Black Dogs Face a Hard Choice at Shelters


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If you’re considering adopting a dog anytime in the foreseeable future, you might consider helping to counteract a terrible trend at animal shelters: large dogs with black coats, when given up for adoption, are euthanized at a much higher rate than smaller or fairer-coated dogs, essentially because the public have an irrational fear of them.

“‘Please don’t overlook our black dogs,’ rescue groups pleaded on their home pages above pictures of Rottweilers, Chows and Labs sporting bright bandannas. One shelter’s website just came right out with the grim truth: ‘The general public is not aware of how doomed black dogs are when they are brought to a pound.’…

“Most black dogs have to rely on shelter staff and volunteers to steer potential adopters their way. And indeed, many shelters take extra steps to make black dogs more adoptable, according to Kate Pullen, director of animal sheltering issues at the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C. Teaching the dogs tricks, putting placards on kennels highlighting the dog’s personality (‘I may just be a black dog, but I know how to balance a biscuit on my nose.’), making sure multiple black dogs aren’t kenneled next to one other — anything to catch the eye and imagination of potential adopters.

“‘I’ve had to turn away many black dogs because I can’t fill the place up with them,’ says Jill Wimmer, shelter manager at PAWS Atlanta, that city’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter.’ And every one I turned away had a great temperament.”

Sorry, just a little bit of off-topic editorializing there.



  1. We love our big black dog with a heavy coat. He was a second-chance shelter dog. He loves to cuddle with my wife and loves to go for runs with me.

    As a further appeal, please always consider shelter dogs. There are so many to choose from, and they all need good homes.

  2. When I saw the link you posted on Twitter, I was pretty shocked to read about BBD Syndrome. I thought it might have been a joke at first but then realized it wasn’t. It’s a shame that such an oddity is the case and in a parallel way, reminds me of human racial issues.

    Our neighbour, has a 110-pound big, black dog who’s the gentlest and most even-tempered dog in our dog-heavy 12-flat.

    No need to apologize, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  3. We had a stray cat linger last autumn. When we took him to get checked out, the vet implored us to bring him inside during the month of October. Apparently black cats are treated poorly all year round, but abuse increases significantly around Halloween.

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