Black Dog Syndrome

In the sheltering world this is known as Black Dog Syndrome (BDS).

BDS is observed by shelters and rescue groups throughout America and affects black dogs, as well as cats. It is possible that there may simply be more black pets in the shelter and rescue population. However reports from across the country seem to illustrate the problem, and  multiple national organizations have long recognized BDS as an issue that adversely affects the adoption rates of black pets.

What is Black Dog Syndrome?
In a recent survey, Petfinder member shelter and rescue groups reported that most pets are listed for 12.5 weeks on Petfinder, whereas, less-adoptable pets (such as black, senior, and special needs pets) spend almost four times as long on Petfinder. (See what else the survey showed on our Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week page!)

There are many reasons, myths and theories on what causes Black Dog Syndrome:

  • Size
  • Unable to see the pet’s facial features (eyes, details of face shape)
  • Some say black dogs are “too ordinary”
  • Black Dog/Cat Folklore is generally Negative:


What you can do

Whether or not you’re currently looking to adopt, you can do a lot to help pets who suffer from BDS!

  • Show your “black pet” pride!  Sharing your story of how incredible your pet is helps others take a chance
  • Just like breed discrimination, help overcome stereotypes that come along with Black Dogs and Cats
  • Raise awareness of the very real Black Dog Syndrome that is a problem all over the world.
  • Encourage anyone looking for a dog to try to find the right personality and not base it on how the pet “looks”