There is nothing like coming home after a trying day and seeing the smile of your best friend.
It’s called Black Dog Syndrome or Big Black Dog Syndrome (BDS or BBDS). It’s a problem that every animal shelter and dog rescue in the world understands all to well.
This phenomenon could be due to a number of things. Geographic location, fear of certain breed types or the fact that large black dogs are thought to be dangerous because they are portrayed that way in films and on television.
Did you know that black dogs, especially large breed dogs, such as Labs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Chows, Newfoundlands, and even mixed breeds are usually the last ones to be adopted from shelters or rescue groups? Black dogs are often euthanized at a higher rate than other coat colors.
Here are some other reasons given for why black-coated dogs don’t get adopted as easily.
- They don’t show or photograph well in a kennel setting.
- It isn’t easy to distinguish their features.
- If they have any gray or white hairs on their face, they often appear older than they are.
- They often don’t look as cute as lighter coated dogs.
As to location, In European and British folklore black dogs often appear as evil forces and death. Writers like Sir Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle perpetuated this superstition by using spectral hounds, usually black and fearsome, in their stories and poems.
Some people believe the superstition that suggests that “black is evil” like the symbolism of Scar vs. Mufasa in “The Lion King.” In a 2011 study by the ASPCA, appearance was the most frequently cited reason for adopters of both puppies (29 percent) and adult dogs (26 percent).
This issue has been gaining media attention since the mid-2000s. Tamara Delaney, an early activist against black dog syndrome, developed a website called Black Pearl Dogs in 2004 specifically to address the issue, both by educating the public about its existing, as well as showcasing individual dogs available for adoption.
As one who as adopted a black dog, I’d suggest that they are just a sweet, and just a loving as any other color of dog. She was a great companion and a great teacher. She was loved by everyone she met (animal and human) and when the chance arises again I’ll be the first one to adopt another Big Black Dog …
I’ll never bring about world peace. I won’t single handedly save the rain forest. I’m not a brain surgeon and I’ll never transplant an organ to save a life. I’ll never have an ear of a powerful politician or world power. I don’t have any idea how to end world hunger. I’m not a celebrity, and God knows I’ll never be glamorous! Millions of people around the world do not admire me, and in fact, very few people even recognize my name. I’ll never win the Nobel Prize. I’ll never find a way to end global warming.
There are a lot of things that I’ll never do or become while I’m here on earth, But today, I made a difference …. because I adopted and saved a dog’s life!
She was an unsure, scared, and nervous bundle of fur and bones. She was picked up by an animal shelter after she was found roaming around the countryside. She was left out there to fend for herself by unfeeling people who obviously didn’t care what happened to her. Lets not kid ourselves, she was left out there to die!
But now she has a home!
She now knows security, contentment and she gets an abundance of love. She has a warm place to sleep, plenty to eat and also has guidance, structure and leadership. Within a short distance from home, she has warm fuzzy friends to play with. They give her the things that only other dogs can give. They teach her about playing, having fun and being a dog.
In return she gives me unquestioning devotion, friendship and she is a great companion. We enjoy walks, going to the park, playing ball or just hangin’ out.
At the end of a hard day, she helps me relax. She helps me stay grounded and when life gets all mixed up, she helps me put it back in order. A great dog can do that for you!!! She also gives me a sense of security. When I’m away, I know that there is a protector and guardian keeping watch over all she surveys.
No, I’m not a rocket scientist. But today, I made a difference! For both of us!
Copyright 2007 – Michael Albee – All Rights Reserved
The right dog for you, whether you’re considering a purebred or a mixed bred dog, should always be the result of taking the time to research the dog’s breed. This research will help you to determine whether your new dog will fit your life style.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make (for you and the dog) is getting the wrong dog.
If you are thinking of a mixed breed, you need to look at the information about all of the mixes and that way you will know what to expect from your new dog. It will also make your shelter search for the right dog much easier if you already know that you want “a dog that has some previous training” or “something the size of a lab” or “some with the energy of a beagle.”
Making sure you get the right dog requires that you know the history and breed characteristics of the dog. This will give you the proper insight into what the dog will need for exercise, feeding and training. If you think you already know what breed you want, you may still want to spend some time researching it. You may learn something new – or you may find that the “right dog for you” is something much different than you hadn’t considered before.
If you have a question, be sure to ask. There are a lot knowledgeable people out there and they are very wiling to help you find the right dog. We will also be glad to offer suggestions when you want to choose a breed. When asking others, you should expect to hear the negatives as well as the positives about a breed. This is not intended to scare you away. On the contrary, you should be really sure that the breed you are choosing is the right one for you. There are over 400 recognized breeds of dog in the world today and no one breed is right for everyone.
Here are some questions for you to consider when you’re looking for a dog.
- What size dog is right for you?
When you begin your search for the right dog, don’t just ask for a “small dog” or a “large” dog because, for some people a large dog may be 25 pounds, for others it may mean 75 pounds. A better way to refer to the size of the dog you are looking for would be, “something the size of a Miniature Pincher, a Cocker Spaniel or a German Shepherd Dog”.
- Which sex do you want, male or female? There are pros and cons to either sex, but unless you plan to breed them it really doesn’t make much difference because most dogs are spay or neutered before you adopt them. If you have a preference, get the sex you want. If you are not sure, just look for the right dog that fits your needs.
- How much space do you have?
This question could be “Part B” of the first question. Although it’s quite possible to successfully keep a larger dog in a small house or apartment, it can be a lot more of a challenge because you will need to provide plenty of opportunities for exercise outside the house or apartment. If you don’t, the dog may become destructive. One thing to keep in mind is that if your house is very small, a Newfoundland or a Great Dane may take up all of your room and you may not have any room for your furniture.
- How much time will you have to exercise your new dog?
Some smaller breed dogs can get by with a short walk, but others need to be walked or ran for an hour or more every day. You need to be honest with yourself and decide what amount of time you are willing or able to spend with your dog. Be sure to consider both, your physical abilities and your time schedule. If you’d like to own an active dog but your job keeps you busy 10-12 hours a day, you may not want to get a really active dog. Active dogs need to go for long walks or runs with you every day, not just on weekends when you don’t have anything better to do. An active dog would be miserable (and probably very destructive) during the work week if you can’t spend the time to exercise him properly.
- How much training can you do?
Regardless of what kind of dog you decide to adopt, a trained dog will be much easier to live with. A well trained dog can go to more public places with you. This is because they cause less of a disruption. A well trained dog will also be more easily integrated into your life. Obviously a puppy will need more of your attention, while most older dogs have had at least some training and will therefore take less time to train.
- Where will the dog live?
In the past few years a lot of individuals and professionals have adopted the opinion that dogs who live outside are more apt to be neglected and abused than those who live inside. They feel very strongly that all dogs should live in the house. Although most any dog will do well inside if it is given enough exercise, some dogs (given proper shelter and attention) are also equipped to live outside even in the coldest winter conditions or in the hottest summer conditions. Some perfect examples of this are the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky. They all are capable of handling the cold weather, but don’t really do to well in the heat of summer because of their double coat of fur. If your new dog will be spending any time outside, you must consider your area’s climate when you are choosing a breed. If your dog must live outside, be sure that it has adequate (enclosed, covered, maybe even heated or cooled) shelter, and make an extra effort to spend time making sure that your dog has enough food, water and shelter during severe hot and cold weather conditions.
- How much grooming are you willing to do or pay for?
Dogs that have long or curly hair will require you to spend more time to keep their coat free of tangles and mats. These types of breeds will require a lot more time on your part to keep them properly groomed and if you can not do it yourself it will cost you more money to have a dog professionally groomed on a regular basis. Many of these breed types may require regular grooming every 6-8 weeks. Even short haired dogs like the Dalmatian, the Chihuahua and others that are fairly low-maintenance can go through periods of profuse shedding and their coats will need extra attention. No matter what breed you choose, all dogs need to have their nails, eyes, and ears taken care of on a regular basis.
- What do you plan to do with your dog?
Are you looking for a watchdog, a loyal “fireplace” dog, or a running partner? Maybe you want an active and athletic dog that you can do things like agility training, hiking, herding or hunting. You might even be looking for a dog that you can train for Police Work, Therapy Work or as a Service Dog for you or a loved one. The reason you want or need a dog can really affect your breed choice because, for example, most toy breeds just don’t make very good Police dogs.
- What kind of past experience do you have with dogs?
Everyone has a first dog at some point. After all, we all had to start some where. But it’s important that you know that there are a few breeds that are not recommended for first-time owners. For instance, an older Dachshund is a lot easier to care for than a one year old Husky, a Bull Dog or a Border Collie.
- Are there other family members in your home and are they all willing to teach, and care for the dog?
Adopting a dog should be a family decision and all family members should be a part of raising the family dog. Teaching children to properly care for and train a dog can make a lasting impression on them. Learning how to control and train a dog can help build self esteem and help them become better with people too.
- I have kids, what kind of dog is best around kids.
The answer to this question depends more on how the dog is raised and trained than what breed it is. No matter what breed you choose, supervision of the dog and the children is critical when they are with the dog, Just because a dog is usually good with children, you still need to supervise the activity because children can sometimes get carried away and may not realize that every dog has its breaking point. If you are unsure of your ability to properly train young puppies and/or children in this respect, you may want to consider waiting until the children get older, or find an adult dog known to be good with children under any circumstance.
Finally, if you already have a dog or two in mind, don’t forget to think about the breed and the job that breed was meant to do. There are only a few breeds that were specifically developed to be pets. Most breeds of dog were originally bred to be hunters, herders, guards, or some other job which might be in conflict with your expectations of a perfect pet. For instance, if your lawn is important to you, you might not want to adopt a terrier; almost all breeds of terrier will dig relentlessly. If you don’t have a lot time to exercise a dog, you probably won’t want to get a Greyhound, a Dalmatian, a Husky, any kind of pointer or retriever, or most of the Herding breeds — all of these dogs were bred to run for many miles without getting tiring. Remember, if there is no breed specific work for them to do, they still crave the challenge and the exercise because it is part of their DNA. If you don’t give it to them, they’ll find ways to let you know that they don’t have enough to do. Most of these ways are very destructive.