Discrimination Against Blacks: How Widespread?
Although it's totally unfounded and largely psychological, there is an unmistakable discrimination against dogs that have black fur. Wikipedia calls it "black dog bias" when animal shelters and veterinarians experience a phenomenon which causes potential adoptive owners to choose only lighter-colored animals to take home. According to an msnbc.com article, some pet care professionals use the term Black Dog Syndrome when they describe the fact that darker-furred dogs are often the last to be adopted and, because of that, are often among the first to be euthanized.
Since there have been no studies done on this phenomenon, proof is largely anecdotal. Consequently, many have described the syndrome as a hoax. However, Ms. Inge Fricke, Director of Sheltering and Pet Care for the US Humane Society insists that the problem is real and is commonly seen by shelter workers just about everywhere.
Dark Dogs: Too Scary To Adopt?
Victims Of The Culture
There are also cultural stigmas attached to black dogs and many have been perpetuated by Hollywood. Think of all the dog movies you've seen. What color were the dogs in the positive, upbeat stories? Remember movies like "Old Yeller," "Marley and Me," "The Lady and the Tramp," "Lassie Come Home," "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," and many others? These were all light colored dogs (even in the animated movies). On the other end of the spectrum, what color were the dogs in the scary movies like "The Hound of the Baskervilles" or "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" in which Harry was pursued by the dog, Grim? (OK, maybe the brownish-colored "Cujo" was the exception.) But, even Winston Churchill, who suffered from serious bouts of depression, used the term "black dogs" when he referred to them.
Origins Of Discrimination
Health Writer Melissa Dahl, in the msnbc.com article, interviewed Madeline Bernstein of the Los Angeles SPCA who mentioned several theories for why BDS existed. She believes superstition has a lot to do with it. Just as people view black cats as bad luck, they may view black dogs in the same way. People often have innate fears about certain dog breeds that are black, such as Rottweilers and Dobermans.