Are black dogs in shelters harder to adopt?

If you are at all engaged in the world of companion animals, you may have learned that black dogs are difficult for shelters and rescues to adopt out, and more likely to be euthanized for space than other dogs. This is called “Black Dog Syndrome” (BDS), and it has led to numerous “Black Dog” promotion and awareness campaigns, and even a National Black Dog Day (October 1st) to help make sure black dogs get adopted!

But while many of us were taught that BDS is a self-evident truth, what does the evidence say about how black dogs fare in shelters and rescues?

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Who’s saying black dogs are more likely to be adopted and more likely to be euthanized than other dogs?

The desire to find permanent, loving homes for dogs in shelters and rescues comes from a place of compassion and a goal that we all share. Considering how long BDS has been accepted as a self-evident truth, when BDS is stated as fact, the benefit of the doubt should be given that the speaker is coming from a place of good faith, and simply repeating outdated information.

Below are a few examples:

  • The shelters kill them first! The rescues save them last! New homes overlook them! Forgotten Paws (rescue organization) statement in article on black dogs.
  • These animals are often overlooked for adoption in shelters across the country. Best Friends’ promotion for their Back in Black campaign (encouraging the adoption of black-furred dogs and cats)
  • They’re the hardest to adopt out, they’re in the shelters the longest and therefore, they’re most likely to be euthanized if nothing happens Pets for Life (rescue) article on BDS.


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