Merle, tricolor, white, golden, brindle… are certain colors of dogs more adoptable?

The prevailing thought is that black dogs are harder to place in homes, a trend known as Black Dog Syndrome or BDS. Although some studies have disputed this phenomenon, shelter workers and animal advocates claim to have witnessed Black Dog Syndrome first-hand. The commonly held belief is that black dogs (especially large ones) tend to stay at a shelter longer than other dogs.

Part of the issue might be that black dogs are just more common; thus, more end up in shelters. But are they prone to stay at the shelter longer? An ASPCA study found that appearance was the most frequently cited reason for those adopting a dog. A solid black dog is not one that typically captures the eye of a shelter visitor. Other theories say that black coats are less noticeable, black dogs don’t photograph well so, as a result, they don’t attract adopters.

Some have misguided ideas that black dogs aren’t as nice as other dogs, are frightening, or just aren’t attractive. Literature and mythology are no help. In Greek mythology, Cerberus is a gigantic, black-haired, multi-headed dog that worked alongside Hades, guarding the gates to the underworld. Black dogs are said to haunt the ruins of European castles. Black dogs are often depicted as sinister. For example, the huge black hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles symbolizes impending death. In the Harry Potter books, a black dog known as The Grim is established as the worst possible omen, bringing death to whoever sees it.

Seeing the true beauty in a black dog might mean looking beyond the common exterior to see their personality and willingness to love and be loved. Often that means visiting several times or taking them home on a trial adoption to see their best side.

Black Dog Syndrome may be a factor for some of our long-term residents at Second Chance (because we don’t understand why they haven’t found their people yet). 

George and Latte are big (over seventy pounds), black dogs who came from a home where they didn’t get much attention or socialization. They are around a year old and have come so far with our staff and volunteers- even going to adoption events and interacting well with people and animals of all sizes and ages. We don’t know what breed they might be, but they resemble black labs. They would love to escape the stigma of their common black coats and find someone who will love them for the beauty of their personalities.

Danny is another young, big, black dog who has been with us a long time. He came in originally as a stray and took a long time to be adopted. Unfortunately, he was returned to us because his energy was too much for the family. He is active, smart, and needs a home where he gets a lot of stimulation and exercise.

For thirty years, the Animal Resource Center and Shops of Second Chance Humane Society have been serving Ouray, San Miguel, and Montrose Counties. Our adoption hours are from Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can view our shelter pets and services online at Connecting Pets, People, and Community While Saving Lives.