What is Black Dog Syndrome?

Understanding the Black Dog Syndrome

black dog

The term is at times used to name feelings of depression, but it can also relate to a very true phenomenon often witnessed at animal shelters.

As animal lovers, we recognize how indispensable shelters and adoption agencies are. Based on the Humane Society of the United States, an approximated six to eight million animals were collected by shelters last year, and half of them were adopted.

This number is the highest so far, and yet leaves three to four million animals without homes. A lot of these animals are overlooked by possible adopters entirely because of their appearance. For instance, a family comes to adopt a dog but is concerned only in the cutest or most purebred-looking puppy in the facility irrespective of breed or behavioral requirements. This phenomenon is frequently referred to as "black dog syndrome". The name springs up from the fact that black dogs are the most difficult to get adopted out of shelters and rescues.

Why are these dogs shunned?

Black dog syndrome doesn't happen simply because people disapprove of the way black dogs look. Sherri Skidmore runs an organization called the Black Dog Rescue Project, which works to bring cognizance to black dog syndrome and to better adoption rates for these dogs. She thinks there are a number of reasons regarding this phenomenon.

"Black dogs are more difficult to photograph than lighter or multicolored dogs, and many potential adopters are now searching websites that post pictures of adoptable dogs in their area," Sherri explains. "Negative influences from the media may also play a part, because black dogs featured in television shows or movies are typically aggressive, menacing characters. Commercials and print ads rarely feature black dogs because they are much more difficult to photograph than lighter dogs."

Promoting black dogs

Occasionally, just the way a shelter is set up can make a possible adopter discriminate against breed, color or size without even knowing it. Poor lighting and walls painted using darker tones are two elements that can lead to lower black dog adoption rates.

"Some shelters have tried to tackle the problem by having black dogs put on colorful bandanas," adds Sherri. "They may also promote black dogs by running 'black dog specials' at a brought down fee or even for free. All these are excellent ideas. Anything a shelter does to draw attention to black dogs would help improve their chances for adoption."

Leave your emotions at the door

When you're interested in adopting a dog, especially for the first time, appraise your individual needs and lifestyle before visiting your local adoption facility. It is also crucial to try to keep your emotions out of the way when trying to pick out between the available dogs.

When trying to choose which dog you prefer to adopt, think about not only his temperament and personality, but also your own temperament and personality, as well as that of anybody living in your home. The last thing a shelter wishes is a dog being brought back since he got too big or was too hard to train. When visiting an adoption facility, let go of any pre-conceived notions. Every dog, regardless what his color or breed, has his own personality and traits, some good and some not so good, based on your wants and needs, available time, patience level and lifestyle.