Are People Prejudiced Against Black Pets? Understanding Black Dog Syndrome

Are People Prejudiced Against Black Pets? Understanding Black Dog Syndrome

A new condition has surfaced in the pet community, and while it may not make your

pet sick, it is believed to be responsible for thousands of pet deaths.The condition is known as Black Dog Syndrome.

What is Black Dog Syndrome?


Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) is the technical term for what people working at shelters see every day -- pets with lighter colored fur getting snatched up while their darker haired brethren languish in their

kennel. BDS is not a joke - the numbers are there.Petfinder

lists that most pets spend around 12.5 weeks up on their site before finding a home. Black pets, on the other hand, tend to hang around up to 4x longer -- up toย two years!They are not only the last to be adopted either. If you keep tugging at that thread, ย not only are these darker dogs and cats having a harder time finding a home, but they are also more likely to end up being euthanized.The idea that ANY pet can end up dying as a result of not

being adopted is disheartening, but the fact that the color of their is aย factor is not only surprising, but appalling. Black-Dog-Syndrome-3

In some places, BDS has gotten so out of hand that shelters are actually hosting events and

running specials

with the goal of finding some homes for these darker furred pets. Things like โ€œfree black pet dayโ€ or โ€œsave a black cat on Halloweenโ€ are now a common occurrence among shelters everywhere.

But why black pets?

There are plenty of reasons why a black pet may linger in a kennel while a blond one gets adopted, and they are all complete nonsense. But nonsense or not, they still exist and we cannot hope to dispel them without addressing the issue.

1. The Negative Stigma Surrounding The Color

(aka the Darth Vader Effect)

Black has long been associated with evil, nefarious doings, while white has embodied the concept of purity and justice. That dichotomy is responsible for much of how we choose to personify the concept of good and evil. It is not mere coincidence that such iconic evil figures as Darth Vader, Maleficent, and The Black Knight are all cloaked in the same inky color.


In much the same vein, the

superstition surrounding black cats is likely not doing dark haired kittens any favors when it comes to finding a loving home.Is there a definite causal relationship between our societies ย association thatย dark equates toย bad and the fact that black pets have a harder time finding a family? No, but it certainly isn't helping.

2. Black Pets are Harder to Photograph

The fact that pets with darker fur are less photogenic than their lighter furred kennel mates is likely the true โ€œman-behind-the-curtainโ€ of why darker pets linger in shelters. Black-Dog-Syndrome-1

Thanks to websites like


, many pets are selected for adoption before the family steps foot in aย shelter. The downside, however, is that many of these pets are selected based on the cuteness of their profile picture.This gives lighter colored pets a leg up since their facial features show up better in photos, whereas black pets tend to get washed out. Because of their coloring, dark furred pets often show up as a nondescript black blob with eyes -- not a great first impression.

The Takeaway

While there are numerous reasons why a person might select a lighter colored pet over a black one, most of them are subconscious, and none are valid. The goal is to now be more aware of this problem and to correct for it in the future. We mustย stop discriminating against any pet based on the color of their fur, or any other cosmetic feature. Most of all, we need to find a home for every pet in need.

PetPlusย offers a budget-friendly way board your pets while youโ€™re out of town. Find out ifย PetPlusย is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.Source: PetFinder - Black Dog SyndromeSlate - Are People Racist Against Black Dogs?ABC News - Prospective Pet Adopters Overlook Black Dogs and Cats, Shelters SayThe Guardian - Pets with black fur: why don't you look good on social media?
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