Black dogs often get a bad rap. From folklore to modern-day media, these misunderstood pups have been linked with all things spooky or ominous.
These tales have been told for centuries, shaping the way we perceive black dogs. But let's take a moment to question these age-old beliefs. Is it fair to label an entire group based on superstition? Absolutely not.
Because beyond these myths, black dogs face tangible discrimination when it comes to adoptions. It's time to debunk these misconceptions, shine a light on why black dogs rock, and prove that BDS (Black Dog Syndrom) is total BS.
The dark past: why black dogs have a bad reputation
Now, you might wonder, is this bias against black dogs reflective of broader societal prejudices? The jury is still out on this.
However, it's important to acknowledge that implicit bias isn't limited to humans—it often seeps into how we treat animals. While it may not be a direct correlation, societal bias can inadvertently affect our choices, even in pet adoption.
Folklore and superstition
The cultural image of black dogs as harbingers of doom dates back centuries. In British folklore, a black dog is often an omen of death or misfortune.
Many believe this negativity has its roots in fear of the unknown, with black being synonymous with darkness and uncertainty.
Film and literature haven't helped this stereotype. Remember "The Hound of the Baskervilles," anyone?
In pop culture, black dogs often play roles that reinforce negative stereotypes. There are exceptions, of course, like Sirius Black from Harry Potter who transforms into a large black dog yet is adored by many. Such examples show that the narrative is changing, albeit slowly.
The portrayal of black dogs as menacing figures in media perpetuates this bias, making it difficult for them to shake off their eerie reputation.
Black cats aren't safe from this bias either. Their depiction throughout history hasn't been entirely favorable, though no fault of their own.
The adoption struggle: black dog syndrome
Overlooked and undervalued
Black dogs often spend more time in shelters compared to their lighter-colored counterparts. Known as "Black Dog Syndrome," these dogs are frequently passed over, with adopters citing that they look "scary" or "unfriendly."
In the age of social media, a good photo can make or break an adoption. Black dogs are notoriously difficult to photograph if consideration isn't given to lighting and backdrop. And that's not their fault!
There have even been movements to change this unfair disadvantage by photographers like Fred Levy, father of the Black Dog Project. His goal? To educate shelter photographers on how to capture these pups in their best light, and showcase just how expressive and beautiful they can be.
The numbers game
Because black fur genes are dominant, there are simply more black dogs out there. This creates a paradox of choice, where potential adopters overlook black dogs in favor of seemingly rarer colors.
Black dogs: what makes them great
Black dogs are just as affectionate, playful, and loyal as dogs of any other color. Your dog’s coat color doesn’t dictate their behavior or suitability as a pet.
And if you adopt a dog that has been passed over at a shelter or rescue for a long time, they may be that much more appreciative to find a forever home with you.
Many black dogs have a single, solid-colored coat that hides dirt and grime better than lighter coats do. This can make grooming a breeze.
Contrary to popular belief, black dogs can be incredibly photogenic. A suitable background and good lighting can result in stunning pictures that’ll dominate your Instagram feed.
Let's face it, a black dog has a classic, sleek look that's simply timeless.
Be the change
By adopting a black dog, you're challenging stereotypes and biases, and that's a win for everyone involved.
Tips for adopting a black dog
Look beyond the coat
When choosing a pet, focus on temperament and compatibility rather than coat color. Spend quality time getting to know your prospective soulful sidekick.
Consult with shelter staff
Shelter staff can provide valuable insights into a dog’s personality and behavior, helping you make a well-informed decision.
Consider the lifestyle fit
Regardless of color, ensure the dog you choose fits well with your lifestyle, whether you're an avid hiker or prefer Netflix marathons.
Give black dogs a chance
It’s time to erase the stigmas surrounding black dogs. These loving, loyal creatures deserve homes as much as any other dog. When you look past the myths and misconceptions, you’ll find that black dogs offer just as much love, companionship, and joy as dogs of any other hue.
So this Halloween, instead of fearing the mythical black dog lurking in the shadows, why not open your home to one that could become your new sidekick?
Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.