Black Dog Syndrome (Not a Product Review)

May 13, 2017

I try my best every day to take Anmitsu to a public place. It could be a walk to the park, outdoor mall, the beach, or simply around the neighborhood. I have been informed by her trainers that it’s healthy for young pups to be exposed to as many different people and places early on in their life (please exercise caution if they do not have all their shots).


There is a short period in a puppy’s development, 3-4 months, when their experiences have a big effect on their entire approach to life. If they have lots of positive encounters with other dogs, people, and new situations during that window, they are far more likely to grow up to be a confident, relaxed, and friendly pup.


Puppies who aren’t socialized are more prone to grow up fearful of other dogs, people, and just about anyone and anything outside of their normal routine — and that fear can lead to aggression (reminded me of my second family dog named Thunder, a Chihuahua, who was feisty to strangers).


Anmitsu and I take daily walks, or what I like to call “my gratitude walk” that we don't raise another Thunder (a dog only his family loved). 


On our many walks, people have asked why I chose a dark dog instead of the more common cream-colored Frenchie (btw Anmitsu is brindle and white). Some people have even vocalized that I should have chosen a light-colored frenchie during our walks. And that they weren't aware frenchies came in other colors. 

There is a disputed phenomenon called the “black dog syndrome”. My last two family dogs all had the same coat colors: brown, white, and black (black being the dominate color). I wanted to continue and honor my first two dogs. Hence, I chose to stay in the same color scheme. But I digress...


Among shelter employees, it's considered a truism that darker-colored dogs are notoriously hard to adopt. It has been said that employees were the ones who came up with the nickname for the problem – Black Dog Syndrome. No matter how sweet-natured the animal, people see the dark coat and are hesitant to purchase or adopt.  For employees, who have to deal with the emotional difficulty of staying with an animal for months with no adoption, black dogs are always a source of potential pain.The syndrome became so notorious among shelter workers that different science organizations set out to study the problem.


A regional study was conducted out of an animal shelter for one year with over 1,000+ dogs. They found that black dogs were less likely to be adopted than yellow, white, cream, fawn, or gray dogs.

Trying to figure out why black dogs were so difficult to adopt, scientists removed certain variables (such as the environment -lighting and concrete walls) that might impact the adoption and simply conducted a focus group asking people what they thought of dark-colored dogs.


Pictures of dogs that had been digitally manipulated to have dark coats or light coats were shown to these participants. Dogs with light coats were chosen to be more agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable than their counterpart. The people surveyed also considered the lighter-colored dogs much friendlier.

(This could very well be connected to how dogs are portrayed in movies and TV shows as well. Most often a light-colored dog is used as it takes less effort to set up lighting in the studio. It is MUCH easier to photograph or film a dog with a lighter coat).


Clearly, there is a problem. I was not aware that we were subconsciously more inclined to choose or favor lighter-colored dogs. I am sharing this so that we, as a society, heightened our awareness. 



What do you think? Do you think it's a myth? Let us know by contacting us through the website or instagram!

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© 2017 by A Frenchie's Life