The phenomenon, referred to as Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) or Big Black Dog Syndrome (BBDS), is a very real problem in shelters.

What do diamonds, pearls, dresses, and truffles have in common? All are more desirable when they’re black. Yet, when it comes to dogs, black seems to be the least sought-after colour of all.

Of course, all dogs deserve good homes; plus, adopting one opens space in the shelter for another needy canine soul. The trick lies in choosing based on suitability (energy levels, lifestyle, etc.), not looks. Even if that dog is a no-frills black beauty of uncertain pedigree.


Shelter workers say that this phenomenon, referred to as Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) or Big Black Dog Syndrome (BBDS), is a very real problem.

Photographing them is challenging, particularly in chaotic shelter environments. With most people searching for pets online or on posters, bad pictures can make or break their adoption chances. Furthermore, once inside overflowing shelters, dark-coloured dogs fade into the background. Difficulty in filming them means they tend not to be the hero in commercials or films – further adding to the stigma.

They’ve long been portrayed as dangerous, aloof or unfriendly, and many people are still superstitious about black animals. Scientifically speaking, there’s zero evidence that coat colour affects personality; all it affects is perception.

Back in black

Dark fur, be it black, black-and-tan, or brindled, actually has several advantages. Lighter-coloured animals can be affected by sun-induced skin cancer; darker ones rarely are. They also appear to be less prone to eczema and skin allergies, and those with shorter coats are really low-maintenance grooming-wise. Furthermore, the presence of a large, black dog is a major deterrent to burglars (even if your pooch is really just a big marshmallow).

Next time you adopt, try closing your eyes… and open your heart to the best friend you’ve ever had.

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