What is National Black Dog Day?

Every dog deserves its day. For black dogs, that day comes once a year on 1st October. It might seem a bit strange that there’s a day dedicated specifically to jet colored dogs, but the reason is simple. Just as the age-old stigma about black cats results in fewer black cats being fostered or adopted than their lighter colored friends, so the same holds true for black dogs. No matter how enlightened we claim to be, there’s still plenty of people who see an adorable, shiny coated black dog as an omen of doom and bad luck. National Black Dog Day, celebrated each year on October 1, aims to reverse the trend and get more of us bringing a black dog back from the shelter as our new forever friend.

Black Dog Syndrome

According to dogtime.com “Black Dog Syndrome” is a very real phenomenon. Shelters repeatedly report how black dogs are often overlooked by potential adopters in favor of their lighter-colored chums. The problem has now grown to the extent that there are four times as many black dogs languishing in shelters than there are other colored dogs. So, what is it about black dogs that sees them get passed over? As kristenlevine.com notes, theories vary, but some of the most common suggestions include:

They don’t stand out as much in photographs: Not all potential adopters simply show up at a shelter and bring home the first dog that wags their tail at them. Many people browse the pictures on the shelter’s website beforehand, meaning a good photograph can make all the difference between whether a dog gets adopted or stays behind. As the features of black dogs don’t always stand out so well on photos as those of lighter dogs, they can often get overlooked before they’ve had the chance to make a first impression.

They don’t look as good on Instagram: Hard though it is to believe, some people are passing over on black haired beauties because they think they won’t look quite as good on Instagram as their lighter haired counterparts. They’re seen as a bad omen: Just as black cats are avoided by the superstitious, so the same holds true for black dogs. Whether they’re seen as bad omens, bringers of bad luck, or have simply had the misfortune of being cast in villainous roles once too often in books and movies, the end result is the same – less chance of being adopted. They don’t attract as much attention: A light-colored dog will stand out in a kennel; a black dog, on the other hand, can all too easily blend into the shadows, making it harder for them to make a connection with any visitors.

They’re seen as the ‘generic’ choice: Black dogs are no more ordinary than any other type of dog, but despite the facts of the matter, many people see them as the ‘common’ or ‘generic’ choice. For people who want to stand out from the crowd, the perceived ‘ordinariness’ of black dogs sadly means they’re passed over for flashier types. Whatever the reason behind Black Dog Syndrome, it’s a practice that need to stop – and that’s exactly what National Black Dog Day intends to do.

Fighting Back

Anyone who already owns a black dog is probably scratching their head right about now. How could anyone with a heart and an ounce of intelligence disregard a dog simply because of the color of their fur? Why slap a label on a dog rather than admire their glossy beauty? Fortunately, the fight against Black Dog Syndrome has begun, and it’s gathering more and more converts by the day. Since 2011, the 1st of October has become the day #BlackDogDay lights up Twitter and the Facebook army takes to ‘Black Dog’ to help black dogs find their new forever homes.

So, how can you help?

If you know someone who’s looking to adopt a dog, bend their ear with the stats about how many black dogs fail to find a new home simply because they’re black. If you don’t mind scaring them with the straight up facts, tell them about how the euthanasia rates in black dogs are higher than for other types.

  • Remind people that it’s personality that counts, not appearance.
  • Talk about it. Like most prejudices, Black Dog Syndrome is often unconscious. Making people aware of the problem is the first step in defeating it.
  • Support Black Dog Day and Adopt a Black Dog

Black Dog Day may have already come and gone this year, but that’s no reason to stop supporting its message. If you’re looking for a reason to defeat Black Dog Syndrome and bring home your own black pup from the shelter, here’s a few suggestions to get you going:

They’re Cute

As dailypaws.com very wisely puts it, the number one reason we should all consider adopting a black dog is simple. They’re cute. Make that super cute. Whose heart doesn’t skip a beat at a podgy little black Labrador retriever puppy? And who could resist a tiny black Scottish Terrier with their twinkly eyes and flowing beards? Not us, that’s for sure.

They’ll Keep You Warm

Everyone knows black absorbs the heat. So why not cut your heating bills by snuggling up to a gorgeously warm little black pooch?

They’ll Never Look Dirty

No dog is going to be spotlessly clean 100% of the time. But some look more like they are than others. White dogs show up every little bit of dirt and muck they’ve come across. A black dog, on the other hand, will look neat and clean regardless of how much dirt they’ve been kicking up in the yard.

They Make Excellent Protectors

What do Dobermans, German shepherds, Rottweilers, giant schnauzers, and Cane Corsos all have in common? Actually, what two things do they all have in common? One, they’re all black and two, they all make great guard dogs. Sure, not all black dogs make such great protectors, but choose your breed wisely, and you won’t have to worry about anyone bothering you again.

They’re Super Smart

What has brains, beauty, and a black coat? Take your pick. Some of the smartest dog breeds have black coats (at least some of the time), including Poodles, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, and Schipperkes. If you want a dog that’s easy to train, pick a black one.

They’ll Never Leave You

Some of the most loyal dog breeds in the world all have black coats. If you want a dog that will stand by your side regardless, look for a black-haired Lab, Newfoundland, or Rottweiler.

There’s Loads of Them

If there’s one thing we know by now, it’s that shelters are positively bursting at the seams with black dogs. And what does that mean? You don’t have to sit around waiting for the perfect dog to show up – there’re already there, waiting for YOU. If you’re serious about adopting a dog and want one asap, try making it a black one…. not only will you be getting a gorgeous companion, you’ll be helping bring down a nasty little prejudice. Who could ask for more?



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