Friday’s Facts: Black Dog Discrimination

Discrimination…does it still exist? The sad truth is yes. It is happening to our furry friends, in shelters all over the world.



“The Black Dog Syndrome” is the idea that a black dog is less likely to be adopted simply because of his coloring. It is not based on their personality, health, or breed traits; just the color of their fur. There are many beliefs as to why this may be true…



-Big black dogs have been portrayed as symbols of death in  literature and legend, cast as bad guys in movies, and even  featured in modern stories like the dog Grim in the Harry Potter tales.

-Black dogs don’t photograph well. They sometimes need to be specially  lighted for photography and therefore don’t show up well on shelter websites,  and in pamphlets and flyers. Visitors have trouble noticing them too in poorly lit kennels.



-Adopters may perceive black dogs as common, or generic.

-Ordinary lackluster names may not be helping the cause! “Rodney Taylor, associate director of the Animal Management Division in Prince  George County, said he’s working hard to get better photographs of black dogs.  He’s also instructed his staff to start giving some of the shelter’s dogs celebrity names—like Foxy Brown, Faith Hill, Al Capone, and Beyonce. “The name is really  important,” Leonard told me. “At the shelter I used to work at, all these dogs  would come in with unattractive names that really wouldn’t do them any favors. I  remember hearing about one woman who named a black cat who no one was adopting  Jellybean, and then she got snapped up right away. So then every time she got a  black cat, she’d name it Jellybean, and it worked like a charm. I’m not sure if  the name Jellybean would work for a big black dog, but we should come up with  something. We need to help these dogs.”

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Meet Thelma & Louise…adoptable lab girls @ The Wakulla Animal Shelter














Sometimes I get so frustrated by the pictures I see coming out of shelters. While I know they are almost always run by volunteers, and no one expects professional pictures, some of the pictures are just…not good! If you notice on close up pictures, that show a dog’s eyes, people often comment about how sad or happy, soulful or playful, a dog looks. Sometimes a dog may be primarily black, but also has unique markings to note…like Louise above, who has little white “socks” on her feet! Pictures should help show the dog in a positive light! And then there are the names…where do they come up with these names?! We need to put on our creative hats & adorn these pups with better names. Even if the name is temporary, having a cute but unique name helps bring positive attention to the dog!

This beautiful boy has been living in a vet’s clinic, after being an owner surrender. He was been there for months, and is at the end of his time. He will be taken to a shelter soon…will he make it out alive?




Unfortunately this particular issue is not tracked, so there are no numbers to show. We don’t know the total of black dogs in shelters, or the amount of black dogs that are put to sleep from being left in shelters before catching an adopters eye. But I do know, if you take a minute to look through your local shelter’s available dogs, you will see an awful lot of black pups needing homes.














Take all of the dogs in this post for example…they are all good, sweet, cute available dogs for adoption through either Last Hope Rescue or Wakulla Animal Control. Many of them waiting for a very long time to find a home of their own. Some are urgent, at risk of being put to sleep. Please take a moment to share them, and maybe we all can be a part of their happy endings. I know I love my very own black dog, Oscar! Thanks friends, and happy Friday! 🙂

Black Dogs




6 thoughts on “Friday’s Facts: Black Dog Discrimination”

  1. We had a black Lab when I was a little girl named Tinkerbelle. We called her Tinker for short, and had to correct every single person who tried to call her Belle or Bella (which are more common, of course). I had heard about black dog discrimination before, and I guess I’m pretty lucky my friends and boyfriend love black dogs as much as any others. =)
    Not sure about the celebrity names though. It’s not what I’d choose for my dog, but maybe I’m in the minority. I usually go for (fictional) character names, but I’m kind of a nerd.
    I must say, when my boyfriend fostered a dog named Clementine, I hated the name, but the girl who adopted her said the name held special meaning for her and that it felt like fate.
    I envision my next dog being a big, black, long haired beauty, though I wouldn’t turn down any dog for not looking like what I imagined.

  2. As someone who owns one of these supposedly evil, plain, nondescript, non-photogenic dogs, I must say I wouldn’t trade my boy for all the rainbow colored dogs in the world! 🙂

    It is, unfortunately, too true about how superficial (and superstitious) we can be. I have no problem with someone adopting the flashy dog over the black dog if the flashy one fits their lifestyle and family better. However, I have seen too many people turn down the “plain black dog” for the flashier one, even though the black dog would be a better fit. Thank you for touching on this topic and showcasing those black beauties who need a home!

    1. Totally agree! I wouldn’t trade my Oscar for another color pup. I didn’t even take notice of his coloring to be honest!

      It’s interesting to be in the rescue business and see people making the wrong choice about a dog. All you can do is try to persuade them to choose the right one but sometimes they think with their…eyes instead of their brain?!

      Aren’t they too cute?! Hopefully they’ll all find homes, & soon! Thank you, as always, for reading! 🙂

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