Puppy Prejudice: Are Black Animals Less Likely to Be Adopted?

Danika Fears, Today Pets, September 21, 2013

It’s a common story animal welfare workers will share: Black pets are often the last left on the shelter floor and the first to be euthanized. The idea is so pervasive there’s even a name for it—black dog syndrome.

“It’s not news to people who have been in animal welfare for a while that black cats and dogs are a little harder to place,” Brenda Barnette of Los Angeles Animal Services told TODAY.com. “I think it’s for the very simple reason that they’re harder to photograph.”

Nonprofits have been founded specifically to find homes for black animals, and several shelters across the country have made special efforts to promote the adoption of black animals, from providing them with better lighting to running special promotions. But despite much media attention and anecdotal evidence from shelter staff, recent research suggests that coat color, be it black, white or brown, has little impact on an adopter’s decision.

“New pieces of research have found that there is no indication that they are less likely to be adopted,”ASPCA Vice President of Shelter Research Dr. Emily Weiss told TODAY.com. “We just conducted a piece of research looking at various traits that drive people to adopt and color did not play a role at all. It busts this myth completely.”

Until recently, there was little hard data to either support or refute all the anecdotal evidence that black animals languish longer in shelters. But two studies from the ASPCA, one looking at people’s reasons for adoption and another at animals’ length of stay on the shelter floor, found that adopters are not biased against certain coat colors and that black animals do not in general remain in shelters longer.


Another study conducted at Indiana University Southeast found that, with the exception of golden retrievers, people actually conceive of black labs as being “less dominant and less hostile.” Black labs, after all, are one of the most popular breeds in America.

So why then does the “myth” persist despite all the new research? Dr. Weiss believes it could be because there are simply more black dogs in the general animal population, and shelter workers are used to seeing more black dogs around.

“They might see that black dogs are staying around longer, but that might just be because there are more black dogs in the shelter,” she said. “I think some beliefs are hard to change, especially if someone has anecdotal evidence that there have been one or two big black dogs that take longer to adopt.”


But despite the data, some animal welfare workers still insist that people harbor a bias against black animals, whether that prejudice is because of poor lighting or cultural associations such as the belief that black cats are a source of bad luck.



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  • Puggg

    There are black pugs, and they are the least popular color. All three of mine are the standard tan.

    • borogirl54

      Black pugs are cute too. I have a black rat terrier and he is the highlight of my life.

  • newscomments70

    For a Doberman afficiando, the most common color is black…but they are not really black. Their skin is gray, their fur is black. For German Shephards, occasionally, there is a genetic mutation that produces white-colored puppies. In the past, white shephard puppies were considered worthless and often drowned by breeders, even though they are beautiful dogs. Black cats might be considered bad luck, but that his nothing to do with black people. A black cat will not rape, murder nor set a person on fire as a black human will. The “black cat” belief it is just some old cartoonish superstition. Liberals are obsessed with racism. In a liberal’s mind, EVERYTHING is racist. This the proverbial “crying wolf”…and no one is listening anymore.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    I adopted a number of black cats over the years, but it is true that black cats have the least chance of finding homes. That was why I kept my white cat’s black kitten, I knew he would have a much lower chance of being adopted out than his all white brothers.

    • Lagerstrom

      Yes, I’ve had a few black tom cats; they’re great. They were loyal to me, and me only. As for dogs? What about black labs? Everyone loves a black lab!
      More evidence of liberal mental illness.

  • Spartacus

    If I were working at Amren, I’d be far more concerned about the fate of animals that look like Hitler. The poor little things get no love at all…

    • CourtneyfromAlabama

      That is hilarious! What is it with goldfish? I myself have seen some pretty ugly ones.

    • Lagerstrom

      That little fish has quite a determined look on it.

      • Spartacus

        That’s because he’s plotting to gas six million shrimp .

  • John

    I’d rather have a black pet than a black neighbor any day of the week. That said, when I was growing up, we had 2 black dogs, one was a mutt and the other was a Lab. They were both wonderful pets. Much easier to train than an African pet would be. Don’t forget loyal and affectionate, not a characteristic of your typical pet African. If you can get by my sarcasm, what I’m actually saying is the above article is so silly, it just goes to show that libs are getting truly desperate when they resort to garbage like this to promote their agenda.

    • Erasmus

      I’m sure a black pet is also easier to housetrain.

      • borogirl54

        When I got my black rat terrier, he was toilet trained. I had the hardest time trying to toilet train my pug.

  • Truthseeker

    Well, thank goodness we’ve cleared that up. We nearly had another reason to hate ourselves and our evil racist ways.

  • MekongDelta69

    Correction to the text:
    “Another study [make-believe leftist fairy tale] conducted at Indiana University Southeast…”

    It must be ‘institutional racism.’

  • David Ashton

    What does Madonna think about this, I wonder?

    • Thor Bonham

      LMFAO !!!

  • Talltrees

    This is ridiculous! Never associated the color of dogs or cats with humans.

  • Erasmus

    What next? Complaining that feces is racist because it’s typically brown?

    • Whitetrashgang

      No it means if it looks like a turd and smells like one, it is a turd. I look at black people and wonder how a turd can walk.

      • Spartacus

        Lots of fiber .

        • Whitetrashgang

          Yeah 40s and blunts has to be the new fad diet. Yo homes I just lost 5 lbs, 200 more and I can get out of bed.

  • CourtneyfromAlabama

    See, I just don’t see this at all. When I was growing up, it seemed to me that in regards to dogs and horses, most white people liked them to be brown and black. In regards to horses, I always liked white ones. In regards to dogs, I always liked cream colored. I was the exception to the rule. I never understood why so many white people liked darker colors, especially with horses.

  • Lewis33

    Money well spent IU Southeast…no really, great, great work. As a resident of the state I recommend we close all IU facilities and banish the faculty. There is a reason Bloomington is called “the San Francisco of the East.”

  • Freedom Hayak

    Pretty weird, because I see an awful lot of black labs around where I live. On the other hand, we had a chance to acquire a black Persian cat (our favorite breed because they are like dogs in that they like to cuddle and come when called, but you don’t have to walk them) but we opted for a white one. I really don’t know why.

    • My ex-father had a Himalayan cat that was an off-white, with nice dark markings. He shed hair everywhere, but fortunately he matched the carpet quite well, so it mattered less. A Persian is a sort of a short-haired Himalayan, yes?

      • Freedom Hayak

        Persians have pretty long hair but surprisingly they don’t shed much – I think Siamese, which are short haired cats, are worse. Persians are always cleaning themselves so they don’t shed as much as they give you a little hairball once a month. According to Wikipedia, Himalayan (a.k.a. Himalayan Persian, or Colourpoint Persian as it is commonly referred to in Europe), is a breed or sub-breed of long-haired cat identical in type to the Persian, with the exception of its blue eyes and its point colouration, which were derived from crossing the Persian with the Siamese. So I guess they’re all similar, and very cute!

  • Rosenmops

    My black pug (now passed, sadly) had a very sweet personality.

  • My old schnauzer growing up was a bit dark for the breed, and had a wonderful black stripe down his back. His color faded to white on his underside, and lots of varying shades of grey. A great-looking dog. There was a much smaller schnauzer I ran into on a walk last April, and he was a lot darker, with the most amazing furry black “bandit” mask around his eyes – I couldn’t see his eyes.

    Color in dogs doesn’t man what it normally does in people.

  • Rats were already out of control, but unfortunately Yersina pestis came back at that time. The first bubonic plague outbreak in Europe was the Plague of Justinian in 512 or so.

  • Diamond_Lil

    I have a shiny black dog who is fiercely protective of my family against blacks and mexicans and any other creep. It’s a dog thing.

  • IKantunderstand

    Cripes, give me a break. OOh, don’t walk under a ladder, seven years bad luck if you break a mirror, bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. Blah, blah, blah. Look, I know that most of this crap, can be ascribed to White people “voodoo”. It’s all crap. I have already adopted a black cat, and a black dog from Detroit. Far easier than adopting a black human.

  • jeffaral

    I had a lovely black dog; I used to kiss and hug it. On the other hand the last thing i would do would be to adopt a black child.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    It did, but bubonic plague killed cats and even rats too because the bacterium is a disease that attacks warm blooded animals. Cats did however keep the rats that carried the fleas away from people. However, if a cat catches plague, it can transmit it to humans by coughing resulting in the much swifter and deadlier pneumonic form.

  • haroldcrews

    So many people are eager to see ‘racism’ on the part of Whites against Blacks that they’re make up nonsense to demonstrate it.

    When it comes to beating a dog even a crooked stick will do.

  • striket3

    I have a black dog and all he does is sleep all day.

  • MBlanc46

    Blacks and their allies will whine about just about anything.

  • Probably the smell, since this is a dog.

  • Lagerstrom

    They forgot about that one didn’t they. But I suppose ‘Black Beauty’ is racist anyway. As an aside, my mother that grew up on a farm. She recently found Black Beauty amongst some old books of ours and re-read it in her old age. She said it was a lovely/sad tale, but you’d only be moved if you grew up with horses.

  • Tacitus1

    My cat is dark colored and yes I did chose her over many others.