seem to blend into the landscape of the shelter. Animals of different colors tend to have shorter lengths of stay. We market harder for black animals and sometimes offer incentives because otherwise they would stay in the shelter longer. I don't think it has anything to do with behavior. As bad as it may be I think it has to do with personal tastes.

Comment

Little poodles, especially white ones, kind of have a reputation of being little barky/snarky dogs - so I don't think using poodles works in this kind of test. All the same, dogs of dark color, including black dogs, seem to spend longer amounts of time at the shelter before being adopted. People seem to really love white dogs with brown spots - at least that is what it seems like to me. These dogs are always flying out the door. The little black poodles and the black Pomeranian - which I thought was so unusual and so beautiful - that we had at the shelter took forever and ever before getting adopted. It was sad to see, because they were as cute and friendly as the other dogs that were getting adopted.

Comment

While this is a fun little exercise it is totally biased because of the controls. Puebred dogs which are supposed to be black are far more likely to get adopted than mixed breed dogs. I would like to see this study repeated across all breeds and then compare the adoption rates of purebred black yellow and chocolate labs. Labs may not even be a good case because of thier generally favored status against other breeds. I think this study is inherently flawed and you should instead poll shelter managers nationwide. I hope this doesn't impede the extra effort put into adopting black dogs. Lets see how a black dog of every breed does in relation to any other color of the same breed or ignore breed all together and do blind studies that focus on color only and collect reall adoption data nationwide. When di it become OK to setup studies that prove what we want them to prove?

Comment

This is not a study about Black Dog Syndrome-"the idea that a black dog is less likely to be adopted simply because he is black". There is no comparison of the adoption rates of black dogs versus non-black dogs.

Instead, this study is actually an exploratory study of behavioral attributions made about dogs based on three characteristics: color X size (black vs white, large vs small in study 1) and breed (8 options in study 2).

If the authors were testing "could it be breed (or perceived breed) as opposed to color that is influencing adoptions?" they needed to control for breed AND color in study 2 and compare differences in adoption rates.

Based on what is written here about this study (and granted there is not much detail), it does not sound like the researchers did a very good job of operationalizing their research variables. Can you provide the citation for this article so that we can evaluate the actual research design better?

Comment

Breed perceptions are extraneous to this issue. The study only lightly touched on the most obvious findings: in comparing black Labs against golden retrievers, the findings would seem to confirm the hypothesis. Poodles may be more expressive than retrievers. I suspect humans have greater difficulty discriminating non-verbal eye and facial cues from darker-color dogs than from lighter ones.

Comment

I think the premise is faulty. Thirty years in the industry I never heard anyone refer to black dogs as more hostile, more dominant, less friendly, and less submissive than other dogs, which is what the researchers seemed determine to find. The fact is, large black dogs tend to be nondescript and are therefore overlooked. Of course, this is only true until people get to know an individual black dog, or think they know him via a picture, and then the study is skewed. The question that needs to be researched is why do people tend to walk past a kennel with a large black dog in it? And consequently, what can kennel personnel do to draw attention to these animals?

Comment

I really hate these types of studies because it just forms more opinions in a persons mind. Growing up we had cats & dogs. A large poodle, a black lab and a collie/shepard mix, all while living in various apartments. I had a pit bull/lab mix and now a yellow lab in a small condo. Long hair/short hair or dark coat/long coat all dogs and cats shed. Vets say there is nothing you can do, it is a sign of a healthy animal. Small dog or large dog, all dogs will adapt to their enviroment. All animals are a responsibility of their owners and all animals want to be cared for and loved in a loving enviroment. In return, they promise to please you without question and love you back unconditionally. I think there are a large group of people that don't know what kind/breed of animal they want when they start looking. It is the connection they make with an animal when they start looking that draws them. That is why I do not like stats or studies and definately hate the sterotypes of certain breeds. Every dog or cat deserves a chance at a happy life without prejudice.

Comment

Out of a litter of 7 puppies 2 brown, 2 blk & tan, 1 white w black and 2 Black. Only the 2 black ones remain. The other 5 where adopted first adoption event, The 2 black ones that remain sat thru another event with no interest. Though when I had a litter with only one black and 2 fawn and 2 white & tan the black was the 1st to go as he stood out in the litter..

Comment

It is great to see such energy around this post. The study was focused on one aspect of the black dog syndrome - the premise that black dogs are less desired as they are perceived by adopters as different from other dogs. Brent commented earlier that he was puzzled by the idea of a black dog syndrome when black labs are one of the most poplular dogs... Could the base rate fallacy and the idea of less is more be at work here?

Comment

I have never heard of "Black Dog Syndrome" basically because black labs are extremely popular. I have, however, heard that people don't want to adopt black cats because of whatever silly reason. I would adopt a black dog if the circumstances were right and I own a black cat who happens to be a really cool cat and everyone says they want to take him home.

Comment

I think the reason that there are so many big black dogs in shelters is probably moot. We still need to have "black tie" and other kinds of special adoption events for black dogs. These events promote the black dogs, but helps all of the other dogs as well. It is also probably smart to put your black dogs up front and make potential adopters walk past them on the way to see the puppies, the goldens, and the more colorful ("pretty") dogs.

Comment

What about Black CAT Syndrome? This would have nothing to do with breed stereotypes

Comment

Don't know about dogs, but at the no-kill cat shelter I volunteer with, there IS a decided bias against black cats. Which is why they have so many of them. Some shelters just refuse to take them in, this one doesn't.

Comment

I have never heard that a reluctance to adopt black dogs or cats is because of personality or temperament so I am not sure where this idea came from. However, where we live, rescue and attempt to adopt out our rescued animals (Texas), part of the problem is superstition. A black dog or cat is considered bad luck. Ridiculous, of course.... but I have heard it too many times for it not to have relevance as part of the reason why black cats and dogs take longer to find new homes. In the UK a black cat is considered GOOD luck! Equally ridiculous but a benefit to the black cats.

Comment

This study is on breed (using a poodle and a lab- 2 extremely popular breeds) when the study should be on color only. Our experiences have been similar to Guinn's that black dogs and brindle dogs get adopted at a slower rate- they remain in our program longer than fawn or white colored dogs. Lizzie makes a good point too that should be looked into. The study should go into a pound and/or rescue environment and record the number of dogs adopted of each color. (you can look into the saturation of each color)
I also don't understand the comment about small breeds be less adoptable in CA shelters- that was not my experience either- as they were much easier to adopt/rescue in Los Angeles, esp with so many people living in situations with weight restrictions.

Comment

If we could compare the number of adoptions to the number of available dogs of one size, age, and color, that would be close to an answer. But we don't have these statistics overall.

But there could be other potential approaches, statistical and without any assumption about adopters' motivation for color preference:

Several large urban shelters ask for color preference in their pet search tool. These queries could be evaluated and compared to the available population of dogs.
(It would be the only good I can see coming out of this search option. I would think having that search option reinforces rather than questions color preference among adopters.)

Petfinder allows people to search for black, chocolate, and yellow labs. These queries, too, could be evaluated and compared to the dogs in the database.

It is great that there are attempts now to research 'Black Dog Syndrome', and the study sure is very interesting. Yet it's quite a jump still from the questions and findings of the mentioned study to actual adoption. And the methods of the study need to be looked at as well, of course.

The mentioned study has assumptions about adopters reasons for color preference built into the questions. These reasons might or might not hold. We have two unknowns here, whether there is statistical evidence behind Black Dog Syndrome, and, if so, what might be the motivation, for such a color preference.

Also, the situation might be different for purebred dogs (or dogs that appear purebred), as used in the study, and mixed breeds.

In my experience (and here we go anecdotal again) with mixed breed and with German shepherd rescue, it is more difficult to place black mixed breeds than it is to place black GSDs.

Black GSDs are actually not harder to place than other color GSDs. Now when I compare (again, anecdotal) attitudes towards black GSDs as compared to black/tan and sable GSDs, more people seem afraid of black GSDs.

In my experience with all breed rescue, black mixes take longer to place than other colors, and black labs get fewer Petfinder inquiries than yellow labs. But what we need are statistics, not individual experiences...

Comment

From my experience it's no myth in the greyhound adoption world. Greyhounds come in nearly every conceivable color choice, red faun, brindle, black, white, black and white, brindle and white, etc. We always get color requests, usually faun or brindle or black and white. The black ones are some of the most beautiful, but they have been repeatedly harder to find homes for. For the record, I have 3, a red faun, brindle and a big black male. Our black male is the most well behaved of the bunch.

Comment

The study would be better focused on black dogs that are less identifiable to a particular breed. In otherwords, black mutts. I believe that might prove the point that - mixed breed black dogs are adopted at a measurably lower rate.

Comment

Does anyone know of PetPoint Length of Stay has been used to determine if black cats or dogs have a longer average LOS than other colored animals? That would be a simple way to find out since they already collect this info for hundreds of shelters.

Comment

I have had two black Standard Poodles, and think that when it comes to purebreds of a breed that commonly has black as a color, the color is not an issue with most adopters. I have worked as a volunteer with shelters since 2002. I agree with previous comments that black MIXED breeds (mutts) seem to be harder to find homes for, regardless of personality. I would like to see a study focusing on mixed breed black dogs compared to similar appearing (head shape, size, body shape) mixed breed dogs of other colors. Thanks.

Comment

After organizing over 100 mega adoption events involving multiple shelters and rescue groups in the last 4 years, I have noticed that the public tends to walk right past the black dogs/cats at these events, whethet big or small - almost as if they were invisible. We have tried to intersperse the black dogs with other dogs and not cluster black dogs together, but at the end of the day, many of the big or black dogs remain unadopted unless someone calls the potential adopter's attention to a specific black dog that may meet their family's needs. Black dogs/cats tend to get overlooked unless someone calls attention to them. Not scientific, but based on actual observations of adoption events. I wish this weren't true.......

Comment

I have to agree that the study on the "black dog syndrome" would be better focused on nondescript dogs if it were to dispel any myth. I do not feel made any step in that direction because of the premise of the study. Possibly a study of the "myth" itself, then following through with a study of the types of dogs it talks about would help make the it something that I would read and relate to.

Comment

My opinion is that older-style shelters were dark and did not showcase a black dog well as it was non-descript and hard to see in the kennel. As new shelters are more bright, with better lighting, shiny black dogs seem to showcase better than years previous. I have never thought it pertained to dominance or personality. It is just a plain fact of marketing.

Comment

Didi and others focusing on LOS - It is possible that some black dogs stay longer - the question is not that but instead is that due to perception or something else - for example the Less is More theory. Maybe it really simply is a base rate fallacy - I am thinking there is some energy for some more research in this area... We do have some grants for that...

Comment

I'm delighted to see this discussion. In a local Doberman-specific rescue, the recessive colors (red, fawn, white or blue) seem to be adopted more quickly than the traditional black and tan.
What ideas to promote black dogs and cats have worked, or not worked, for you?

Comment

I am surprised with all the data available in shelters that a study doesn't look at real shelter dogs and real length of stay to see whether Black Dog Syndrome holds true. The data is available from many shelters nationwide. Why isn't that being looked at? It is real life data, real life dogs, real life shelters and it's there and available.

Comment

I have 10 dogs, all but one rescued, all but 3 totally black, the 3 mostly black. (4 labs) I love black dogs. If it cannot be labled a myth, surely it is. I think if a black dog (or cat) stays in a shelter longer it is because people are looking for something else. I do think black dogs need to be "promoted" more. When I mention the 'syndrome' to people at adoption events, many say they never heard of it! I thought the study should have been more on the ground in shelters. I especially liked reading the comments which were well thought out. However, I don't think anyone cleaning up dog hair is going to say, "I'm glad this isn't black!" Thanks.

Comment

I think much of this conversation misses the black dog point. As some other comments have suggested, I believe it is more about consumer behavior. Studies have been done for years about point of purchase marketing with regard to lighting, placement, inventory diversity etc... I asked a group of University of Illinois Animal Science students to conduct a senior research project surrounding Black Dog Syndrome in a small regional shelter in Urbana, Illinois (I apologize that I do not have their results to pass along). They found that they did stay negligibly longer (if memory serves, an average of 0.3 days).

I do not believe it has much to do with the perception of personality based on color as much as how much does the dog stand out against commonly drab shelter colors, how many of them are there (a component of Emily's comment on the baseline effect, lighting, location in the shelter etc...

I did a crude statistical analysis on a large adoption area in Las Vegas and found that geographic position was a far greater indicator of length of stay than breed or color.

Animal adopters are consumers first, and the fact that for profit companies (supposedly the free market model of efficiency) spend billions of dollars a year studying consumer behavior should tell us that we need to pay as much attention to how we present the "product" as to the product itself.

Comment

Interesting read and results so far but I think there are a lot of other things at play when people are walking through a shelter looking for a potential addition to their family. How about taking a larger group of dogs, say around 100, of the same breed in different colors (ie: Black, Yellow and Chocolate Labs)and a large group of potential adopters to see how the average comes out?

This reminds me of the supposed effect on people by the changes in the moon phases. Scientifcally this has been debunked by several studies but I fully believe in it having spent many Full Moon nights dealing with the strangest of calls over a 35 year career in EMS/Fire. :-)

Comment

When I entered this field about 25 years ago I was surprised to find out how much people were sure of, without evidence to support their certainty. Pet overpopulation was out of control and getting worse - despite data showing a decades long decline in shelter numbers; black cats are adopted by witches at Halloween for sacrifices - a whole different black critter myth; pets given as gifts are at high risk of being taken to shelters - they are not. I helped to form the National Council on Pet Population and Study and later the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science to develop an evidence based approach to the real issues that confront us and the homeless animals we all seek to help. The current discussion is quite interesting, but I am quite taken by the fact that comments rarely cite statistics to support positions or opinions. Daniel Patrick Moynihan quite famously said that "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." I would add what I will call the Dr. Z ammendment to Moynihan's statement - "Your opinion should exist in the same time zone as some set of facts."

At this time I don't think anyone can quote an objective set of observations, that can be repeated in more than one shelter to establish the facts of a "Black Dog Syndrome."

Comment

I think the study missed the point as well. Try showing pictures of large black mutts--not breeds. That is what is in our shelters.

Comment

The shelters and rescues in our area swear Black Dog Syndrome is real. I love black dogs. Now if I had to choose between a black GSD and a more traditionally marked one I would take the traditional, but in general I think black dogs are very pretty. And as far as hair goes we have a chocolate lab, a brindle Mastiff and a white lab/husky mix and the white hair shows up the most.

Comment

I'm sorry, but I think this study completely missed the mark. It is assuming that "black dogs" are not adopted because of percieved negative personality traits, etc. In a real world rural shelter situation, first off, pure breeds don't have alot of problems getting adopted in our area. But a medium sized black dog over 40 lbs of "Undetermined" breed, will stay here long after it's contemporaries have found homes. As far as black dogs blending into the background in a shelter or not photographing well, these are things easily corrected by an attentive staff. We don't photograph inside if it can be helped, NOT in cages, etc. Our shelter is well lit & colorful for just these reasons. We don't want our furbabies living in a dungeon. One item of note in relation to Black Dogs. If we have more than one black dog or even black & white dog, up for adoption at the same time, none of them will get a home. If a client has to make a choice, many will just not choose & then none of them get a home. A large aspect of the issue with "black dogs", which also encompases more & more, brindles too, is the choices people make & what governs those choices. They don't skip over the black dog because they percieve it in any negative manner as far as behavior or aggression. That has little or nothing to do with the choice. When people go out & intentionall pay any amount of money for most things, but especially for a pet, they want something "spectacular" or at the very least "special" to show for their money. They do not want to go out & spend 200.00 for a "plain" Black Lab. No, for that kind of money, at least around here, it had better be some phenominal purebred beauty that will bring admiration & congradulations from friends an family. In short, they have to think they've gotten their "money's worth". Crass as that sounds, that is the basic mechanics behind the 'Black Dog" issue. It's not that there is anything wrong with a black dog, but any mixed breed & especially a black one, is percieved aesthetically, as plain. And no one wants to "pay" for a plain dog. Black Dog Syndromeis a much broader issue than color & breed. We need to change ther perceptions of those choosing to adopt in the first place. What drives the choices people make in respect to family pets? Most often, finding homes for our precious charges, is more akin to an add campeign for a new product. We have to do what is necessary to present our charges as desirable & "special", in a way that makes them irresistable to the buying public. Education & marketing. Did any of us ever think we would have to become advertising Execs, to find our babies homes when we started along this path? I know I surely did not. But I will do whatever it takes until they ALL have homes.

Comment

I have always found that people are less likely to select a black dog over a dog of other colors simply because black is not a pretty or showy color (I think it is a similar issue with black cats). It would be interesting to have a study where the question of color alone is assessed, perhaps using photoshop to take the same dog (or cat) and give it different colorations then ask which is a prettier/more adoptable version...

Comment

[...] I just read an interesting blog on the ASPCA site about the issue, written by Dr. Emily Weiss. In it she recounts the result of a study done by [...]

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