The Black Dog Syndrome – Fact or Fiction?

We all know about the “Black Dog Syndrome,” the belief that all black dogs are harder to place from shelters and rescues than dogs of other colorations. I’ll admit that when I first heard about it I didn’t question whether it was true. For one thing, when I bred Border Collie puppies I saw a strong bias for pups with white on them and against all black pups. Every once in a while a buyer would tell me that they especially loved the looks of the “plain,” all black pup, but they were the exception, not the rule. The second reason I assumed the Black Dog syndrome was true was that so many people in shelters told me they experienced it at their facility, that indeed, in their experience, all black dogs were harder to place than others.

However, 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 PhD psychologist Lucinda Woodward et al, and published in Society and Animals in early 2012. In summary, they found that breed had a significant effect on participant’s perception of the dogs, but color did not. As a matter of fact, in a study looking at breed versus color effect, black labs were rated as significantly more friendly, less dominant and more submissive dogs of dogs of seven other breeds, with only the Golden retriever rated more highly. (The breeds were: Border collie, Boxer, German shepherd, Golden retriever, Black Lab, Pit bull, Standard Poodle and Rottweiler.)

This is not surprising when you think of it, given that black labs are the most popular breed in the U.S. last I looked. (Which in itself should give us all pause about the “black dog syndrome.”)

In addition, in a related study that focused on color and size in just one breed, all black poodles were judged to be friendlier than all white ones (and small white poodles were categorized as the least friendly!). These results suggest that color might not be as important a factor as we have assumed. Rather, the fact that so many black dogs hang out for long periods in shelters may be attributed to the fact that there are simply more of them.

Clearly we need a lot more research on this topic. Although this study is interesting, and I would argue important, in that it gets us into a conversation about what makes dogs attractive to people (which could help shelters place more dogs), it is just one study. It’s conclusions are indirect: just because a group of people rated some dogs as more friendly than others doesn’t mean they would necessarily adopt them from a shelter. But it is a good start.

I have two questions I’d love to ask of you: One is directed to shelter and rescue workers: What is your own experience? Think hard about the relationship between breed, size and color, related to the number of dogs that enter your care and the number that go out. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Secondly, what about you? I’m getting personal here: Do you have certain colors of fur that you like better? I do, although it feels almost shameful to admit it. I hereby admit to liking some colors better than others. For example, I was hoping for a Blenheim Cavalier when working with Cav rescue groups, and I admit to really, really wanting one. I just love looking at that particular color pattern. And then Tootsie showed up and was friendly, and sweet and cuddly and no one else seemed to want her and how could I possibly pass her up because she didn’t look exactly like I wanted her to? Of course I did adopt her, and I’m glad every day that I did. This morning I laughed out loud watching her ears flying as she ran to the barn. But I still admit that some  colors make my eyes happier than others. Anyone else willing to admit to same?

MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Most of the snow is gone now, and what remains is patchy, frozen solid and difficult to walk on. It’s not very pretty, but more than that, the snow that remains resembles slippery cement more than anything else, and I worry about Willie’s shoulder on a daily basis. His “slow down” cue comes in handy here and I probably use it 20 times a day. Then again, I expect I’ll be asking Willie to slow down until the day he dies.

The good part about the snow having partially disappeared is that the upper pasture, which is in full sun all day, is now completely clear, so Willie and I got to work sheep for the first time since November. We had great fun, but I found I needed to remind myself to tell Willie if he was right or wrong, rather than telling him what to do. Old habits die hard, hey? The bad part about the snow melt is that it is supposed to get bitter cold in a few days, which will be hard on the plants without an insulating cover of snow. Not to mention that my desire to be outside wanes as the thermometer goes below zero Fahrenheit.

Here’s an area beside the driveway that gets some sun during the day, but only a few hours worth. Not especially scenic, but then, it’s not always a calendar cover out in the country.

 

I played a bit with my new camera this morning. Here’s Mr. Willie helping me out. I changed the auto focus to focus only on the center point, and not to average all the focal points as most cameras do unless you set them differently. I like the results, although it looks to me as though I focused more on the middle of his face rather than his eyes. Gotta work on that.

 

By the way, speaking of pictures… check out Facebook next week when we post the 5 finalists for the “Take the Pledge” contest. Here’s Willie taking the pledge to be a good, good dog in 2013!

Comments

  1. Frances says

    Interesting points about colour – I have a weakness for red and gold animals. Ginger cats, chestnut horses, dark apricot poodles … There may be some small justification for it in the case of cats, as there seems to be some evidence that gingers tend to have equable temperaments, but I think it is much more just the glorious autumn leaf colours. And I will also admit to being drawn to symmetrical patterns and markings.

    Linking in with your new camera, it is notoriously difficult to get good photos of black dogs. Given how many people are drawn to adopt a dog after seeing a photo, I wonder if that has anything to do with it? Although in the UK it seems to be brindle Staffies that wait in vain…

  2. Elisabeth says

    I help with photographing the dogs at our local SPCA for Petfinder the SPCA website and fliers. Because we have such a high turnover rate, we only photograph the dogs that have been there the longest, so I can attest that among the long-timers we don’t have more black dogs than brown dogs. That said, I imagine that the black dogs get less internet attention because they are VERY hard to photograph, and usually don’t look as great in the pictures as the brown dogs.
    My husband and I have an all-black border collie/retriever mix from a shelter and an INSANE blue-merle australian shepherd from a rescue. We love the merle color, but I think for us with looks we are more influenced by breed (we love herding dogs) and coat-types (we like thin longer-hair coats)

  3. LynnM says

    Having worked in rescue for only about six years, I find that many people want black or black and white dogs rather than white as it concerns Havanese. Some don’t care for the maintenance of a white dog, ie, tear stains, dirt on paws, etc and some just don’t care for the look of an all white dog. Most Havs have at least a bit of white in their black coats, few are all black, but it doesn’t seem to matter to adopters whether the dog is all black or black and white. Some are enamored with the chocolate coated Havanese, but they are rare and seldom come into rescue.

  4. Marjorie says

    I have to agree with the above post regarding the issue with black dogs taking a good photo. I think one of the things that draw people to a dog is it’s expression and that is harder to see on a photo of a black dog. We want to see the subtle movements of eyebrows etc. and that just shows up much better (especially in photos) with a lighter colored dog. I wonder if it is because lighter dogs are easier to read emotionally, psychologically because of this. Maybe some photographers out there can give the shelters some good tips on photographing black dogs.

    As for preference in coat color I have to say that I do love that lovely chestnut color. I have two blenheim Cavaliers, but I think Tootsie rocks! I’d love the Tri and Black & Tan.

  5. Donna in VA says

    I don’t think I really have a dog color preference but I do know that I love a full, shiny, glossy looking coat. Of course diet is so important in getting to that result, but possibly some faster-acting grooming aids could help shelter dogs have a healthy & attractive looking coat to improve adoption potential.

    Our (also adopted) cat is a calico and I don’t think her coat pattern is very attractive, so I wouldn’t seek out a calico cat coloring. However we chose her based on her dog savvy, and she is hands-down qualified in that regard.

  6. Joanna says

    I also have color preferences within my breed, Papillons. My favorite is sable, followed by red and white, then tricolor, and I don’t really care for “boring” (in my eyes) black and white. I ended up with a tricolor pup, and I am head-over-heels in love with him, but I do think his sable brother is much more beautiful! But of course I wouldn’t trade him for the world. :) It was something I considered when picking out a puppy, though.

  7. says

    I worked at Denver Dumb Friends League, a very large(over 1000 animals per day) shelter. Color didn’t seem to factor in, although age definitely did. With our cats however, black cats stayed significantly longer. I don’t think that people didn’t want them because of the superstion but because they just weren’t noticed.
    As for me, I raise guide dogs for the blind, and I prefer yellow labs over black because they are much easier to see in the dark. This can be important especially when relieving young puppies at night, to know if they went or not.

  8. ABandMM says

    Our family is an “equal opportunity” one with respect to dogs, though they have skewed slightly towards the black ones. Our first dog was picked out by me as a 4 year old. A family friend’s collie had a litter of pups. Most of them sired by another purebred collie, but there was an interloper and I selected the all black puppy out of a litter of “Lassie-wanna-bes” (much to my mom’s chargrin.. she had grown up with collies).

    Our next dog, Thunder, was a black/tan mix (unexpected litter) and best guess part beagle/part shepherd. Then came Midnight. Yeah, she was black and the runt of a litter from what we guess was an Irish wolfhound/lab mating. Middy has the best story in that my parents dropped my brother off at soccer camp and walked around the campus for bit and came across the family with the dog. So we thought it was a great deal… get rid of a brother bring home a puppy. (They did go back to retrieve my brother a week later).

    Missy Bear was a black chow, and then there was McGwire. Baseball fans might guess that she had a red coat (named before the steriod fiasco broke). She was a 6 yr old research dog and a carrier of Muscular Dystrophy and a beagle/golden retriever cross. After having several litters of pups, she was retired and the condition of the adoption was that she go to a home with other dogs (at that time Missy Bear and Middy, and part-timer Morgan). Morgan, my first girl, was a black-tan shepherd mix.

    Now there is Abby, a black/tan hound mix, Charlie a yellow lab-chow mix (aka blond with a bad dye job.. many shades of yellow/blond/cinnamon) and Annika, our first reddish/brown dog (boxer mix). Way too early to think about my next dog, but I’m leaning towards breed (hound/hound mix) rather than coloring.

    One year (in November), the shelter I volunteer at had quite a few black dogs in residence and did a “Black Friday” promotion in which there were discounted adoptions for the black dogs. I’ll ask our shelter coordinator this weekend if they have noticed in the length of stay at the shelter (it is a no-kill one) between black dogs and the others. It seems to me (no hard numbers) that older dogs (no matter the coloring) are the harder ones to adopt. Puppies, even the black ones, are very adoptable.

    Love the photos of Willie… so expressive and detailed! I think you had a past blog post on it, but one difficulty that shelters have (as Frances also noted) with black dogs is getting photos of the quality that you just posted with Willie. It is hard to get that contrast with the eyes, mouth and fur and the dogs might get passed over by people who look for dogs on-line (shelter websites, petfinder) and then go to the shelter with a list of dogs they want to meet.

  9. Nicola says

    Fab pics of Willie. What a handsome boy!
    With regard to colour preference, what a fascinating question. Thinking about it, I have never honestly given it much thought at all. When I was looking to adopt a rescue, I was primarily interested in health and temperament. In fact, I didn’t particularly care what breed the dog was either. But I definitely preferred a flat coated dog who needed minimal grooming! .

    My interest lay in adopting a healthy young dog who was quite drivey and would enjoy lots of exercise. I ended up with a black and white collie/terrier mix and incidentally, she is mostly black! Aesthetics are not that important to me I guess when it comes to dogs. As a scientist, my thoughts on the breeding practices of some pedigree dogs doesn’t sit very well with me at all and it would appear to some breed clubs that outcrossing is akin to committing heresy!

  10. Shalea says

    I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I have a lot of contacts in the rescue community in this area and the perception is commonly that black animals in general take longer to place. I can support that with statistics in the case of the no-kill cat shelter I volunteer with. Black cats stay in the shelter longer, even black kittens.

    I suspect strongly that there’s a difference between purebreds and shelter dogs in terms of how colors are viewed. People love black labs, and so in that case the color is part of what defines the breed in most people’s minds and overrides any subconscious preferences that might exist otherwise.

  11. Noelle says

    What I’ve heard from shelter workers is that black dogs are often overlooked just because they’re literally harder to see, not because of perceptions of temperament. As another commenter mentioned, they can be difficult to photograph effectively, for one thing.

    That said, my own family seems to have a significant bias toward black dogs. I happened to work this out just the other day. In my lifetime, among the people I count as my immediate family, including my parents, grandparents, and sister’s family, we’ve had a total of 13 dogs. Of these, 9 have been entirely or mostly black. I don’t think this was necessarily a conscious decision. They’re just the dogs who found us.

  12. Beth with the Corgis says

    As I read the opening of your post, before I got to the part about labs, my gut reaction was “Black dog bias? That’s ridiculous; black labs are the most popular dogs in the country” and indeed you made that point. There are plenty of other black dogs that are popular.

    As for myself, in my own breed I LOVE the look of black-headed tri-color fluffies, though I would never own a fluff myself (coat maintenanc). And I would never go out of my way looking for a black-headed tri; they are the rarest of Corgi colors, they are recessive to all other colors, and most breeders don’t intentionally breed for that color. Since personality is most important to me, I would go for temperament over color every time.

    My favorite color in dogdom is the blue merle.

  13. says

    I easily admit having a preference in colour: the darker, the better!
    Even though I’m a strict Border Collie person, and only interested in good sheep working lines, I can’t forget the appearance of a dog, no matter how good that dog may work. Of course first of all the way the BC is built is important for work, but apart from that, work ethics and of course health & character, I tend to always ‘choose’ dogs with dark faces. I don’t like regular black-white faces (I’m sorry Willie!), I prefer as little white as possible (certainly on the blaze!), preferably even none. On the other hand, I do like split faces (half face= completely white; other half isn’t) very much and some white faces even. But I will seldom ‘fall’ for standard B&W face.
    But then again, I quite often “click” with a dog that really doesn’t look like my “ideal” BC at all. My 5 year old bitch is a black -white & tan BC, saddle back patterned (so loads of tan colour). Her only black is literally the “saddle”, her whole face is tan (basically no white in her face). Of course as a wee pup she had more black (the tan mostly tends to increase quite a lot as they grow older). If you’d asked me back then to choose one of the 8 pups of her litter, purely on appearance, and I never would have chosen my pup. There were 2 pups with much more black in the face (and only a little white) and whose tan was darker than my pup’s (I also like dark tan better than light tan) and I definitely would have chosen those. But from the first time I saw all the pups (actually the first time on picture even, 1 day old) I “clicked” with my bitch, even though you could tell she wouldn’t keep any black in her face and her tan might not be too dark. I first visited the litter at 2 weeks, and then weekly till 7 weeks and time and time again I chose that same pup. Eventually she became mine. :-)
    My 10 month old BC pup has two parents with barely any white pattern at all. Dad is a brown-tan, with only a little bit of white on his belly (none in the face, no white collar and no white tipped tail). Mother is a Black-white tan, saddle back: a little bit of white around the nose, tiny white dot in the collar and a couple of white toes. That’s it, also no white in the face, and no white in the tail). There were 8 pups, some of which tremendously dark (true black and tans, no white whatsoever and very little tan) and 3 true black-tan saddle backs without any white. Then 3 black-white tans with “regular” amounts of white and tan. A dog with the most symmetrical face, not too much of white, not too little, nice small white blaze. A bitch with a rather broad blaze and pale tan and white farther than just the inside of the thighs (white factored). And a bitch with an “off-marked” face: small blaze but asymmetrical (a bit like lightning), one side of the face only a bit of white next to the nose, the other side quite a bit of white on the muzzle and even behind the lips on that side (white factored); not too much tan but quite dark (and I knew the tan would increase). Apart from her face she didn’t have a lot of white, quite a lot of tan (she’s a borderline case of saddle back vs. regular tricolour) and she was very symmetrical. (She even has 1 black and 1 tan mottle mark on the white part of each front leg, so symmetrically placed you could put a ruler next to them!) I chose that last pup, while she was chosen via e-mail so purely on appearance I would never have chosen her. But I’d never trade her (or any of my dogs for that matter) for any other pup from their litters. :-)
    Oh yeah, I also largely prefer straight pricked ears but none of my young dogs have any and that was already clear as a pup that they wouldn’t. :-)

    So yes, appearance is quite ‘important’ for me at first view and I tend to fall for other’s dogs solely based on a picture, on their colour or faces and ears, … But in the end, I do need a real click with that dog and apparently that click doesn’t care about appearance. ;-)

  14. Alexandra says

    Our rescue dog is a black mostly lab because that’s the color that showed up. She kind of found us. I did always want a yellow lab, however, so that’s what I picked for my second dog. For border collies, I am partial to the “classic” b&w with symmetrical blaze & collar, and that is what I picked from the litter. Our cat is a very attractive tortoise shell color that my husband picked because she was pretty, but her personality isn’t that great & I’d have sooner adopted a more laid back, friendly cat… Oh well!

  15. Margaret McLaughlin says

    I have noticed “color prejudice” often when I’m out in public with my guide dog puppies. People are almost hypnotically drawn to yellow Labs & goldens ,considerably more cautious around black Labs, especially older ones, & I could clear a room with a GSD. Several years ago, at a winter puppy outing at a mall I was sitting side by side with a fellow puppy raiser. Our dogs were littermates, my yellow male, & her black female. They were 4 months old, & terminally cute. The crowd was on Sam like white on rice, & almost ignored his equally adorable sister.
    My last 5 puppies were either yellow Labs or goldens, & this time I ASKED for a black Lab, telling the school I was tired of beating the adoring crowds off with a stick. It’s nice to just concentrate on the dog for a change.
    For myself, I have 2 flatcoats (black) & 1 Lab(also black). And 2 Siamese cats (seal point), both rescues. I like the dark ones.

  16. Melissa L. says

    I volunteer at our local shelter. I think that breed, age, size, and color all play a role in adoptability. Pit bulls and PB mixes are the least preferred breed in our shelter and have a longer stay on average. I notice that fluffy dogs are generally adopted faster than smooth-coated ones, and that old dogs are usually adopted only by the softhearted who can’t stand to see an old dog in the shelter. These people aren’t as plentiful as the old dogs, and so some older dogs have to wait quite a while for a new home. Big dogs wait longer than small dogs. All things being equal, black dogs stay in the shelter longer. Two examples: a pair of pit bulls (either mom and son or siblings) came in at the same time. The female was “blue” and was adopted within a few days, even though her temperament wasn’t as friendly as her brother’s. The black brother spent another month with us before finding a home. Out of 20 small dogs in a recent transport, all were adopted in about a week, except a black chihuahua who spent nearly a month with us.
    I’ve noticed that the behavior of a dog toward strangers is also a huge factor. A dog that exhibits immediate affection toward a strange person (that potential adopter who just walked through the door) will be adopted out very quickly while a more tentative or shy dog will not. My personal preferences tend to be behavioral rather than cosmetic. I like active dogs with plenty of heart (hence my preference for border collies), but my next dog will be chosen based on size for practical reasons. Unless of course I can’t resist one of our “hard cases”.

  17. Mireille says

    I have a bi-eye black and tan Siberian husky. The blue eye just jumps out at you from his dark face, making him look rather fierce ;-) and I kind of like that since he is a very friendly dog.
    My other siberian is greyish black with white, my previous two were wolf grey. I like all colors, except the red. That might be because the only sibe I knew who was not to be trusted (biting) was a red but I also prefer black noses to brown/reddish ones.

    (Funny thing, my black and tan sibe has a mirror image brother. Each time I see his picture I feel something is ‘wrong’ , yup the ‘wrong’ eye is blue :-) )

    Mireille

  18. Christina says

    I don’t work in rescue but I’ve adopted cats and dogs from shelters over the years. I now have a second black DSH cat and I think I will always have one; there is something so sleek and elegant about them. Both had/have such wonderful personalities. I believe they are harder to place at the shelter where we got our current cat; probably 2/3 of the kittens they had at the time were black.

    I’ve had four Dobermans, two from breeders, two from rescue. I’ve had three of the four colors (have never had a fawn). I don’t prefer one color over another though in Dobes, the dilute coats have their challenges (CDA — color dilution alopecia). Other dogs I’ve had didn’t come in black versions (a Golden and two collies). I think I would agree with the study you mentioned, that with dogs, breed had a bigger effect on my choices than color.

    I’ve read the same things about black animals in shelters. I’ve often wondered at those that give discounts on black animals. One shelter in our area does this (one month they offered a 2 for 1 deal on black cats and dogs!). I think this sort of thing devalues black animals to potential adopters. That said, I don’t work in rescue so I don’t mean to diminish their efforts in finding suitable homes. I believe most are doing all they can AND MORE.

  19. says

    What I was going to write has already been mentioned, that is black animals do not generally take good photographs. Especially if they have a black face with a bit of white – the white stands out and breaks up their expression. I do believe black cats get adopted less often.

    I tend to be attracted to animals with flashy coat coloring… I have a cat that is “cow-color” or magpie colored – white with black splotches. I love leopard colored or Knabstruper horses, and Gypsie vanner horses, and I love the harlequin coat of Great Danes (although, I would never own a Dane no matter how cool the color was – going along with breed being more important than color).

  20. Abby says

    I am a labrador person. I’ve only had yellow labs (ranging from pale to rust) due to what was available at the time. And healthy – did look into a black lab once but the pup didn’t walk well and the breeder was trying to hide the fact. I would love to have a black and chocolate lab in the future. All labradors are beautiful.

    I’m not swayed so much by colour but I am biased. I love big dogs with deep barks. And I don’t enjoy patting boney dogs like dachshunds or greyhounds. My uncle has Bassets and the rolly skin and the droopy lower eyelids are a big turn-off.

  21. says

    Yes I prefer dark colored dogs- black or brown preferably. Additionally, as a guide dog user, I totally dislike working in public with a light colored dog. I had a yellow lab in-training for about 7m and after 7yrs with a black guide dog, OMG, people were so much more in my face and chatty than I would ever prefer in public. For the past 2yrs I’ve had a black dog again and while he is very, very friendly and tends to want to ‘make eyes’ at strangers in public, still compared to the yellow lab, random strangers try to interact with him (and me) way, way, way less. Other guide and service dog users tend to report the same things: GSD guide/service dog users are the ones I find report random stranger public interaction least, with black dog handlers 2nd, blond dog handlers 3rd and then folks with ‘unusual’ breeds- collies, poodles, boxers, etc seem to get interaction the most.

  22. Jennifer Hamilton says

    I am on the board of our local humane society. While I do think breed type and size take first priority (a black labradoodle will be more adoptable than a tan pit bull), all things being relatively equal, the black version is harder to adopt than the lighter color version (a black labradoodle will be up for adoption longer than a tan one, a golden golden Retreiver will adopt out faster than a black flat coated Retreiver). The exception to that in my own anecdotal experience might be the Labrador Retreiver…which seem to be similarly adoptable regardless of color. The best and most recent example I have is with a litter of chihuahua puppies we have. The blond pup with the white stripe was spoken for before the puppies were weaned. No one has expressed any interest in the two black ones and they are almost four months old now. And they are never going to be cuter than they are now…they are puppies for goodness sake. If you ask yourself, would you want a black chihuahua or a tan one with a white stripe, most people would take the blond one. When I saw momma give birth to the black ones, I thought to myself…uh, oh…the two black ones will be at the shelter for a long time…maybe forever. I hope not, but so far my feeling have matched reality.

  23. Beth says

    I adore black and white in both cats and dogs and have a definite preference for the tuxedo pattern in cats and some added spots on the black and white dogs. That said, I currently have a black cat and only one b/w dog. I swore my next border collie was going to be b/w, smooth coat, female and with prick ears. I ended up with a deep red and white, rough coat, male with ears at half flop. For me, it always ultimately comes down to personality and how everyone fits in together.

  24. Lisa W says

    The black dog syndrome is a good puzzle. I guess I assumed there were more black dogs (due to dominant gene?), and I admit I believe it to be true for a few other reasons: cultural and racial bias think of what black symbolizes in our culture: good vs evil; night; unhappiness, etc., and our historical and institutional prejudice against people of color.

    In addition to color, I think appearance is a factor if you aren’t looking for a particular type of dog for a specific job or sport. I remember reading somewhere about toy breeds having more of a baby-type face that doesn’t change as the dog ages and people have a very strong reaction to that.

    My own prejudice for the color of dogs is red. I love the medium red of a golden retriever or a fox red lab. We’ve had dogs of many colors but I am drawn to that shade. In addition, one of the big reasons we adopted our last dog was her appearance, not the best reason of course, but man, she is so unusual looking and seriously cute!

  25. says

    I think black Labs may be an exception , mostly because they are SO well-known that it doesn’t matter what color they are. I don’t work in a shelter but I do a lot of transports and have a lot of connections in the rescue/shelter community and most people seem to agree that black dogs are often harder to place. But no one knows WHY. The photograph issue is one potential problem. Unless you really know what you’re doing with a camera or have some good light (but not too harsh of light) photographing a black dog is not that easy.

    As for personal preference. My family has always had a preference for black dogs. My Mom grew up with a Lab/Doberman mix and then a black Cocker Spaniel. Growing up we had a black poodle mix. My Mom got a white dog and loves her dearly but will never do that again, due to all the extra washing and tear stains and the like.

    Me, I got a black dog (a BC/Golden Retriever mix). She has only a bit of white on her, mostly at her haunches and on her chin, but otherwise she’s solid black, long-haired and gorgeous (she’s also easy to photograph!). She was, however, almost euthanized at the shelter because no one adopted her. A rescue saved her in the nick of time and I will be forever grateful because she’s an amazing dog. I think people’s perception of her are sometimes off though, and I wonder how much of it is her color. Many people almost seem to not see her and will immediately go for petting the flashier colored or lighter colored dog. Some people have crossed the road to get away from us and yet walked by another dog. We used to go to a play group and one woman decided that our dog was aggressive because she barked while playing chase (she’s not aggressive at all).

    Strangely enough, however, when it comes to Border Collies (and my next dog is going to be a BC from a rescue), I really love the red and whites (rough coated, floppy ears). I do love mostly black-faced BCs too. Ultimately though I’ll end up with whatever one fits our family (as long as it’s rough-coated! I’m definitely not a short coated dog person unless it comes to pit bulls, which we plan to have someday as well).

  26. Margaret McLaughlin says

    Katrin, have to agree with you on “unusual” breeds. I raised a silver standard poodle, & was approached by so many people I planned out a t-shirt–never actually got it made. It would have said YES he is a guide dog puppy. YES he is a poodle. BY THE WAY, this is the original size, & PS, they come from Germany, not France. Would have saved a lot of talking!

  27. liz says

    I agree with all who have listed the many factors for fast animal adoptions. Size, age, breed, temperament, and appearance, including color, all make up certain pieces of the pie.
    Some say, however: “small and young is best, but cute always moves.”

    Try as we might to find what is universally cute among those animals who don’t fall into the small/young category, there are so many steeped influences on what one considers cute that we likely aren’t conscious of half of the reasons why one animal visually appeals to us and another does not.

    I personally like the oddball over the conformation-show-champ look of most breeds. Give me a dog with a quirk and that’s cute to me. I love the mystery of a thoroughly mixed breed, where every day is a chance to recognize a bit of this or that…. I couldn’t begin to tell you why this makes me eyes happy!

    The point is that I think there are very, very few adoptable animals that visually appeal to no one; our best efforts would be directed towards highlighting what makes an animal an individual and market like crazy. That is of course a highly complicated,challenging task, especially if a shelter has say, 4 or more animals of similar breed, size, age, color, etc…. No simple answer, there. Maybe in the quest of increased exposure, perhaps shelters could get funds for ad time on electronic billboards? I would think giant animals would be a great thing to see on a commute!

  28. says

    I can’t help but wonder if the “black dog syndrome” seen at shelters is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since so many shelter staff believe they are harder to place, maybe there are attempts being made to get these dogs adopted that seem desperate to potential families.

  29. Beth with the Corgis says

    I think it’s unfair to compare black cats to black dogs; there is after all a specific superstition regarding black cats being unlucky. Indeed, most shelters won’t adopt out black cats around Halloween.

    Regarding Trisha’s point about solid black border collies: I think here in the States, most people associate the black-and-white coloring as part of what defines a Border Collie, so having an all-black dog leads to a life of explaining over and over that indeed your dog is a purebred, and not a mix. I don’t know that it’s a prejudice against black dogs so much as a desire to have a dog that typifies how you imagine the breed should look.

    I believe black pugs are quite popular.

    With “doodles” I think people like the shaggy Benji look of the blond ones.

    Regarding the blue vs black pit bull, I think in most breeds where blue exists it’s a highly sought-after color, because frankly it looks really cool.

    As a teen, my family had a black rescue cat and a black mix-breed cockapoo-type dog. Both had a little white on the tips of their toes and a small white blaze on their chests. It was pretty neat to have a matching dog and cat. I personally really like the sleek shiny look of black short-haired animals.

  30. ~laurel says

    I had a sweet bi-color German Shepherd which is all black except for tan feet and lower legs. Without exception, people hesitated to approach her as compared to my other GSDs that were brownish and what people perceive as the coloring of a GSD. I now have dark sable working line German shepherds and love that look. They are West German lines with a softer look than the East German lines and people look at them together and say “aren’t they cuteeeee…… what are they?” I will add that I have fallen in love with my neighbors smallish Bernese Mountain Dog and her look.

  31. Kat says

    Looking at my two I appear to have a preference for tri-colors. I’m not really surprised. Growing up the first dog we had for a long time was a bloodhound so my eye is always drawn to the black and tan first. And for some reason I’m a total sucker for white chests/white shirt fronts. Both dogs and one of the cats have white shirt fronts. My male is mostly tan with a white blaze, white shirt front and sable frosting over his body. The female is mostly black with tan legs and most of her face, white shirt front and tan paws that look like someone spilled bleach on them–white slotches. Both are pleasing to look at, the male especially. He actually thinks his other name is Beautiful. It’s a good thing he has a fabulous personality and temperament since no one can resist him. The female is cute in a mismatched kind of way with her Corgi face and huge GSD ears. Unfortunately she was never socialized as a pup and is not safe with people at this point (we’re working on it) If she’s out for a walk she’s wearing a muzzle because that’s the only thing I’ve found that keeps people from wanting to interact with her.

    I loved your photos of Willie. He’s a beauty. And Tootsie is adorable.

  32. Jett says

    When I adopted my first dog (Australian Shepherd), I said I would like a Blue Merle but temperament was more important. They found me a dark Red Bi, with very little white. He quickly became the most handsome dog in the world to me and now I find myself completely drawn to Reds! I now have a little Black Tri and a Red Merle with very little merling….still no Blue Merle and I don’t mind at all.

    On the other hand, I’m definitely not attracted to black cats or calicos. Not sure why, but I love the orange or grey tabbies.

  33. Jane says

    I’ve volunteered at a very large shelter (11,000+ animals adopted per year) for four years, and have thought about “black dog syndrome”m myself. I can say I don’t really think black dogs are overlooked to a greater degree than other colors. I looked at our current list of 100 dogs, sorted for “date arrived”, and there is far more correlation with behavior than with color–dogs with behavior problems stay the longest, regardless of color. Also, medium-sized to large dogs usually stay longer than small or VERY large dogs (I’ve never seen a Great Dane at our facility longer than 48 hours). We take in vast numbers of Chihuahuas and Chi mixes from California, and so in our case it’s tough for a tan dog to stand out from the crowd, more so than a black dog.

    Bottom line: color seems to be far less important in our place than behavior or size, and where it does come into play, it’s just better to look different from all your neighbors–in our case, your TAN neighbors.

  34. Kathy says

    I wonder how much color preference is influenced by “formative” dogs? When my husband and I picked out our first dog, we didn’t care about color at all. We went for the puppy who watched and waited then approached us rather than the ones who bounced up and jumped on us or the ones who cowered in the back of the pack. We didn’t take the ones who were barking or the ones who were whining. We chose the thoughtful quiet one and ended up with the best dog in the world–and incidentally a nearly totally black border collie mix. Ever since then, we have both found that we will cross the road to pet a black dog rather than a blond or red or white one. It’s no doubt a subconscious desire to find another dog like our Loki.
    That said, we currently have a black and white bc mix and a blue merle cattledog mix, after owning a tricolor gsd mix and a black and white bc mix in the past. I guess we both tend toward black dogs, but almost certainly because we have such positive and loving feelings about our first wonderful dog. It’s more about breed and temperament, really, although the black dogs always get the first and longest look.

  35. Laura says

    Tricia, I have to say I love, love watching the videos and looking at the pictures of Willie. To me, he is just gorgious. I think his black and white markings provide me enough contrast to see him well and his face is so cute. I squeak inside when I see him. Anyway, as for my preference, i love black dogs and black cats. I know it’s because I can see them better. Every guide dog instructor I’ve said that to has thought it was odd because most of the clients who have a color preference ask for yellow because they can see them. For me it’s the opposite. So it’s weird that all three of my dogs have been yellows. My first two were labs and for my first guide, I didn’t care what color I got, but I really wanted a black lab for dog number two, and didn’t get one. There weren’t many in that string and I was asked beforehand if that was ok. I said it was, because I’d rather have the personality I want rather than a bad match with the prefered black coat. Torpedo was a deep dark carmel color, just lovely and he was, the softest dog I have ever touched. His fur was so plush, I called him my stuffed animal dog. I asked for another black lab the third time around and again got the same question of whether or not a yellow was all right. I said it was fine, because I prefer males to females and wanted a boy-dog. Hm, perhaps that’s another question for another blog ost Tricia? Anyway, Seamus is a lab/golden cross and most of them are yellow, though we had a beautiful black cross in class that Seamus just adored. Seamus has more red in his coat and is a very pretty dog. I have loved all of my dogs and would have never traded them, but if I could owner-train, I’d want a black lab male to pick out for myself. I think the only time my eyes were ever drawn to a red dog was when I saw an Austrailian Shepard red murl for the first time. i could not take my eyes off that dog. So, yes, I’ll keep asking for my black lab, but I’ll take my boy-dogs everytime.

  36. Nicola says

    As the owner of a black dog, now grey-faced with age, I found many people were frightened of her when she was younger, despite her sweet personality. Also, a friend with a black dog and a tan dog the same size found the same thing – children especially were frightened of the black dog, and attracted to the tan dog. I have noticed that as Buffy’s face greyed with age, people became much less frightened and approached her more often. For a long time we were in a demonstration team for our obedience club, and it was quite noticable. And yes, black faced dogs are much harder to photograph – Buffy’s expression is much clearer since she has gone grey in photos.

    As for my personal preferences, in border collies I love the chocolates (reds, I think you call them) and the blue merles, but in any dog I go for temperament and relationship, rather than looks. I am tending towards a pure-bred dog because I like meeting the parents, and having some idea of size, but that could all change if the ‘right’ cross bred comes along at the right time.

  37. Becky says

    I work in a shelter and, like many others have said, there’s a whole host of factors that play into a dog’s adoptability. That being said, I do believe that if a black dog and a tan dog of similar age, size and breed/mix are up for adoption, the black one will take longer to be adopted. You see it way more with cats than dogs, though. Right now, we have a litter of six kittens and only one is black. I’d be willing to bet that he’s the last to be adopted. We actually have people who say they don’t care what colour the cat is, as long as it’s not black.

    As for my personal colour preferences, I love the black animals. I adopted a black pit bull and I have to say, being black and a pit bull and winding up in a shelter is pretty much a worst case scenario. But a rescue group pulled him from a shelter, I adopted him and he’s amazing. I also have a very dark tortoiseshell, one-eyed cat. Shelter workers always love the “undesirables”. :)

  38. says

    I love the color black, and a well known quilter (Mary Ellen Hopkins) once said black is the color that makes all the other colors sing. And she is right!

    My girl, Stella, is black, a Spaniel and Lab and when I walked by her cage, I asked the woman if she had a good disposition.
    She said, she did when she came here, but after 3 months she just keeps getting sadder every day. I said wrap her up, I am taking her home. And they lived happily ever after. We also have a muted Tortie, that grey color where you see glimpses of orange, black and white. She makes me think of a little old lady in a tweed suit.

    My Stella is very appealing to kids, and I wonder if the black thing isn’t just a self fullfilling prophecy.

  39. Pharaoh says

    I have an irrational fondness for chocolate brown dogs. If I ever get a Standard Poodle (which I would very much like to someday) I would like a chocolate-coloured dog. Same goes with Brittanys, my current breed; I have a red boy (whom I adore), but liver Britts always tug at my heartstrings a little. Liver Dobes, liver Flatcoats, liver BCs all get an “oh, what a gorgeous dog!” reaction from me. I’ll take a brown tricolour over a black tricolour any day.

    I also prefer dark sable GSDs over tan-and-black-saddle ones (for lack of a better term, not my breed). Though that might be due to the fact that I associate sable with the working lines, which I prefer.

    I also agree with some other posters here that a sleek, glossy black coat is absolutely beautiful.

  40. Carolyn says

    I am a Golden Retriever person, so I guess I have a color preference! We also had a light red tiger cat who was the same color as our dogs, but he found us! I love Flat-Coated Retrievers, which are the closest breed relative to Goldens, but hate their short life-spans.

    For my life-style, I prefer a light colored dog because I have found that dark (especially black) dogs can get over-heated in the summer, even while they are in the water.

    Like a previous comment said, there are probably MORE black dogs around as black is the dominant color genetically. Just last night I read about an interesting study that suggested that the black color gene was added to the North American wolf population from very early cross breeding with domestic dogs that came with the early humans across the Bering Straits. The authors noted that there was a huge difference between the percentage of black to lighter colored wolves in forested areas and tundra areas (mostly black in forested areas and few black wolves in tundra areas).

    They could not say why there was a selection toward black wolves (they discounted the idea that camouflage helped in hunting), but argued that the black color gene may be associated with protection against inflammation and increased immunity.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/blackwolves/

  41. Kerry M. says

    I’ve been wondering the same thing and if it’s a myth, it needs to be dispelled. I actually felt guilty for adopting my last dog – who is yellow – because I love black dogs and felt maybe I needed to rescue one who would be harder to place. But I met Huck on a whim – I was trying to arrange to meet a black lab mix when that “date” fell through and she offered me a runner-up candidate. I fell in love with 10 minutes and didn’t mind so much that he was “too small and too yellow”.

    Also, I haven’t seen a preference in the public. I go out with yellow Huck, who doesn’t like strangers, and my friend goes out with his black lab mix (she looks kind of pit bullish, but she is lab/mastiff). Even though she is a big, black dog and I have a medium-yellow dog, she gets approached to be pet probably 5X more often. Her behavior is open and friendly and people just respond to that. I wonder if the behavior of those guide dog puppies might have been different as who was seeking out people love. Or if there were handler differences. I always wonder if people are reading my body language or Huck’s when they decide to stay away – it’s probably both.

    I’ve also had one black puppy-raising puppy and am currently raising a yellow. I haven’t seen a difference in how often I get approached with them. I do see a difference as they get older, but I think every dog owner knows that. Go out with a puppy who loses their mind over the smallest bit of stranger attention and get mugged. Go out with an older dog probably could really use some stranger love and attention to just get ignored.

  42. Jane says

    I think all-black dogs are not only harder to photograph, but harder to read by both people and other dogs. I like some white for visibility and safety in the dark, as well as cooling benefits in the hot summer. I have two tri-colors – one with a full white collar, the other without. It’s amazing how much hotter the fur of the collarless one gets in the summer – we live in a hot climate. Also the one with the white collar does not attract mosquitoes nearly as bad – they seem to shy away from his collar. I love the expressiveness of brown eyebrow dots, and I’m also drawn to symmetry.

  43. Carolyn says

    I have volunteered at a shelter/rescue since 1998.

    Personally, I love the black dogs and cats. From an adoption perspective, small size moves dogs faster than anything else. I have often commented that I could adopt out baby rattlesnakes as long as they’re little and cute. We’re in a suburban area, and not many people want really large dogs. Even if they admire them, they don’t take them home.

    I must admit that if we have a litter of puppies, identical except for color, the lighter colored ones are generally adopted before the solid black ones.

    I’m in VA, and we get lots of hounds–beagles to walker hounds (“deer dogs”). The size preference is obvious here. Beagles weighing under 15 pounds will be adopted within a few days. Beagles weighing 25 pounds or more may be there for a couple of months, and the big hounds take forever to move.

    Following that, behavior and personality are key. A dog who obviously adores people will go quickly, and people love a “leaner”. Shy dogs are the next favored, and independent dogs would be last.

    People will say they want a smooth coated dog because of easier maintenance, but they really are attracted to the fluffies and scruffies.

    People do seem attracted to dogs of the same color and type as their childhood dog or their “first dog”. My dad had a black and white English setter when I was born. Her face was half black and half white. To this day, this “joker” type coloring attracts me.

    I’m not a good photographer, but it is easier to get good photos of black dogs outside rather than inside.

    Cats–I love black cats, but it is harder to see features. I haven’t found as much of a pattern in cats as dogs.

  44. says

    I’m part of a pit bull rescue group, so color often doesn’t make as much of a difference than breed does. Of the people that look to adopt our dogs, we mostly get folks wanting “red nose” or “blue nose” – not realizing that they are just colors and not specific bloodlines. Like a rescue would have papered dogs anyway! (And the blues are notoriously bad for having major allergy issues.) There aren’t many pure black pit bulls — they’re either brindled or cow-patterned. I guess my friends in Rottweiler rescue also don’t see the “black dog syndrome” much considering their breed.

    I’ve personally been attracted most often to black dogs and cats, having adopted many of them, particularly tuxedo cats and generic black (or mostly black) fluffy dogs. Right now, I have a black and white brindle pit, a generic yellow dog and a tricolor (black saddle) hound mix.

  45. em says

    I admit to a bias- as the owner of a black dane that I find utterly beautiful (it’s the gleam of his coat in the sun, mostly, though I am also taken with the way that his solid dark color emphasizes his silhouette) I would probably actively seek a black dog for my next dane as well, especially since black dog syndrome definitely IS a thing in dane rescue circles. With danes, I suspect several factors are at play- black is a common color, but it is not the mental image that most people have when they think of a great dane- I’ve had strangers ARGUE with me that black, natural-eared Otis must be a lab mix because ‘danes don’t look like that, do they?.’ (I held his ears upright over his head. ‘Ohhh, now I see it’.)

    Second, many danes are adopted through breed rescue, and as many have said, black dogs don’t photograph as well.

    Third, there are plenty of available danes in flashy or light colors- fawn, brindle, merle, harlequin, boston. A person with a color preference is spoiled for choice in a way that a person looking for a lab or a pug is not.

    Fourth, and this one is probably not as much an issue for dane adopters as for general shelter dogs- people really, truly are more intimidated by big black dogs in the general public. I’m very, very glad that Otis’ ears are natural (and big), which softens this effect tremendously, but a short coated black dog is more physically imposing than his lighter counterparts- I think the shine and color emphasizes Otis’ silhouette, which I personally find beautiful, but his muscle definition is inarguably more noticable than it is in some of his fawn or merle dane friends. Combine that with a facial expression that is harder to read at a distance, and he is intimidating to many people. Superstition plays a role, too. It’s not just a cat thing- black animals are consistently chosen to represent evil, the devil, demons, etc. A fluffy little black papillon or tiny pug or comfortingly familiar lab may not invoke these feelings in most people, but black dogs of physically imposing breeds almost certainly do.

    I agree with what many have posted- breed trumps color for most people considering an adoption, but given a choice between dogs of the same breed, most people favor lighter, flashier, or more unusual colors and their black siblings will be the last to go, even if they have slightly nicer personalities.

    Breed works in Otis’ favor, too. Far more people will come running across the the street to greet him than will cross the street to avoid us. For some it’s nostalgia- I’ve had several people pull over their cars in the city to jump out and gush to me about the dogs that they have/had who look just like him- but mostly it’s the novelty of a giant dog (there was precious little chance that he’d have languished unnoticed in the shelter where we adopted him- we happened in, looking for nothing more specific than ‘a short coated large dog’ purely by chance the first day he was available, and took him at once- his personality was the deciding factor). For the next few days before he could be released to the vet for his required neuter, we visited him in the shelter and took him for walks and at least once, every visit, people happening through would gasp and say incredulously, “Is that a dane? Wow. Do you think anyone will take him?” They said this expecting that he’d be hard to adopt, but I suspect that this reaction actually bodes well for a shelter dog- people are drawn to dogs that a) they notice and b) they think will have a hard time finding a home. Otis had both going for him.

    For me personally, I chose Otis because he fit with what I wanted in a dog – a relaxed, affectionate temperament, enough athleticism to hike and play, generally low energy, good with cats, good with dogs, good with people. Color didn’t play much of a role in my decision, but now that I’ve had the experience of walking him and aptly named Sandy (she was an ‘as fate would have it’ dog, rather than a choice from a lineup), I’d steer clear of her shepherd-sandy coloration if I were choosing another hiking companion- two steps into the brush and she’s all but invisible- solid colors, even black, are easier to spot from the corner of one’s eye. I guess I’m a pragmatist at heart- All things being equal, I wouldn’t choose a dog with a camoflaging coat, though I think that the liver merle color found on German Shorthair Pointers is very beautiful, and I likely wouldn’t choose a light-colored dog because of the mud and possible need for sunscreen factor, and knowing the tendency they have to be overlooked, I’d be inclined to give more consideration to black dogs if I were adopting, but while I love the look of my black dog, I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek one. Sadly, if I choose to adopt a big, short-coated dog, it’s pretty likely that I won’t have to, since black dogs will probably make up a disproportionately large share of my options.

  46. says

    Color isn’t what attracted me to any of my current dogs, (I share my home with a yellow Lab, a sable shepherd mix, and a Vizsla – all chosen for their personalities or need of a good home that I thought I could provide) – however, the colors of my current dogs will definitely shape my future dogs, because I now find myself going gaga when I see yellow Labs, sable shepherds, and Vizslas so I see myself being drawn to dogs that resemble my crew in the future. Or maybe not. I’m easily swayed by a furry face with in need of a home.

  47. Rebecca Rice says

    Interesting question about colors. My breed of choice is the greyhound, and when I was first looking into the breed, if you had asked me to rate my color preferences, it would be white-and-color (affectionately referred to as “cow doggies”), then color-and-white, with preferred color order being black or red, then fawn, and way down on the bottom of the list… brindles, either dark or light. My first girl was a very sweet black dog with white toe tips and tail tip and a white belly streak. That dog was bomb-proof (she let a vet pull a broken femur into a full extension, and only complained by lifting her head off the ground and looking at him… and no, we didn’t know the bone was broken at the time), sweetest disposition ever. People just loved that girl. My second dog? That one turned out to be a copper-colored brindle. Since I’ve had her, I have come to appreciate that there can be beauty in the brindle pattern, although I still don’t like it if it is too dark. She is, unfortunately, a gorgeous dog. Small for a greyhound, fine-boned, good weight, with a pleasing tiger-stripe pattern. Unfortunate, because she is also a very shy dog, and would much prefer if people just ignored her, thanks. So I think that there is a difference between “what colors do I like” and whether that influences me in getting a dog. Although, I will say that I have recently seen photos of a coat color, generally seen in the greyhounds from Ireland, which is a white-spotted black coat. Looks like snowflakes falling at night. If the dog had the right temperament, I’d snatch that color up in a minute!

    My third dog is a little tri-color rat terrier that found me, out on the street one day. She is mostly white, with a big black spot on the side, a black spot on the tailbase and tail, and then a typical try-color head: black with brown cheeks, muzzle, eyebrows, and inside the ears. So I did wind up with a cow doggie, eventually.

    I will say that my experience with strangers is that the breed seems to be more important than the color. People stop and ask me about my greyhounds, both the black (who has passed on) and the brindle. No one stops and asks me about the rattie. In fact, if I am walking both, I can pretty much guarantee some one is going to stop, ask me “what kind of dog is that”, chat for a while, and entirely ignore poor little Pixie who would love to be petted, and instead will try to pet Katie, who just wants to get on with her walk, please!

    Of course, the problem with questions like this is selector bias. This blog is frequented by people who know and work with dogs, and who, from what I read, pick a dog based on personality and drive. Given that the general public apparently puts less thought into picking out a dog than they do a new car, color could be much more important to them than it is to us.

  48. says

    Although I’ve done some volunteer work at shelters, it hasn’t been enough to really have an opinion as whether black dogs are harder to place. I will say that my personal dogs have all been primarily black, albeit with other colors as well. My first dog Pepper was a shelter dog, a tricolor but very predominantly black hound mix, and I was told that part of the reason he was still there when I found him (he was a puppy, and an absolutely perfect dog in spite of all the things I didn’t know at the time!) was his color. Scout was a black and white pointer mix, the least black of all my dogs and completely gorgeous, and I watched him get returned to the shelter for the second time, so he got adopted easily, but then returned (as I was advised to do numerous times). He was a neophobic, separation anxiety ridden fruit loop who peed pooped and/or vomited in my car every ride for the first 6 months, but a total love, who went walkabout doing agility and so was referred to as the Australian Pointer. Brodie is my blackest, from rescue, a plain BC with short white freckled socks and white belly and tip of tail, but no blaze or collar. I have wondered if his “all blackness” makes his reactivity look worse to other dogs, and it seems to have that effect on people, although of course its hard to tell, nor am I completely objective about him. Kyp! was a traditionally marked, absolutely adorable BCX who spent about 3 weeks in the shelter up for adoption, with no takers. I pulled her when they called and said she’d be PTS if I couldn’t take her. It was clearly her frantic behavior in the shelter, rather than her markings, that kept her from getting adopted. I lost count of the number of people who said they would love to have her (based on seeing her out with me) and would have adopted her at the shelter if they’d seen her, but I doubt it. She was a foster failure- I kept her, as I doubted anyone else was going to be willing deal with her abilities to get into anything and everything ;) Arie was purchased from a breeder, black and white with speckles ;) and her week old babies are also black and white, 4 will be speckled and one not. Two of the five have no collars, but do have small blazes, which is how the stud is marked, will be interesting to see who wants what.

  49. Aurora says

    I have preferences, but most of them are breed/size/coat type specific. The only generalities I can come up with are that I tend to dislike white and light brown combinations, (I think in large part because the brown is too close to tear stains–some particular dogs have these colorations and I like them, but usually that has a lot to do with how the color works on the face), and I tend to like a fair degree of contrast between the eyes and the fur around the eyes (thus I don’t usually like the look of chocolate labs although I do like blacks and, to a lesser degree, yellows). I also tend to have a hard time liking much pink on the skin of the lips or around the eyes.

    I’m really taken by sleek feathery dogs like flat-coated retrievers, goldens, and long haired miniature dachshunds in red or black. I’m not usually drawn towards small white dogs, but I have a particular affinity for medium and large long haired white dogs. Within the breeds I’ve had in my family, I prefer dark tri-color field-type english setters best, black and whites quite a lot, and liver and white only very rarely (and since our setter Briar was a dark tri-color, experience has reinforced that preference), and I generally prefer the looks of whiter samoyeds over biscuity ones (though I am drawn to the colors of other sami-like dogs like lapphunds [particularly wolf-sable]–though that’s entirely based in photographs).

    Were I looking for a dog to adopt or buy I’m not sure how much these preferences would matter in person–I just got my first dog and there wasn’t a lot of color variation in her litter (besides that, having helped raised them, I had a lot more knowledge of their personalities than I usually would when picking a dog)–some, I think, but it certainly wouldn’t be a top tier consideration. If all I had to go on where photographs and mini-bios (like on petfinder), looks, and specifically easy to photograph attributes like color, would matter a lot.

    * I spent awhile thinking about this question last night and it evidently got into my dreams; I dreamed that the litter of sami pups I just finished helping my mother raise had turned different colors, one black, two brown, and my own Spring still mostly white but much more biscuity than she really is. In the dream, this was a perfectly normal phase in samoyed development and they would all change back to white again eventually, but in the meantime I had to figure out how to identify each of them in their new colors and send them all off to their new owners looking very different from the pups I knew and loved.

  50. liz says

    I just remembered- I think from deep recess of the folder in my head labeled “Things Heard on Calling All Pets”- that white coloring was linked to domestication in Belayev’s famous fox experiment. I couldn’t find a link on it in between cooking tasks, but the gist is that as foxes became more docile more white (and piebald colorations?) appeared.
    I did find this interesting link on rat behavior, which discusses presumed/researched correlations between coat color and temperament in a number of species. http://www.ratbehavior.org/CoatColor.htm
    So it appears that there is quite a history of human perception of coat color indicating types of temperaments we may be looking for in an animal. Interesting food for thought! In terms of dogs, maybe colors other than black are most desirable in breeds that have a more “primitive” appearance (e.g. GSD).

  51. liz says

    Eeeps, just reread and found, in the link provided on rats, mention of Belayev’s foxes, “The percentage of foxes with white patches went up from 0.71% to 12.4% of the population, an increase of 1646% over forty years (Trut 1999).” Will definitely return to this page later!

  52. Ice says

    I think that when thinking about rescue, color does play a part, but with dogs (more so then any other kind of companion animal imo) breed is the firs consideration for potential adopters. I’ve been involved in small animal rescue for 10+ years, and in that venue, where there is no bred to consider, color and appearance is king. Rat rescue is my main interest, and in that area, white rats (including Himalayan and Siamese) are notoriously hard to place. I’ve also volunteered in cat shelters for a good many years, and breed isn’t a big question there (past long hair or short hair), and black cats will sit FAR longer then other colors. IN summation, I don’t think you can offer a slew of different breeds and colors, then try and judge the adoption results in terms of color. Offer a bunch of Pits in various colors, or terrier mixes, and see how it turns out then. I’m betting that there is a color bias.

  53. KT says

    I am ever so partial to brindle. Same with tortoiseshell cats. White dogs would be my least favorite but a lovely sleek shiny black dog is always a sight to behold.

  54. CJ says

    I`m really interested that the initial study found different results than what many of us feel we`ve seen anecdotally. I volunteered at a shelter but in my city it feels like most of the dog owning population (at least with medium to large sized dogs) has some type of black lab, boxer, rotti or dobi mix. The main factor seemed to be energy level, with members of the public commenting on whether a dog was hyper or not, or bark, or if the dog was lap-dog sized they were adopted very quickly (puppies too). It would be interesting to see if there are regional differences though.

    One of my fave black shelter dogs (a black border collie mix) who was VERY frustrated while at the shelter ended up with a great couple – who were kind enough to let me visit him where Mr Endless Energy was a complete couch potato. It took ages for him to get adopted because his shelter stress came out as hyperactivity, mouthing, barking to a greater degree than what most of the dogs around him were showing.

    My past three dogs have all been mostly black, and I`m definitely biased towards either mostly black or black tri mixes (beagle mix, belgian terv). Choosing my current Aussie as a pup, thankfully I left it up to the person who know the pups best to pick for me. I got what I wanted, a fun dog to do agility with (and she`s got a lovely black tri face with copper).

    Loving the close-ups of Willie and that picture of Tootsie a few posts ago with ears flying, made me smile!

  55. Leslie V says

    An interesting topic and when I give it thought, I realize I’m more drawn to color when it comes to horses rather than dogs. I’ve had a mix of colors and breeds over the years and find that personality and nature are what I look for and at, color much less so. I’ve had 3 black dogs, all differing breeds and my two right now are both “yellow”. One is a shepherd mix and while he is totally shepherd in build and nature, his coat is that of a yellow lab. My most recent adoption is a Great Pyr mix. She has a coat that leans more toward the Pyr but the color makes me think Golden Retriever. I realize that what I go for most is the connection I feel when I meet the dog. I do admit that I’m drawn to large breeds – there’s just something about a big, sturdy dog! As for horses, bay is hands down my favorite color, with black and buckskin a close 2nd and 3rd. I have a true bay, brown bay and chestnut in my pasture right now and all three, in my eyes, are beautiful! Again, with horses, it would be personality, nature and the connection I feel that would draw me in much more than color. As Mark Rahid’s book title states: “A Good Horse is never a Bad Color”. I think the same is true with our wonderful dogs!

  56. LisaH says

    For my preferred breed, BC, I love the classic black & white, with a white collar, blaze, tail tip, & feet. I also love the look of a blue Merle. An all black BC would be okay, then a tri, and lastly a red merle, though as already noted, personality will still trump looks. I feel stronger about coat type than color and do not care for the look of the short or smooth coated breeds, large or small, though I admire the musculature that can be seen on a large, smooth coat. I am also crazy about large pricked ears. And blue eyes, or one blue and one brown also tickles me. After BCs, I would select a husky or GSD if we are just basing choice on appearance preferences.

    The only color in cats I would veer away from is orange, and while long-haired cats are so gorgeous, keeping the coat nice requires some effort and there is the extra shedding.

    As for taking photos of dark dogs, I get some beautiful pictures when they are taken outside in the snow :) The contrast is excellent.

  57. Annie R says

    @Laura, it’s very interesting that you can see a black dog easier than a blond one. And it sounds like you can see color variation quite well, since you loved seeing a red merle Australian Shepherd. It’s also kind of funny in the context of your comments to the previous post, of needing your dog to have an indoor recall because if they’re six feet away, you can’t see them! Could you see a black dog from further away? Just curious.

    As for me, I have, over time, fallen in love with red dogs, with some fuzziness and/or feathering to them; specifically, red and red-merle Aussies, deep red Golden retrievers, mahogany border collies, etc. And the white chests that make them look like they have Santa’s beard on their chest, oh yes! It’s funny, because even 5 years ago I would have said that Aussie black tris are the bomb! But I’ve come to love the more exotic coloring, especially red merles, and if they’re a light-bright red mixed in with lots of white, that’s the most pleasing and interesting to my eye. And unlike many of you, some asymmetry to the facial markings is intriguing. Behavior-wise the red ones are not so favored for being trainable and bomb-proof though; some Aussie-lovers will tell you that the red ones are crazier than the black tri’s and blue merles.

    My newest adoptee, who I’ve had 18 months or so now, is a bright red, basically orange actually, Brittany mix, but not with a white body; he’s bright red all over except a white chest and paws with orange freckles, a white blaze on his face, white tail-tip and a small white patch on the back of his neck near the shoulder (the theory is that he’s mixed with Australian Shepherd, though from his build it could be a lot of things — I may have him tested for breed mix someday). And despite my dog experience and knowledge, his looks did play a big part in my adopting him; he’s both beautiful and cute. He’s also a scaredy-dog, poor thing, and with a lot of mystery to his background; he’s middle aged and has an old shoulder injury (which has improved a lot functionally by getting some skilled doggy P.T.). He’s become quite comfortable around home and in our routine, but panicked today in the familiar pet store when his groomer (who he knows quite well) tried to lead him away from me on leash. So we keep working on that, and sometimes I wonder if my Aussie loving friends are right and the basic nuttiness of red dogs is part of why he still is so scared and crazy in unfamiliar situations.

    That said, though, he is the sweetest temperament ever — NEVER lashes out or snaps, even when totally frightened; he just wants to run away. Which I trained for by becoming his “safe haven”, so now when he gets scared, at least he runs to me rather than running away to get lost. And at home where he’s comfortable, he’s a very playful boy, loves his toys, bounds around the house just because he’s happy, and is a super-cuddler; after years of having independent Husky/herding breeds mixes, I finally have a dog who really wants to just cuddle on the bed with me! Trisha, I can so understand why you wanted a Tootsie in your life!

    Anyway the last thing I have to tell about is his name – I usually don’t change my adoptees’ names, but they’ve all had good ones in the past — this boy, however, came to me named “Marshmallow”. And I could not picture myself at the dog park hollering “Marshmallow, come!”; that would have REALLY inhibited training a good recall (LOL)! So, when I realized how fun-loving he really is, and also has some freckles on his face, I re-named him “Archie” after the redheaded comic-strip character. Now I just have to find a black dog to adopt and name “Jughead”!

  58. Donna B. says

    I have Irish Wolfhounds, which are most often gray, but can be brindle, wheaten, black, red, and many combinations. I usually have all the colors, and have had some lovely blacks, but they sometimes don’t do as well in the show ring, they must be very good to beat the others, because they can appear to have less bone and substance even if they do not lack it. IWs must also have dark eyes, lips, and nose, and while a lighter eye in a lighter coat color can blend in, a light eye on a black is more noticeable and can give a “harder” expression. My husband says the blacks can look as if they “lack detail” in the ring, and this is what others here have said as far as photographs. I haven’t really noticed the public reacts differently to black IWs, possibly because as em says, the giant dog thing seems to trump the black dog thing. However, I do think I am “mobbed” the most by the public with a wheaten, it is like traveling with a celebrity. Wolfhound people don’t usually act on their color preferences when picking puppies as there should be none as far as judging, but most people admit to having one and some pet people will have a preference for a certain color puppy. You can get a variety of colors in any one litter. The only warning I have heard is to careful about the wheatens as they can take over your kennel in numbers, which seems to be true and most people prefer to maintain a diversity of colors.

    I have had a black greyhound, he was very sweet but many people were initially afraid of him, much more so than the black wolfhounds. I don’t know if it was his size, eight pounds so big but not giant, he had a long pointy muzzle and did not have the soft dark brown eyes and some people initially thought he was a Dobe.

    I do find that although I don’t have a strong color preference with other breeds or mixes, however I do have a strong pigment preference, and i really dislike light yellow eyes, don’t mind blue so much, and really dislike brown or red nose and lip leather, so I am not a fan of the dilutes in appearance. Has anyone heard of “Brown Brain”, applied mostly to chocolate labs and poodles, which some think have a less desirable temperament, and some people believe differences in behavior? As I recall, at one time there were few chocolate lab guide dogs because they did not pass, not just that fewer were tried?

    Anyway, there are fans of about any animal coloration, I agree the black dog difficulty in adoptions may exist for a variety of reasons, but may have been overstated as some people prefer them or are indifferent to coat color.

  59. judy says

    I have a Blue Roan ECS just a year old tomorrow! It is amazing how the general public perceive him as being old because of his grey muzzle inspite of the fact he is bouncing around like a loony tune…..I dont think they see him as being attractive and actually only see him as an “old” black dog – their loss not mine…..I love his silvery highlights…..I have always loved “off” colored dogs, dark faces when they should be light by show standard, irregular spots in odd places – I dream also about finding a bright blue kitten and having to take it home! I have always been interested in color variations in all animals. I was amazed when we got him how difficult he was to see in the dark – a worthwhile lesson for us all here – if we cant see him neither can anyone else , so am especially vigilant with him at night even when on a leash – so he wears a reflective collar…….
    With great horror I hit a black lab years ago on a newly surfaced black road – he was impossible to see until it was too late. I was devastated……… No he should not have been out at 10.30pm wandering around living right on a busy road with no street lights, it was not his fault……….owners should never have let him out unsupervised. I was very very upset – poor poor dog. Breeders /shelters should make new owners aware of how they are nearly impossible to see in the dark………

  60. Ravana says

    Having had a blue poodle, a chocolate lab and two black mutts with small white chest blazes I have to agree with everyone who says it is very hard to get a good photograph of a solid black dog. But I have to add that when my current black mutt was younger (and just as well behaved and friendly as he is now) people would often cross the street to avoid passing him on the sidewalk and mothers would tell their children not to go near “that big black dog” because “he’ll bite you.” Once he got a form of vitiligo and developed white spots on the front of his ears and a white chin people will cross the street just to pet him and I’ve had parents with tiny toddlers say, “Go over and ask that lady if you can pet her doggy.”

    I think the popularity of black labs is media not color related. Labs got a lot of good press when one was featured on the cover of Life magazine and then they became the preferred breed for guide dogs (taking the place of German shepherds), but chocolates and yellows were still rare. I had my English chocolate lab when his color and shape was still relatively rare in the U.S. and people were actually rather leery of him. I had more than one person insist he was a bulldog of some kind. When Clinton got his chocolate lab suddenly it seemed like every other lab was chocolate, now with the popularity of Marley all I seem to see around me is yellow labs.

    As for my personal preference, color doesn’t matter, but a dog with one perk ear and one flop ear or a dog who smiles will get me every time.

  61. Ellen Pepin says

    I volunteered at a local shelter for a while, and we had dogs of every color. Here in Md. Pit Bulls are especially hard to place and there are lots of them at the shelters. It didn’t help last year when the state Supreme Court ruled that Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous and landlords could be held liable if one bit anyone. That has lead to a lot of landlords trying to evict people unless they get rid of their Pit Bull type dogs.

    Personally, I have a while Collie and a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, whose color is like a German Shepherd. When we walk the Collie, people stop their cars to tell us how beautiful she is. I love that. However, few people remark on the looks of our mix. Some do tell us that he is handsome. I do understand why people might not want a white dog. You have to be very laid back about cleanliness. I don’t own a piece of clothing that doesn’t have white hair on it. The same is true of the rugs.

  62. says

    For me it somehow depends on the type of dogs – My boys are a black lab with a glossy (rather than matte) coat and a brindle boxer pup. I love the lighter cream colors in golden retrievers while having an aversion to the darker reds. However I love the shiny red on an Irish Setter. I tend to dislike uneven splotches of color. I read at one point that humans tend to be attracted to symmetry – I wonder of that plays into it.

  63. Dave M says

    I’m a little biased as I instantly think black lab as we get a lot at the rescue being a rural area but rehome many and would also say the younger dogs are easier to rehome, a long term resident is a lab collie cross but is also an old dog, excellent read and thanks.
    long term Mikey http://www.caninerescue.co.uk/rescue-dog-information.asp?d=1787
    and likely short term Shasta http://www.caninerescue.co.uk/rescue-dog-information.asp?d=1866
    I personally think certain characters stand out, dog colour doesnt come into it for me, am constantly surprised at the types of dog I consider for myself and have to talk myself out from.

  64. Eileen says

    I will admit to a strong preference towards brown dogs with black muzzles. Don’t know why, but I just love them. Guess it is the same reason I like grey cars, green blouses, white kitchens and blue sheets. That being said I have two pure black dogs. Go figure.

  65. Miranda says

    Working in a vet hospital, I routinely see lots of black dogs and hardly anyone shying away from them. Though, if a black bully breed comes through the door some of the clients in the waiting room will pull their dogs or cat carrier a little closer.

    I myself own a big black dog, a rottie/golden retriever/lab mix, who looks like a fluffy-tailed rottweiler. We have encountered more than a few people on our walks that gave us a wide berth, but I think it was based on the breed he looked like, rather than his color.

    Until right now, I’ve never thought of my color preference for dogs. Horses? Absolutely! I could own a string of blue roans, duns, and true blacks. With dogs I make googly eyes at fawns with black points and white paws. Of course, of the three dogs that own me, none are that color!

  66. Laura says

    At Annie R,
    Yup… that’s what my vision is like. Just enough to get me into trouble. I can only see out of my right eye and the vision isn’t great in that. For example, something that looks 20 feet away from a person with normal sight, is 20 feet away,to me, if the object is 20 feet away from me, my one eye perceives it’s 400 feet away. I realize that’s complicated, but my eye is just like that. Anyway, I have a very difficult, if not impossible time perceiving detail around me and light colors blend together. In response to your second question, yes, I can see a black dog from further away, but I can’t see Seamus, a yellow dog, when he’s in front of me. It’s almost as if my gaze just slides over him, but my friend’s guide dog, who is an adorable black labby girl, well I’ll always spot her first. It’s weird, I can see Seamus, but I can’t. I don’t know how else to explain it. All I know is, I can’t get along without him, or any of my fuzzy yellow beasts. If I tried, I’d fall down the stairs so much more. :)

  67. 001mum says

    wow! I never thought so many liked a black dog. around here they’re all scared.
    I am irresistibly drawn to the black lab. I also really like brindle anything. or “blue”
    Can not tolerate eyes close together or a long nose. as for cats, orange is the way to go!
    am not great a photographing black dogs, but have found using the backlight feature allows the facial characteristics to shine-the black dog then sort of “pops” on a lighter back ground. at least u can see the dog’s facial expression.

  68. Annie R says

    @Laura, thanks for the description — I do sort of get it, as I’ve known a few blind people who can see light, and my late father had some stroke-related vision changes that were kind of like yours, more of a functional difference and variable depending on conditions around him. So glad you have a good guide dog! They are the most special dogs in the world, I think. I used to work on a research project with blind subjects and some had dogs, others did not. I enjoyed learning about how blind people operate in the world, what their perception is of the environment they’re in, and I really had a special place in my heart for the dogs.

    One more kind of funny story, since we’re talking about black Labs on this thread, is that a Lab who has been born and raised to be a guide dog sometimes will have missed the developmental window for some of the expected Lab behaviors. One of our subjects’ guide dogs would chase a ball down the long hall on our unit, but would not pick it up or bring it back. Of course this was while he was off duty. He’d never learned to actually fetch, as he had been too busy learning other things, I imagine! He was a big goofy boy, pretty vocal and a real mooch for food, but it was so lovely to see him calm and settle when in harness. My favorite thing, though was watching him run to the end of the hall after the ball, then turn around and look at me as if to say, OK, what now? I always ended up going down that hall to get him, and the ball; he never did learn to fetch!

  69. says

    Someone upthread a bit said this “I think it’s unfair to compare black cats to black dogs; there is after all a specific superstition regarding black cats being unlucky.”

    Yes there’s that superstition. BUT has no one heard the phrase “black dog” in reference to depression? So while they don’t have the superstition, they do have the idea of depression hanging over their heads.

  70. says

    HI, there, Patricia.

    I’m a volunteer at a shelter and I’ve noticed that the less “flashy” dogs (and yes, often they ARE dark, browns and black) almost always get a pass-by. Dark pit-type dogs….big pass by!

    Black cats? Forget about it! Those poor kitties are again, almost always the long timers. My black cat, Rufus, was at the shelter for about a year before we adopted him. My husband loves black cats and he specifically wanted to look at ONLY black cats.

    I personally think, as a pro-am photographers that if shelter, rescues etc. would take pictures of dark or black dogs OUTSIDE in the sunshine or on a hazy or slightly cloudy day, they would get much more expression and depth. The dog would look “richer,” no matter what the breed/type.

    Color prejudice? I have had cattledogs for years and absolutely prefer the blues. I love the coat contrast, which shows up so much with the black,grey, white hairs. I have my 7th, they’ve all been blues. I’m sure the gods will probably dump a red into my life one of these days, LOL!

    I bet you are enjoying your new camera, have fun and experiment!
    Some cameras, if you place the center of the auto-focus on say, your doggie’s one eye, slightly depress the shutter button and move the frame over, will get that eye or both in focus as long as he’s looking square on you! Depends on the camera! Some, if you move, it continues to try and auto-focus on the center of the frame.

    I love close up shots but then I know that one part will be more in focus, because the depth of field is way shorter! I think you did a great job!

    Blessings to all, and thank you! Great topic.

  71. Merciel says

    Big “yep yep” to all the comments on photography being a big factor for Internet adoptions, and breed/behavior being more important than color for in-person adoptions.

    I’ve been in dog rescue for 3 years (not nearly as long as many, I know…) and have repeatedly seen a pattern where if we have a litter of puppies, all the same age and breed mix, but different colors, we’ll get inquiries from five states away on the fluffy yellow or multicolored ones, and zero interest on their all-black siblings. Many (thankfully not most, but enough to be reliably frustrating) prospective adopters would rather have NO dog than have to “settle” for a color they didn’t want. So, in my experience, black dog syndrome is very real.

    Young, small, cute, light-colored and non-shedding dogs get adopted instantly. The further you move from that list of adjectives, the longer it takes to place a dog: older, bigger, plain-looking, dark dogs can sit around FOREVER. The exception is that if the dog is strikingly unusual in some way — Great Danes are a good example that other commenters have pointed out, because they’re so rare and huge — that dog will get nabbed in microseconds.

    I’m almost ashamed to admit my own color preferences, given how often I rail against adopters discarding dogs who don’t meet theirs, but sure, I have some color/marking combinations I like better than others. I’m a huge sucker for blues and blue merles. I love tuxedo black-and-whites and red-and-whites. Any and all GSD variations.

    But when it comes to the dog I’ll actually take home, like most of the people who have commented here, I’ll look first for a dog who suits my needs and lifestyle: a smart, biddable, medium-energy dog who shows promise as a Rally/freestyle/obedience competitor.

  72. BCmum says

    I’m guilty for preferring more white on BW Border Collies, the white tip, white blaze and collar. I think that’s mainly because of my current BC that I madly fell in love with. Whatever dogs I fell in love in the past, I get drawn to the similar looks. Before I fell in love with a yellow lab (which was my least favorite color), I wanted a black lab. Now I don’t think I will ever consider a black lab over a yellow lab. When adopters come to meet our all breed rescue dogs, most of them want “sweet dogs”, not specific colors. But when adopters come to our breed specific rescue group, I find that they are more particular.

    Now when meeting new dogs, shelter dogs or client’s dogs, I do find myself being more observant (and slightly more careful) with darker colored dogs. Not intentional. It could be because it is a bit harder to read the facial expression on darker faces.

  73. Bri says

    I volunteer for dane rescue, and it’s definitely the blacks that we hold onto the longest. Most people want a fawn, because that’s the color most people think of when they think of a dane. Brindles and harles are flashy and go fast as well. The solid blues and blacks tend to get the least interest. Also if the dog has cropped ears it usually gets more interest than uncropped. Personally I would love a sweet uncropped black (black happens to be my favorite color), and most of the rescue people end up adopting a black, so go figure.

  74. says

    At Annie R,
    Guide dogs are great, but then I’ve always thought dogs in general were awesome. I knew I wanted one since I was 7 years old and I saw a beautiful gSD guiding a woman. She let me touch the dog and touch the harness and I was hooked from then on. Speaking for my school, the dogs are taught to not pick things up in their mouths generally, so perhaps that’s why this lab didn’t pick up the ball. Some dogs really take that to heart. My first two dogs weren’t clicker trained and it was clear, that for my first, Marlin at least, that he wasn’t going to catch on to clicker no matter how much I tried. Torpedo caught on, but it took a little while. Seamus was clicker trained right from the start and he catches onto things in minutes.I’m explaining all of this I suppose to show that some dogs just get things set in their heads, at least my dogs did. Also, just one more note on the color topic. I can see black dog’s coats shine in the sun and I can’t see it at all on the yellow dogs. I love looking at the glossy doggies. :)

  75. karen says

    I do favour blue and all kinds of merle and brindle colours, it’s just my personal taste. My first dog was brindle (a mix) and since then I just love brindle dogs. Merle Aussies were always my favourites as well as blue AmStaffs. However, I have never owned one of those because I have always chosen my dogs by character and they were all emergencies that needed to be rescued quick.

    I have worked in a shelter and I did have the feeling that uni-coloured brown dogs always found a new home quickest (like bright brown, beige and so on).

  76. LunaGrace says

    Many times the breed that appeals will also dictate the color preference – if you want a Flatcoated Retriever, it will be black; Belgian Sheepdog, black again; Field Spaniel, liver or black; Newfie, probably black as well. Several people have observed that it is more difficult to read a black dog’s facial expression and I can attest to that. Karelian Bear Dogs are more prevalently marked with black than white on the head and face. And, while my dog, Yogi, is well-known and loved in our community and people are not hesitant about petting him, I noticed their reactions were totally different when he was sitting in my car. People who knew him and wanted to greet him would notice him there and start to reach in the window only to pause, draw back and ask “Is it okay to pet him?” This happened often enough, surprised and mystified me so much, that I really paid attention to what was going on when that scenario was taking place. Was he snarling or growling at them and I was at the wrong angle to see this? Seems the person would begin to reach in, which would cause Yogi to stop panting, relaxed, with his mouth open, and lean forward with his mouth closed so he could better sniff their fingers or hand. His eyes are very dark brown and, in a black face, his facial expression would become ‘unreadable’, and leaning forward intently with his mouth closed seemed to be percieved as hostile or threatening; causing the person to draw his/her hand back.

    I think I also must prefer black in animals. Not only was I totally smitten with my beautiful dark mahogany bay Morgan mare but I also adopted two cats from shelters – both long-haired, black/brown/grey striped Maine Coon or Siberian cross types.

    And I agree that it IS easier to keep visual track of a black dog when they are out “in the bush”, but the darker colors also seem to camoflauge better the greenish tinge in the coat after they have just rolled in fresh cow droppings!

  77. Judy Norton says

    I saw Ray Coppinger on TV, probably NOVA, where he sat on a park bench with a box of mixed breed puppies. He stopped people and asked them which puppy they would choose. People picked different puppies, but always for the same reason– it was distinct from the other puppies in the litter. They might pick the biggest, the longer hair, the one with spots. I think we each want our dog to be unique.

    My personal prejudice is that my dogs must have dark pigment– no red noses or light eyelid margins for me! I have a black lab and a yellow lab, but don’t care for the way the chocolates look.

  78. Frances says

    Cow droppings are a bit of a sore point here at the moment. They vanish very thoroughly into dark apricot poodle curls, too. And Poppy was very disgruntled at finding herself in the bath when I finally worked out where the penetrating odour was coming from … perhaps immediately obviously mucky white fur is not such a bad thing after all!

  79. Jo says

    In some african cultures black dogs are seen as supernatural. They carry evil spirits or the souls of ancestors and therefore are mischievous or potentially dangerous. Some african rescues have problems with placing black dogs because of that.

  80. Paulene says

    I love black dogs and cats. I don’t know if that makes me an exception. I have owned dogs of various colors but the one my heart misses most was mostly black and I’d own another black dog if I could.

  81. says

    I co-run a pit bull rescue, and I can say absolutely that black pits stay with us longer than any other color. When you’re talking about an already maligned, intimidating in some people’s minds breed, adding a black color doesn’t help. They are harder to photograph (in our foster facebook group, our 3 black pittie fosters were just commiserating about how difficult it is to get a picture where their facial features stand out), they are harder to read, and they can look more imposing with dark eyes in a dark face. Once people meet them, we don’t have an issue with their color, but we get much fewer applications on them. So we try to photograph them in natural light, with big happy smiles.

    Personally, I am ashamed to admit I LOVE blue pitties. They are so gorgeous. But color will not effect my next dog adoption – in fact, I have my eye on a little black pittie because of his amazing temperament. I’d love to have a blue someday, though!

  82. Jaye says

    I recently had two solid white dogs, a poodle and a poodle mix, both rescues and have always, without any real effort on my part, ended up with poodles of one sort or another. When one of them passed last year (16+ years old) we went to the shelter looking for any dog that our remaining little white poodle took to. Personally, I was really hoping for a black dog…I’ve always loved them and have volunteered in a shelter for years so know of the “stigma.”

    Yup! A little black…guess…poodle mix with white paws and a white chest and she’s turned our lives upside down. :)

  83. Mari says

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I sometimes expect dogs with pointed, stand-up ears to be more aloof or even more aggressive. Same thing with dogs who have ice blue eyes as well as brindle coloring. And I’m aware that this has absolutely no basis in reality.

    I would also be interested to know what the controls were in the study, since our own past experiences (bad and good) with dogs play into which types of dogs we view as friendly. For example, someone might rate a black Lab as more friendly than others on a list, but that might be because they already perceive Labs to be a generally friendly breed, in spite of the fact that it’s black (whereas they might be less likely to choose a black dog in a different breed or mix).

  84. em says

    @ Mari

    Just a random thought, but I have often found breed bias coloring people’s perceptions of dog behavior, even among dog owners at the park. Golden/Lab owners seem to be the worst offenders in my particular circles- while I don’t personally know any that are unfriendly to people, some retrievers are not particularly sociable with dogs. The most aggressive individual dogs I’ve ever encountered at the park are members of these “friendly” breeds- people, even (especially) their owners seem oblivious to warning signs of discomfort and hostile behavior in a golden retriever that would scandalize them in a German Shepherd.

    The size double standard is well known, but at least that has some basis in practicality- a slightly iffy Great Dane IS capable of much more damage than a downright nasty Chihuahua. But labs and goldens ARE big dogs, capable of doing a lot of damage. Failing to take their hostile behavior seriously seems to be entirely an issue of perception.

  85. mungobrick says

    I’m partial to black dogs myself, although I realize looking back that I’ve had white, golden and brown dogs as well. I guess I’m just partial to dogs, period, and my current one is a black one. I’ve wondered about the truth of the black dog syndrome myself, since I see so many black dogs being walked around town.

    I didn’t notice too many black dogs here, but loved the video, which I’m sure you’ve already seen

    http://vimeo.com/40471435

  86. Mari says

    @em

    Agreed. I think the reality is that we all have ingrained biases and perceptions – whether they are rooted in fact and reality is another question, and most of us are afraid to admit them to others. I think they really stem from our own past and current experiences (as well as TV, media, etc.)

    Interestingly, on the Lab front, a majority of the Labs we encounter seem to be not hugely dog-friendly (maybe dog-tolerant) and also have lots of dog-dog resource guarding. Our previous dog was in fact a yellow Lab – a star of a dog that probably could have done therapy work – never met a human she didn’t love and vice versa. Also, rock solid temperament in terms of adaptability, going anywhere/doing anything, no fears, phobias, etc. The one BUT here is that she was a big dog-to-dog guarder of sticks, and she wasn’t hugely motivated or excited about other dogs (although she was fine/tolerant). But, this is a trait I see in a lot of Labs around where we live – dog-dog resource guarding issues. It’s funny – I guess most people tend to look at dogs in terms of their temperament/behavior towards humans … I often tend to view them through a lens of how they are with other dogs. Once again, an individual quirk. :)

  87. Gin Gin Bon Bon says

    I’m quite sure that if you control for other factors, there is indeed a bias against darker colouring. And in some cultures, all-black animals carry negative connotations. It might not make a huge difference overall, but it’s definitely there. I’ve noticed it with people on the street interacting with my two dogs. Even when I tell them that the tan one is shy/fearful and the black one is a superstar (the truth), they are more likely to be afraid of the black dog and reach out to pet the tan one. She _is_ very fluffy and cute, and I suppose it doesn’t help that my black dog is a pit mix with a freaky blue eye, but I still think she is the most beautiful animal I have ever seen. I do love an underdog though!

  88. says

    At Em and Mary,
    I agree with both of you. Of course my dogs who have been all retriever, golden and Lab respectively, seem to be able to put up with anything, but I think that two problems can arise from their breed and people’s perception of them. People, who don’t have any control over themselves, have dropped down on my dogs and hugged them, in harness and all and they tolerate it with saintly gravity. Dogs come up to them too, and they greet them happily enough and why not? They’re raised around all sorts of dogs of various ages and raised around tons of people so they’re used to it. I think people can perceive this and take advantage of it. I hear comments all the time such as, “Oh he’s a lab, they’re just so great and friendly,” and even worse, “Oh he’s a guide dog and he’d never attack anyone. They’re trained not to do that.” Well, not exactly. Yes, the breeds of retriever are bread with a friendly and tolarent temperment and yes, my dogs are bread to not be agressive, but they’re still dogs and you can’t just expect them to be ok with whatever you’re allowing your dog or child to do to them. I can’t tell you how many parents have allowed their young children to run up to my dog and climb all over him because he’s a lab, a service dog and yes, he’s yellow. I really think color plays another factor here, as other service dog users and raisers have attested to already on this thread. I think people believe it’s ok to do things to a dog we perceive visually as friendly like a lab or a retriever rather than a German Shepard that we might visually perceive as more dangerous.

  89. says

    Great post, I have read about the syndrome and never considered the possibility of a causality and correlation problem with breed and color but the black lab example seems relevant and interesting. Would like to see some more data on this to have a better point of view…

  90. says

    as a nearly 30 year Director of Animal Control (now retired) in Eastern NC, we did see a proliferation of ‘Black Dogs’ at our facility; the median age of surrender 8-24 months of age; and many w/ good vetting background — COV, Altered, Neg. on HW, etc., … but they were not LABRADOR RETRIEVERS – they were generic, short haired, drop eared, 50-90 lb dogs – with none of the conformation, or temperament traits of a ‘pure-bred’ lab.
    The general misconception in the South ( as I perceive it ) is that if the dog is Black, Yellow or Chocolate, it’ s a LAB. and persons acquire these dogs from ads in the papers, ‘rescues’, other shelters where the personnel are locked into having to call a dog ‘something’ other than ‘Generic Mixed Breed, Short haired dog’ [or what ever} and having the ‘mindset’ that it’s as ‘advertised’ they may be sorely dissapointed when that dog fails to live up to their expectations. I think the pet placement web sights (Pet Finder, etc ), is doing the animals and the public a disservice by not providing a bracket for those dogs that are truly generic mixes. Over in the Piedmont area of the state, the ‘yellow or red’ dog is in the same spot — the majority of mix breeds in that part of the state are not black, and are equally difficult to place.

  91. Nicola says

    @Mari What an interesting observation.

    Isn’t dog-dog resource guarding a selective advantage in nature though? It may not be a entirely appropriate for our definition of dog-dog sociability in the domestic anaimal but they would surely be advantaged in the wild having this particular trait over non-guarders wouldn’t you think? It’s therefore not an abnormal behaviour of course, but it does require some management of our pets who happen to display this behaviour. The only object my dog guards is her ball and it has got us into trouble around other dogs on a couple of occasions. However, she’s just a mutt – a regular village/farm dog look a like who definitely has a good few ‘breeds’ in her genetic stock. Maybe despite all our selective breeding for sociability and temperament, this is a naturally advantageous behavioural trait for dogs to possess?

  92. Christina says

    Seems like such a simple question, but it’s so interesting to read all the thoughts (although I didn’t have time to read them all, so I’m not sure if anyone raised the following questions). Are there regional differences? Generational differences? I always wondered about the assertion that black dogs took longer to place, because I like black in general and black dogs in particular. I came of age in the 80′s when New Wave and Punk were cool and black was it. In the late 80′s and 90′s, I had to have black everything, and I didn’t fail to notice that my black and white Boston Terrier matched my clothing every day. I was recently looking at Boxer pups, I was intrigued by the reverse-brindles because of their dark coloring (although I ended up going for a fawn, just like the one I grew up with :) ).

    Also, it seems to me that here in the Northeast, we wear black a lot more than in, say, Florida or Arizona, drive more dark cars, etc.

    It’s hard to answer in the abstract, though. If I were at the shelter picking out a dog, temperament and size would be first on my list, although I have to admit, I’d probably have to be talked into red dog – I would definitely have a bias toward a black nose!

  93. Trisha says

    Adrian and others: Data to come! Two students in my UW class are going to track color, size & breed with time spent in shelters before adoption. We’re hoping they can get data from at least 5 shelters, but perhaps it can be expanded to other regions…. Stay tuned anyway, they are just in the very early planning/permit stages now.

  94. Mari says

    @Nicola

    Yes, totally agreed that it’s a natural behavior but just poses some management issues. Our current dog, and Aussie, is a bit of a dog-to-dog guarder too (not w/ humans though). So, I pretty much just remove toys/balls if other dogs are around to avoid conflict.

  95. says

    I work in a shelter and definitely feel that breed and size plays into it much more than color. Pit bulls stay the longest, without a doubt, and the “plainly” colored pits will stay longer than the ones with more flashy white markings. Most labs move quickly regardless of color, although there seem to be more requests for the yellows.

    Black cats definitely have the hardest time. I saw a post above that mentioned a single black kitten in a litter and I agree, that one always tends to be the last one to be adopted. We try to have regular promotions at our shelter that offers discounts for the black or mostly black cats.

    My own preference has leaned hard towards black/white for as long as I can remember. My first horse was flea-bitten gray. The second was solid black. My first dog (as an adult) is solid black; the second black/gray/white and the third a black/white border collie. Working at the shelter, I’m most drawn to the tuxedo kitties or black/white piebald-type markings.

    The only way I see myself deviating from my color scheme would be for a blue merle, but he would have to have very dark markings and possibly a split face, and for sure prick ears. :)

  96. JJ says

    I grew up with an Irish Setter. But I didn’t bond with him the way I have closely bonded with my black Great Dane as an adult. As a result, now all I want is more black Great Danes.

    I got my dog from a shelter when he was three years old. But it’s not like I had a color choice. I knew I wanted a Great Dane, and I searched every day on PetFinder.com for 6 months until I found *one* in my State. He just happened to be black. I probably would have taken any color that came along first (assuming a good temperament), because what I really wanted was a big Great Dane. So, based on my own experience, I would agree with those people who say that breed is more important than color. But after that? If I had two dogs of the same breed and size and temperament, I would have gone with brindle over the black. (That was then. This is now. Now, *black* is the best for ever and ever! — Yes, I feel like a pre-teen when it comes to my love for my dog.)

    I’m so happy to read the comments about the difficulty of taking pictures of black dogs. Whew. It’s not all me. I’m not the worst photographer in the world. (Maybe just the second?)

    Also, I feel in great synch with em concerning the comments we get from people on the type of dog we have. No, he is not a lab-mix. (sigh)

  97. Carolyn says

    Once again, a comment from a Golden person. A social retriever breed (Flat-Coat, Labrador, Golden) that has a proper temperament should not be a resource guarder or be dog aggressive. Those aggressive tendencies are directly opposed to both their breed standards and their original function. They were bred to bring back high value objects (birds and sometimes rodents) and happily deliver them to hand. In addition, they were originally used in large shoots at aristocratic British estates where there were numerous dogs working in a line.

    Unfortunately, both the Lab and the Golden are hugely popular breeds and that has led to tons of poor breeding where temperament has not been a determining factor in breeding selection. Are there unfriendly Goldens and Labs? Sure, and I have known some, but the vast majority I know (especially those where the owners went to a reputable breeder) are sweet, happy, outgoing animals.

  98. Molly says

    How exciting that your students are going to study and gather some solid data! I only saw one other person mention lighting inside the shelter. I adore black dogs because my first heart dog is high black; yet even I have walked by black dogs in dark shelters (dogs I was there specifically to view for rescue). I straight-up did not see them. I would suggest that the study include this variable.

    I think the study you referenced in the original post is flawed in terms of applicability to shelter dogs. Breed bias will trump color in those cases, and how many shelter dogs are purebreds (I know “they say” 25%, but as a 5-yr shelter volunteer, that is not my experience at all).

    I can say, as others have prior, that in a litter of puppies, the black pups adopt last. Every time. In our shelter, small dogs rarely stay long (relatively speaking); yet the 2 solid black dogs took months to find homes. They were the only long-term small dogs at that time (we have since gotten some behavior issue small dogs, who understandably aren’t moving).

    We have also had rescues refuse to take the black dogs due to them moving slower (or the assumption that they do?). So I believe more data will be helpful on many levels.

    Personal experience – people will always greet my white-n-orange girl. Most will avoid my beautiful, wonderful, fluffy, gorgeous high black heart dog, even if she is walking right up asking for attention and looking endearing. They people who have expressed preference for my black dog say she reminds them of a childhood dog or family dog.

  99. says

    I was the Canine Behaviorist at our local shelter as both volunteer and salaried. I noticed that people going in with no preference as to colour of dog they wanted to adopted often just passed by the solid black dogs without really ‘seeing’ them. Sometimes a whole line of kennels – six to seven of them – each housed a black dog because the bi-coloured, chestnut, brindle etc dogs had all been adopted. It broke my heart to see this since of course many of these dogs I knew to be happy, loving, wonderful animals who would make fabulous family pets. However, we had much more success when these dogs were taken to Outreach events at churches,, community centers etc that the shelter attended because people could see first hand how they interacted with the public, kids, and the other dogs – in other words their personalities.
    Like many of the above I also think that difficulty with photography is a contributing problem but of course that does not include shelter visitors who did not see them! Sometimes I noticed that all it took to notice an otherwise black dog was a thin white stripe down the face. I used to like to put bright red, yellow, etc bandanas around their necks in the hope that they would catch a potential adoptor’s eye and that helped to a point.
    One factor that has not been mentioned that I can see is climate. I live in Florida and in the hotter months (usually about 9 to 10 of them!!!) black and very dark dogs really suffer in the heat. Several visitors that have active lifestyles gave that as a reason not to adopt the black dog.
    Personally, I have to admit a fondness for any dog with markings around the face that accentuate facial expressions and personality. There is something wonderfully endearing about a dog with eyebrows that are easy to see because they are a different colour than the rest of the face. I also love dogs with dark around their whole eye like eyeliner and those with black mucous membranes on their lips and in their mouths that accentuate the ‘smile’.

  100. says

    If you’re shooting with a DSLR, you can cycle through AF points (most cameras it is usually done via the dial on the back). I always pick the corner of the eye below the eye lashes, but even at a really low f/stop you will still get blur on the eye. It is notoriously difficult to get the computers to focus on the eye, so trying to pick a point that seems close to or in-line with the eye (i.e. is equidistant from the lens – remember the focal plane makes a parallel plane to the glass of the lens) is the best way to capture that perfect focused eye. I highly recommend using a Depth of Field (DoF) calculator so you have an idea of how much depth of focus the shot will have. Most useful if you are shooting in manual, but still useful posthoc to figure out why a shot didn’t yield the focus you were looking for. For practice I recommend starting with a higher f/stop and working down to the lowest you can for your lens while still keeping the eye in focus. It’s a beautiful shot of Willie, photography fuels the love of animals in a very unique way. You have the best blog out there, thanks as always for sharing your thoughts and your experiences. Happy shooting!

  101. Missie says

    I love dogs of all breeds and color, although I will admit to a hesitance regarding certain breeds (Chows, German Shepards, Pit Bull Terriers. Unfair perhaps, but how I feel is how I feel.) I tend to look for Border Collies when considering a dog for our family’s pet, only because that’s what we’ve had and are familiar with what to expect from the breed. We are currently searching for an adoptable Border Collie/mix, and have sent inquiries about an all-black one, a black-and-white one, a chestnut-and-white one…..we just simply don’t care what color/combination. What we look for is in the eyes of the dog. When we meet the dog, we know that we will “find” our dog by the connection we establish when we meet and spend some time with the dog. In fact, I am obsessively checking my e-mail currently, hoping to hear back from a facility about an all-black Border Collie that I had sent a request about.

  102. chris says

    Ghee thats funny my neighbor had an all Black Dog named India which I thought was so special and adored him as he did and never thought about his coloring in fact I thought it black shiney coat made him look beautiful

  103. Chris says

    Temple Grandin mentioned research in “Animals Make Us Human” about black cats being friendlier with people. She referred to them as “the naturally friendly cat”.

    My experience seems to mirror that position with the ones we have had at our home as well as the intact males my mom had on her farm. I have noticed even intact black and mostly black male cats outside here seem to get along together as well. They look to be in good condition with very few scars. I hope our city will help me get these and other community cats neutered as we can’t afford to do that on our own.

    My experiences with black dogs found they were always friendly. My only negative experience was associated with dreaming of a black dog.

  104. Jeanne says

    When I first came to work at a shelter I had already heard the “black dog syndrome”. I had asked if perhaps, due to genetics, there were more black dogs? I still wonder what the results are on that as the new problem we seem to see is “brown chihuahua/small dog syndrome”. We sometimes have so many brown small dog/chi mixes that we can’t help but kennel some of them together – we try not to for marketability reasons while also taking their little personalities (or very large personalities) into account.

    What I have noticed is if we have a yellow or very light colored lab (or mix) and a black lab (or mix) at the same time, the lighter color one goes first. If the black lab or other black breed mix is 4 months or younger it will most often be adopted w/in two business days.

    If a black dog is fluffy – like a shih tzu or even a sheltie – then they will go faster than a smooth coated black dog. Will they go faster than a white version? No. I think our black chi’s may actually leave faster than our brown chi’s but that might seem that way to me only because we are simply flooded w/ brown chi’s. What is up w/ that? If a small dog/chi mix comes in w/ mostly white and spots or multiple colors, they go faster.

    Usually, w/ black and brindle smooth coated large breed dogs, we often here the question “Is that a pitbull?” I have had brindle sight hound mixes and brindle boxer mixes sit on our adoption floor forever because of the belief by the public (and sadly, sometimes our own staff) that the dogs are pit mixes.

    I try a lot of tricks to help market our black dogs. The interior of our kennels doesn’t have the best lighting but the south side gets more sun than the north so I try to put them on the north side – unless they are barrier reactive as that gets the most foot traffic too. I find pink and yellow blankets to use in their kennels and we try to never kennel two black dogs in the same run (again, personalities balancing will always be first priority so sometimes we will end up w/ two black dogs in a run). We are also currently working on getting the money to improve the lighting. I actually use to work in retail so I pay a lot of attention to visual marketing to try and get these dogs noticed.

    The dog of all dogs, the dog I learned the most from and will be forever grateful for having in my life, was a black dog. Lab mix? Probably. She also had some kind of herding dog in her like BC or Cattle dog. When she passed, and with a strong belief in trying to help black dogs get out, I searched for the right new dog for 4 months. This dog had to blend w/ my 13 year old chi and 5 year old male Akita/Malinois mix (very soft, special needs dog that I often refer to as my autistic child). So off I searched for the all black dog – oh… and ADULT! I wanted an ADULT dog.

    What I ended up with was a mostly white dog w/ black spots – 4 months old. I liked how quickly she seemed to train, the way she RAN into me and almost knocked me over when I called her to me (just like my old dog had done), so I was SOLD!

    I’ll never own another mostly white dog ever again! Sure, she photographs well – much better than my great old black dog – but the DIRT! I can give her a bath one day and within two or three days she’s grayish again – an my back yard is not that bad! She just loves to run and slide and roll in dirt. Oh… as for my behavior tests? With in the first month she was so well trained we were working on proofing behaviors at a moderately busy park. I started thinking I was bored w/ her since she learned so quickly – what can I possibly teach her next? As we started working on proofing behaviors at the park I soon learned, when walking closer to other dogs being walked around the park, I had a major leash lunger – w/ teeth baring and snarling – on my hands. Opportunity! I thought, “Great! I’ve never owned one of these before!” Now I could get some first hand experience w/ the behavior I’ve read about and heard people stress and wring their hands about. I have to say, it’s a good valuable experience, not just from working w/ the dog but having a better understanding of how the owners of those dogs must feel. It’s stressful! I was doing some DS/CC stuff but remembered Click to Calm and resolved it w/that! Once again, next time I’m going shopping for a dog I’m sticking w/ my black/adult dog rules!

  105. Kaylie says

    I will admit I love the look of merle, tan, and red coloured dogs; and, after the passing of my 14 year old dog, I sought out a dog of one of these colours. My last girl was black with white on her chest, and I always wished for a lighter coloured dog so as to not make an association. However, my plan didn’t go according to plan. When I saw my new puppy it was kismet. Tessa is a lab/border collie cross and is black with a white chest and perfectly suited to me; even though she can drive me nuts sometimes ;)

  106. says

    In my own experience rescuing dogs for 30 years– I firmly believe in black dog syndrome. I currently have two pups from the same litter. I am inundated with inquiries from people wanting the tan one, NO INTEREST in the black pup. NO INTEREST. Sad. Barney is a sweet, outgoing pup who will make someone a great pet– eventually.

  107. Jannelee says

    I’ve been at a shelter for 2 years. Recently this Black Dog Syndrome was posted on one of our sites. It was posted by a person who is member of several other groups, some of whom I would consider fanatics and not at all helpful to the cause of getting our animals adopted; but rather at alienating people that we need. I have NEVER seen anything showing that black dogs are adopted less. Never. And in researching, I have come across NO facts or evidence to support this. Seems to have started with some saying ‘I think I’ve noticed that black dogs are harder to place…’ Nothing but this. And it has gone on to become ‘syndrome’ and newsworthy. This is a shame for all of us. It’s not true and yet it has snowballed. Please don’t believe everything at face value. It is an attempt for attention. Attention to shelter animals is good, but it should be factual. And creating this myth is actually worse for black dogs, because now people will start looking at them differently.

  108. Jacqueline Rodriguez says

    I’ve always preferred dogs that were yellow or black. I hate to admit this, but I’ve never cared for all-white dogs because they look dull and like they lack contrast. I also love tricolored dogs — brown, black, and white. Now, I’ve had dogs in other colors, but in terms of only “looks” — give me yellow or black (and only Poodles or Pomeranians, please!).

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